Photo: Chelsey Reynolds

The Bahamas | President & CEO at Miami-Dade Chamber of Commerce

“But for the Grace of God, there go I.”

Gordon Eric Knowles has been the President and CEO at the Miami-Dade Chamber of Commerce since 2014. The chamber is responsible for advocating for the interests of Black- and minority-owned businesses in the Miami-Dade area, guiding its members to capital, opportunities and other resources. Knowles was also senior director of government affairs for the Miami Dolphins from 2006 to 2012 and Sun Life Stadium from 2009 to 2012.

American Black Film Festival

He ascribes his proactive life approach to the influences of his mother and grandmother, who taught him independence, a sense of being and self-reliance. He effects change by being engaged at the policy and procedural level, most gratified when members of his chamber win, grow and work with one another.

What inspired your interest to get involved with the Chamber of Commerce? 

I have had the pleasure of being engaged with several Chambers of Commerce throughout my career representing organizations like the Miami Dolphins and Hard Rock Stadium. I have had the pleasure of being a Board member and the Chairman of the Board with several Chambers.

Miami-Dade Chamber of Commerce President and CEO, Eric Knowles
Photo: Marlene Quaroni

What are some of the simplest challenges you still face?

Providing the resources to help our small business community grow, access to capital and access to opportunities.

What was your first job and how did you rise to the position of President and CEO? 

My first job was as a soldier at the tender age of 17. I joined the military as an airborne paratrooper and I spent three years in the Army. This was the catalyst that built my understanding of who and what I can be. My Senior Drill Sergeant wrote of me that I had a “Can do Attitude,” one that I have carried throughout my career. I rose to where I am today through understanding it all begins with understanding the importance of knowing how to mop the floor. Understanding if you take care of the simple things – mopping the floor, making your bed, shining your shoes – these are the things that build your base for success.

What is your greatest career strength? 

My greatest career strength is that I am a people person. I am not a micromanager. You hire people to do a job, let them do it.

What is one piece of advice you would pass on to the next generation? 

Save your money, invest…and floss.

What does the word “family” mean to you? 

Everything. My elders who paved the way, and my children, Erica and Catherine, who I have instilled in them independence and an understanding to whom much is given much is required. Friends who have become family, those who are there in the thick of the fight.

What are you most grateful for in your life? 

I am most grateful for having a mother and grandmother who loved me unconditionally. Who instilled in me to not wait for anyone to do a job you can do yourself.

Miami-Dade Chamber of Commerce President and CEO, Eric Knowles
Photo: Marlene Quaroni

What would you like to see change within the Caribbean or Caribbean diaspora? 

That we work together more, that we don’t stay within our silos and not wait for Carnival to come together.

What is your favorite traditional childhood meal from your home country? 

Peas and rice…not rice and peas (lol) Grouper, conch salad, stewed conch, stewed fish.

What are your favorite extracurricular activities? 

I teach yoga, I’m an avid golfer, actor, model, voice over actor, road biker and I enjoy writing poetry.

What is your favorite Caribbean tradition? 

Carnival and Christmas.

What was your upbringing like? 

I say that I grew up building snowmen and sand castles. Growing up in Nassau, Bahamas and outside of Buffalo, NY in Lockport. As an infant, my grandmother took me to the Bahamas when I was eight months old and I lived there until I was five years old, when my father was discharged from the US Army. I moved back and forth between Miami and Lockport pretty much all my life.

What would people you know find surprising about you?

Not much as I am an open book. I’m engaged on social media, so my life pretty much is before the world. I did teach Sunday School at one point in my life.


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