How Miami-Dade is putting money where it is needed to encourage economic growth

Carlos A. Gimenez Mayor – Miami-Dade County

What infrastructure improvements are being worked on in 2017 to keep Miami-Dade County an attractive investment destination?

We are continuing our work on the multi-billion-dollar expansion and renovation of our water and sewer system. This is the largest Capital Improvement Project in county history and will continue for the next 15 to 20 years. At Miami International Airport, we are expanding our international carriers. We now have 109, which is the largest number of any U.S. airport. The downturn in Brazil and the impact of the Zika virus have had an effect here, not only at our airport, but also on tourism. Although it’s not a huge hit, it is a hit that we have to absorb. We have a partnership with Royal Caribbean for a $200-million project to expand Port Miami facilities and allow us to increase our passenger traffic. We expect to easily surpass 5 million passengers in 2017.

With the unemployment rate at 5 percent, what is being done to keep it low, attract a skilled workforce and ensure high-quality and high-paying jobs?

Employ Miami-Dade is a program that allows us to go into high-unemployment areas to recruit and train residents who have been chronically unemployed, underemployed or never employed. We train them to take jobs in the construction, culinary and hospitality industries. We’ve had close to 600 placements so far. A lot of those young people had never had a job in their life or definitely not like the type of job they have now. It’s very important that we provide opportunities to all areas of Miami-Dade. We have projects that will be providing job opportunities. We can be proud that we have led the state in job creation, and that the private sector has created 168,000 jobs since 2011. We have continued to diversify our economy by investing in various fields ranging from clean energy and ground transportation to art, film and entertainment. But we need to continue to create jobs for everybody in Miami-Dade. We also have to be cognizant of disruptive technologies arriving in Miami-Dade. The county should be in the best position possible to experience the least amount of disruption when technologies like autonomous vehicles, become common.

What are the main projects being implemented to provide affordable housing in Miami-Dade?

Liberty City Rising is a top priority in 2017. We are leveraging more than $50 million in public funds and $300 million in private investment. The project is going to replace about 700 public-housing units and then add another 800 to 1,000 affordable workforce housing units, transforming 50 acres. It’s probably the largest public-housing community redevelopment in the U.S.