||Mr. Adolfo Henriques, Vice Chair of the Beacon Council, appeared before the Board and introduced Ms. Alexandra (Alex) Villoch, Vice President, Miami Herald Media Company’s Advertising and Marketing Division and other members of the Beacon Council (BC) Board of Directors. He noted these individuals were instrumental in efforts to update the One Community One Goal (OCOG) Strategic Plan. Mr. Henriques explained that he along with Ms. Villoch and Mayor Gimenez were co-chairs of this project, which was intended to spur job and investment opportunities in the County. He provided a Power Point Presentation on the OCOG “Competitive Assessment Report” as follows:
1) Background of the OCOG initiative:
• In 1984, the Beacon Council was founded as a private/public partnership, focused on economic development, and developed/implemented business retention, expansion and recruitment strategies for the first ten years of its existence;
• in the early 1990s, the Beacon Council developed the original One Community One Goal initiative due to high unemployment. The primary focus was marketing and critical targeted industries;
• currently, the Beacon Council was working on revising its strategic marketing plan in order to address record high unemployment, unprecedented changes in the global economy, and to focus on strategic industries that yielded the best results for the County.
2) Objectives of the OCOG Targeted Industry Strategic Plan:
• Identify current competitive strengths and weaknesses in MDC’s economy;
• develop ideas/goals to build on MDC’s strengths and challenge its weaknesses;
• identify targeted industries with the greatest potential for job creation and growth within the County;
• ensure that the workforce acquire the education, skills, and training to match the job requirements of targeted industries;
• develop an action plan to create new jobs and attract incremental investment; and
• develop goals and a score card to continually track and evaluate progress.
3) Selection of targeted industries:
• Targeted industries must have high potential for creating new jobs, increasing wages, and providing significant capital investment;
• targeted industries’ specific requirements must be matched with local strengths and weaknesses; and
• targeted industries must yield the highest Return on Investment (ROI) for MDC.
Mr. Henriques noted, once the targeted industries were selected, a strategic action plan and marketing strategies would be developed to recruit and retain qualified employees; expand jobs; and fund economic development missions, trade shows, communications, and outreach.
Continuing the presentation, Ms. Villoch pointed out that the industries currently targeted by MDC were Aviation, Fashion-Lifestyle, Life Sciences, Financial Services, International Commerce, Telecom, Film and Entertainment, and the Visitor Industry. She noted the Beacon Council (BC) had focused on these industries over the past 15 years, and incorporated them into the Comprehensive Development Master and the Strategic Plans for the past 11 years; and would continue to incorporate them upon approval of the revised OCOG Strategic Plan. Ms. Villoch noted that Trade, Education, Government, and Business and Hospitality industries were major employers in the County. She also noted this would not change with the revised plan, which would be complemented by activities of targeted industries that yielded the best results for job creation and investment in MDC.
Ms. Villoch noted Education was the focus of both the original and the revised OCOG initiatives; moreover, academicians were called upon to participate in efforts to revise the strategic plan and to guide the planning process. She noted the BC recognized that in order to attract any employment, the County needed to have a workforce that had the proper education, skills or training to align with the targeted industries’ requirements.
Ms. Villoch noted due to the County’s urgent need for economic development, the timeframe to complete the updated OCOG strategic plan would accelerate to one year. She explained that the participants involved in this effort included: 1) a Steering Committee comprised of over 55 diverse community, business, and educational leaders; 2) a team of consultants, nationally recognized and experienced in targeted industry analysis, strategies, economic development, education and corporate site selection parameters; and 3) several community business organizations that hosted focus groups, participated in input sessions, and assisted in the OCOG surveys, which received over 4,100 responses countywide.
In conclusion, Ms. Villoch indicated that the Competitive Assessment Report was the first report completed as part of this initiative, a key component of the study, and contained the SWOT analysis that identified the County’s current strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats for economic development. It also contained the various community and business organizations that participated in this effort, whose invaluable and indispensable support ranged from hosting events, to promoting surveys, collecting data, and providing significant financial contributions. She pointed out that Wells Fargo was the lead contributor. The reports on the Selected Targeted Industry Clusters and the County’s Educational Assets Inventory would be presented in January 2012, and the Final Report, including a marketing plan and recommendations for implementation of strategies would be published in March 2012, Ms. Villoch added.
