Biscayne Bay contributes $64B to Southeast Florida economy: study

The Biscayne Bay economic study for 2023 shows the impact of Bay-related activities generated $64 billion for the South Florida region’s economy.

The study released by Miami-Dade County Monday provides an update from the original 2005 analysis, which had estimated the Bay’s economic output at $12.8 billion.

Biscayne Bay is pictured. In 2022, 119.8 million residents and tourists came to the Bayfront area.

Chip Barnett

The latest report said the watershed directly influences the county’s economy and is a driver of prosperity in the region, accounting for 19% of Miami-Dade County’s economy, 9% for Southeast Florida and 3% for the state.

The research shows the area is a popular recreational retreat. In 2022, about 119.8 million residents and tourists came to the Bayfront area for dining, shopping, jogging, sightseeing, birdwatching along with boating, swimming and fishing. 

These recreational activities all contributed to the county’s economy last year, totaling $15.1 billion in output, $8.2 billion in income, 113,300 jobs and $2.3 billion in tax revenue, the study said. Commercial fishing contributed $19.6 million in output, $11.9 million in income, 200 jobs and $2.7 million in tax revenue to the county.

Biscayne Bay and the Miami River waterfronts have also increased residential property values — and property taxes, the study conducted by Hazen and Sawyer said. The report noted the Bay area added $7.9 billion to residential market values, while the river added $98 million to the total, bringing in about $240 million a year for the county. 

“The new study confirms that our beloved Biscayne Bay is one of the most valuable in Florida, supporting many industries, employing hundreds of thousands and collectively generating billions of dollars in annual revenue,” said Miami-Dade County Mayor Daniella Levine Cava.

“Biscayne Bay is the blue heart of our county. Protecting this treasure will not only nurture economic growth but also enhance the well-being of our entire community. It is vital we continue working together to restore it for generations to come,” she said at a press event Monday at PortMiami.

Biscayne Bay is a large, shallow tropical saline lagoon surrounding Miami and Miami Beach. The Bay extends for almost the entire length of Miami-Dade County — from Haulover Inlet to Key Largo. South of downtown Miami city is the mouth of the Miami River, which goes all the way to Lake Okeechobee.

PortMiami, a key economic component in the area, contributed $48.8 billion in output, $15.0 billion in income, 334,500 jobs and $1.8 billion in tax revenue to the county, the report said.

Since 2012, the county has sold about $2.4 billion of bonds for the port, with the most issuance occurring in 2021 when it offered $1.24 billion.

That sale, which was priced by Wells Fargo Securities, won The Bond Buyer’s Deal of the Year award. The financing was the largest port transaction to come to market in the country since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic and the high demand for the bonds highlighted investor confidence in the seaport sector.

“Biscayne Bay is an environmental jewel, an economic powerhouse and a waterbody of enormous significance for millions of Floridians,” said Scott Wagner, vice chairman of the South Florida Water Management District Governing Board. “This study confirms what we have always known … Biscayne Bay creates a stronger and more vibrant Miami-Dade County.”

The county’s general obligation bonds are rated Aa2 by Moody’s Investors Service and AA by S&P Global Ratings and Fitch Ratings. All three maintain a stable outlook on the credit.

Since 2013, the county has sold about $19 billion of debt, with the most issuance occurring in 2020 when it offered about $2.9 billion of bonds.

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