Democratizing Miami’s Healthcare Economy: Anchoring Growth in Overtown

by Syed Ali (MUP '19) and Muniba Ahmad (MUP '19)

As Miami reaches for an ever more ambitious role as a global city, its growing economy engenders yawning disparities in individual and community wealth. At the epicenter of this struggle is Overtown, the historic heart of Black Miami, whose downtown location places it at risk of gentrification, displacement, and erasure.

Miami’s growth manifests not just through the emergence of new industry, but also through the maturation of those industries which have long anchored the economy. The Health District, just across the highway interchange from Overtown, is home to the second largest concentration of medical and medical research facilities in the country. While capital does not currently flow between the neighboring areas, the cluster of public and nonprofit institutions can fulfill its responsibilities to its surrounding communities by becoming an active participant in economic empowerment. Leveraging healthcare for community wealth building can make Miami a more inclusive model for the future of the American city.

This report first describes current economic conditions in Overtown, exploring the need for inclusive economic development. Next, it introduces an alternative model for inclusive economic development: anchor-based cooperative development. With this approach, collectively owned businesses can create long term community wealth. After examining precedents from other American cities, the report concludes by proposing how such a strategy can be applied in Overtown, connecting the strengths of and opportunities for anchor institutions, government, nonprofit partners, and philanthropic conveners.