By Carla Coleman
Regionalism is a widely-used term these days, especially in Southeast Florida. It’s one thing to talk about regional cooperation, but it’s another entirely for local officials to act and think regionally. Try as they might, municipal and county governments – which often hold the planning and taxing authority – are simply not set up to function regionally.
Other parts of the country have found greater success in effectively dealing with regional issues through the formation of a regional leadership organization, usually lead by civic leaders, specifically created to advocate for implementation of regional solutions. Southeast Florida lacks such a regional leadership organization to discuss and advocate for concerns that cut across governmental jurisdictions. If the Seven50 goals and priorities are to become realities, our region needs an organization focused on advocacy of these and other regional challenges.
Successful regional leadership organizations across the country were analyzed as part of the Seven50 work program. Six effective models were examined, all of which operate, as one organization put it, “in the white space on the organizational chart.” All six groups were created by civic leaders commit- ted to addressing tough issues transcending local jurisdictions.
The board members of these organizations represent a region’s geographic and economic diversity. They advocate for major regional projects and needs, often providing the political cover elected officials need to make tough decisions. Their goals mirror Seven50’s priorities, as they advocate to enhance economic prosperity, provide greater housing and transportation choices, effectively manage natural resources, and improve outdated infrastructure.
The time has come to create such a regional voice here in Southeast Florida, if we are to prosper in our 21st Century, global economy. Will you step forward to volunteer?