Spotlight On: Kevin Rogers, Regional President, Seaside National Bank & Trust

Spotlight On: Kevin Rogers, Regional President, Seaside National Bank & Trust

By Max Crampton-Thomas

2 min read October 2019 — Seaside National Bank & Trust may be considered a newer entry into the market, having first opened its doors in 2006, but since then it has become a prominent force in the banking community. Invest: Greater Fort Lauderdale recently spoke with Kevin Rogers, the regional president of Seaside National Bank & Trust’s South Florida operations. During the discussion, he spoke on the importance of cybersecurity to a bank like Seaside, how Seaside handles the challenge of competition in South Florida and his approach to finding the right employee candidates. 

How are you protecting your clients in regards to cybersecurity? 

Cybersecurity is a huge topic, not only at our bank, but also across the financial services industry. We tell our people all the time that we’re a small bank, and if we took a $2 million to $3 million hit it would substantially hurt us. Our people are on guard every minute. We have an incredible onboarding process, and we not only know who we’re banking with, but we also know who are clients are dealing with as well. If you ask what keeps me up at night more so than hitting balance sheet goals, it’s cybersecurity and being hit with a loss.

The amount of money that the bank spends on cybersecurity is incredible, but you have to stay ahead of the game. We conduct a lot of training on the subject. I even do a communication call twice a month with our South Florida employees, and one of the main topics is cybersecurity. We want to make sure that everybody is on guard, that they know who their clients are and that they’re asking the right questions. You have to ask the tough questions to make sure you protect the bank.

 

What is the biggest challenge in the market for a small to midsize bank like Seaside, and how do you overcome it?

I think the biggest challenge is always going to be the competition. Banks of our size do not have the brand recognition that a Bank of America does, so the question is how do we sell Seaside Bank? We have to go out and talk to our clients about who we are and what we specialize in. We drive home the fact that we are able to provide the same products and services that the big banks do but in a community bank setting. We’ve taken a lot of clients away from these big banks. If you look at what’s going on in the big banks right now, it’s all about sales process management and managing their people to numbers that, a lot of the time, mean selling products and services that the clients really don’t need. We don’t subscribe to this notion and instead focus more on listening to our clients and making sure that they get what they want and need. We’re not for everybody; there will never be a time when you’ll see a Seaside branch on every street corner like you do Bank of America. If a customer is looking for that then we’re not the bank for them. If they’re looking for a single point of contact to deal with on a consistent basis then we are a perfect bank for them.

 

How difficult is it to find professional, hard-working talent in the Palm Beach County market? 

It is very hard, and I find that I’m always looking for people. I’m constantly asked the question when I’m out at a meeting or at a networking event, “Are you looking for bankers?” I always say, “I’m never looking, but I’m always looking” because I’m trying to find the right person who will fit into our culture. 

It’s also very hard to recruit a good banker who is working at a big bank because they already have an established book of business and a continuous flow of referrals. At a smaller bank like ours we don’t have that, and you have to be an aggressive calling officer and business developer to be able to be successful here. We have to be careful about whom we hire because we don’t want to set anybody up to fail. Some of the best people I’ve recruited are from big banks and who want to try something else because they’re at a  time in their lives when they want to scale down. A smaller bank like ours is attractive to these people because of our incentive plan and how we operate.

To learn more about our interviewee visit: 

https://www.seasidebank.com/

How Broward is Solving its Transportation Troubles

How Broward is Solving its Transportation Troubles

By Max Crampton-Thomas

4 min read October 2019 —  For over a century, the car has been America’s top transportation choice when getting from point A to point B. As the population in the United States has grown exponentially year over year, so has the dependency on these vehicles, which has led to worsening transportation issues like congested roads, air pollution, traffic accidents and in some cases fatalities. Throughout South Florida, in this case Broward County, the negative effects of the population’s dependency on single-occupancy vehicles are rampant throughout the region. While these issues pose a major challenge to Broward, there is hope as the younger generations are looking to avoid the stress of car ownership, and many community leaders and organizations are making a push toward better mass transit and alternative transportation options.

