Because they will be stronger together, two South Florida technology associations, Tech Hub South Florida and TechLauderdale, have combined forces to form one entity: South Florida Tech Hub. The new organization will service technology-focused industries in Miami-Dade, Broward, Palm Beach and Martin counties.
TechLauderdale’s history as a tech trade association spans back to 1995, with the founding of the South Florida Technology Alliance. In 2019, SFTA was rebranded as TechLauderdale. Tech Hub South Florida was founded in 2015 as Palm Beach Tech, and rebranded last year; it currently supports 200 corporate members. The board chairs of each organization, Michael Fowler of Tech Hub South Florida and Louis Balbirer of TechLauderdale, will co-chair the new executive board.
Both organizations provide a number of signature events, networking opportunities, educational content, advocacy and other services to their corporate members and now companies will be able to find it all within one organization, said Balbirer. What’s more, the move will benefit the entire South Florida ecosystem, he said.
“It brings more resources with a great reach,” said Balbirer, a CPA and principal with Kauffman Rossin. “Having one organization that covers all the counties just makes sense. Our missions are so closely aligned — we’re going to be stronger together than we were separately and we’re going to able to better serve the ecosystem.”
Co-chair Michael Fowler agrees, particularly in light of the recent momentum the region is experiencing with company relocations, bringing high-paying jobs to the region. He called it a unique opportunity to unify the South Florida tech community and work together to attract both startups and high-profile companies to the region. “I think we have a stronger voice nationally and in the state when we speak with one voice for the whole region,” said Fowler, who is VP of IT for Florida Power & Light.
Both co-chairs said that signature events will continue. Coming up November 5-7 will be South Florida Tech Hub’s Hackathon, which will likely a hybrid of virtual with in-person experiences in all three counties, Fowler said. “That will potentially pull in a lot of college students and what better way to show off their talents? It’s a virtual interview because it’s for students to connect with employers and make that first impression. I’m really looking forward to that hackathon because I think it is going to be bigger than we’ve ever had before.”
Balbirer is also looking forward to the hackathon, and said as a combined organization going forward “we’re looking to have one major event a month and then a plethora of smaller events.” Plans are for ITPalooza, a popular annual event with speakers, roundtables, networking and a job fair that attracts hundreds of techies annually, to continue as well, he said. Earlier this year, ITPalooza went virtual, with a gamified approach with avatars for all the participants, and was a big success, Balbirer said. A date for the next event is being determined. “It’s a valuable event for the ecosystem and the planning stages are underway,” Balbirer said.
Going forward, the organization will plan events in all four counties, and many of them likely will have a virtual component as well. South Florida Tech Hub will continue the work of TechLauderdale and Tech Hub South Florida with the region’s colleges and universities “to make sure the tech talent that we grow in our backyard find good-paying jobs here in our backyard,” Fowler said.
The Interim CEO of the combined organization is Nikki Cabus, a rising leader in the South Florida technology scene who previously served on TechLauderdale’s Board before joining Tech Hub South Florida’s leadership team in 2019. She has worked diligently to facilitate the merger that was announced today.
“The combination of Tech Lauderdale’s successful track record and long history in South Florida tech, along with the fresh, innovative, dynamic approach that Tech Hub offers, allows the best of both worlds to our member partners,” Cabus said. “Our combined goals are 1. Present a unified focus. 2. Make a bigger impact, and 3. Increase our collective efficiency to service our member partners.”
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