The NY Times ran interesting story today titled: Google Tries Something Retro: Made in the U.S.A. The opening paragraph reads: Etched into the base of Google’s new wireless home media player that was introduced on Wednesday is its most intriguing feature. On the underside of the Nexus Q is a simple inscription: “Designed and Manufactured in the U.S.A.”
I’ve often wondered why if we have a label that states the product was manufactured in the U.S.A. or wherever, why not add where it was invented. It could be as Google has it labeled or you could have, as an example, “Designed in the U.S.A. and Manufactured in China.”
I also think it is important to have the name(s( of the inventor(s) of the box as a face or a story helps sell product, a topic I have written about many times.
Inventors themselves aside, isn’t it just as important where the idea was developed? People are employed designing just as they are manufacturing. Aren’t we proud of our innovative spirit? Perhaps the toy and game industry should lead the way and include such verbiage on our packaging.
If you ever get the chance to meet Kati Heljakka, I suggest that you do so. is one of the most impressive people in the global toy industry. While she is not busy being the Creative Manager at the Finish game manufacturer Tactic, she is busy getting her doctorate in design and architecture; a toy researcher with a specialty in studies of economics, art history and visual culture, an art critic and a visual artist.
That was why I had to go when I heard that Kati was going to have an exhibition of her artwork in Greenwich Village. The exhibit, “Little Indian Summer Girl.” Kati is a photographer who engages in “doll themed” art. Here are some more pictures.
In the strident discourse of modern society it is tempting to believe, and perhaps too often true, that the louder and more persistent the voice, the more likely it is to carry the day, rallying others to a cause by virtue of negativity, repetition, or pure volume. But that is not always the case, thankfully.
One case in point is the law regulating Happy-Meal-type toys, passed about a year and a half ago in San Francisco, and at the time deemed a threat to premium toys nationwide, perhaps worldwide. Some argued that toys encouraged children to order Happy-Meal-type fast food and were thereby a contributor to the rampant childhood obesity. A delightful surprise to come out of this development in San Francisco is that East Coast academics have looked at the relationshiop between Happy Meal premiums and childhood obesity and found that Happy Meals are in fact more nutritionally sound than much of what is served in school lunch programs.
Reuben Klamer, an innovator in the use of plastic in toys, once told me that he got the idea for shatter proof plastic toys from a shampoo bottle. It seems that in the 1960s’, manufacturers began moving away from glass to new, shatter-proof plastic containers (prior to that plastic was brittle) so that the danger of broken glass in the bathroom could be mitigated. Reuben figured what was good for a shampoo bottle was food for a toy and began making them with shatter proof- plastic.
The World Bank ranks countries by “Ease of Doing Business.” They base the rankings on eleven different variables that include anything from ease in getting electricity to paying taxes. A look at the list of 183 countries provides some interesting surprises. First, here is a list of the top 10:
2. Hong Kong
3. New Zealand
4. United States
7. United Kingdom
8. South Korea
I find it interesting that 4 of the top 10 were former United Kingdom colonies (Singapore, Hong Kong, New Zealand and the United States), while the list also includes the United Kingdom itself. That means that five of the 10 plus England’s neighbor Ireland dominate the top 10.
Of course this raises the question of whether it has something to do with England or just circumstance. The most likely reason is that all of these countries use British Common Law which has the most stringent private property protections of any legal system. The notion that you can buy and sell your
Brazil has been on an economic rocket ride for the last ten years. One of the powerful BRICS countries (Brazil, Russia, India, China, South Africa), Brazil is now the seventh largest economy in the world. But wait a minute; Brazil’s economic engine may be sputtering while Mexico steps on the gas. What is happening? Here is how Fareed Zakaria puts it in a CNN article entitled “Mexico on the Rise.”
Ten years ago, Mexico's economy was bigger than Brazil's. But then Brazil suddenly began to grow much faster, so much so that its GDP overtook Mexico's and became twice as large. If I had to cite one main reason for this, it would be China, Brazil's biggest trading partner. China's growing appetite for commodities led to a boom in resource-rich Brazil.
That seems to be changing. According to Zakaria:
The China Toy & Juvenile Products Association has generated a very interesting report on the Chinese toy and baby consumer markets. The study was based upon an analysis of 750 stores. They looked at changes in sales volume, average sales per square meter, best-selling brands and more. Here is some of the information that caught my eye:
If you want to purchase the report you can do so by contacting Kent Luo 86-10-66038881 ext.226 or email at email@example.com. The cost for the electronic version is $1,800 US and the print version is $1400 US.