Following the presentation, Vice Chairwoman Edmonson opened the floor for questions/comments from members of the Board.
Commissioner Moss asked if the SWOT analysis included a review of the County’s aesthetics and customer service, noting he was concerned regarding how the County was perceived by prospective businesses seeking to relocate.
Mr. Henriques indicated that the Competitive Analysis Report addressed the County’s aesthetics and identified many positive ‘Quality of Life’ aspects, such as its beautiful climate, outdoor recreation, ethnic diversity, moderate housing affordability, and continual investments in arts, cultural facilities, and events. He noted, however, that customer service was an area that needed some improvement. Subsequently, the BC would produce a score card to track its success in attracting targeted industries to the County and creating jobs.
Commissioner Sosa commended Mr. Henriques, Ms. Villoch and representatives of the BC for their efforts in this project. She said she believed the BC needed to link targeted industries with County resources such as the South Florida Work Force (SFWF), which could assist in job training and education.
Mr. Henriques noted, according to the analysis, the County had one of the highest rates of graduates per capita nationwide, but could not retain its graduates here. He explained that the reason the BC wanted to bring together all educational institutions at all levels was to bridge the gaps between the County’s educational assets and skills sets versus targeted industries’ requirements. He agreed that the SFWF could help bridge those gaps.
Referring to the chart presented, entitled “Current Non-agricultural Employment in Miami-Dade County,” Commissioner Souto asked why Agriculture was not considered a critical targeted industry in the analysis, since it was an important sector of the County’s economy and involved biotechnology and other fields related to life sciences. Commissioner Souto advised that the Florida Legislature would consider a proposal to implement a School of Veterinarian Medicine at Florida International University (FIU), and stressed the importance of having such a school here. He suggested the BC get involved in promoting this legislation. With regard to the BC, he questioned whether the BC would be monitoring the downsizing of American Airlines.
Mr. Henriques agreed that Agriculture was extremely important. He explained that the study focused on industries that could be supported continually and were critical to MDC, including agricultural and life sciences, which encompassed biotechnology and all aspects of health care. Mr. Henriques noted he could provide the commissioner with the actual number of jobs tied to the agriculture industry.
Ms. Villoch informed members of the Commission that nearly 1 percent of the total jobs studied were tied to the Agriculture Industry, but were seasonal or part-time jobs. She noted the BC recognized that the Agriculture Industry was critical to MDC, especially in South Dade. However, it was not identified directly in the analysis because the focus was on non-agricultural industries, although some agricultural jobs were tied to non-agricultural industries. Ms. Villoch advised that Dr. Mark Rosenberg (President of FIU), and members of his staff had been involved in the OCOG initiative since its beginning, and the BC supported his plans to develop a School of Medicine and expand the Life Sciences at FIU. She reassured Commissioner Souto that the BC would work closely with him and all educational institutions countywide on this endeavor.
Regarding American Airlines (AA), Mr. Frank Nero noted, since the airline declared bankruptcy, he had been in contact with AA’s Senior Executive Officer, Peter Delores, who assured him that AA anticipated maintaining its current level of services in the near future. Mr. Nero pointed out that AA was one of the County’s largest employers, with over 9,000 employees. He explained that AA filed for bankruptcy under Chapter 11, which was a reorganization plan that would most likely address labor contracts, leases, and pension issues. He said although it would be premature to determine the impact on the County, the reorganization of AA could benefit Miami-Dade County, particularly its international hub and the potential to inherit assets from less profitable routes. He pointed out that AA was vital to the County’s growth in the global economy, and the strategic plan was predicated on the County’s connectivity to the rest of the world through airport, seaport, and transportation infrastructure. Mr. Nero advised that the County Commission should maintain support and communication with AA, and closely monitor the impact of this reorganization on the community.
Mr. Henriques expressed appreciation to members of the Commission and to Mayor Gimenez for their support of this initiative; and to representatives of the Beacon Council for their efforts in pushing it forward. He noted he would return with the proposed goals and score card.
In response to Commissioner Moss’ question regarding whether diversity would be factored into the OCOG plan, Ms. Villoch emphasized that the plan would address the entire community and its educational needs at all levels. She advised that the objective was to identify jobs for the future and to ensure educational institutions across the County provided necessary job training and education. Ms. Villoch noted the BC invited all community organizations to participate in this effort. She asked the commissioners for their support and assistance in disseminating information publicly and in hosting town hall meetings in each Commission District.
