Planning the Future of South Dade

By Phil Marraccini
December 8, 2017


Making Progress at 3rd Economic Development Summit

It started promptly at 9 am in the new Conference Center at Zoo Miami. Skipped breakfast, grabbing a cup of coffee then off to work.  Tom Hudson of WLRN was the first speaker to welcome everyone. He followed the format set up by Diane Gonzalez under the directions of Commissioners Dennis Moss and Daniella Levine Cava. First came a barrage of facts from Mr. Hudson: 35,000 people are expected to move to South Dade in the next five years. eight out of 10 businesses have nine or less employees. Our area has an unemployment rate just under 5%, one of the lowest in the Nation. The challenges the area will face are 1) a workable transportation system 2) creation of more, higher paying jobs now and in the future. He ended, “So, where will South Dade be in eight to 10 years?”

Speaking at the Summit were (from top clockwise) Rene Infante, chairman of the Economic Development Council; Commissioner Daniella Levine Cava; and Commissioner Dennis Moss

Rene Infante, Chairman of the Economic Development Council (EDC) and successful businessman, now focuses a majority of his time working to build a better community, one that can keep up with the expected growth. His business enterprise in Princeton, Redland Village Market, Florida has grown to serve 35 to 40 thousand people each week with 650 booths employing 3,000 people.

Diane Gonzalez, facilitator of ‘South Dade – More to Explore’, is trying to make sure vacant property is developed for the right land use and that the infrastructure be improved coupled with better transportation stating, “all sectors, public and private bring something to the solution. South Dade is a great place to live and play, we need to make it a great place to work.”

Bill Talbert, CEO and President of the Greater Miami Visitor’s Bureau exclaimed, “We need to develop South Dade’s brand, More to Explore. We are blessed with two National Parks and are the Gateway to the Keys, plus we have a viable agritourism industry.” He ended stressing these assets need to pushed on social media and displayed at national and international trade shows. Think about the economic impact of

visitor’s extended stays, it’s a “no brainer” with all we have to offer.

CEO of the Beacon Council of Miami Dade Michael Finney, focused on seven industries: 1) aviation 2) creative design 3) hospitality-tourism 4) information technology 5) banking and finance 6) live

science innovation 7) center of access/egress for Miami Dade County.

Isabel Cosio Carballo talked about “Diversity of Industries” while Carol Kruse brought us up to date on Zoo Miami. Steven Meyers, Real Estate Advisor for the County, talked about the county-owned 600 acres near the Homestead Air Force Base and the sale of 50 acres developed by FedEx.

Freenette Williams stated, Homestead is ahead of schedule on a 3-phase plan that includes completion of restoration of the Seminole Theatre, build an impressive City Hall and police station and build, on two city-blocks, a garage with a 14-lane bowling alley, 10 screen movie theatre and a cyber-library. Also mentioned was the remodeling of Losner Park.

Cutler Bay is concentrating on improving their infrastructure including roads, schools and landscaping. Plans are to

re-dedicate the 85-acre Southland Mall, lure more businesses to the area, plus investigating the

possibility of a convention center was mentioned. FYI: Cutler Bay was voted #7 by zip code as a best place to live in America.

Rick Stauts, Executive Director of Florida City Community Redevelopment Agency, reported Florida City has been working on improving roads, up dating water and sewer lines in an effort to be prepared for future growth. Proving this plan of action works are the new businesses: Harbor Freight, Roadhouse Grill, Kings Court Casino and several hotels. Not to be forgotten are its citizens with new housing and neighborhood renovations.

It was a long day but there was one more

challenge as we broke into eight groups each with a different agenda. Each group was given a key word related to an issue in South Dade and what is needed to meet that challenge. Each group submitted three items that they felt needed to be addressed. Here are a few:

Transportation: High speed rail system 2) Job creation: better jobs/higher pay 3) Training for better jobs 4) Better roads

5) Modify NAFTA to save our farms/place controls on imports where the threat on new pests are being introduced into the country 6) Convention center and more hotels

I look forward to seeing the full list of these well thought out suggestions but a list alone, without implementation is not what South Dade needs…WE NEED ACTION!

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