Last week’s Licensing Expo 2012 in Las Vegas was full of excitement and a-buzz with activity. Attendance was up for the show with many people doing deals dashing from meeting to meeting. “The show was a huge success," said Charles Riotto, President of Licensing International Merchandisers Association (LIMA). "The exhibit floor had high energy with great enthusiasm and optimism.”
Both I and my poor achin’ feet agree with Charles. From the entertainment giants of Disney, Dreamworks and Warner Bros. to the new fashion element there was lots to see at the show. It was great to see new items as well as classics out in force. There were miles to cover. I wish I’d worn my pedometer!
It was great to see classic boys’ properties like Power Rangers with an impressive presence celebrating 20 years to new boys’ properties like Monsuno that just launched this year. There were lots of cool costumed characters running around the aisles posing with fans.
For the first time there was a section just for fashion. "We were excited to feature a dedicated fashion section exhibiting for the first time at the Licensing Show," said Charles. This new addition was fun and busy, and I can imagine that area continuing to grow.
There was a nice upbeat vibe to the show and Charles had it right when he mentioned the sense of optimism and energy coming from both licensors and attendees. It’s always a fun show, but this year there seemed to be the extra bustle that is a good sign for our business.
According to my mom, I cried when I finished devouring my first ice cream cone. I wailed for the duration of our bike ride home from the local ice cream shop. In response to this humbling story, I tell my mom, “who doesn’t scream for an ice cream?” The frozen treat exemplifies advances in technology and explains food as a social commodity. Plus, eating ice cream is fun.
Chefs originally dished out ice cream, consisting of costly white sugar and exotic fruits, to Renaissance Kings and courtiers. Upper-class Americans, too, first enjoyed this treat when it came to America. Those who afforded confectioners trained in sugar-craft delighted guests with ice cream desserts. Some say George Washington spent $200 on ice cream one summer and often served his guests an ounce or two of the treat in dainty porcelain cups. Advances in manufacturing soon provided opportunities for mainstream Americans to partake in the fun.
3D printing has arrived. How can you tell; because a consumer products company has filed a lawsuit against a user? What is going to happen next is a bit like what happened to the music and video industries except this one is going to involve the toy industry and anyone else who is in the consumer products business.
Jean-Christian Jung, a co-owner of Globe Trotoys (the make of “Deglingos) and soemone who follows 3D printing closely, sent me an article from Wired Magazine entitled “Clive Thompson on 3-D Printing’s Legal Morass.” Here is how Clive Thompson puts it:
When I first heard about 3-D printers, I figured the trend wouldn’t go mainstream for decades, if ever. Oops. Companies now offer 3-D printers for just over $1,000, and prices are dropping rapidly...
This has all the makings of an epic and surreal legal battle. You thought Hollywood and record labels were powerful lobbyists, crushing Napster and suing file-sharers? Wait until you see what the manufacturing industry can do. The American Chamber of Commerce is the single largest lobbyist on Capitol Hill, spending $60 million a year.
Thompson goes on to say, however, that in this case, the law is more favorable to the copiers then were the laws regarding music and video. Why, because patent restrictions are not as strict or those governing copyrights. He points out that the patent on the shape of a Lego brick ran out so anyone can produce their own.
What is going to happen next? According to Thompson it is very likely that the manufacturing industry is going to ask Congress to create new laws. If that will happen or whether such laws will be constitutional is anyone’s guess.
As I have been writing for several years now, 3D printing is a disruptive technology that could
In a continuing series that highlights toymakers who have evolved their business comes Techno Source. See how the company strengthened its position with a strong new parent company and a keen eye for unique products.
Techno Source had been playing nicely in the toy space since 2000 with a mix of value-priced LCD games, game changers like Rubik's Slide™ and Rubik's Revolution™ and strong licenses such as Disney, Nickelodeon and 20Q, but wanted the financial wherewithal to compete head to head with the big guys on a larger scale.
That was accomplished in March 2011 when the New York-based company was acquired by LF Products (a company of Li & Fung Limited) which had acted as its Hong Kong agent prior to the acquisition.
Its new relationship with the Hong Kong global powerhouse not only linked it with a $20 billion company, it enabled Techno Source to strengthen its finance, network, customer and supply chain resources, which "puts us at an entirely new level in terms of our ability to take the business and drive it to the place that we’ve always hoped that it could go,” says Techno Source division head Eric Levin, who along with founders Rich Migatz and Wayne Nathan, still handles the company's day-to-day operations.
