Regional Initiatives

COALITIONS FOR THE FUTURE  

Building new strategies, transforming business models and adopting new ways of collaboration are critical to a more prosperous southeast Florida in the future. Common Regional Priorities have been identified. A Preferred Vision has been outlined. But the reality is that much of this vision will not be possible and our regional priorities will not effectively affect positive change unless we tackle a few, yet significant regional issues. In a region as large, diverse and complex as ours, no one organization or individual can do this alone. We need special coalitions of individuals and/or organizations. These coalitions should include representatives of nearly every segment of the community, depending upon the breadth of the issue. These individuals must share the common interest and agree to work together, understand, advocate, lead and address these core regional issues.

Seven50 strives to support existing and help launch new coalitions as well as establish a system by which interested or affected parties may join, participate or even lead these coalitions. The South Florida and Treasure Coast Regional Planning Councils commit to jointly support these coalitions for the future. 

  • Everglades & Waterways
  • Balanced Mobility
  • Climate Preparedness & Resilience
  • Education & Workforce
  • Economic Competitiveness
  • Economic Opportunity 

Local & Regional Alignment of Planning Working Together on Climate Initiatives

 

EVERGLADES & WATERWAYS

Water is a common feature, resource and concern throughout the seven counties. Our region’s relationship with water presents tremendous advantages and equally large challenges. The Seven50 vision and many of the goals suggested will not be achieved if the effort to modify the region’s “plumbing system” is not successful. Our natural systems will not be pristine unless we stop polluting them. Our drinking water supply needs to be shielded from the impacts of sea level rise. We need to find a balance between home affordability and probable flooding.

EVERGLADES RESTORATION 

There is existing regional leadership in place for the Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan (CERP) lead by the South Florida Water Management District and the US Army Corps of Engineers. The US Congress has also set up the South Florida Ecosystem Restoration Task Force to provide coordination among levels of government and native America tribes. The Water Resources Advisory Commission provides an ongoing venue for other stakeholders to provide comment and the Everglades Foundation and the Everglades Coalition actively support funding requests to the state and federal governments. Today, the larger Everglades ecosystem has evolved into special planning and implementation programs for the Northern, Western and Central Everglades. In reality the Seven50 area encompasses the Eastern Everglades and we need to stay focused on the long and short term priorities such as protecting the Indian River Lagoon and Biscayne Bay.

Short-Term Priority:
  • Secure state and federal funding for the next five mile elevated highway extension for US 41, Tamiami Trail.

PROTECTING OUR WATERWAYS 

Regional coalition needed. Six-county Indian River Lagoon coalition should expand to include nine (Miami-Dade, Monroe, Broward), and then all 16 counties and private sector participation. Leadership should be provided by all regional planning councils, leagues of cities, and South Florida Water Management District. There are also many navigable waterways in the region that need to be maintained for recreational uses and their water quality enhanced.

Short-Term Priority:
  • Support the Indian River Lagoon Collaborative efforts to secure funding for upgrading treatment of sewage flowing into the Indian River Lagoon.

COASTAL PRIVATE SEPTIC TO PUBLIC SEWER 

Leakage from coastal septic sewage systems has been suggested as a contributing factor to the current poor health of the Indian River Lagoon and St. Lucie River Estuary. Within the counties of Indian River, Martin and St. Lucie, there are about 120,000 private septic systems. Brevard, Volusia, and Palm Beach counties share this same issue. Many local and state political leaders in the region have expressed some desire to eventually get septic system users on public sewer systems. The cost of switching from septic tanks to public sewer systems may be prohibitive for individual counties and property owners. But, combining their political influence, the counties and cities together may have more opportunities to get the funding help necessary to at least begin replacing the most troublesome septic tanks. The recently established six-county Indian River Lagoon Counties Collaborative is in a good position to take a leadership role in this task.

Short-Term Priority:
  • Assist in preparing funding applications to federal and state agencies.

