Dynamic is one way to describe libraries in the United States. More than five million programs are in use throughout America’s libraries at any time on any given day. Navigating the world of the modern librarian requires several qualities: a wily imagination, broad knowledge base, an ability to adapt, to marshal ever changing tools and resources, to think quickly on one’s feet, the courage to take on new challenges, and a deep commitment to the communities they serve are but a few.
Media Contact: Tere Garcia
Mayor Carlos A. Gimenez’s nomination endorsed by Governor Ron DeSantis and submitted to U.S. Air Force for consideration
(Miami, FL– July 9, 2020) – Mayor Carlos A. Gimenez, the Miami-Dade Board of County Commissioners and the Miami-Dade Beacon Council worked together to nominate Miami-Dade County as a potential site for the headquarters of the United States Space Command (USSPACECOM). Florida Governor Ron DeSantis endorsed and submitted a total of eight (8) nominations from communities across the state including Jacksonville, Pensacola, Brevard County, Orange County, Pinellas County, Seminole County, a joint proposal from Tampa and Hillsborough County and Miami-Dade County.
“We are proud and honored that Governor DeSantis has endorsed our submission,” said Mayor Gimenez. “Our County has the highly skilled workforce, the resources, the military installation and the technological capacity to meet the stringent screening and evaluation criteria of these new headquarters for the United States Space Command.”
In December 2019, President Trump signed a law that established Space Force as a separate branch of the U.S. military. In May 2020, Assistant Secretary of the Air Force John Henderson outlined the criteria required from communities that want to be considered as headquarters for Space Force’s central command; these include being located within 25 miles of a military installation, ranking among the top 150 largest Metropolitan Statistical Areas (MSAs) in the U.S., and scoring a 50 or higher out of 100 on the American Association of Retired Persons Public Policy Institute’s Livability Index.
Miami-Dade fares well, meeting many of the government’s criteria as outlined. Already home to United States Southern Command, Special Operations Command South, and Homestead Air Reserve Base, Miami is the 7th largest MSA in the country, and boasts a high livability index score (rating great neighborhoods, clean air and water, civic/social involvement, and inclusive opportunities)important criteria when being considered as a location. A multi-faceted region with robust urban centers as well as suburban markets, Miami-Dade offers a variety of sites that are well-suited for USSPACECOM’s needs – all easily accessible to South Florida’s highly educated and diverse workforce of more than 3 million.
“As the Chairman of the Military Affairs Board and Military liaison for Miami- Dade County, when I became aware that the U.S. Air Force was reopening the competition for the new U.S. Space Command, I knew Miami-Dade needed to be included in these conversations,” said Miami-Dade County Commissioner Jose “Pepe” Diaz. “The Space Command would be a perfect fit for the 1,400 military and civilian personnel who would call the Command center home, which is why I am currently working on legislation to help bring the U.S. Space Command to Miami-Dade County.”
As the economic engine of the third largest state, Miami-Dade County has built a modern and resilient infrastructure that supports an international business community of more than 1,400 multinational corporations, a leading airport (#1 for International Freight in U.S.) and seaport (#1 Container Port in Florida) that directly connect passengers and cargo to global hubs. A dynamic start-up community ranked #1 in U.S. by the Kauffman Foundation and expanding innovation ecosystem further position Miami-Dade as a strong competitor for USSPACECOM’s headquarters.
“We look forward to competing for the headquarters of United States Space Command . Working together with Governor DeSantis, Space Florida and Miami-Dade County leadership, we are excited to demonstrate why Miami-Dade is a smart, safe, and serious location for Space Force and any other businesses looking for an innovative global market with incredibly diverse talent,” said Hugo Castro, Executive Vice President, Equitable Advisors South Florida Branch and Chair of the Miami-Dade Beacon Council.
Nominees are graded on a series of criteria including the local workforce, infrastructure, community support for military families and local construction costs – all areas where Miami-Dade excels. Additionally, Florida is currently home to three combatant commands and more than 20 military installations. The State’s defense and aerospace ecosystem provides unique capabilities and opportunities that USSPACECOM could tap into from a South Florida command center.