That place these days is in the ultra hot tablet market where its Kurio tablet will vie for the spending dollars of both high tech and low-tech consumers when it debuts at Toys”R”Us and Toysrus.com next month. A broad product rollout is planned for August.
Positioned as “the ultimate Android tablet for families”, the 7 inch tablet comes pre-loaded with full versions of games like Angry Birds, Fruit Ninja, Doodle Jump, Cut-the-Rope, Where’s My Water, and World of Goo as well as can be used to surf the Web, read e-books, draw, play games, take photographs, record video and watch movies.
Global Toy News:
One of your major initiatives has been the “integration strategy” (the combining of Toys R Us and Babies R Us under one roof). Has the strategy achieved your desired goals?
Integrating Toys“R”Us and Babies“R”Us under one roof has been part of the company’s strategy for the past six years and customers continue to embrace the enhanced shopping experience these stores offer. Today, approximately 28% of our stores in the U.S. are fully integrated, leaving a long runway for growth. In fact, our customer satisfaction scores show increasing gains. We are pleased with the increased sales and operational benefits we continue to see from these integrated stores. And, this integration strategy is happening in our stores around the world as well. We will continue to open new Side-by-Side stores and to remodel existing locations in this format to provide customers with convenient, one-stop shopping destinations to fulfill the needs of children of all ages.
Global Toy News:
Toys R Us has, in the last year, taken a 70% ownership position in a group of Asian and Southeast Asian stores (Li & Fung is the minority partner) that had been under franchise. This includes retail locations in China, Thailand and Singapore among others. In addition, last year you opened your first store in Poland. Why did you decide to take control of your destiny in Asia and what does this say about Toys R Us’s perception of these markets (particularly China)?
Growing internationally and broadening our reach in emerging economies that are experiencing GDP growth and rising incomes remains a key part of our business strategy. We have a vast international presence across 36 countries, including the U.S., and we continue to look for new opportunities to expand our global footprint.
Last year, we took the major step of purchasing the majority stake in our formerly licensed business in Greater China and Southeast Asia. With this agreement, 90 stores in the region became wholly owned by Toys“R”Us, Inc. We believe this speaks to the significant growth opportunity we see for our company in this region, and we look forward to an aggressive expansion of our business in both existing and new Asian markets, including Northern China.
In 2011, we also opened our first store in Poland, and have added two more locations since the beginning of this year. The company’s entry into Poland not only represented an exciting expansion for Toys“R”Us in Europe, but also provides a potential gateway to other Eastern European countries.
Additionally, from 2008 to 2010, we increased our ownership of our business in Japan from 48% to 100%.
Global Toy News:
There has been some concern about the decline in board game sales. In that this is a mainstay category of the toy industry, do you see this as a Hasbro (Parker Brothers / Milton Bradley) problem or a board game problem? Either way, what seems to be the problem either for Hasbro or the industry?
If you were to come up with a short list of the world’s most important toy industry people, you would certainly have to put Jerry Storch right at the top. Mr. Storch became CEO and Chairman of Toys R Us in 2006. Since taking over, he has led Toys R Us through a turbulent period of time in which the company has had to battle its way through worldwide economic turmoil; strict new toy safety laws; sharp increases in the cost of toy production and the rise of Amazon as a significant toy competitor.
I asked Jerry Storch for an interview because I wanted to find out how he felt Toys R Us, the toy industry and his initiatives were doing. He kindly accepted. Here is part 1 of my interview. (For a biography of Jerry Storch, see the end of this interview.)
Global Toy News:
I felt that Toys R Us had a better 2011 than the company was given credit for. What stuck out to me was that while the toy industry at large had a 2% decline in traditional toy sales last year; Toys R Us was up 5%. In addition, while the company got hit hard by a 9% decline in video game sales, the video game industry as a whole was down 21% in December alone. Why do you think that your company has not gotten credit for outpacing these respective industries?
That’s a great question! There has been continued focus by many people about when the company might or might not go public, and that has sometimes overshadowed discussion about our operating performance. Last year, we were pleased with our success in delivering our third consecutive year of Adjusted EBITDA in excess of $1 billion, and with the net earnings growth we realized in the fourth quarter. We also continue to enhance our gross margin rate through our strategies to expand exclusive product offerings and deepen relationships with manufacturers.
