Countywide economic summit set for Feb. 2
By Scott E. Pacheco
A countywide economic summit is set for Feb. 2, a few months after area business development leaders first called for the gathering at the beginning of November.
The initiative, which is to include involvement from the Coalition of Chambers, took root in southern Miami-Dade, says Mary Scott Russell, president of Chamber South.
"My board challenged me to put this together for greater South Dade and it has morphed into all of Miami-Dade County," she said.
With the Coalition of Chambers set to attend, the interests of the entire county are to be discussed at the 11:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m. summit at Splitsville Lanes in South Miami's Sunset Place.
Ms. Russell is spearheading the effort alongside Mark A. Trowbridge, president and chief executive officer of the Coral Gables Chamber of Commerce.
The gathering will aim to encourage teamwork in facing the challenges that the recession has and will continue to bring to local communities.
"If everybody's holding onto their piece of the pie then not everybody is getting their piece of the pie," Ms. Russell said. "Once we get through this we can all focus on prosperity for ourselves again."
The keynote speaker will be Florida Chief Financial Officer Alex Sink, who has confirmed for the event.
"One of the reasons we want to have somebody like (Ms. Sink) is to share with us what we look like today and into the future, and how it's going to be incredibly important that we take advantage of what we have here," Mr. Trowbridge said.
Break-out sessions will cover education, small business, hospitality, transportation and not-for-profit. All groups will put their suggestions onto a jump drive and at the end of the day share their findings with the other groups.
Mr. Trowbridge said the summit will allow economic development leaders from many county organizations to work on solutions that can benefit everyone.
"We get very focused… with what's going on in terms of our constituents' needs," he said. "Generally, those needs can be open to a wider scope. We are going to have the leadership with these organizations — how do we synergize and do something that's going to make sense for everybody."
While every chamber is constantly working for its members, the summit will allow for "a show of solidarity," said Barry Johnson, president and CEO of the Greater Miami Chamber of Commerce.
In addition to Ms. Russell, Mr. Johnson and Mr. Trowbridge, confirmed attendees include: Wendy Kallergis, president of Miami Beach Chamber, and her board; Bill Diggs, president of the Miami-Dade County Chamber, and his board; Matt Pinzur, special assistant to County Manager George Burgess; Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Alvarez; Larry Barditch, Pinecrest Business Association president, and representatives from South Miami, Pinecrest, Palmetto Bay and Cutler Bay.
Also invited are the Doral Business Council; Beacon Council leaders Tere Blanca, Frank Nero, Steven Beatus and Dana Fernety; Greater Miami Convention & Visitors Bureau CEO William D. Talbert III; the Key Biscayne Chamber; The Realtor Association of Greater Miami and the Beaches; Liede DeValdivielso, Palmetto Bay Business Association president; Jorge Pena, West Kendal Business Association president; Darryl Boyette, Cutler Bay Business Association president; Eddie Berrones, Red Sunset Merchants Association president; and Herb Parlato, executive director of the Economic Development Council.
Ms. Russell said organizers are still working on bringing industry experts to the event and have no names to release.
Said Mr. Trowbridge "We have to work harder than we have ever worked before and maintain a positive outlook."