Beacon Council looks to be leading One Community One Goal effort
By Zachary S. Fagenson
The Beacon Council appears to be grabbing the reins of a revived One Community One Goal initiative that could help craft Miami-Dade's economic roadmap for the coming decade.
And it's keeping the initiative close to the chest until it receives a nod from its board of directors.
The council's private-sector board is to vote Feb. 19 whether to consider pursuing the massive undertaking. If the board approves, it will lay the groundwork for the council, the county's economic-development arm, to begin devising a process and a budget for community-wide study.
One Community One Goal began in the mid-'90s as a Greater Miami Chamber of Commerce effort and identified seven sectors — biomedical, film and entertainment, financial services, information technology, telecommunications, international commerce and the visitor industry — as industries that could create enough jobs to keep up with the county's population growth. The initiative was co-chaired by then chamber Chairman Jay Malina and Miami-Dade Mayor Alex Penelas. The program quickly grew from a two- to a four-year project and brought together 42 public and private partners and thousands of individuals to identify those industries.
This time around, a revived One Community One Goal may suggest new industries as potential growth hubs or ways to support existing industries.
"If they say yes then we can start to put some meat on the bones," said Beacon Council President and CEO Frank Nero. "What we are working on is what potential protocols might look like, a time line and a budget.
"Then we would go back [to the board] with more specifics," he added.
And when the board "conceptually" approves the idea of the One Community One Goal study, Mr. Nero said, the Beacon Council will reach out to the county mayor and manager "to make sure they're on board" as well as potential partners in the business, civic and education communities.
While the agency will keep staff working on the project, once the program gets off the ground the agency will be looking for partners to do "as much as they are willing to undertake."
Although Mr. Nero said he didn't want to assume that the board would approve the measure, both he and board Vice Chair Jack Lowell, vice president of Flagler Real Estate Services, said it's time to examine where this community should be heading.
"It's a very good time to take a look at it, particularly now when we're all concerned" about the economy, Mr. Nero said.
Though Mr. Lowell said that he hadn't discussed the issue "substantively," he said one of the first orders of business to revive the effort is to line up both public and private partners then determine a budget and a process.
"You want to be sure that the people who should be included are," he said.
Mr. Nero said he's looking for a conceptual nod from the board before committing more resources.
Once the idea is accepted, Mr. Nero said, the Beacon Council will begin looking at how to fund such a massive effort and seeking partners to do "as much as they are willing to undertake. This is going to require lots of input and lots of thought.
An important part of the 21st century One Community One Goal, Mr. Nero said, would include heavy participation from the county's public and private schools.
The bulk of the cost and time in the last effort came in number-crunching. Mr. Nero said that's one place this time around he hopes to get a hand from local universities' business schools.
But this new effort, he said, should also engage primary and secondary schools.
"We need to engage education right from the start," he argued. "Last time that came along later on in the process."
The last effort also led to creation of "Industry Focused Academies" — small learning communities inside larger high schools that emphasized curriculum directly related to the industries community leaders targeted in One Community One Goal.
And those academies are still alive, said Lupe Ferran Diaz, director Schools of Choice at Miami-Dade County Public Schools.
"We have career-focused academies in various fields. Hospitality and tourism, business and finance and engineering," she said. "They either receive magnet funding through the district or Smaller Learning Communities grants" from the federal government.
If One Community One Goal returns, said Beacon Council board member and Apricot Office Supplies & Furniture President Basil Bernard, it will have to be with a greater scope.
"What I'd like to see added would be a focus on small businesses and jumpstarting access to capital," he said. "The second part of the platform would be that buying and doing business locally is very important."