Leaders of three counties' economic development agencies to meet
By Susan Stabley
In a major move toward a tri-county partnership, the executive committees for the Miami-Dade and Broward economic-development agencies will meet next month with representatives from their Palm Beach counterparts tentatively scheduled to join.
CEOs Frank Nero of the Beacon Council in Miami-Dade County and James "J.T." Tarlton of the Broward Alliance said Friday that they will bring the leaders of their agencies together Jan. 9 for a morning meeting at Fort Lauderdale restaurant Shula's on the Beach.
"It's the first time ever the two have met jointly," Mr. Nero said. He said he hopes Larry Pelton, president of the Business Development Board in Palm Beach County and his board will be able to attend. Mr. Pelton could not be reached for comment.
Mr. Nero described the planned meeting as a "very good first step for taking the next step toward regional cooperation. Just having the meeting makes it a success," he said.
"The only way to make this organization a success is to sit down with Larry and Frank and say, 'Let's take a look at this from a more holistic view,' " said Mr. Tarlton, head of the Broward Alliance for the past year. "It's about trust and respect. ... (Let's) do what's right for business because it's the right thing to do."
Each said he plans to have his agency's midyear meeting jointly, likely in May or June.
"Every year we do this midyear economic outlook," said Mr. Nero. "This year, it's from a regional perspective."
The Beacon Council's midyear meeting typically focuses on the trends of the previous six months and projections for the next six months.
A focus on regionalism is particularly significant since the US Office of Management and Budget has deemed the tri-county area a "metropolitan statistical area." The region is the sixth largest in the US and the distinction would open up the opportunity for increased federal funding, especially in transportation, which Mr. Tarlton said was a key issue.
Both said they want a joint conference on information technology next year in conjunction with InternetCoast, a regional technology coalition. Joint trade missions to Spain or other countries are also a possibility, said Mr. Nero.
Mr. Nero and Mr. Tarlton said the two groups are moving away from past rivalries that stymied relationships.
A lack of trust has "always stood in the way" of regional collaboration, said Mr. Nero.
No written deal between the Beacon Council and the Broward Alliance bans the use of public funds to try to persuade a company to move from one county to another, but Mr. Nero and Mr. Tarlton said the two groups have stopped doing so.
Last week, Mr. Nero, Mr. Tarlton and Mr. Pelton spoke and often joked with each other during an economic panel in Fort Lauderdale as part of an Urban Land Institute program on development trends. They and others referred to the trio several times as the Three Amigos, a reference to a 1986 film starring Chevy Chase, Steve Martin and Martin Short.