Making Miami-Dade “Future Ready”
This is the January 5, 2023 edition of the Opportunity Miami newsletter written by Matt Haggman, which we send every Tuesday. Click here to subscribe to get our weekly updates in your inbox.
What do we need to do to make Miami-Dade County “Future Ready”? What steps should we take — this year– towards achieving it?
To kick off 2023, we sat down with Miami-Dade County Mayor Daniella Levine Cava for our latest Opportunity Miami podcast to discuss what she thinks is required to build the future we want.
In several ways, the coming year presents a unique opportunity to make a real dent in Miami’s future. For one, following the dramatic movement of people and companies during the pandemic, the business leaders, investors, and entrepreneurs now calling Miami home are poised to reshape the region even more. For another, Miami has the opportunity to win its share of historic levels of federal funding from legislation enacted over the past two years to do everything from increase internet access in homes and build electric car charging networks to expand mass transit.
The need to drive long-term economic change is greater than ever, Mayor Levine Cava said, because the County’s economy is not only the most recovered nationally, but it’s also the most unequal in terms of affordability.
With that in mind, Mayor Levine Cava announced her “FutureReady Miami-Dade” economic development strategy late last year, citing three areas she thinks are critical: advance workforce talent, support small businesses, and unleash innovation.
“The world is changing at such a speed that we have to be agile, we have to be skilled, and we have to be reskilled,” she said.
But she emphasized in our 30-minute conversation that Miami-Dade’s economic future is at risk if we don’t create more ways for everyone to participate in it.
Efforts must focus on “everything that we can do to make sure our residents and our families, honestly, can afford to live here and take advantage of this growth, “ Mayor Levine Cava said.
Watch the full conversation with Mayor Daniella Levine Cava here ▶
From artificial intelligence and automation, the metaverse and blockchain, to electrifying cars and flying taxis, it’s hard to think of a time when so many different technologies are emerging with the chance to upend jobs and remake the broader economy.
But if there is a government equipped with the heft and resources to galvanize big shifts, it’s Miami-Dade County.
Larger than some states, the county’s annual $10.3 billion budget includes the community’s biggest public assets. Indeed, county government touches daily life in numerous ways, whether taking a morning shower (Miami-Dade Water & Sewer), catching a bus (Miami-Dade Transportation & Public Works), getting on a flight (Miami International Airport), or purchasing goods shipped to Miami (PortMiami), among numerous other examples.
Mayor Levine Cava said she aims to bring that size and reach to bear in collaborating with the civic and private sectors in delivering her Future Ready plan.
This ranges from convening educational institutions and organizations like The Children’s Trust and United Way to bring a “collective impact” approach to talent development; supporting small businesses with mentorship and financial support while also making it easier to start new enterprises; or opening up the various parts of the sprawling government to work with entrepreneurs, such as through the forthcoming Innovation Authority, to solve public challenges like decarbonizing the economy and addressing sea level rise and extreme heat.
“We‘re going to define problems, invite solutions and provide capital investment that will improve our operations and build new ventures that will solve problems in our community,” the Mayor said.
For the year ahead, the Mayor highlighted three efforts that she hopes will strike at the core of making Miami-Dade more future ready.
One, a campaign to increase the number of homes with high-speed internet access across Miami-Dade County. According to the U.S. Census, 82.6 percent of households across Miami-Dade County are connected (by comparison New York City is 86.2 percent and Los Angeles is 88.9 percent). The federal government is making unprecedented funds available to close the digital divide nationally.
Without real gains in internet access, “we can’t make our workforce goals a reality,” Mayor Levine Cava. “It’s fundamental.”
Two, the completion of more than 30,000 affordable homes across Greater Miami to help ease Miami-Dade’s high cost of living.
Three, in a bid to increase mobility, the Mayor said she’s hopeful that by year’s end there will be clarity on efforts to expand the Metrorail north to Miami Gardens.
“The Biden Administration has put out some incredible opportunities,” she said. “We are going for it. We think we can get an expanded Metrorail.”
Indeed, with enormous amounts of federal funding available due to legislation like the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act and Inflation Reduction Act, it presents a rare chance to win dollars to make a meaningful dent in a range of future-shaping efforts. Mayor Levine Cava said her administration has brought in more than $500 million in federal funding and is ramping up efforts to win more.
To be sure, focusing on the future can be tricky for elected officials when residents are confronting present-day pressures like paying increasing monthly rents and grocery bills.
“That is the important question of how one leads,” Mayor Levine Cava said.
“We have to be able to tell people the truth but also give them hope that we can solve these big problems,” she added. “People are very focused on the economy and how they can get by day to day. Safety, how they can protect themselves and their loved ones. We need to find the pathways to bring them into a future orientation so they can be part of the solution.”
As we begin year two at Opportunity Miami, we would like to invite you to subscribe to our podcast here and please leave us a review. As always, send us your ideas at email@example.com. You can also follow us on social channels.
And, of course, wishing you a great 2023!