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Message From Mayor Carlos A. Gimenez
Fellow Residents of Miami-Dade County:
Miami-Dade County has turned the corner. After several difficult budgetary cycles and other challenges, we are headed in a better direction.
When I was first elected in June 2011, the unemployment rate in Miami-Dade County was 12.4 percent. Today, it stands at 6.7 percent and continues to go down. While government does not create the majority of the jobs in our County, it has set the conditions for job creation by keeping property taxes low and transforming how we deliver services.
The results from our approach are clear: Miami-Dade County leads Florida in private sector job creation. In the last four years, 112,000 private sectors jobs were created in our County. In addition, 39 companies either relocated to Miami-Dade or expanded their local businesses over the past year. This resulted in $536 million in new capital investment and 2,000 more jobs being created. Many have been technology startups. This emerging sector, along with the first ever county-supported e-Merge Americas Conference, helped to highlight Miami as one of the top technology hubs in the country. Global companies like Microsoft and IBM have also become very active in our community. Code for America, a nonprofit that specializes in improving civic technology, selected Miami-Dade County to be the first municipal government in Florida to participate in their fellowship program.
My administration has worked to ensure that Miami-Dade residents are the first in line for the jobs that are being created here. The private sector should not look to import workers from outside our community. We have the talent right here and will train and educate our residents through the Employ Miami-Dade initiative. Launched in December, Employ Miami-Dade brings together federal, state and county resources to train and educate residents who are in search of employment in affected areas. Miami-Dade is already seeing positive results. Residents are enrolling in our training programs, graduating and receiving assistance with job placement. We have more work to do, but I am confident that Employ Miami-Dade will be successful.
Our economic growth has also resulted in a much better fiscal outlook for Miami-Dade County. We were able to close a $208 million budget gap without laying off police officers or employees who provide essential services. Our five-year budget forecast is balanced without relying on one-time revenues, and my administration signed new three-year labor agreements with five bargaining units. The agreements included a redesign of our healthcare plan that will result in a projected savings of $26 million over the next fiscal year.
During my entire career in public service, whether as County Mayor, Miami City Manager or City of Miami Fire Chief, public safety has always been my top priority. To enhance the work of our Miami-Dade County Police Department and build more confidence between our community and our officers, my budget for Fiscal Year 2014-2015 includes the deployment of 500 body cameras for our officers. Eventually, all of our patrol officers will be using this technology.
As our County continues to grow, the need to improve our public infrastructure is paramount. This past year, we opened the toll-free PortMiami tunnel which connects the world’s busiest cruise port to key highways, making it the preferred route for approximately 14,000 drivers per day. Miami International Airport continues to be modernized to accommodate for its unprecedented growth. The rehabilitation and expansion of the Bear Cut Bridge and our public transit system is further proof of our commitment to having first-class infrastructure. These improvements and future projects throughout Miami-Dade County give us the opportunity to provide our residents with jobs, while alleviating congestion on our roadways.
For these and many other reasons, I know Miami-Dade County has indeed turned the corner. We have weathered the fiscal storm and have come out stronger because we worked together.
My administration will continue to put service to our residents above all else. That is my promise to you. Together, your government, our residents and the private sector will continue to transform Miami-Dade County into a world-class community.
Carlos A. Gimenez
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