While these are not all new ideas, in the last couple of years the emphasis for Broward has become truly exploring and executing these ideas. This starts with the  30-year Penny For Transportation Surtax that was passed last November and is set to generate billions of dollars toward improving transportation and mass transit options throughout the county. Invest: recently spoke with Monica Cepero, deputy county administrator for Broward County, who discussed what the community could expect from the revenues generated by the tax. “This sales tax is set to generate about $16 billion over the next 30 years, and will be used in the more immediate future to improve and modernize public transit services. Our long-term plan for those funds is focused on creating connectivity, extending roadway capacities, multimodal improvements and improving transportation facilities and service.”

Invest: also spoke with Gregory Stuart, executive director of Broward MPO, about the near-term changes that could be expected from the revenues collected from the tax. “Realistically, the immediate changes aren’t going to result in construction; we are focusing on enhancing the traffic signalization program. This includes a coordination between the traffic lights, people’s vehicles and installing smart communication equipment. Another immediate change that has happened already but which we’re not going to notice for about another year, is the county transit agency’s purchase of another 130 buses. Considering they are operating a fleet of about 300 buses right now, this is a one-third expansion and a significant increase in the bus system,” he told Invest:

While the tax is going to be a huge benefit for transportation in the region, a change in mindset is another factor impacting how people get around. One option is the Tri-Rail, which is celebrating its 30th year servicing the South Florida community. Tri-Rail Executive Director Steven Abrams spoke about how it is benefiting from the changing mindset toward mass transit in the area. “South Florida is a tourist and service-related economy, and these individuals, like waiters or construction workers, cannot work from their homes. We have people coming from all over the world who are used to rail transportation in their countries, and they are feeding into our system. Our roads are also just becoming so congested. It used to be that our ridership would principally, and almost exclusively, fluctuate with gas prices, but now that  gas prices are stable and dropping, we still have people riding our system because ultimately it is the overabundance of cars on the road that is urging them to seek alternative transportation.”

Abrams also spoke to how Tri-Rail has improved and updated its operations over the years to encourage use by a larger population. “Over those 30 years, we have improved our service, added more trains, added weekend and holiday service and added connections to the three airports. We are a transportation system that has become popular over time and we have really embedded ourselves in the tri-county area.” 

The other popular train in South Florida is also the newest mass transit option for the region, Virgin Trains USA. Running through the three counties of Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach, the train is looking toward the future by connecting the three counties with Orlando and an eventual Tampa Bay stop as well. 

Patrick Goddard, president for Virgin Trains USA, discussed with Invest: how it wants to be a catalyst for transit change in South Florida. “We are reinventing train travel in America, so there are always going to be challenges, but none that we have not been able to overcome so far. The advent of this project has awakened a desire and a curiosity within the municipalities to recognize the full potential for mass transit in South Florida. We are solving the challenge in Florida of medium-haul travel. Airlines take care of long trips, while rideshare, motorized scooters and buses take care of short ones. There has always been this gap with the 200- to 300-mile distances that are too short to fly and too long to drive. By introducing an option like this, it encourages people to leave their cars at home and start using a more environmentally sustainable means of transit.” 

A key factor in remaining economically sustainable is having good transportation and mass transit options. As Broward County continues to develop into an economic powerhouse so to must its transportation, and with changing mindsets and push from community leaders the future looks bright. 

To learn more about our interviewees, visit:

https://www.tri-rail.com/

http://www.browardmpo.org/

https://www.gobrightline.com/

https://www.broward.org/

Spotlight On: Joseph Cox, President & CEO, Museum of Discovery and Science

Spotlight On: Joseph Cox, President & CEO, Museum of Discovery and Science

By Max Crampton-Thomas

2 min read September 2019 — To be considered a staple within the growing economic landscape of Broward County is no small accomplishment, especially as new options seem to become available to the public on a weekly basis. There has to be a real sense of connection and purpose formed with the public, as well as being an established economic driver, for a business or institution to achieve this status. Invest: Greater Fort Lauderdale had the opportunity to speak with Joseph Cox, the President & CEO of one of the staples of Broward County the Museum of Discovery and Science. Throughout the course of the discussion Mr. Cox made note of how the museum is working to address the lack of STEM workforce in Broward, how they are using new technology to their benefit, the counties support of institutions like the museum and the museum’s important role as an economic driver in the region.

How is the museum helping to address the lack of STEM workforce in Broward County? 

