June 14--South Florida is leading a migration of international banking operations to the state, a new study has found.
International banking pumped an estimated $2.1 billion into the state economy and helped create 16,774 direct and indirect jobs, according to the Florida International University analysis that looked at 2012 data from the Florida Office for Financial Regulation and surveyed members of the Florida International Bankers Association.
South Florida -- Palm Beach, Broward and Miami-Dade counties -- draws about two-thirds of those jobs and economic activity, estimated David Schwartz, CEO of the state's international banking association.
People in Mexico, Central and South America like banking in Broward, Palm Beach and Miami-Dade counties because of the region's "highly trained bilingual people," Schwartz's association told FIU researchers.
"It's much easier for people to conduct business where their language is spoken and their culture is understood," Schwartz said.
The result: South Florida is the "natural gateway into the United States for trade and finance," according to "The Economic Impact of International Banking in Florida and Industry Survey."
Many Latin Americans not only started bank accounts in the three counties, but also bought homes and invested here, Schwartz said. Many found bargains in South Florida after the housing bust, he said.
"It's a natural migration," he added. "You are seeing international communities spring up."
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