Commissioner Moss inquired whether this process would include an examination of the County’s current job training system to determine if the community’s needs were still being met, and whether the system was reaching those segments of the community where the needs were greatest. He also inquired whether the BC had taken a position on the presence of Destination Resort Casinos in Miami and whether or not casinos would be considered in the updated OCOG plan.
Ms. Villoch advised that the Executive Director of South Florida Work Force, Mr. Rick Beasley, was actively participating in this process.
Mr. Nero expressed uncertainty as to whether the BC had taken a position on destination casinos in Miami, but the Coalition of Chambers and Miami-Dade College were sponsoring an all-day forum to discuss this issue. He advised that the workshop would be held at Miami-Dade College on December 12, 2011, beginning at 8:30 a.m., and would include a broad spectrum of attendees who were either in support of or opposition to casinos, including economists, members of the casino industry, and former Governor Bob Graham as keynote speaker. Mr. Nero noted he sent each commissioner a memorandum with information on the forum, along with key questions he believed should be answered regarding destination casinos, and invited all Board members to participate on the panel. Mr. Nero added that members of the BC Board of Directors believed they needed to be impartial, raise the necessary concerns, and provide the public with as much information as possible on the subject until a final proposal was approved.
Commissioner Moss suggested that the OCOG strategic plan presented today, be presented again before the Economic Development and Social Services Committee (EDSSC), and that all County Commissioners be invited to participate in that meeting to discuss it.
Mr. Henriques clarified that the only report presented today (12/06) was the Competitive Assessment Report and the Comprehensive Plan would be forthcoming.
Vice Chairwoman Edmonson encouraged the BC to invite either the Commissioner of District 3 or a representative from the surrounding areas to participate on the panel. She noted the importance for residents from those communities most impacted by the proposed casinos should be invited to participate in the discussions.
Mr. Nero extended an invitation to every commissioner, and indicated that the Chairs of the Board of County Commissioners and the EDSSC were invited, as well as the Chair of the Black Elected Officials Caucus, and Mr. Bill Diggs of Miami Dade Chambers.
Vice Chairwoman Edmonson pointed out that neither Commission District 3 nor the surrounding areas to be impacted by the proposed casinos were represented by the Black Elected Officials Caucus, and a representative from those areas as well as an organization representing the entire County needed to participate on the panel and in the discussions.
Mr. Nero welcomed Vice Chairwoman Edmonson’s participation on the panel. He noted the BC’s intent was to get as many people as possible to attend this forum and participate in open dialogue. He explained the reason the BC delayed announcing the date of the workshop was to ensure that the date and time of the workshop corresponded with the Legislative sponsors’ availability. Mr. Nero agreed that the areas adjacent to proposed locations for casinos would be greatly impacted by them, and the process should not be restrictive, but open and transparent.
Commissioner Diaz noted it was important that the OCOG plan applied to the entire community and that all County Commissioners be included in the discussions. He said he heard of possibly ten proposals that would be presented to the City of Miami Beach, but had not seen one of them yet; however, they would ultimately be considered by the County Commission. He advised that the Commission needed to be more informed about this very sensitive issue, and asked Mr. Nero to ensure the information was disseminated fairly. He also asked if it was true that the voters of Miami-Dade County had already decided on whether they wanted casinos.
Mr. Henriques explained that the OCOG plan was the subject of today’s (12/06) presentation and completely separate from the discussion on proposed destination casinos. He noted although the BC led and supported the initiative, its function was to reach out to the community and get as many people as possible involved in the competitive assessment and SWOT analysis. He noted he completely understood the concerns expressed by the commissioners who urged members of the BC to focus on the community at large and the surrounding areas impacted by proposed casinos and promised to share these concerns with the BC Board of Directors, the Coalition of Chambers, and other organizations.
Ms. Villoch expounded that the team of consultants hired for the OCOG plan were asked to provide a separate addendum to the plan on the implications of destination casinos, and to include a marketing strategy in the event the proposal was approved.
