Countywide economic summit on 'fast-track,' could happen by end of year
By Scott E. Pacheco
A countywide summit to identify economic roadblocks and discuss best practices to circumvent them could come before year's end, a business organization official says.
"We are going to fast-track it," said Bill Diggs, Miami-Dade Coalition of Chambers chair and president and chief executive officer of the Miami-Dade Chamber of Commerce.
"[I want] to do it this year, and I don't see any reason why we can't," he said. "By the end of the year we are going to do something — at least we are going to make a big announcement. The holiday season is coming up and [people] need to know that we are going to be focused on this thing."
Mr. Diggs said the coalition's board is to meet next week, as early as Dec. 17, to hammer out details of the proposed summit.
"In the short term, this meeting is going to be discussing how big and how bad the problem is going to be," he said. "The majority is going to be spent building solutions — a working session."
Mr. Diggs said the summit could take place as early as Dec. 29.
And the earlier, the better as the economy continues to worsen.
The Greater Miami Chamber of Commerce has seen the impact on its membership, from a spike in businesses needing aid to join the chamber to members going out of business, said Barry E. Johnson, president/chief executive officer.
He said a huge boost has come from the chamber's recession-buster plan for new members, which allows businesses to join at a reduced rate for the first year.
"We've been very pleased to see that it is perhaps the number 1 category of new members joining us in the general membership strata," he said. "It opens doors in an affordable way."
Mr. Johnson said the chamber has received various levels of response "in terms of challenges (members) are facing."
"We have seen a number of our members go out of business in the current environment," he said. "We are reaching out and seeing what it is the chamber can do to help them."