Beacon Council Celebrates Years Successes At Annual Meeting
By Risa Polansky
In its 21st year, the Beacon Council assisted in creating more than 1,150 new jobs in Miami-Dade County, helping to keep local unemployment rates at their lowest levels since 1983, according to agency officials.
Addressing the economic-development agency’s annual meeting Tuesday night, out-going chairman Neisen Kasdin called the year a success. "We here at the Beacon Council can’t take credit for the great unemployment rate, but it speaks to the greatness of the economy in Miami-Dade County," he said. "In the face of Hurricane Wilma and Hurricane Katrina, it was not easy to persuade businesses to relocate here or expand here. To be able to hold onto what we have and add to it in the past year is quite an accomplishment."
The council assisted 21 companies in establishing branches in Miami, helping attract more than $63.5 million in new capital investment, according to the council’s annual report, released for the annual meeting.
"We’ve been able to attract some outstanding companies here," said Frank Nero, Beacon Council president and CEO.
Nokia’s Latin American Division of Texas, Trend USA of Italy and Mapre USA of Spain have been among notable additions to Miami’s business population in the past fiscal year, he said.
Hurricanes and formidable housing and insurance costs have been obstacles in attracting business, and this year, the council’s Research and Strategic Planning Department produced a study analyzing the cost of homes in relationship to wages in an attempt to address the issues. This year, they may do the same regarding commercial insurance, Mr. Nero said.
An aggressive marketing campaign and national and international missions and visits to tradeshows have helped meet some of these challenges, he said, and reauthorizing the Miami-Dade Marketing Initiative, through which the county matches private sector donations 2-1, is a main goal of the new board.
"We trust that not only will it be reauthorized but expanded so we can continue with our message as: Miami, the right place for your business," said Angel Medina Jr., Miami-Dade County president of Regions Bank and the incoming Beacon Council chairman during his acceptance address at the meeting.
Other new officers are Pete Pizarro, CEO of Telefonica USA, chairman-elect; Alan Becker, shareholder at Becker & Poliakoff, treasurer; and Clyde Rucker, senior vice president of global communications and external affairs for Burger King Corp., secretary. Mr. Nero will continue as president and CEO.
This year, the council will "continue to brand Miami as a world-class, global city. We will continue to address issues on the horizon relative to increased costs of doing business," Mr. Nero said. "We will look at issues such as insurance that make us less competitive than we have been in the past."
Miami-Dade’s jobless rate reached lows of 3.5% in January and May, the lowest unemployment rate in the county in 23 years. The Beacon Council said South Florida led the state in job creation in the most recent fiscal year and achieved the low unemployment levels continued growth of the labor force. Advertisement