Our business performance over the past six years has been remarkable by any measure, thanks to the great team we’ve developed. We have delivered solid results, generating strong adjusted EBITDA – a 44% increase since 2005 – and increased gross margin, while making important market share gains amidst a continuing tough economic and competitive environment.
Our toy business is healthy and has been consistently up, particularly in the Core Toy and Learning categories. We remain the leader in first-to-market offerings and ownership of hot product. And, we continue to expand our assortment of differentiated, exclusive products to set ourselves apart from our competitors and capture market share.
At the same time, the videogame business over the past several years has been suppressing our same store sales. It is a highly cyclical business, depending heavily on releases of new gaming technology platforms which we have not seen since late 2006 and the introduction of the Nintendo Wii. To mitigate the impact of this segment on our overall performance, we continue to make strategic adjustments with our product mix at higher margin rates. In addition, we have a global strategic partnership with Activision for the highly successful Skylanders line. And, we are very excited about the introduction of Nintendo’s Wii U this fall.
And, we just reported solid first quarter results for 2012, driven by strong toy sales, enhanced margin and continued expense controls. We’re excited about the year ahead!
Global Toy News:
With the continuing rise of the Amazon and other ecommerce providers, there has been a concern that bricks and mortar retailers are unwillingly serving as showrooms for these companies. As a company with both a strong ecommerce position and a powerful bricks and mortar presence do you feel Toys R Us is immune from some of these concerns? In fact, does Toys R Us benefit?
We don't typically remember birthdays on Global Toy News but when someone as prominent as Reuben Klamer turns 90, it is something to celebrate.
Reuben is a member of the Toy Industry Hall of Fame and his "The Game of Life" is in the Toy Hall of Fame. He is also a winner of the Toy and Game Inventor Lifetime Achievement Award (TAGIE Award). An amazing 200 of his toy and game inventions have made it to market. Here are just a few as listed in the Toy Industry Hall of Fame:
Fisher-Price 1-2-3 Roller Skates, Trainer skates; the Art Linkletter Hoop; Gaylord the Walking Dog (Ideal); Moon Rocks (Hasbro); Dolly Darlings (Hasbro); Erector Constructor Sets (A.C. Gilbert); Busy Blocks and Zoo-It-Yourself (Tupperware) and no-glue "snap-together" hobby kits (Eldon Industries). Mr. Klamer also pioneered the worldwide use in toys of an unbreakable plastic called polyethylene.
So, HAPPY BIRTHDAY, my friend. You are a living legend.
My visit to Shanghai last year was one of the most eye-opening trips of my business career. I had no idea that the domestic Chinese consumer market for toys was so dynamic and how few westerners were taking advantage of it.
This year I will be returning to the China Toy Expo which will take place in Shanghai from October 11-13. I strongly suggest that you take the opportunity to attend this year’s show. When you go, here are some tips:
Common wisdom is that you create a new product and then you come up with a marketing plan. But maybe, in the 21st Century you do the reverse. That’s according to a very interesting article in Fast Company by Ben Paynter entitled: “Want to Make a Hit Toy like Air Swimmers? Engineer The Video Before The Product.”
The article focuses on Mark Forti, founder and CEO of the William Mark Corporation who drove sales of “Air Swimmers” in the US by creating a series of funny videos which he posted on YouTube. The result was 9 million views and a whole lot of sales.
His efforts were so successful that he says it actually reversed the way he thinks about products. The article quotes him as saying: "'The first question we ask is whether this will make a great couple minute piece of entertainment,' he says. 'We’ll scrap an idea if it doesn’t because that leveraging effect is so powerful.…'"
Forti has, over the years tried everything from DRTV to QVC to in-store videos to live demonstrations and what he has found is that what is most effective in moving a product is people seeing it in action. Here are his basic ground rules for making a video:
When I was a kid, a playground was where you went to have fun and get your brains knocked out. Back in those days, playground designers were in love with big slabs of cement which they placed under everything from swing sets to monkey bars. Not only that, they were careful to position the chain link fence so that if you fell out of a swing at the top of your arc, you would impale yourself on the fence and then, bouncing off, hit your head on the cement.
Looking back I am only somewhat kiddingly convinced they wanted to kill and or maim us all. Today’s playgrounds are, thankfully, the height of safety. Instead of cement we find soft surfaces and benign pieces of equipment.
