“When I was growing up, we were very poor, in a very impoverished place,” says Brent Thompson about his North Dakota upbringing. The executive director of Legal Aid Service of Broward County, located in Plantation, remembers a small town with a diner, a bar, a little grocery store and “a lot of trailer parks, lower income families and that was definitely us.” He made his way through college and law school at the University of North Dakota, finishing up two decades ago. Now, in Broward County, a place he has lived in for only a few months, Thompson resides with his wife, his son, two dogs and three guinea pigs—and he serves a community where the need seems never-ending. The organization works cooperatively with more than 120 area non-profits and each year it works to protect and defend the legal rights of more than 25,000 children, seniors, veterans, homeless people, people living with HIV/AIDS, domestic violence victims, and unaccompanied immigrant minors. The mission of Legal Aid Service of Broward County is to assisting Broward County residents build safer, healthier and more stable lives. Some key statistics suggest the organization’s reach: Benefits amounting to more than $2.5 million dollars were secured for clients last year; 1,748 children benefitted from Legal Aid Service’s advocacy programs last year; 977 veterans and their families received legal assistance last year; and more than 20,000 low-income clients have received pro bono legal assistance since the inception of Broward Lawyers Care, which started in 1983. “When I call home,” Thompson says, “my brother answers the phone and his first response to me is, ‘Are you done saving the world?’” He’s not. The man who sports a tattoo on his arm that reads, “Be of Service” spoke to SFBW about his difficult past, his career path, and what makes his work so fulfilling.

Anthony Abbate, director of Metro Lab at Florida Atlantic University, has been a friend and partner of South Florida Business & Wealth for years. During a period when in-person events were off the table at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, he served as the anchor of a trio of digital panel discussions sponsored by the Broward Metropolitan Planning Organization, giving online viewers a chance to think about life beyond the pandemic. MPO’s Carol Henderson, deputy executive director, intergovernmental and outreach, was also responsible for making the series happen. A second trio of discussions commenced in 2022, but only the last gathering—which brought together Abbate, his and Henderson’s handpicked panel of experts, MPO, SFBW and a rapt audience—was live and in-person. So, the event, which was held at the Tower Club in Fort Lauderdale—while high-minded and erudite—also exuded the warmth of a homecoming. The panelists each lent a different perspective on the early successes and challenges of modern transport. Brendan Jones, president of Blink Charging, represented the end-user brand that was most familiar to those assembled. Blink even set up a model charging station for the purpose of inspiring discussion—and it worked. “[Jones] was very engaging and obviously knows his stuff, and I think the audience appreciated his candor—his sort of global view of things,” Abbate said. “As the leader of a Miami Beach-based business with a global reach, he has an understanding of so many aspects of a battery charging in the future, and I think he resonated with pretty much everybody.” John Hatch, regional sales manager of BYD North America (the name stands for Build Your Dreams), brought to bear his company’s investment in green technologies across the board: Shenzhen-based BYD manufactures electric and hybrid cars and buses, as well as electric bicycles, solar panels and rechargeable batteries. Rob Cary, a transportation specialist in Deloitte’s infrastructure program, came armed with his civil engineering background and an extensive knowledge of the transportation ecosystem and the industry’s various innovations.

According to CNN, “The NBA’s Miami Heat and Miami-Dade County have terminated their relationship with bankrupt cryptocurrency exchange FTX and will search for a new naming rights partner for their arena in downtown Miami. The announcement came after the FTX group earlier on Friday filed for bankruptcy...

The future of street-level retail in Miami is being written today, and one of the most prominent authors of its next chapter is making sure the story features the best of the city.

Mindy McIlroy takes her responsibility seriously. As president of Terranova Corp., the largest retail property owner on Lincoln Road in Miami Beach and Miracle Mile in Coral Gables, she curates the mix of tenants who give life to these iconic roads. And while the economy is still finding its post-COVID-19 footing, she knows that the retail landscape of tomorrow must move beyond yesterday’s trends.

“Lincoln Road was a little nail-biting during the pandemic because it is highly reliant on tourists,” she explains. “Coral Gables, meanwhile, is reliant on a lot of office population.” Terranova owns 15 properties on Miracle Mile and 6 properties (41 spaces within those 6 buildings) on Lincoln Road.

Fortunately for business owners, both districts are on the upswing. Tourists from around the world have returned to Lincoln Road, and many workers are back in their Coral Gables offices—and even living nearby thanks to new residential housing that has transformed it from an after-hours ghost town into a 24-hour destination.

But the end of the more restrictive aspects of the pandemic doesn’t mean all the challenges are now in the rear-view mirror. The new era features competition that didn’t exist before, requiring both districts to differentiate themselves and show their unique value.

“Lincoln Road is going through an identity crisis,” she explains, noting that for much of the pedestrian thoroughfare’s history, its Morris Lapidus-designed follies and international brands were enough to keep it buzzing. “It didn’t have any competition for many years, but now you’ve got the Design District, Wynwood and Brickell, so what else is going to be the draw?”

The answer, according to McIlroy, is a holistic approach that meets the needs of both residents and visitors, blends global retailers with local businesses, and taps the area’s rich well of culture to add fun and excitement to every outing. “In order to have a robust shopping community you have to have diversification,” she says. “A street full of restaurants has a different energy than a street with restaurants, art galleries, places to shop and unique boutiques that aren’t always national chains.”