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Paradise Lost? Miami, Immigration, and Economic Development

IJED, Vol. 5 No. 2, (2003)

For some, Miami has become a prototypical global city, driven by immigrant entrepreneurs and serving as an economic development model for other places. Immigrants, beginning with exiled Cubans in the 1960s, followed by successive waves of talented people from Latin America, turned this sleepy tourist destination into the Gateway to the Americas, quite literally. Ironically, those factors—location, immigration, culture, and finance—that made Miami grow and develop also have a severe downside. Miami is the poorest city in America, with one-third of its population living in poverty, and has been so for three decades. Miami is a global player in the illicit drug trade, a capital for money laundering and criminal activity of all kinds. Miami is a place steeped in racial, ethnic and cultural tensions. Miami teaches us that culture, ethnicity and race are important factors in the economic development of cities for the new millennium, factors not yet fully understood or appreciated.

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