But the question that arises is: “Are they too safe?” It appears that some in the playground industry think so. That according to a nice piece in the June 3, 2012 New York Times entitled “Innovations That Will Change Your Tomorrow.” It appears that many of the wonderful pieces of equipment we loved as
I am here in Baltimore, MD helping ASTRA (American Specialty Toy Retail Association) celebrate its 20th birthday. Like any 20 year old, ASTRA is feeling robust, looking great and ready to take on the world.
I love coming to this show. There is this wonderful feeling of peace that comes over you when you walk onto the show floor. And it’s not just peaceful it’s fun. I have to tell you, having an ice cream social break out in the middle of the trade floor (I love watching adults eating ice cream on a stick) or watching hundreds of people drink eat and laugh while playing board games with each other is a complete hoot. Its fun, it’s collegial and it’s good business.
This is my third ASTRA event and I have felt it every time. And it’s not just me; others talk about it without my bringing it up.
Back in 2010 I wrote a piece entitled “Astra 2010; a pleasure to attend.” Here is what I said at that time:
Most major trade shows are transactional...A transactional show is essential to an industry and to the life of its constituent members. It may not, however, be as conducive to the health of the entire industry. It is in enhancing that health that I think ASTRA really excels. So, at least to me, it really isn’t so much trade show as one big teaching opportunity combined with a love fest
This year, the mellow was still in the air but ASTRA is feeling its oats…and it should. The trade show floor was big and for many booths, busy. Attendance is reported to be up and it looked it. Numerous people came up to me and told me that they felt that there was an optimistic feeling in the
Those who invent our toys and games are in many ways limited to the materials with which they have to work. At one time, metal was the primary material used in making toys along with rubber and wood. In the 1960’s shatter proof plastic became the material of choice.
What, however, would inventers invent if they had recourse to either new materials or refinements in existing ones? What would our inventors do with plastic that heals itself? They may soon find out
When I was a kid, I used to play Monopoly with my older sister and her friends. I was in the third grade and they were in Junior High School. I lost a lot.
I remember it well. There I would be, my playing piece poised for disaster; just five squares away from Boardwalk and a dreaded red hotel. Everyone was watching me with anticipation as I slowly rolled the dice in my sweaty hand. As I shook the dice, I was praying that I would roll any number except a “five”. Of course, a “five” it was and the howls of laughter peeled as I sadly handed over the money from my meager stockpile. My sister is a succesful businessperson today. We are close...yet I keep a wary eye... just in case.
This was my first experience with the harsher side of capitalism. It was those early Monopoly games that came to mind as I read about an organization with an intent to soften capitalism. They go by the rather sober name of the : “Henry Jackson Initiative for Inclusive Capitalism.” Here is how they describe themselves: “The Henry Jackson Initiative For Inclusive Capitalisism (HJI) is a center for thought leadership, policy recommendation and the promotion of business initiatives that work towards the goal of Inclusive Capitalism.”
In short, they believe strongly in capitalism but they see flaws that, if not corrected, will damage its institutions. The people behind this organization appear to sober businesspeople. According to an article in Deal Book: “ The group is led by Dominic Barton, global managing director of McKinsey & Company and includes Carly Fiorina, former chief executive of Hewlett-Packard...”
I thought you might find their aims to be of interest as they want to do something about what others only complain about. They want to see businesses take a more long term view. To do so, they recommend the end of quarterly reports; rewarding shareholders who hold on to their investment by giving them a bonus or a higher dividend and that management be rewarded solely for the completion of long term goals.
We are all heavily invested in the success of a vibrant capitalist system. Do you agree with the notion that changes are needed in modern capitalism or are we better leaving well enough alone?
I just got back from B.E.A. (Book Expo America), America’s biggest book trade event. I hadn’t been in a few years and it felt, not surprisingly, smaller than in the past. There were lots of people (librarians, publishers, editors, writers, etc.) but when I inquired about actual buyers, I found that they were not present in abundance. There are simply a lot fewer book retailers than there used to be. People who love books, and I am one of them, have to feel a bit despondent over this course of events, but the world does continue to change.
There were a few game companies present (Blue Orange Games, Thinkfun and USAopoly to name a few). There were also a number of children’s book companies present (Twin Sisters, Publications International, Bendon and Carson-Dellosa among others). Again, it seemed like there were fewer than in past years.
As I walked the floor I saw the long lines for author book signings. As I watched the lines move it suddenly hit me: "How will authors of the future sign eBooks?" I mean, what exactly is there to sign?
