As Florida attracts an influx of people and companies from out of state and overseas, there are countless business and civic leaders whose efforts have laid the groundwork for our state’s economic resilience.
Five hundred of them are spotlighted in 2022 Florida 500, Florida Trend Magazine’s annual compilation of those at the forefront of our state’s largest and most important sectors, including real estate, law, finance & banking, hospitality, art & culture, and philanthropy.
The ‘Most Influential Business Leaders’ of 2022 are within the key areas of expertise in which Schwartz Media Strategies practices — Read on to learn about several Schwartz Media Strategies clients who are fueling Florida.
MIAMI WORLDCENTER ASSOCIATES, MIAMI
Miami Worldcenter Associates is the lead developer of Miami Worldcenter, a $4-billion mixed-use ‘city within a city’ in downtown Miami. Motwani, who grew up working at motels his parents owned on the Fort Lauderdale beach strip, has led the development for more than 15 years. “Our vision is to transform a blighted part of downtown Miami into the confluence of arts, entertainment, culture, transportation and education,” he says.
FOUNDER, LOTUS HOUSE
PRESIDENT & EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR
Lotus House provides housing and supportive services to more than 500 women, youth and children experiencing homelessness. It is the largest women’s shelter in the nation. Its facilities and programming are national models for best practices. Collins, who has served as a volunteer since the organization’s inception, worked for more than 20 years in business law, finance, commercial real estate and investment. She’s working on developing the Children’s Village at Lotus Village, an innovative children’s resource center.
Martin’s firm works in about 16 municipalities across Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach counties. Most of its 80 employees work out of the company’s Coconut Grove headquarters. Martin and his father, Pedro, founded the firm in 2001.
The company has developed more than 5 million square feet of residential and commercial space with a value of more than $8 billion, according to its website. Martin says the firm tries to “strengthen neighborhoods and enhance the built environment through innovative design and intelligent planning.”
BILZIN SUMBERG, MIAMI
Dotson started out as a real estate transactional lawyer and later moved on to become a commercial litigator. Bilzin Sumberg employs 220, including about 100 attorneys. Dotson has been with the firm for more than 20 years, has been a member of its executive committee since 2012 and managing partner since 2019. He has led the firm to capitalize in the areas of government contracting and public-private partnerships. He walks 50 miles a week.
CMC GROUP, MIAMI
Colombo, born in Italy, founded the real estate development company in 1986. The company first made its mark in the early 1990s with two condo towers on Brickell Avenue. Since then, it has limited its activity to high-end condo developments, including Grovenor House, the EPIC Hotel & Residences, Porto Vita and Brickell Flatiron. CMC is now developing Vita at Grove Isle, a condominium on a 20-acre private island just offshore of the city’s Coconut Grove neighborhood.
FOUNDING PARTNER, SHAREHOLDER
KLUGER, KAPLAN, SILVERMAN, KATZEN & LEVINE, MIAMI
Kluger Kaplan is a litigation firm with approximately 30 lawyers. The firm’s expertise is in business and corporate litigation, real estate and construction litigation, securities and financial fraud, probate and estate, intellectual property disputes and complex family litigation. Kluger was the founding managing member since the firm’s inception in 2009. He says he has made more than a dozen introductions that have led to marriage.
VICE CHAIRMAN & CEO, CITY NATIONAL BANK, MIAMI
City National Bank, 75 years old, has a statewide presence, 1,000 employees and $22 billion in assets. It is Florida’s third-largest bank and among the fastest-growing banks in the country. The bank has established the COVID Relief Fund and Housing Foundation and partnered with more than 200 non-profits focused on education, health care and culture. Gonzalez, a Miami native, has more than 30 years of banking experience. He’s grown the bank from $3 billion in assets to more than $21 billion.
ZOM LIVING, ORLANDO, FORT LAUDERDALE
West is responsible for all aspects of leading the company with particular focus on development activities nationally. He joined ZOM in 1997. The company has 55 employees. He serves on the ULI Americas executive committee, as a ULI global governing trustee, and on the advisory board of the ULI Center for Sustainability and Economic Performance. “Trip Stephens has been my partner for over 25 years now, and it is impossible for me to imagine where our company or my career would be without that relationship,” West says.
SCHWARTZ MEDIA STRATEGIES, MIAMI
Schwartz founded his agency in 2005 and has built it into one of the largest independent PR firms in Florida, employing 17 people engaged in media relations, digital marketing, social and content creation, public affairs and crisis management. Schwartz got his first PR job from the legendary Phyllis Apple, who built and ran one of Miami’s most respected public relations firms in the 1980s and ’90s — “and did it at an age when most people are retiring,” he says.
INSTITUTE OF CONTEMPORARY ART, MIAMI
Launched in 2014, ICA Miami opened its permanent home in Miami’s Design District in 2017 and has since established itself as a cultural destination, serving some 600,000 visitors free of charge. Gartenfeld is responsible for the creative vision of the museum — exhibitions, collections, programs and education — as well as its long-term strategy. He began his career, he told an online publication, staging small exhibitions in his bedroom on Canal Street in Manhattan. He drew attention from NYC’s art world, which led to him being hired for a museum in Italy in 2013. He moved to Miami in 2014.
MERRIMAC VENTURES, FORT LAUDERDALE
Motwani’s firm focuses on building market-rate apartments, luxury condos and hotels. With around 20 employees, it also has investments in single-family rentals, self-storage, office and retail. The firm is active in the Fort Lauderdale community, with managing partners participating on civic boards, including the Fort Lauderdale Downtown Development Authority, Broward Center for the Performing Arts, Broward College Foundation, Community Foundation of Broward and the Orange Bowl, among others. The firm is currently involved with more than $3 billion in projects under development.
CEO & CO-FOUNDER
PIPELINE WORKSPACES, MIAMI
Pipeline sets up flexible workspaces used by startups, entrepreneurs and teams from businesses such as Google, Uber and Microsoft. The company has locations in Florida and Pennsylvania. Houdard, who grew up in a small village in France, has served in executive positions in sales, marketing and mergers and acquisitions for mid-size and Fortune 500 companies. Before starting Pipeline, he founded SkyBank Financial and served as its CEO. He is founder and chairman of the Developing Minds Foundation, an organization that builds schools and supports education projects in areas affected by armed conflict and poverty.
EXECUTIVE VICE PRESIDENT & MARKET EXECUTIVE SEACOAST BANK
Arriola started Apollo by acquiring a small bank in 2010. Today, Apollo has more than $1 billion in assets and 100 employees. Before becoming a banker, Arriola co-founded Inktel, one of the largest call center companies in the United States. Arriola is a member of the board of directors of the Miami Branch of the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta. He was appointed as the chairman of the Inter-American Foundation, a U.S. government agency created to support grassroots development in Latin America and the Caribbean. He is a former board member of TotalBank, Florida Bankers Association, BankServ and several not-for-profit and community organizations.
EXECUTIVE VICE PRESIDENT & GENERAL MANAGER OF FLORIDA BUILDING OPERATIONS, SKANSKA USA, TAMPA/FORT LAUDERDALE
Skanska is one of the world’s leading construction and development companies. Skanska’s core operations in the U.S. include building construction, civil infrastructure and developing self-financed commercial properties. The company currently has more than 700 employees in Florida. Skanska is known for building complex projects, including university facilities, hospitals and museums. Brown has been a leader at the company for more than four years.