County Arts Center Project Has Sparked Economy
By Samantha Joseph
Despite problems associated with its construction costs and schedule, the Miami Performing Arts Center project is creating jobs and generating work for small businesses.
As the largest project under way in one of the county’s empowerment zones, the center is expected to be a major boost in revitalizing Miami’s Omni area.
In the past two years, county records show that 3,140 people have worked at the site, which sprawls across 5.9 acres on both sides of Biscayne Boulevard between Northeast 13th and 14th streets.
Current employment at the construction project stands at 550, according to arts center officials. Project officials expect to add workers before the project’s targeted completion date of summer 2006.
As part of an employment strategy with the county, center officials agreed to hire about 200 workers from three areas that included the Central Business District and unincorporated Miami-Dade County.
An agreement to hire of unemployed and underemployed workers in some of the county’s most depressed communities resulted in jobs for 342 workers who live in Wynwood, Overtown and other areas surrounding the site.
"It’s part of a commitment to hire people who need work," said Gail Eaton, chief marketing officer of the Performing Arts Center Trust.
The center has generated about $35 million in work contracts for local businesses since 2001 but still needs to award millions more to other companies as part of a county requirement to include small firms in the project. About 21 companies are now involved in the center’s construction.
Repeated delays and planning problems have driven up estimated costs of the Performing Arts Center project from about $255 million to $412 million.