Mr. Nero added that even though the OCOG plan was distinctly different from the upcoming forum to discuss casinos, the consultants raised the issue that if casinos were approved as currently proposed, they would definitely impact the marketing strategies for attracting other industries to the County. He pointed out that the casino industry was sophisticated and involved a myriad of complicated issues, including employment, vendors, taxes, etc. Mr. Nero noted in addition to the questions contained in the memorandum provided to the commissioners, which he mentioned earlier, a bibliography of books was provided that the commissioners could read to gain broader perspective on this subject. He encouraged the commissioners to attend the forum or to meet with him individually or collectively to discuss his views on how casinos would impact each Commission District.
Commissioner Diaz expressed concern that certain surrounding hotels and businesses on Miami Beach were geared up for casinos. He asked Mr. Nero to ensure that the public was well informed on this issue, and that individuals from diverse backgrounds were invited to participate in the workshop. He commended the BC for their efforts in the OCOG initiative.
Commissioner Sosa indicated that the reason she was participating on the panel was to report the opinions and concerns raised by fellow commissioners. She said that she would be working with Mr. Nero to present the results of the public forum workshop before the EDSSC; however, the Chair of the Commission would need to schedule a meeting of the full Board to discuss casinos and conduct a public hearing, once the proposals were developed, she added.
Vice Chairwoman Edmonson reiterated the importance of including representative(s) from the immediate Commission Districts and surrounding areas on the panel.
Commissioner Monestime expressed appreciation to Mr. Henriques, Ms. Villoch, and representatives of the BC for the presentation on the Competitive Assessment Report and for bringing jobs and investment opportunities to this community. He said he looked forward to the updated presentation on the Comprehensive Strategic Plan.
Commissioner Monestime asked that the BC consider broadening the criteria for selecting areas within the County for expanding investment opportunities. He noted he understood the need to minimize the risk when industries invested here; however, he would be watching closely to see if investment was expanded to non-traditional areas in the urban core outside Brickell, Doral, and the airport that had been excluded or disenfranchised in the past. The entire County would potentially benefit from investment, and the vision should be to increase investment opportunities throughout the County, he added.
Mr. Nero welcomed Commissioner Monestime’s input and recommendations on the Competitive Assessment Report, noting the final report would not be released until March 2012, and they still had time to amend it. Concerning the urban areas, Mr. Nero noted the proposed legislation to create an Enterprise Zone was critical for attracting desired investment to these areas.
Commissioner Monestime agreed that public involvement and input were important in developing the updated OCOG strategic plan. He said he was hopeful that some major areas along NW 7th Avenue and Interstate 95 (I-95) that had great potential for investment would be incorporated into the plan since these areas had been marginalized in the past.
Chairman Martinez noted he concurred with Commissioner Monestime that the OCOG needed to benefit the entire County. He advised that members of the Commission needed to discuss their position on the State Bill regarding the Local Business Tax (LBT), which would definitely impact the BC, the County, and other municipalities. Although Destination Resort Casinos would be considered a new business, they should remain under the purview of the County Commission, regardless of the State’s actions, Chairman Martinez noted. He said he believed the State Legislature would only establish the Gaming Commission. However; if approved, destination resort casinos would change the image of this County beyond just attracting new businesses.
In response to Commissioner Bell’s question regarding whether the BC was working on attracting more businesses to the Port of Miami, Mr. Nero indicated that the Steering Committee was working daily with the representatives from the airport and seaport, which were critical key assets to the County’s connectivity to the rest of the world as noted throughout the report.
Chairman Martinez referred to his November 3, 2011 Draft Letter, which was distributed to each commissioner and contained suggestions offered at a previous BCC workshop on gambling. He noted this letter was the subject of today’s Discussion and needed to be discussed in the Sunshine. He advised that he wished to solicit input from the commissioners on whether to add or delete information in the letter before forwarding the final draft to Senator Fresnen.
Commissioner Heyman noted she submitted a memorandum to the County Attorney that contained four important issues she believed should be included in the final draft. She asked the County Attorney if he had circulated this memorandum to members of the Commission.
County Attorney Cuevas said the memorandum had not been circulated yet, but he was prepared to discuss it.
Chairman Martinez asked each commissioner to jot down additional comments or concerns they wished to have incorporated into the draft letter, and submit them to the Clerk of the Board Division. He noted the Clerk would make copies and distribute that information.
Chairman Martinez asked the Clerk to make copies of Commissioner Heyman’s memorandum as well and distribute it to members of the Board for review and discussion later in today’s agenda.
*See Non-Agenda Discussion Item on Destination Resort Casinos