Vision Council to seek new officer; limited funds cited
By Sherri C. Ranta
Directors of the Vision Council plan to meet Aug. 10 to reorganize South Miami-Dade County's private-public economic development organization following Monday's departure of President Dick Bauer, who cited a lack of funds as one reason he left the job.
Mr. Bauer joined TIB Bank of The Keys as vice president and regional development officer in Homestead and Florida City. He leaves the Vision Council and its subsidiary Vision Foreign Trade Zone Corp. after six years as president of the economic development group serving the Homestead and Florida City area.
Mr. Bauer said he is concerned with the future of the organization because of what he calls funding shortfalls.
"I think quite clearly that one reason for me leaving was the funding shortfall or lack of financial support in the amounts needed to carry on the job effectively," Mr. Bauer said. "The whole issue has to be re-looked at by the board and some decisions have to be made. Obviously, if you're going to have an organization it should be well staffed, well represented and represent the community as first rate. Those are the kinds of issues that have to be considered."
The 10-member Vision Council board is to meet to consider the future of the organization and consider Mr. Bauer's successor, according to board member Eric Johnson, senior vice president of Community Bank of Florida in Homestead.
"We believe," he said, "there is a continuing need for an organization such as Vision Council that works closely with the private and public sectors in order to draw and retain businesses to the South Dade area. There is no talk of disbanding Vision Council.
"We wish Dick the best in his new endeavors," said Mr. Johnson, who is also chairman of the Vision Foreign Trade Zone Corp.
The Vision Council is assigned the task of marketing the region to prospective businesses, providing services in site selection, financing options and possible incentives. The one-man operation, headquartered at the Homestead Chamber of Commerce, operates with an annual budget of about $100,000, with 70% of funds from private and 30% from public sources.
Before his departure, Mr. Bauer said he was pleased with the progress the Vision Council made during his tenure, citing the opening of Wal-mart with 600 new jobs and the planned construction of Home Depot, both in Homestead.
"I think," he said, "the organization is very much needed. I think we've set excellent groundwork, bringing the Rockefellers and other things. But you have to continue making progress."
Area leaders say a major achievement by the Vision Council and the Vision Foreign Trade Zone Corp., an agreement with the Rockefeller Group, covers use of the Vision Council's foreign trade zone license and development of the 270-acre Homestead Park of Commerce.
Development of the proposed Whitewater theme park is ongoing as well. More than $75 million in bonds will be offered through Florida City. The proposed regional water-theme park, on 200 acres straddling the Florida City and Homestead boundary, would create more than 600 jobs. Once financing is secured, backers say, completion is 18 months to two years away.
Mr. Johnson said the board would also consider the council's funding Aug. 10, although he said the budget is designed with low overhead.
Mr. Johnson said after the board receives a resignation, a transition plan is prepared to address the status of all current projects and oversight responsibility. He said a decision will be made whether a search is needed for a new president or the board can identify a successor locally.
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