BALANCED MOBILITY 

Without premium transit and funding for operating transportation costs, much of the Seven50 vision and goals will not be achievable. Building and maintaining a world-class multi-modal transportation system for the region will not be possible if this initiative is not successful. At the same time it is important to understand that the different counties in the region play different roles when it comes to transit. The more urban counties cannot continue on the current, predominately road-building path. The less populated counties need to balance their current transportation options and work on a more balanced mobility system for their future.

SUSTAINABLE TRANSPORTATION FUNDING 

Regional coalition needed. This region needs to invest in premium transit and that this will not happen unless there is new funding for operating subsidy. Premium transit is so critical that without this there are no options for any alternative other than the “Stay the Course” or “Suburban Expansion” scenarios for the future. Seven counties and the private sector should work together to implement an alternative road usage assessment system to replace or supplement the old gas tax system. Join with other groups around the state to get this done by legislation. Push at the federal level to keep a greater share of monies collected for transportation improvements due to our size and position as an outsized global trade and logistics hub. The region needs to work together identify and advocate for funding tools at the local, state and federal levels that will provide sustainable transportation funding.

Short-Term Priority:
  • Organize a Corridor Coalition to reach consensus and build support for a feasible, implementable funding plan for premium transit.

COMMUTER RAIL EXPANSION/TOD SUPPORT 

Regional coalition and private sector partnership needed. The Florida Department of Transportation, South Florida Regional Transportation Authority, MPOs, TPOs, and regional planning councils are working together to expand the Tri-Rail commuter rail service onto the FEC Rail Corridor in Miami-Dade, Broward, and Palm Beach counties. Local government, public agency, and private sector leadership is needed to determine station locations, financing alternatives, and integration with the multi-modal transportation network.

Short-Term Priority:
  • Work with local governments to finalize station locations and develop Transit Oriented Development (TOD) plans that will attract public and private funding.

REGIONAL CORRIDORS 

In addition to the growing use of regional rail corridors for freight and passenger service there is a need to organize stakeholders around key roads that connect the counties within the region and to other regions. Existing corridor alliances exist for US441/SR 7 and other can be created as needed. There are also key road corridors that connect Southeast Florida to Southwest (SR 41) and Central Florida (US 27).

Short-Term Priority:
  • Initiatate a corridor study for US 27, working with the Southwest Florida Regional Planning Council and the Central Florida Regional Planning Council, as part of FDOT Future Corridors program.

CLIMATE PREPAREDNESS & RESILIENCE 

Southeast Florida Preparedness and Resilience Initiative is a combination of the existing work of the Southeast Florida Climate Compact, the Energy Resilience work of the two regional planning councils through the Florida Regional Councils Association (FRCA), and the ongoing work the Regional Planning Councils do for Florida Division of Emergency Management such as storm surge mapping, and a focus on making our coastal communities, especially those located on the barrier islands, more resilient to future storms and sea level rise.

CLIMATE COMPACT/ SEA LEVEL RISE MITIGATION

Public infrastructure retrofits, their costs, and policy changes necessitated by sea level rise impacts are as difficult to quantify as accurately predicting exactly how high sea level will rise in the future. At the same time some counties in the region are already investing in retrofit and mitigation work. The Climate Compact is a four-county resource for addressing the issue of sea level rise. By expanding this resource to the seven-county region, there should be some advantages gained by all in sharing ideas about ways to plan for sea level rise and obtaining state and federal financial assistance for implementing mitigation and adaptation measures. This coalition would grow stronger through the participation of the county commissions of Martin, St. Lucie and Indian River counties.

Short-Term Priority:
  • Integrate regional Adaptation Action Area guidance into local climate action plans.

BIGGERT-WATERS FLOOD INSURANCE REFORM ACT OF 2012 

Southeast Florida, including the Florida Keys, pays more federal flood insurance premiums than any other region in the US. The Biggert-Waters Act will significantly harm the economy of our region as a vast number of homes and businesses are required to have flood insurance. The Act seeks to reduce subsidies for flood insurance policies and increase premiums until they are “actuarially sound.” A bipartisan deal has been struck to delay implementation for approximately four years until a study has been completed and for implementation to take effect. Our region not only needs the delay in implementation, but we also need to keep federal flood insurance.

