Twenty years ago, the Flags on Ponce Program was unfurled by the Coral Gables Chamber to display a “boulevard of flags” along Ponce de Leon in recognition of the city’s growth as a center for international business and trade.
This tribute to countries doing business in Coral Gables has endured for the past two decades, celebrating the various multi-national companies, trade and consular offices that call the City Beautiful home.
Long recognized as the corporate capital of the greater South Florida community, the Gables is home to more than 150-plus multinational corporations and 25 consulates. These include renowned corporate leaders like Bacardi, Del Monte, HBO Latin America and IntelSat.
There also are a number of partner Sister Cities in countries that have their consular offices in Coral Gables, most notably Cartagena, Colombia; Granada, Spain, and Pisa, Italy. This program focuses on cultural exchange, with the help of mission programs and developing local projects to foster interest in world affairs.
“After several decades of Coral Gables being recognized as the ‘Corporate Capital of the Americas,’ our Coral Gables Chamber of Commerce leadership decided that a display of flags representing those countries where our multi-national firms were doing business would be a wonderful way to showcase our collective appreciation to our international friends,” said Ron Shuffield, former chamber chair and president of EWM.
“At the time, we identified 90 countries where our multi-national corporate base was operating,” Shuffield stated. “We chose flags of those countries as the initial group to be installed along Ponce de Leon. The pride within our local community, as well as the international community, continues to be as strong today as the day that first flag was hung 20 years ago.”
A colorful tradition for the past 20 years in the Gables, the Flags on Ponce fly high along Ponce de Leon Boulevard each year from January until June. The chamber works closely with the city to maintain the program and to install the flags each year right after the new year begins.
“Flags on Ponce is a celebration of South Florida’s diversity, history and heritage and Florida Blue is excited to help Coral Gables celebrate the program’s 20th anniversary,” said Florida Blue market president Penny Shaffer. “Florida Blue is proud of our longstanding commitment to the City Beautiful through support of business, arts and community health and this is a wonderful way to fulfill our mission and values.”
Sponsor support allows the chamber to sustain the program each year and provides recognition for corporate partners, including: Florida Blue – Title Sponsor; Artigiano; Baptist Health South Florida; Barakat Law PA; Becker & Poliakoff PA; Cherry Bekaert LLP; Coral Gables Community Foundation; Coral Gables Country Club; Eliptek Technology Group; EWM Realty International; Laura L. Russo Esq.; Montica Jewelry; Nero Immigration Law; Right Space 2 Meet; Smiles & Sonrisas; TotalBank, and University of Miami School of Business.
“The International Affairs Committee of the chamber proudly champions the Flags on Ponce program, reinforcing the idea that the ‘City Beautiful’ is truly a global destination,” said Marco Ibarra, Eliptek Technology Group president and CEO. “For the past 20 years, the flags displayed down Ponce de Leon Boulevard have served as a warm embrace to international visitors and residents, alike. We trust our partners and sponsors are as honored as we are to ensure this colorful, international legacy continues for years to come.”
Opportunities remain available to help support the program in its 20th year and to ensure that the flags continue to fly high in the City Beautiful.