The next step in the strategic basing process, as outlined by the Air Force, is an evaluation phase with an iterative process wherein communities will respond to robust questionnaires issued by the Air Force. Final selection is expected in early 2021.
Original letter from the Department of the Air Force requesting self-nominations and the U.S. Space Command Criteria Overview can be found here: https://bit.ly/USSPACECOMCriteria
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About the Miami‐Dade Beacon Council
Miami‐Dade Beacon Council is the official economic development organization for Miami‐Dade County. Its mission is to increase jobs and investment through marketing Miami as a world-class business destination; helping grow local companies; and shaping Miami-Dade’s economic future. Since 1985, the organization has assisted more than 1,200 businesses to expand in or relocate to Miami-Dade creating over 100,000 direct and indirect jobs combined and driving more than $6.6 billion in new capital investments. A professional staff and volunteer community leaders work together to promote Miami-Dade as a world‐class 21st century community at the forefront of a changing global economy. For more information: www.beaconcouncil.com.
Written by: Code for South Florida
Miami is the crossroads of the western hemisphere. Thanks to its central location and unique tropical ecosystem, the big city we all love has developed a world-wide reputation as a place for commerce, tourism, and culture. It is often rated as one of the best places in the country to start a new business, and its mythos as “The Magic City” attracts people from all over the world to live here, be it temporary or for the long haul.
However, even with its world-class reputation, Miami is not without its shortcomings. The city has the lowest rate of volunteers among 51 major cities in the United States. Although civic leaders and organizations are making great progress in this area through direct civic engagement, there was no civic organization solely advocating for better technology in the non-profit and government sectors.
Gregory Johnson and Livio A. Zanardo saw an opportunity for applying technology startup models to Miami’s public sphere. For them, the future was an organization designing, developing, and deploying technology to modernize public services that at the same time fostered an ecosystem of technologists and community partners for its work to have a lasting impact. After they inherited Code For Miami in late 2019, they merged with their sister organization in Fort Lauderdale, and founded the first technology-oriented non-profit in Miami, Code For South Florida.
Code For South Florida is an organization that designs technology services with the public interest in mind, leveraging a local network of technologists, designers, and problem solvers. To start they work with private and public institutions to access open datasets which helps them identify problems. They then focus on improving the way the general public interfaces with public and social services, and builds bridges with groups and organizations like non-profits and government agencies that can maximize the impact of these solutions.
Building Civic Technology is no small endeavor and implies much more than sitting behind a computer developing software. It requires extracting, transforming, loading and most cases cleaning up datasets to uncover ways to service the public in meaningful ways. It also involves connecting with agents directly on the frontlines of socioeconomic problems, collaborating with community leaders to reach a common definition of said problems, and designing solutions around public interest. Equip a unified community with cutting-edge tools specifically created to address social problems, and they can amplify civic engagement and improve service delivery in unprecedented ways.
The organization has worked on several public interest projects since its inception. One of the organization’s recent projects addresses evictions resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic. With the help of the Community Justice Project, Code For South Florida volunteers built Eviction Protection, a platform that displays the status of evictions in counties across Florida. Users can input their location and get immediate information on evictions in their county. The tool stands to help both citizens and the organizations representing communities at-risk of unfair eviction practices (You can read more about Eviction Protection in this blog post).
Another recent project involves improving access to free tax filing assistance remotely. The organization observed the work of Code For America, which built a national Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) solution titled Get Your Refund. Code For South Florida saw the opportunity to localize this initiative in our city by creating a coalition of VITA partners, including non-profits like Branches FL and Catalyst Miami, and public institutions like the City of Miami. The Get Your Refund initiative transformed VITA filing process from analog and in-person to digital and remote, reducing overhead for partners and improving access to tax resources for the public, all from the comfort of their personal devices (read more about Get Your Refund in this blog post).