Short-Term Priority:
  • Work with Congressional delegation to obtain delay in the significant increases in the flood insurance rates.

SEVEN-COUNTY ENERGY CONSERVATION INITIATIVE 

Screen Shot 2014-01-20 at 4.36.31 PMIn 2011, St. Lucie County helped establish a Solar and Energy Loan Fund (SELF). It is a federally designated 501(c)(3) and a certified Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI) able to serve the region. Its purpose is to help homeowners and businesses identify solutions to their rising energy costs and then provide favorable financing to make recommended energy saving improvements. This model program has spread from St. Lucie County to include a lending territory of Brevard, Indian River, and Martin counties. SELF is in discussions with the cities of West Palm Beach and Orlando for program expansion. In a relatively short time SELF has completed 848 energy audits and has a $2 million dollar loan portfolio. The program is making it possible for home and business owners to make much-needed energy conservation improvements, saving money, creating local jobs and promoting clean energy alternatives and energy independence.

Short-Term Priority:
  • The regional planning councils should seek funding for SELF and for other energy conservation and alternative fuel activities.

BEACH RENOURISHMENT & INLET MAINTENANCE 

All seven counties of the region are in the beach renourishment and/or inlet maintenance business. All have a need for high quality sand and funding to periodically replenish their beaches and keep their inlets navigable. All should be interested in a sustainable source of sand and funding for beach renourishment and inlet dredging. Sea level rise may increase the need for such renourishment and maintenance activity. Currently, the US Army Corps of Engineers and the Florida Department of Environmental Protection are taking a regional approach to this issue, looking at sand deposits from Miami to Fort Pierce, including those in state and federal waters which lie beyond three nautical miles offshoreand are in the process of deciding how to distribute this resource regionally. Rather than have the state and federal government decide for the region, the seven counties should be given the opportunity to devise their own regional strategy for utilizing these sand resources. This will require leadership from the county commissions to begin meeting together and discussing this issue. Some counties need sand, some need a sustainable source of funding to maintain their inlets, some need both. Either way, there is a solution that can be negotiated among the seven counties where each could benefit equally.

Short-Term Priority:
  • A single long-term regional permit for inlet maintenance and beach renourishment within the seven county area.

EDUCATION & WORKFORCE 

An educated and skilled workforce is essential if we want to achieve of a strong and economically competitive region. Our workforce affects the prosperity of our businesses and the ability to preserve our quality of life for generations to come. We have to provide our current workforce with the tools to satisfy current and short term market’s demands. At the same time we need to prepare our children for the jobs of the future. We do not know what skills many of those jobs will require, or which technology we will be using to conduct business or even socialize in the future. What we do know is that a society of literate and skilled citizens has the highest chance at success and has the ability to reduce poverty and social injustice by providing everyone resources and opportunities for social mobility and social inclusion.

REGIONAL WORKFORCE ALIGNMENT INITIATIVE 

The bringing together of the academic community with the career/job marketplace is an initiative to make the region globally competitive. A regional research initiative to identify current and future talent requirements to fill workforce gaps should be a priority for the seven-county region. The initiative should showcase how we can build a stronger workforce to meet the needs of an ever-changing marketplace. Jobs, employees and employers are not confined by county boundaries. A vision and plan for this must be shared and developed by the academic and career community in the region. This is a monumental task, but one that our local high schools, through specialized academics; that our local college and universities, through additional degree programs and partnerships with businesses; should be willing to undertake. Economic Development office’s, workforce organizations and school district, college and university leadership, partnered with private sector business leaders could form a coalition to continuously be working on developing and aligning the region’s future employee pool with the needs of the job marketplace.

Short-Term Priority:
  • Evaluate the recent proposal by the Brooking Institute for the designation of Innovation Districts and then identify possible locations within the seven county region.

