Economic development planning aims for equitable growth in Broward County

Economic development planning aims for equitable growth in Broward County

2022-07-28T13:54:55-04:00July 28th, 2022|Economy, Greater Fort Lauderdale|

Writer: Liz Palmer

2 min read July 2022 — Over the past year, Broward County leaders have been working to get ahead of the region’s increasingly urgent affordability issue by implementing economic development initiatives that will last. As more companies choose Broward to lay down roots, County Mayor Michael Udine told Invest:, “The investments we’ve made over the years are definitely paying off.”

When Juliet Roulhac of the Broward Workshop spoke at the Invest: Greater Fort Lauderdale leadership conference in June, she highlighted the successes of the region that are contributing to signs of continued economic development to address affordability issues. She pointed to an improving unemployment rate and the $48 million gap funding allocation for affordable housing — an increasingly urgent issue — that will go toward the creation of the Broward County Affordable Housing Trust Fund hosted by the Broward Housing Council. This new fund will support about 2,500 low-income residents. Last week, the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity for Broward County unveiled its June 2022 report on Broward County unemployment, finding that the total labor force had increased by 33,339, or 3.2%, over the past year. Compared to June 2021’s 5.5% unemployment rate, June 2022 improved to 3%.

“Today we have the advantage of knowing about disparities in our communities, which brings a unique opportunity and obligation to ensure that our diverse community is a place where every person can access the very best of Broward,” Roulhac said in June. “There are five areas that rise to the top as priorities across different organizations; we see workforce housing, transportation, resilience, workforce training and, of course, diversity, equity and inclusion.”

A workforce training initiative by the Broward County Office of Economic and Small Business Development offers a county apprenticeship program through contractors working on county projects. These contractors must allocate 12% of apprentice labor hours for certain projects, according to the office’s director, Sandy-Michael McDonald. 

In an interview with Invest:, McDonald said the office is also focusing on younger workers. “An additional focus to mitigating the labor shortage is developing the workforce at an early age. We want to make students as young as middle school aware of careers in the trades. We have to make sure young folks, adults and parents are familiar with these opportunities,” he said. “A trade job can provide higher earnings right away while learning skills and without the debt of a four-year college. We recognize the opportunity and the challenge is to increase labor support, identify other opportunities for trade and give folks more options.”

Broward College is also offering free workforce training courses and online student support through Broward UP™ (Unlimited Potential) programming and is hosting information sessions throughout the summer. “Broward County is unlike any other when it comes to collaboration, and we have had tremendous success because of it,” said President Gregory Adam Haile in a previous interview with Invest:. “Broward UP™ happened thanks to the heads of nonprofit organizations coming together and heads of cities and mayors allowing the college access to facilities where we can provide educational opportunities.”

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