Code For South Florida has also worked with the City of Miami to implement an affordable housing filing solution called GetHousing, in which users can look up affordable housing units for low-income renters. More recently, the organization also began installing air quality sensors around Miami with the aim of improving understanding of local air quality and advocate for better data governance principles in the region with the collected data.
These are only some examples of the organization’s recent work. The success of these public interest projects is based on transplanting software methodologies and product development strategies inspired by both the private sector and the open-source movement. Both private and open-source technologies made tremendous strides in the last decade thanks to the boom of startup culture in Silicon Valley. Code For South Florida is reframing those methods for the public interest. When people can accomplish anything out of their smart devices – hail rides to the next destination, order a full month’s supply of groceries, or run an entire business operation – there is no excuse for essential services like social support systems to get behind the times, as it happened with Florida’s Unemployment portal in the early stage of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The future cannot wait for an invisible hand to err on the side of change while people rely on services that are supposed to work for them on paper but leave them stranded in practice. Code For South Florida strives to improve the status quo not by replacing the systems that already exist, but rather bolstering them by informing, educating, and building a local ecosystem of public interest technology, as displayed in the organization’s growing catalog of projects. Only proper representation of Civic Technology will bring public services up to speed with the digital age, and through a localized effort we can design unique solutions at scale that represent and address South Florida’s unique challenges in the 21st century and beyond.
No one is coming. It’s up to us South Floridians to acknowledge the past and build better future – and for that, there’s no time like the present.
Hebron Pharmaceutical Group to create 25 new jobs in Miami-Dade County
Hebron Pharmaceutical Group, a pharmaceutical research and manufacturing company, will create 25 new jobs in Miami-Dade County with the opening of its first international sales office. The company made this decision after working alongside Miami-Dade Beacon Council.
The Brazil-based company is set to launch with an initial lease of 1,000 square feet at the Brazilian Trade and Investment Promotion Agency Miami office known as Apex-Brasil. In the coming years, Hebron plans to expand its footprint and eventually launch a manufacturing operation in Miami-Dade County.
“Having already settled our operation in Brazil and seeing the growth of sales in Latin America, the next strategic step for Hebron is the office in the USA,” stated Wedja Henrique Pires, Chief Marketing Officer of the Hebron Pharmaceutical Group.
“The Miami-Dade Beacon Council played a decisive role in our decision by providing specific data and analysis, reassuring the area’s great economic capacity, commercial integration and proving that Miami Dade County offers the ideal location for our plans. Given the current situation with COVID-19, strengthening America’s ability to produce pharmaceutical and healthcare products is vital and Hebron is willing and able to contribute,” stated Pires.
Hebron was founded in 1990 in the city of Caruaru, in northeast Brazil and now operates in more than 2,000 Brazilian cities with pharmaceutical representatives in more than half of these locations. With 40 products being traded, Hebron’s activities extend into the specialties of Pediatrics, Internal Medicine, Gastroenterology and Gynecology. The company focuses on both manufacturing pharmaceuticals as well as developing analytical processes and research in the above-mentioned specialty areas.
“Despite the current environment we have found ourselves in recently, the Miami-Dade Beacon Council is continuing to do the important work of growing our target industry sectors. With the recruitment of Hebron, we are growing our life science industry as well as strengthening our pharmaceutical supply chain,” stated Michael A. Finney, President & CEO of the Miami-Dade Beacon Council.
As the life science industry grows worldwide, opportunities for economic connections between Miami and Brazil, such as the example of Hebron, continue to occur. The United States is the largest pharmaceutical market in the world, and Brazil is the 7th largest and growing, according to InterFarma, a Brazilian non-profit that promotes health innovation in Brazil.
“We are excited to have Hebron Pharmaceutical Group locate at Apex-Brasil here in Miami-Dade County Commission District 5. Given the challenging environment our residents and workers are facing in the wake of the COVID-19 crisis, it’s encouraging to see innovative companies choosing to locate in our community with the promise of future economic growth and job opportunities for our residents,” stated District 5 County Commissioner Eileen Higgins.
