Time and again, we have seen South Florida lose when our counties compete, rather than collaborate, in seeking dollars or support for key issues. But now, there is an appetite to change and a means to achieve the goal. The South Florida Business Council (SFBC) was created earlier this year to capitalize on this momentum and help our region better compete locally and nationally.

The SFBC is a strategic partnership among the Greater Miami Chamber of Commerce, Greater Fort Lauderdale Chamber of Commerce and Chamber of Commerce of the Palm Beaches. These three groups, whose members represent almost 1 million employees, are the voice of business in South Florida. They have set aside any competitive obstacles and agreed to use their collective resources to address South Florida’s critical regional issues.

First, the SFBC will serve as a convener offering a safe and neutral space. We’ve already hosted the three top transportation leaders in the region in a solutions-oriented session to improve regional mobility and come away with actionable next steps.

Second, we must walk before we run and stay focused. The SFBC created a Top Five Watch List that prioritized issues based on contributed thoughts and input from the individual chambers and civic leaders. Find the list at www.SoFloBusinesscouncil.com.

Our priorities include:

  • Mobility/transportation: Longer commute times have a direct effect on the economy through decreased worker productivity, delays in shipping and dissuading outside companies from relocating, to name just a few challenges.
  • Education quality: Education is the building block of economic development.
  • Water management: Sea-level rise, flooding, water management, beach health — the list of issues around this critical resource is long and complex.
  • Workforce/affordable housing: South Florida is the nation’s 12th most expensive metro area. Addressing this issue also offers a value-added impact of reducing stress on transportation systems by eliminating commutes.
  • Tourism growth: While South Florida’s economy continues to diversify, tourism still has a significant direct and indirect economic impact on our region.

We will keep a spotlight on these issues, speaking with one voice as we generate solutions and fight for the state and federal support we deserve. The SFBC lets us carry a bigger stick, and we shouldn’t be afraid to use it.

Christine Barney is chair of the South Florida Business Council and CEO of rbb Communications. Jack Seiler is SFBC chair-elect and founding partner, Seiler, Sautter, Zaden, Rimes & Wahlbrink. Joseph Chase is SFBC chair-elect designee and shareholder, Gunster.


source: Miami Herald


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