Ken Griffin is instrumental in bringing our 2013 vision of South Florida becoming a global financial hub a reality as explained in this Bloomberg article!
Tuesday, September 20, 2022 06:00 PM
By Amanda L Gordon
In a few years and change, if everything goes to plan, Miami will look far different than it does today.
There will still be nightclubs, Little Havana, perhaps even the crypto diehards. But alongside them: programmers and portfolio managers filling the streets of Brickell and driving breathtaking profits inside the state-of-the-art, built-from-scratch global headquarters of Citadel and Citadel Securities. Plus legions of lawyers, accountants and hedge-fund hopefuls following the money to an enduring Wall Street South that outlives the Covid-19 pandemic.
This is the vision of Ken Griffin, instantly Florida’s richest person after moving his family and financial empire to Miami from Chicago. Depending on whom you ask, his maneuvers conjure Niccolo Machiavelli or Ayn Rand, Robert Moses or David Rockefeller. With a $29.6 billion fortune, he’s a force in business, philanthropy and, especially of late, politics.
Some Miamians are more enthusiastic than others. Proponents point to the multiplier effect on the local economy from thousands of well-paid workers, with everyone from Jeb Bush to Jorge Perez viewing Citadel as a catalyst that turns Miami into a new US capital of high finance and tech, with all the infrastructure and culture that comes with it. Skeptics question which communities will be displaced in the process — and whether Griffin has bigger plans in the works.
The Citadel founder is attempting a rare feat: to pick up and move at the prime of his career, at a time when his business is thriving, to a more malleable city where the wind is firmly at his back. Instead of a foil like billionaire Democrat J.B. Pritzker in the state capitol, he has a like-minded governor, Republican Ron DeSantis, who Griffin said he’d back for president in 2024, even if up against Donald Trump.
Griffin, 53, hasn’t put forth a formal agenda or made splashy donations. The site of Citadel’s headquarters-to-be — a gleaming waterfront tower, with a wish list that includes a helipad, a marina and windows that open to Biscayne Bay — is, for now, a vacant lot. He plans to get his family and colleagues settled and listen to South Florida’s needs before making his presence felt, both professionally and philanthropically, in the region where he was born and raised.
But make no mistake: He plans to have an impact.
“We’re not sort of in — we’re all in,” Griffin said in an interview in Miami…….
The comparison has only become more apt since the pandemic. New arrivals in the region include multibillion-dollar investors Dan Och, Dan Sundheim and Josh Harris, among others drawn by lower taxes and warmer weather. Griffin already considers some recent transplants part of his circle, including Paul Tudor Jones, who moved from Greenwich, and Bruce Rauner, the former Illinois governor.
Even among these multimillionaires and billionaires, though, Griffin has outsized sway. His Citadel hedge fund oversees about $57 billion, catapulting the assets managed by Miami-based firms. That figure reached $688.3 billion by late August, up from $303.4 billion a year earlier, according to analytics company Convergence Inc.
“Someone like Ken will have no trouble navigating around Miami because he will have instant new best friends,” said Phillip Frost, whose name is on Miami’s science museum and, like Griffin, owns property on the city’s exclusive Star Island. “He will be sought out, no question about that. His job will be to fend them off.”
Not everyone will cozy up to Griffin. For one, there are Democrats who see DeSantis and Francis Suarez, Miami’s Republican mayor, gaining a key backer and ally. Those who are used to being bigwigs now must contend with someone in a different wealth stratosphere.
He may also have to deflect criticism of bringing a sudden wave of high-earning financiers into Miami, a majority Hispanic city where rents are surging more than any other large US metro area, squeezing middle- and low-income households.
“This is really an inorganic infusion of upper-middle-class and rich individuals that are suddenly coming in and widening the wealth gap even more,” said Alberto Ibarguen, head of the Knight Foundation, which devotes much of its billions to Miami.
Miami natives like Ana VeigaMilton have seen this all around them. VeigaMilton, who has lived in Coral Gables since 1998 and runs the Jose Milton Foundation, said the city’s big issue is a lack of available homes, with transplants paying whatever it takes to close a sale.
“It’s really hard if you grew up in Miami, lived in Miami, to have that kind of money to compete against money from New York or Chicago,” she said. “It will affect my neighbors, my friends.”
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