Latin American aviation event targeted for South Florida debut
By Ashley Hopkins
As the Beacon Council, Miami-Dade's economic development arm, fights to program the county's first international air show, representatives are working to pull a similar event to the area in hopes of joining forces until the Miami International Aerospace Show could stand on its own.
According to Frank Nero, president and CEO of the Beacon Council, the council is working with the Latin American Military Aircraft Maintenance Repair and Overhaul Association, which produces an air show that it rotates throughout Latin America, to gage its interest in hosting its 2012 show in Miami-Dade.
Jack Lowell, chair of the Beacon Council's board, said the event would come in conjunction with Miami-Dade's annual Wings Over Homestead event, planned for November 2012.
Because Latin America's major airlines participate in the show, Mr. Nero told county commissioners Monday, partnering with the Latin American association would get the county's foot in the door with companies that might be interested in participating in Miami-Dade's international event.
"It wouldn't be full-blown," Mr. Nero said, "but it would get us out of the box."
While the Beacon Council is working to secure $15 million in Building Better Communities General Obligation Bonds to finance land renovations surrounding the Homestead Air Reserve Base in order to host the international event, it would also need approval from the Air Force, Mr. Nero said.
Beacon representatives are holding meetings with Sen. Bill Nelson, who is meeting with top military officials, and Air Force officials to solicit direct support for the project.
"We're going from the bottom up and the top down trying to get approval," Mr. Nero said.
The Beacon Council is also scheduling one-on-one meetings with aero-technology manufacturers to gauge their interest in participating in the show, which would be similar to those held at Le Bourget near Paris and Farnborough Airfield near London.
According to Mr. Nero, the Beacon Council has been working with American Airlines to secure an original equipment manufacturer (OEM) to participate. While many providers are waiting to receive a final business proposal, Mr. Nero told commissioners the Beacon Council hopes to have at least one commitment in line prior to the Paris Air Show in June, which representatives plan to attend to study event logistics.
"We would like to have some commitment for a major or major OEM's," Mr. Nero said. "That way we can go to Paris... and market accordingly."
The Miami International Aerospace Show would be a five-day event adjacent to the Homestead Air Reserve Base. According to Mr. Nero, it could pull in about 200,000 public attendees, house more than 800 exhibitors and generate up to $100 million for the county in hotel reservations, day pass sales and parking fees.
The county commission has agreed to assist the Beacon Council by providing staff through the county manager's office, dedicating 54 acres to the project and financing land improvements upon the completion on an assessment study. The commission would vote on every allotment made throughout the project.
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