South Florida is powered by industries that thrive on a strong, vibrant STEM workforce. From aviation to tech, there is a unique voice in the local workforce of innovators, tinkerers and problem-solvers.  The Museum of Discovery & Science plays a crucial role in the community by introducing children of all ages to the exciting opportunities offered by careers in STEM. We recently opened The Leighton Family Hangar, our innovative Makerspace exhibit, a hands-on collaborative experience that fosters the learning of new skills, creating products and sharing ideas. Through partnerships with corporations, universities, technical colleges and, of course, our local school system, we will be offering an exciting range of programs and events that allow students to gain valuable skills for their future and ultimately our community’s future. The Hangar will inspire new generations to embrace the engineering design process as they develop, innovate and problem-solve.

 

How important is the adaptation of new technologies to a science museum?  

One of our goals at MODS is to connect people to inspiring science, and this includes state-of-the-art technology. Technology at the Museum is powered by our most vital resource: our staff and their creativity. Innovative technology is one of the tools our staff uses to help bring the exhibitions and programs to life. We are experimenting with the integration of augmented and mixed reality in exhibits and educational programs, as it truly is an opportunity to contribute to a new path of learning in museums. We are thrilled to have strong partnerships with Broward-based technology companies such as Citrix, Florida Power & Light and Magic Leap that allow us to drive innovation and technology forward in an accessible and meaningful way.

 

What is your view of the county’s support for arts and cultural institutions?

The Broward County Cultural Division clearly champions the arts in our community. The Cultural Division’s ongoing investment in cultural programming, public art and capital projects reflects the value attributed to the arts by the County.  We are fortunate to have an incredibly vibrant cultural community where collaboration is celebrated. The Museum considers the Cultural Division a partner as we work together to strengthen local cultural offerings, from exciting exhibits and award-winning education programs to breathtaking IMAX documentaries.

 

How is the museum an economic driver in the Broward County region? 

Beyond the cultural impact of the Museum, we also play a role in the local economy, with 150 employees and more than 400,000 visitors annually. A recent Americans for the Arts survey estimated our economic impact to be more than $22 million. The Museum purchases goods and services locally, hires and trains staff and supports many social service agencies with free and reduced admission. Whether having lunch in the neighborhood or traveling from out of town for the weekend, our visitors help drive the local economy and, with over 15% of our visitors coming from overseas, we are supporting the diverse offerings of our destination.

 

To learn more about our interviewee, visit:

https://mods.org/

Spotlight On: Rickelle Williams, Executive Director, Dania Beach Community Redevelopment Agency

Spotlight On: Rickelle Williams, Executive Director, Dania Beach Community Redevelopment Agency

By Max Crampton-Thomas

 

2 min read September 2019 — A community redevelopment agency’s main purpose is to encourage public and private investment into an area to help promote economic growth and improve the quality of life of residents. In a flourishing county like Broward, CRA’s play an important role in helping to grow the local economies and development activity throughout the region. A prime example is the Dania Beach Community Redevelopment Agency. Its work is helping to revitalize and redevelop the city of Dania Beach. Invest: Greater Fort Lauderdale had the opportunity to speak with Rickelle Williams, Executive Director for the Dania Beach CRA. Her passion for promoting and spearheading economic growth in Dania Beach was front and center during our conversation, in which she discussed the work the CRA is doing to promote this growth, the status of the new City Center initiative and how the CRA’s focus has broadened to include residential revitalization.

How is the CRA working to promote economic growth in Dania Beach? 

The CRA has been spearheading a rebranding initiative on behalf of the city of Dania Beach to promote economic growth. Last year, the city adopted a new logo and slogan: “Sea it. Live it. Love it.” We have been implementing the rebranding initiative through signage at our parks and in neighborhoods as well as through advertising, marketing and public relations. 

These are some of the methods we are using to get the Dania Beach brand out there and to let people know that if they have not discovered Dania Beach yet, now is a great time. To attract business, we promote our incentive programs, Opportunity Zones, and proximity to Port Everglades and Fort Lauderdale International Airport. In addition, the CRA produces an award-winning staple event going into its eighth year, the Dania Beach Arts and Seafood Celebration, recently drawing 19,000 people over a two-day weekend to one of our public parks. This free event is a way to bring people together for art, music, kids’ activities, and to showcase the quality of life in Dania Beach. We’ve also added a monthly street festival and art walk called Dania After Dark to add vibrant activity to our Downtown in preparation for our City Center Redevelopment initiative. 

