PRESS RELEASE: August 26, 2018
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contacts: Morgan Huling, Coral Gables Chamber of Commerce 305-446-1657; email@example.com Nikki Deas, Vine Communications 305-447-8678; firstname.lastname@example.org
Re: Merrick-in-the-Making Award
The inaugural Merrick in the Making Awards was presented on June 19, 2014, at the historic Biltmore Hotel,
an iconic property dreamed up by Merrick himself in 1925. With the partnership of City National Bank,
these awards presented in three (3) different categories that mirror a younger George Merrick’s life.
These awards are presented in contrast to the George E. Merrick Award of Excellence that honors a
legacy of service to Coral Gables in one of Merrick’s passion projects. Our partnership with City National Bank
is designed to shine a spotlight on younger leaders who are poised for greatness, already achieving significant
recognition for their personal and professional pursuits. As this is the first year of the awards,
a select committee of community leaders will determine the three honorees, which will be announced
in advance and honored on the eve of the Chamber’s annual conference.
Merrick was born in the Pittsburgh suburb of Springdale, Pennsylvania. His father, Solomon G. Merrick, was a
Congregationalist minister. The family moved to Miami, Florida from Duxbury, MA in 1898 when George was 12 years old.
He attended Rollins College in Winter Park. In October 1915, George Merrick was appointed by the governor of Florida
as the county commissioner in District 1. He spent the next 15 months on the commission championing the building of
roads in South Florida, including major arteries that would later serve to connect his well-planned community of
Coral Gables with the fast-growing city of Miami. Merrick helped usher the vast majority of all road construction
projects in Dade County, including the construction of South Dixie Highway (US 1), the Tamiami Trail across the Everglades,
the County Causeway to Miami Beach, Ingraham Highway (later known as Old Cutler) along the coast, the Miami Canal Highway
and many others. These improvements allowed the population of Greater Miami to quadruple from 1915 to 1921, transforming
a pioneer territory into a burgeoning metropolis.
Beginning in 1922, on 3,000 acres of citrus groves and land covered in pine trees which his father had left him,
Merrick began carving out a town along the lines of the City Beautiful movement. He designed the new town in great detail,
featuring wide, tree-lined boulevards, delicate bridges, and serene, urban golf courses. Merrick's secret was his passionate
devotion to aesthetics.
George Merrick is credited with the establishment of the University of Miami in Coral Gables in 1925 with a donation of
600 acres of land and a pledge of 5 million dollars. The following year, weeks before the start of the inaugural school year,
a devastating hurricane on September 17–18 followed by the Great Depression ended Merrick's dreams at Coral Gables.
He moved to Matecumbe Key, where he opened his Caribee Club not far from the famous Long Key Fishing Campon nearby Long Key.
The monstrous Labor Day Hurricane of 1935, called the "Storm of the Century", destroyed almost everything on the Middle Keys,
including Merrick's Caribee Club. He became the postmaster of Miami in 1940 and died in 1942 at the age of 55.
To pay homage to our Chamber founder, the Merrick in the Making Award categories
include the following (criteria noted):
Innovator – Merrick was a celebrated innovator, creating one of the first planned communities in the United States when he
founded Coral Gables and marketing it to the world in ways that were unheard of at the time.
The Innovator Award was presented to Bradley L. Barreto with Coral Gables Title he is someone who has achieved
a “first” in their career and has used unorthodox methods to achieve their goals through philanthropy.
Entrepreneur – Merrick was ahead of his time as a business leader, founding the Coral Gables Chamber of Commerce in 1925.
His work as a commissioner helped build the major infrastructure of Miami-Dade County, an important tool when he founded
his own development corporation that put Coral Gables on the map (literally).
The Entrepreneur Award was presented to Meghan Phelan Goicouria owner of Granny NANNIES of Miami and
The Florida Keys; she is someone who has been unabashed in their desire to create a new business, changing the lives of
others along the way and making an impact that will likely last a generation
Builder – From his earliest days, Merrick was a builder – of things, of people and of our beloved community.
He created a City out of 3,000 acres of citrus groves, designing and “building” a new town in intricate detail.
He gave money to “build” an international university and “built” a grand hotel that stands as a testament to his memory today.
The Builder Award was given to, Evan Benn of Indulge Magazine, he is someone who has charged into a business venture
head-first and built it from the ground up, without fear of failure or rejection; he is someone who channels a young,
upstart George Merrick, the founder, and builder of our community and our Chamber.