In the same light, it occurred to me that collectors of the future will not be able to buy, sell, collect or invest in first edition eBooks? A first edition of Great Expectations by Charles Dickens now goes for
The Toy Industry Association is to be congratulated for a study it conducted that analyzes the full economic impact of the toy industry on the United States. It certainly makes the case that the toy industry creates a lot of jobs (over 533 thousand) and delivers a lot of dollars ($25.8 billion dollars in wages) to the US economy.
Where the fun for me was, however, was in drilling down to the state level. I don’t know about you but I always thought of New York as the Toy Capital of America. After all, isn’t that where Toy Fair occurs and isn’t that where the famous toy buildings used to stand?
Well it may have once been the toy capital but that honor now passes to California. Here is a list of the top five states and their contribution to the country’s toy economy:
Have you ever sat in a playroom or family room, and looked out over a seemingly endless sea of construciton toy pieces (the flotsam and jetsom of Lego, K'Nex, Lincoln Logs, Tinker Toys and more) and mused to yourself: Wouldn't it be cool if you could connect all these different pieces together into a meta-construction set.
Check out a website named “The Free Universal Construction Kit.” They have created special download that allows you to join your various blocks, sticks and bristles together.
Check out a website named “The Free Universal Construction Kit.” They have created special download that allows you to join your various blocks, sticks and bristles together.
Here is how they put it:
The Free Universal Construction Kit is a collection of nearly 80 adapter bricks that enable complete interoperability between ten popular children’s construction toys. By allowing any piece to mate with any other, the Kit encourages totally new forms of intercourse between otherwise closed systems — enabling radically hybrid Constructivist play and the creation of heretofore impossible designs.
It goes on to say:
Comic books have long held sway in the world of adolescent and young adult males. How does a medium which, at its very heart is all about ink on paper (the look, the feel and even the smell), reorient itself to a new generation of males who are born digital?
The company appears to be trying to enhance rather than change the comic book experience. As Axel Alonso, Marvel’s editor in chief explains it: “It keeps all the familiar conventions of the comic book — panels, borders, captions and balloons. But it’s not animation — there’s no voice-over, there’s no score — and, most importantly, the reader still controls the experience.”
Peter Jenkinson, a journalist with over 10 years’ experience writing on toys and technology for several national UK titles as well as many online outlets, operates an online .TV show devoted to toys and one of the leading toy review websites. Often called upon by broadcasters to wax lyrical about his favorite subject, toys, he is well known in the UK and Europe as a leading toy expert. Peter is organizing, Appletics, an event that brings together a diverse collection of toys and technology in one space.
With an estimated value of some $25bn by 2015 the app market is serious business. The toy players did cough and splutter last year trying to monetize the space but it's all getting much more serious now - Everyone is Appcessorising!
The big brands are on-board now in the battle for supremacy and market share in this spanking new category, the diversity already on offer should have smartphone and tablet owners beaming. Outside the toy category there are a number of music brands joining in too and are seeing the power of this space, jumping in with instruments and music making machines of all kinds - This Christmas Santa I'm afraid my list may well be extensive.
After an unsteady start last year, and despite all our best efforts to shout about this genre the category went largely unnoticed, a general lack of consumer understanding or just not enough variety on offer who knows.
As passionate advocates of the Appcessory category, mainly looking at the plaything space, we've decided to host a global first in our fair city this year, and hopefully jump on the back of some PR noise being created by other significant events occurring in London.
I have to admit that for me, Miami has always been the place where people went in the winter to get away from the cold. I, however, have had to change my perception. Miami, it appears, is an economic powerhouse.
While in Brazil and since, I have spoken with several toy industry people from South America who have referred to Miami as the economic capital of South America. It is appears that this city, at times most noted for retired New Yorkers; expatriate Cubans; Don Johnson and the song “Moon Over Miami” is emerging as a place that we all need to know a lot more about.
That came to mind as I read about the new free trade agreement between the United States and Columbia. The Miami Herald, in a piece entitled “U.S.-Colombia Free Trade Agreement goes into effect,” notes that “South Florida is expected to be a big beneficiary. Colombia is the region’s second-largest trading partner with $8.3 billion in total trade last year …” It is estimated that “… the deal will create 6,400 jobs annually in Florida and increase Florida-origin exports by 13.8 percent.”
After I finished reading, I wondered, just how important is Miami to South America and is it in actuality the capital of South America. Wikipedia actually cites “Capital of South America” and “Gateway to South America” as two of the states three nicknames for the state ( the third being the unmemorable