How is the process going for the new City Center initiative? 

The Dania Beach Community Redevelopment Agency is leading a public-private partnership redevelopment initiative for Dania Beach City Hall, parking garage, library, and fire station as a new mixed-use City Center. The reconceived 6.5-acre site would provide an improved customer experience, a better working environment, needed housing, job creation, commercial and entertainment development, and stimulate a broader redevelopment of the city’s Downtown. We engaged FIU Metropolitan Center to research the city’s market capacity, engage the public in a discussion of possibilities and priorities and provide the city with an action agenda to move the City Center concept from idea to development. We later engaged with Colliers International South Florida through its government division to market the property and issue a request for proposals for parcels collectively appraised at $12.3 million. Three proposals were submitted and are under evaluation. 

How has the CRA’s focus changed or broadened over the last year? 

The CRA has traditionally focused on commercial investments and incentives, but for the first time we’ve incorporated residential revitalization into our cache of programs and initiatives. We started the At Home Dania Beach Program to make people feel at home in their community. This is a comprehensive approach to residential revitalization that encompasses several strategies. Those strategies include down-payment assistance, where we offer up to $20,000 to first-time homebuyers who meet our eligibility criteria. We are also developing single-family homes through our affordable housing development program. We have several homes that are in the development process, and we anticipate adding more homes in the coming months. We also provide a residential beautification grant where eligible homeowners can receive some financial help for landscaping or painting. When people recognize that there is an investment in the community, they take more pride in their homes and improve the quality of life and tax base. 

 

To learn more about our interviewee, visit:

http://www.daniabeachcra.org/

Face Off: Broward’s Construction Boom

Face Off: Broward’s Construction Boom

By Max Crampton-Thomas

 

4 min read September 2019 It seems like more cranes are dotting the downtown Fort Lauderdale skyline every week as new developments emerge from the ground at a record rate. Invest: Greater Fort Lauderdale recently had the opportunity to speak with two of the leading constructors in South Florida, Ryan Romanchuk, the Fort Lauderdale business unit leader for DPR Construction, and Brian Sudduth, the president of Miller Construction. The wide-ranging conversations touched on trends in the sector and how their companies are adapting to these, along with the challenges the industry faces.

What emerging trends are impacting the construction industry and how are you adapting to these?

Ryan Romanchuk: There is a strong movement toward prefabrication similar to what we’ve seen in other parts of the world outside of the United States. It is a movement to become smarter as an industry as our labor costs go up and we move more into a manufacturing environment. We are looking for different components that we can prefabricate off-site, which in turn helps to limit the amount of manpower needed on-site, making our project safer and resulting in a higher quality product. One of the constraints of prefabrication is that it requires a certain level of repeatability to make economic sense for a project. However, as our technological tools get more sophisticated we are going to start to push toward digital fabrication. It’s the idea that every project can be unique but still be prefabricated based on building it virtually first.

Brian Sudduth: Office space construction has been slower over the past several years, but we are now starting to see more opportunities for development and redevelopment of office space. The need for construction in hospitality has continued to offer opportunities, and there is still heavy demand for our services in the industrial market. The residential, multifamily market is slowing down, but we have not typically participated in these sectors. I think this is part of the reason why we are seeing opportunities for Miller Construction growing and why 2020 will be just as good if not better for our business.

What is an ongoing challenge the construction industry faces?

Romanchuk: We are working to incorporate data-driven decision-making into all aspects of the business and really moving toward predictive analytics. Every construction project produces so much data but at the same time every project is so unique, which makes it challenging to harness the data produced. Our ability to harness our data as an industry will make us more predictable and at the end of the day that is what most if not all our clients want: predictable outcomes.

Sudduth: The challenge of finding labor in construction is not limited to just identifying people for management roles; it is also finding quality craftsmen to work on these jobs. There are more opportunities than available workers in the marketplace. People leaving Florida and leaving the industry all together during the recession was one factor, but we also have a skills gap because for the last decade, high-school students were encouraged to go to college rather than consider vocational training for things like electrical, plumbing and welding. Those programs are finally seeing a resurgence, but that gap has had an effect on available labor.