SOUTHEAST FLORIDA INNOVATION ALLIANCE 

LIFE SCIENCE SOUTH FLORIDA: 

Expand this regional coalition to become a seven-county public/ private leadership consortium to grow this important industry cluster. A huge public and private investment has already been made to get the cluster established and diversify our economy. This coalition has a good opportunity to organize, create and push a legislative agenda to capture increased research funding, targeted workforce and job training, increased STEM initiatives, sustainable public-education funding, attracting and increasing venture capital and philanthropy, etc. It has also been suggested that STEM become STEAM to include the arts which will help to attract potential employees.

AGRICULTURAL INDUSTRY & RESEARCH SUPPORT: 

A regional coalition and private sector partnership is needed. Agriculture, and the countryside it occupies is not only a key industry cluster for the state and region, it also is critical for the environmental services, native land and endangered species protection, and for the food security it provides the state and nation. It is Florida’s original heritage and cultural institution and a direct link to our future quality of life. Maintaining agriculture as a viable industry in Florida will require funding and legislative initiatives for assistance with everything from disease/pest research, farm-to-market mobility, branding, and fair trade practices. The agricultural industry should be able to count on the region’s public and private leadership for help and support when needed.

Short-Term Priority:
  •  Support the upcoming eMerge Americas International Conferences in Miami.

ECONOMIC COMPETITIVENESS 

Understanding the key factors, unique advantages and complex challenges determining our future prosperity and economic growth is the first step. Coordinating our resources and jointly committing to working towards the same goal comes next and represents our best opportunity to succeed. A strong and vibrant private sector is key to our prosperity, to securing a leading position in this fast-changing global economy, to addressing employment challenges and to creating a sufficient number of jobs to absorb the region’s growing young workforce. The public sector’s role is to improve Southeast Florida’s economic policies and remove obstacles in order to facilitate investment and progress in each community’s terms. Improving education, focusing on innovation and investing in our regions human capital is the path towards a strong and resilient economy of the future.

REGIONAL FREIGHT & INTERMODAL INVESTMENT COALITION 

Broward MPO has taken the lead in developing the “Cargo 2040” freight plan through Southeast Florida Transportation Council for the three southern counties. This effort is intended to recommend actions that improve the movement of goods within Broward, Miami-Dade and Palm Beach counties. It will be overseen by a 21-member “Regional Transit Technical Advisory Committee Freight Subcommittee” with membership from the 3 southern MPOs, FDOT (Central Office plus District 4 and District 6), the airports and seaports, economic councils, Miami-Dade Expressway Authority, Florida Turnpike Enterprise, railroads (CSX and FEC), and freight business representatives. The movement of freight and goods impacts the entire region as it must continue north through Martin, St. Lucie and Indian River counties via their network of highways, railroads, and waterways.

Short-Term Priority:
  • Invite a freight representative from Martin, St. lucie, and Indian River counties to join the Regional Transit Technical Advisory Freight Subcommittee.

GLOBALLY COMPETITIVE FIBER OPTIC NETWORK 

A globally competitive, fiber optic network that provides free or very low-cost opportunities to local governments, colleges and universities and our research and hospitals has been at the center of Seven50. This type of competitive connectivity is not an option, it is imperative in order to compete in this technological era. A coalition is necessary to realize and increase current work to accomplish this initiative in the seven-county region. Ultimately a seven-county public and private investment pool will be needed to accomplish this mission.

Short-Term Priority:
  • Support a regional coalition to secure commitments and funding for a seven county regional fiber optic network.

SOUTHEAST FLORIDA GLOBAL GATEWAY ALLIANCE 

Southeast Florida is strategically positioned as a global gateway for business and commerce. As we focus on diversifying our region’s economy, we have the opportunity to intensify what could become one the strongest drivers of our economy over the coming decades: international commerce, global trade and logistics activities. In order to do this successfully, we need to address the challenges, among others, of increasing local manufacturing and exports, increasing port and airport capacity and competitiveness, and balancing the impacts of transporting goods and people. Significant efforts such as the Cargo 2040 Southeast Florida Regional Freight plan and Florida Chamber’s Trade and Logistics Plan 2.0 are essential to strengthen Southeast Florida’s presence as a global trade hub are underway.