Riding in Style from Kendall to Brickell: Adventures of a First Time Train Commuter
By: Tere Garcia
What if there was a solution to the morning commute?
Well there is, and after 6 years of commuting from Kendall to Brickell and being extremely familiar with Kendall Drive and 104th Street, I decided to give something new a try and join the rest of the train commuters.
Monday, January 6th, 2020 – Woke up, resolutions on my mind, year of change, new year new me and somehow everything seemed the same. Same routine in the morning, same clothes, same car and same drive. As I drove in the dreaded commute, I thought to myself, “If this is a year of change, why am I not taking advantage of the train to maximize my time?”. Many of my coworkers that live in the area have been taking it for years and have encouraged me to do so. That morning as I got into work, I was convinced that I was going to join the train crew! During my lunch hour, a coworker and long-time commuter walked me to the Brickell Station where I bought my very first EASY ticket week pass and I was ready to go! I also downloaded Miami’s new transit app, Velocia, which rewards commuters for using public transportation, and if you know me, you know I am ALL ABOUT perks! For some reason everything seemed way easier than what I had envisioned.
Tuesday, January 7th, 2020 – A morning like no other, rushing to get ready, trying to prep my lunch, feed the baby and run out the door by 7:20am. For those that are familiar and know the area, you know that leaving on time makes quite the difference. Even though the day before I was determined that I was ready to ride the train, I decided I would drive in. That is until my GPS notified me that I would arrive to work 1 hour and 30 minutes later! To top it off, the GPS rerouted me to Dadeland to take US1 instead of my regular Turnpike North commute. Technological glitch? Fate, perhaps?
So, there it was: the huge, concrete and imposing Metro Parking building, I held my breath and drove in. I parked, all while having no idea what I was doing and followed the crowds, acting like I knew where I was going, and took the elevator down to the first floor. Up one flight of stairs (which added to my daily step quota) and forty seconds later, I watched uncertainly as it approached, THE TRAIN. While it may seem silly to many, I did have real fear of riding the train, aka Siderodromophobia or train phobia, due to the lack of control. But I was determined to face my fears. Afterall, it’s New year new me, right?
Once the doors opened, I took a seat by the window and gazed at the motionless cars on US1. Suddenly, I realized I now had 20 extra minutes all to myself in the morning and the perfect excuse to finally incorporate some of my new year’s resolutions. These included catching up on the novel I’ve been trying to finish for weeks and listening in on my favorite podcast, “The Doctor’s Pharmacy with Mark Hyman M.D”. I ended my commute with a 2-minute mediation. Twenty minutes after stepping on the train, I had arrived at Brickell Station, relaxed, refreshed and ready to take on the day! Five minutes later, I was sitting at my desk checking my phone when I noticed I had already taken 3,000 steps! More steps that I normally accrue in an entire day (don’t judge).
As a 34-year old new wife and mom, I’m still trying to figuring out the routine that works best for me now. Living in Kendall (which I love and is perfect for my family) and having commuted for years, I never would have thought I would be so excited about riding a train! But at that moment, knowing how much time I had saved by not driving in, as the doors opened at the station, I had the exact feeling of biting into a warm, gooey Knaus Berry Farm Cinnamon Roll (for those Miamians that are familiar with this)! A bit dramatic, perhaps but it felt like I had made it! MISSION ACCOMPLISHED. That morning, I was overjoyed. I felt so proactive that I decided to share #MyAdvantageMiami and maybe convince others to join me on this experience! I might even convince others that there is #MoreToExplore and to come visit the growing South Dade area and give our culinary scene a try? Trust me, it is worth the ride!
About the Author:
Tere Garcia, 34-years old, recent mom of a baby boy, communications professional at the Miami-Dade Beacon Council. Lives in Kendall, works in Brickell and is a first time train commuter.