What are the factors that contribute to the longevity of your company?

Romanchuk: DPR is and always has been a self-performing general contractor. It really centers around the belief that we are builders at heart and our central belief as a company to respect the individual. This is why we don’t believe in “piece work” and believe in a fair and honest hourly wage and benefits such as health, 401K and paid care leave for all our craft employees.  We have had high levels of retention and are investing in training our employees to make sure they continue to grow their skillset and have upward mobility within DPR. Being a self-performing contractor requires additional resources, time and capital, but we control our own destiny, carry forward respect for the individual and can be part of our industry working to solve the labor gap. 

Sudduth: The longevity of our company is attributed to our business model of always putting our clients first. We never try to chase a revenue number or a product type. Instead, we focus our efforts on quality clients, and through the years we have done a good job of selecting clients that are looking for a long-lasting partnership. We always look out for their best interests, and in return people appreciate that and come back to us whenever they have new projects. We have never been a company that tries to be the biggest. Our goal has always been to be the best construction company.

To learn more about our interviewees, visit:

https://www.millerconstruction.com/

https://www.dpr.com/

Spotlight On: Jeffery Klink, First Senior Vice President & Southern Florida Regional President, Valley Bank

Spotlight On: Jeffery Klink, First Senior Vice President & Southern Florida Regional President, Valley Bank

By Max Crampton-Thomas

 

2 min read August 2019 —During times of economic prosperity, the banking sector is primed to benefit the most, but when the economy begins to slow, or a recession hits, lenders normally feel the harshest effects. This forces banks and financial institutions to be innovative and mindful of how they approach their day-to-day business. There are, of course, the outliers like Valley Bank, which, as noted on its website, has never produced a losing quarter since its founding in 1927. Invest: Greater Fort Lauderdale recently spoke with Jeffery Klink, first senior vice president and Southern Florida regional president for Valley Bank, who spoke about the bank’s efforts to ensure great customer experience, how it differentiates itself in a crowded South Florida marketplace and the biggest challenge facing the banking sector. 

How does Valley Bank ensure a community bank feel while still providing the services of a large regional bank? 

We are a community bank with a regional overlay and that is how we choose to operate. What has been really interesting is that our clients in many cases do not realize that we are a large regional bank unless they need access to loans that are $25 million to $35 million or above. Our core business clients that are looking to borrow $500,000 to $5 million still view us as a community bank because that’s the space that we operate in.

How does Valley Bank differentiate from the competition in the region? 

Being client-centric is really our main differentiating factor in banking. Valley Bank, like most regional and national banks, has a similar technology platform. These systems allow users to access their accounts remotely, and they may very rarely come into our branches. How we mitigate this so the banking experience doesn’t become impersonal is to ensure that each client has a core group of bankers who they know and who know their needs. When customers call our bank, they are actually talking to somebody who knows the client not just from a business standpoint, but also on a personal level. This personal service combined with our technology platform has really allowed us to compete from a service perspective with the community banks.

What is the biggest challenge facing the banking sector? 

The main challenge in banking is balancing interest rate movements. Throughout 2018, we saw Treasury rates increase significantly and that was allowing banks to adjust and increase the rates they were collecting on new loans. In 2019, we have seen interest rates pull back, which has been to the benefit of borrowers because rates have dropped to nearly historical lows. Banks are going to have to address and combat margin compression throughout 2019 because we are collecting less on the loan side and we are paying more than we have for close to 10 years on the deposit side of the balance sheet.

 

To learn more about our interviewee, visit:

 

https://www.valley.com/

Spotlight On: Steven Abrams, Executive Director, South Florida Regional Transportation Authority/Tri-Rail

By Max Crampton-Thomas

 

2 min read August 2019 — Transportation is a hot topic issue throughout South Florida, and as the population in the region continues to grow so do the challenges. While the roads seemingly become more congested every week, there is a significant emphasis on using other forms of transit. For 30 years, Tri-Rail has been one of the leading alternative forms of transit for visitors and residents of South Florida alike. Invest: Greater Fort Lauderdale recently had the chance to sit down and speak with Steven Abrams, the Executive Director for the South Florida Regional Transportation Authority, which is the governing body that operates and oversees Tri-Rail. Abrams discussed Tri-Rail’s longevity in the South Florida Community, how it is working in tandem with Virgin Trains USA (formerly Brightline), the ways in which it is using technology to improve operations and what is contributing to the steady uptick in ridership.

