Doral looking to blueprint its economic future
By Ashley Hopkins
Doral's population has nearly doubled since the city incorporated in 2003, causing business officials to consider a study to act as a blueprint for Doral's economic future.
"We want to know the city's needs," said Gail Birks, chairperson of the Doral Business Council. "We want to know the opportunities that exist. We want to be able to validate plans."
As Doral is still expanding, the council has a lot of projects in the works. The study, which Ms. Birks said is likely to use standard interviews and surveys from a large cross-section of the community, would help determine which business plans the council should move forward with and which to discard.
"We really want to create a document that becomes our roadmap for building that presence of Doral as being more than just a pass-through or resort location for the Doral Resort and Spa," Ms. Birks said.
According to Peter De La Torre, Doral Business Council executive director, the 9,000 businesses in Doral include a swell of Fortune 500 companies, including Carnival Cruises, Brightstar and Goya Foods. With such a concentrated business district, he'd like to explore how the area could spur economic development and continue to expand despite tough economic times.
"Because of [the recession], the landscape has changed," he said. "I always believe on the positive side that adversity will bring out the best of everyone. New ideas will come out of this."
Doral's location may work to its advantage, Mr. De La Torre continued. Convenient to both the Port of Miami and Miami International Airport, many people have to travel through the city when coming in and out of the area, making it a prime location to build business.
"We are becoming, very quickly, the port of entry to the state," he said.
The business council plans to complete the study with the help of Washington Economics Group, a consulting team based in Coral Gables that specializes in business-related research. While the project is still in the negotiation phase, the council should know if the city approves the study within weeks, Mr. De La Torre said. The study would take 35 to 45 days, which he hopes will wrap up this year.
"We want this to be the springboard for 2011," he said.
J. Antonio Villamil, economic advisor for Washington Economics Group, is also dean of the School of Business for St. Thomas University. Mr. De La Torre said he hopes working with the group and Mr. Villamil will add credibility to the study and the initiatives that come out of it.
"I think it speaks loudly of the type of work that they do and the type of research they do," he said.
As the project has yet to be approved, Ms. Birks and Mr. De La Torre could not confirm how much the study would cost or how it would be financed. Mr. De La Torre said he hopes the city will contribute.