State chamber's work a beacon for One Community One Goal
By Zachary S. Fagenson
Rather than set its own methods and measures for a renewed One Community One Goal effort, the Beacon Council may use a formula laid out by the Florida Chamber of Commerce during its own decade-long targeted-industry study.
The local economic development agency's private-sector board last month approved the communitywide study, allowing it to develop a plan that includes timelines, budgets and potential partners.
But the public-and-privately-funded Beacon Council faces tough challenges as it looks to bring back the program that brought together 42 organizational partners and required the work of thousands of individuals.
Atop that list is financing.
During the first One Community effort, some organizations put up as much $100,000 to fund industry-focused academies in Miami-Dade public schools. Others lent staff to help coordinate the research and countless meetings.
The program began in the mid-'90s as a Greater Miami Chamber of Commerce
project and targeted seven industries — biomedical, film and entertainment, financial
services, information technology, telecommunications, international commerce and the visitor industry — as those that could create enough good jobs to keep up with the county's population growth. Aviation was added later.
The initiative, co-chaired by then chamber Chairman Jay Malina and Miami-
Dade Mayor Alex Penelas, quickly grew from a two- to a four-year effort.
But with cutbacks in private businesses, public institutions and business associations, the Beacon Council has its hopes set on in-kind contributions to help cover the financial gap.
Frank Nero, president and CEO, has said the council will look for help from local business schools, whose students could conduct some of the economic research.
Yet its first order of business is to meet this month with leaders of the state chamber, who have been conducting a similar study at the statewide level.
"What I'll be talking about [are]… five basic steps to a strategic planning [process] and the plan is the center part," said Dale Brill, since Jan. 1 the president of the Florida Chamber of Commerce Foundation, of his forthcoming meeting with Beacon Council officials.
Local and regional economic development agencies using the chamber's research and analysis model, he added, can send their data to the state chamber to be combined with others, which are reported on www.thefloridascorecard.com.
The Web site offers a somewhat up-to-date look at such economic indicators as unemployment, construction activity and per capita-income trends.
It also tracks progress in key areas that Mr. Brill said the foundation identified as it sifted stacks of local economic development agencies' strategic plans.
"We analyzed the… plans of many, many economic development organizations and chambers," he said. "What emerged was over 93% agreement on what we call six pillars of an economy."
Those six areas — talent and education, innovation and economic development, infrastructure and growth leadership, business climate and competitiveness, civic and government systems, and quality of life — are measures that may help gauge effectiveness of a plan after it's put in place.
"Within each of those six pillars," Mr. Brill added, "there are building blocks that both lend themselves to the discussion of where does the community go, what targets should it select and how it can measure them."
In a previous interview, Mr. Nero said he'd like this effort and the state's study to work together.
"We want to make sure we're in sync with the state," he said. "We have to be complementary to what the state's goals are."
The Beacon Council, which is One Community's flag-bearer, will also take advantage of state's existing research in hopes of cutting costs.
"We're going to look hard at the six pillars teaching plan the state chamber has done," said Jack Lowell, vice chair of the Beacon Council's board and managing director of Flagler Real Estate Services. "We think there's a lot of validity in their research. They spent over $1 million doing it and they kindly offered to make it available to us.
"We can use that as baseline data and customize it for South Florida. We don't want to reinvent the wheel."