What has contributed to Tri-Rail’s longevity in the South Florida community? 

This year is Tri-Rail’s 30th anniversary. Tri-Rail started as a traffic mitigation project along I-95 while 95 was being widened, but it was supposed to be a stop-gap until the completion of the project. Thirty years later, it is still thriving. Over those 30 years, we have improved our service, added more trains, added weekend and holiday service and added connections to the area’s three airports. We are a transportation system that has become popular over time and we have embedded ourselves in the tri-county area.

How are you working with Virgin Trains USA to improve rail transportation in the community? 

We have a collaborative relationship with Brightline, and we anticipate that it will only be a benefit to both services. Brightline is geared more toward the tourism population, whereas Tri-Rail transports 15,000 riders a day to work and school. Our riders mainly consist of clerical workers, blue-collar workers, construction workers and students. It is a different market than Brightline, but we work very closely together and hope to be able to feed each other’s passengers into our system. We are far along on plans to enter Brightline’s downtown Miami station. The platform has been constructed, and we are just waiting on the approval for its Positive Train Control system. Positive Train Control is a safety system that was mandated by the federal government for all railroads in the country. Once Brightline’s system has been certified, we can apply to be a tenant on its system and continue our existing service and extend up to about half of our trains into downtown Miami. We are hopeful that this will occur in the near future.

How is Tri-Rail using new technology to improve operations and the safety of its passengers?

We are installing a Positive Train Control system that adds an extra level of safety on what is already a safe system. The National Safety Council did a survey and concluded that you are more likely to die of radiation or from a cataclysmic storm than you are being a passenger on a train. The Positive Train Control system is required by the federal government, and we anticipate that it will add that extra measure of safety in terms of avoiding oncoming collisions. If the train is going too fast, the system will automatically slow it down. We do not have many curves on our system, so this is probably more of a benefit for trains up north where there are hills and curves. Nonetheless, we will be able to stop the train should it exceed speed limits.

What factors are behind the steady increase in Tri-Rail’s ridership? 

There are three reasons and two are, in a way, related. South Florida is a tourist and service-related economy, and these individuals, like waiters or construction workers, cannot work from their homes. We have people coming from all over the world who are used to rail transportation in their countries, and they are feeding into our system. Our roads are also just becoming so congested. It used to be that our ridership would principally, and almost exclusively, fluctuate with gas prices, but now that  gas prices are stable and dropping, we still have people riding our system because ultimately it is the overabundance of cars on the road that are urging them to seek alternative transportation.

 

To learn more about our interviewee, visit:

 

https://www.tri-rail.com/

The Future is Now for FATVillage

By Max Crampton-Thomas

 

3 min read August 2019 — Fort Lauderdale’s FATVillage makes up for what it lacks in size with a treasure trove of arts, cultural and technological offerings. Founded in the late 1990s by Doug McCraw, the four-block historic warehouse district has developed into an arts hub to rival the most established arts districts in South Florida. While the area was originally founded as a way to rally philanthropic support around the artistic community in Fort Lauderdale, it is now transitioning into the premier destination for artists, small-business owners, technologists and arts enthusiasts.

The emergence of FATVillage has been a thoughtful and deliberate process of encouraging smart development that never diverts from the emphasis on art as the main part of the neighborhood’s DNA. This stands true for the introduction of more mixed-use development into the area, as McCraw highlighted in a recent interview with Invest: Greater Fort Lauderdale, discussing how that development is not only a new concept but also positively affecting the surrounding neighborhoods. “FATVillage has consistently been a significant economic driver in the Broward County region. It has acted not only as an arts community but also as a nucleus for a lot of the development in Flagler Village. What we are doing in terms of using art as a driver of mixed-use development is still a new concept, and not many developers are integrating product development with a creative community in the same way that we are,” McCraw told Invest. 