Short-Term Priority:
  • Create an Alliance to support implementation of Trade and Logistics Plan 2.0 in Southeast Florida.

SEVEN-COUNTY INTERNATIONAL GAMES COALITION 

Screen Shot 2014-01-20 at 5.05.45 PMWhether it’s the Summer Olympics or the soccer World Cup, securing a bid for the region to host these kinds of international events requires long-term regional planning and cooperation among the private and public sector. The economic benefit to the region as the host should be evaluated. If there is interest in working towards this goal, a regional coalition of organizers and supporters from all seven-counties should be convened. The regional planning councils, tourist development boards and others can organize such a long-range planning effort. Assistance can also be provided by Enterprise Florida through their Sports Industry Development Division and the Florida Sports Foundation. This effort should provide the region some additional incentive to develop a world class transportation system that can provide the necessary transportation options between some of the existing and potential venue locations situated throughout the region.

Short-Term Priority:
  • Poll the region on the kind of events it would like to see. Where is their excitement and possible consensus?

SEVEN-COUNTY BROWNFIELDS ASSESSMENT 

Coalition needed to push establishment of a seven-county assessment of all brownfields in the region. Brownfields represent a significant, but currently under-capitalized land resource and tax base. In order to unlock the potential of brownfields for economic development sites and redevelopment, they must be identified and cleaned up. A regional proposal for their identification, assessment, and cleanup could be developed in cooperation with the private sector and affected local governments. This would help move the region to the front of the line in securing state and federal funding assistance to clean these sites up and render them usable for development. The regional planning councils have active brownfields assistance programs and could provide leadership for this effort.

Short-Term Priority:
  • Work with the development community to introduce representatives to brownfield sites. Some sites are on the waterfront, other sites unlock vast tracts of possible acreage. Many sites have advantages that outweight their disadvanateges.

“READY OR NOT HERE IT COMES” COALITION 

The leaders of the seven-county commissions as well as the region’s largest cities must have the kind of relationship that will allow them to quickly gravitate together in case of unanticipated events of regional impact. For example, the eight counties of the Big Bend Region after the BP oil spill working together to shape federal policy and implement $5-20 Billion RESTORE ACT. In order to cultivate and maintain this kind of relationship, annual or biennial summits should be organized to bring these groups together over an agenda of common interest and action items. The regional planning councils, in cooperation with the private sector and universities, and perhaps the Florida Association of Counties and Florida League of Cities could provide the leadership needed to arrange these regional summits.

Short-Term Priority:
  • Plan the first coalition event using Seven50 networks to keep the momentum that Seven50 has generated going

ECONOMIC OPPORTUNITY 

Our region ranks 17th in diversity out of 150 in the nation. Projections show that we will continue to diversify in the decades to come. This presents both challenges and opportunities. Our population is highly entrepreneurial and brings a unique advantage to address the needs that arise from participating in a global market. At the same time, we face challenges of integration, a shrinking middle class, and many areas of segregated poverty with disproportionately limited access to opportunity. 

SOUTHEAST FLORIDA OPPORTUNITY ALLIANCE 

Given the diversity of the region, improving competitiveness will require a continued focus on education and innovation, and at the same time an environment that provides the tools for all residents in Southeast Florida to prosper, have access to affordable housing and jobs, an increased educational attainment and a chance at leadership and participation in the decision-making process. A coalition is needed to support and further the efforts initiated by Seven50 and the Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity, efforts like the Six Pillars and the Regional Planning Councils Economic Development Strategies and the work by numerous civic and public organizations throughout the region that are devoted to investing and enhancing our human capital. Providing assistance and a friendly environment for businesses is essential.

Short-Term Priority:
  • Support creation of an Opportunity Alliance to further the work done by Seven50.

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