By Max Crampton-Thomas
2 min read JULY 2019 — The City of Fort Lauderdale has been steadfast towards the goal of becoming the premier economic powerhouse in South Florida. The significant population and business growth in the area is a testament to the unwavering efforts of the local government, business owners, residents and community organizations. While this has been a collective community effort, one organization in particular has been at the forefront for the majority of the initiatives that have led to this growth and helped navigate the challenges associated with it. Since being established in 1910 The Greater Fort Lauderdale Chamber of Commerce has focused its efforts towards helping Fort Lauderdale achieve its ultimate potential. Invest: Greater Fort Lauderdale recently spoke with Dan Lindblade, the President and CEO of the Greater Fort Lauderdale Chamber of Commerce to discuss how the chamber is assisting with the issues currently facing the business community and how they are supporting significant development projects in the region.
How is the Chamber supporting the expansion of Port Everglades?
We will be going to Washington in September to push for a New Starts designation for Port Everglades. The port is one of our chief economic drivers, supporting both the cargo and cruise industries. When the Chamber became involved with the Port about 9 years ago, it didn’t have the U.S. Army Corp of Engineers’ approval to start the expansion and that was the first thing on our radar. We had to push the Army Corp of Engineers to get approval to deepen and widen the harbor and when it was finally approved in 2015, we didn’t have any funding. For us to actually get funding for the expansion, we have to have the New Starts designation. When we get a New Starts designation, then we will be open to funding, so that is what we are pushing for between now and September.
What trends have you observed regarding the labor shortage in the region?
We really have not looked at any kind of importation of talent. Only when we have a certain type of individual we can’t find will we go out and recruit them from another area. The technology hub that we have here in South Florida is real and there is a lot of talent because of it, but not enough. It is expensive to live here in Fort Lauderdale, and people who are in the early stages of their careers are earning starting salaries that can be a challenge. We have been pushing employers to pay a living wage if they want talented people to stay here, otherwise they can go elsewhere. It is an interesting situation right now with such a low unemployment rate. Companies are constantly looking for new talent, and right now it is an employees’ market. If someone is not happy where they are working, they can easily go and find another job.
What initiatives is the Chamber spearheading to help mitigate the effects of sea level rise?
We are creating the International Resiliency Conference and Convention. It will be in December 2020 at the Marriott Harbor Beach Hotel and Resort. This will be South Florida’s first convening of an international crowd to talk about sea level rise and entrepreneurial activity as it relates to engineering, science and transportation. In dealing with the issue of sea level rise we are going to make mistakes, but we have a trillion dollars’ worth of real estate between Palm Beach and Miami Dade that is at risk if we don’t act now. That’s what this conference is going to be all about. I told the directors, “Before my time is done here, I want to at least have the groundwork in place that creates the opportunities and the dialogue to navigate this issue.” There are all these other countries that live with water, so we should learn from them. Let’s figure out what they’ve done well, what they haven’t done well and use it to our advantage.
Another component we need to address relates to property insurance. We are requesting a five-year reauthorization of the National Flood Insurance Program which provides for additional consumer protections and claims reform among other administrative items.
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