He also acknowledged that while FATVillage is undergoing a transition to focus on developing its status as an economic driver in the region, the reason for the district’s success has been the deliberate and careful process of deciding who can lease inside the area. “FATVillage is at a transition point. We are very focused on developing FATVillage to make it a treasure for Fort Lauderdale. We have aggregated various types of coworking spaces with different disciplines, all of which are major components of FATVillage. We have a curated process and we do not just lease to the first person who walks in the door. Our focus on art as an integrated part of the DNA of FATVillage makes us a unique component of Fort Lauderdale’s culture,” McCraw said

Helping to achieve this vision for the future of FATVillage, while also remaining true to its arts identity, is Urban Street Development, which has been involved with the district from the beginning. Invest: recently had a conversation with the Co-Founder Alan Hooper about what the next phase of development for FATVillage will look like. “In August, we intend to deliver a plan that will take the FATVillage Art District in downtown Fort Lauderdale into an exciting era that will combine food with art and technology (FAT) and develop a neighborhood where people and businesses of all sizes can find a place to live, create, collaborate, and socialize. The 5- acre-plus plan fully embraces the arts and elevates the opportunities for artists and creative businesses alike. Positioned inside the downtown core, the Opportunity Zone, and a block from Brightline, the options for community building are endless,” Hooper told Invest:. “We want to help FATVillage evolve into the place it should be. A place that is attractive to creative businesses while maintaining the artists who made us a well-known destination. We want to build some affordable housing for artists and local creative people, as well as really cool workspaces for start-up businesses that might represent art in another way, through video or audio, the art of the word, or the art of food. A place like this will be very attractive to businesses that benefit from hiring within a congregation of talent. In the end, we are creating a village that all people can grow with, be a part of and enjoy.” 

Arts and culture is a major key in Florida’s economy, and even more so in Broward County. Areas like FATVillage play a vital role in keeping arts in the county, and acting as a significant economic driver for the region. FATVillage has long been an attractive destination in Fort Lauderdale, but it is now on the cusp of a major transition into a true arts and economic staple in Broward County. 

 

To learn more about our interviewees, visit:

https://www.fatvillage.com/

http://www.urbanstreetdevelopment.com/

Spotlight On: Drew Melville, Real Estate and Land Use Attorney, Melville Law, P.A.

By Max Crampton-Thomas

 

2 min read August 2019 — South Florida’s economic boom has resulted in increased migration to the area, a rise in small businesses and most significantly, an abundance of real estate and transit development projects. While these development projects are a positive sign that the economy is thriving, they are also associated with a litany of legal paperwork, proceedings and barriers as well as the negative side effects for the environment in South Florida. Invest: Greater Fort Lauderdale recently spoke with Drew Melville, real estate and land use attorney for Melville Law, P.A. He spoke about some of the more negative side effects from this increased development in South Florida, how Broward County should be an example in regards to environmental sustainability and his outlook for the next year given the region’s growth.

What has been one of the most significant negative effects of increased development in South Florida? 

Our mission statement has always been about redeveloping the urban corridors and preserving rural and agricultural lands in Florida, which are dwindling. We are losing farmers, and wilderness land as well. The whole concept of putting highways in places where there is nothing but agricultural land is terrible and only caters to specific groups of large landowners. This issue is so much bigger than the interests of a couple of large, rural landowners, and I am hoping Florida moves past the never-ending sprawl development. 

How should Broward County be viewed in regards to environmental sustainability? 

The biggest challenge for South Florida is environmental sustainability. Many people from all over the world are investing in this high-growth area, and we have to hope that they are not only investing in developing here but also in the sustainability and resilience of the area. Broward is very forward thinking and environmentally conscious, and the county should be looked to as an example for some of these areas that are developing without regard to the effect they are having on the environment. 

What is your outlook for Broward County over the next year? 

“Fort Lauderdale is still growing, and there are a ton of projects in the approval process. The city is also growing while preserving its history and keeping its historic buildings intact, which is great for the community and our identity. There are also a lot of towns around Broward that have Opportunity Zones and they are trying to capitalize on them now. I’d like to see more development along the Dixie corridor in Pompano and Deerfield. It would also be great to see more food operators in areas that are considered “food deserts,” which is defined as more than a mile stretch without an option for healthy food.”

 

 

To learn more about our interviewee, visit:

https://www.melville.law/