Seven50 was specifically devised to promote a unified dialogue. To address issues comprehensively, understanding the many layers of complexity and linkages between issues affecting the region, six work groups were established. Related matters were addressed concurrently within each work group, and a continuous loop for feedback between work groups was established.
High unemployment and an over-reliance on industries that are tied to the region’s population growth have created an economy overly influenced by migration trends and swings in consumer confidence and spending.
The region must seize the once-in-a-generation opportunity to expand its role as a global hub for trade, travel, and investment following the widening of the Panama Canal in 2014. At the same time, it is essential that the region undertake efforts through a coordinated regional economic strategy to diversify and strengthen its economic base. Existing businesses must be able to expand while creating an environment where new businesses are created and nurtured to achieve economic growth.
There is a widening gap between the skills and education of residents, especially those with lower incomes, and the skills and education required to access today’s jobs. We must help the region’s workers obtain the education and skills required for the current market as well as new economy job sectors.
Development patterns have a major impact on the way we live, our quality of life, and our health. The overall health and wellness of communities through- out Southeast Florida are affected by the available housing stock, the cost of living, transportation options, and access to ad- equate healthcare to reduce preventable diseases.
With an estimated additional 3 million new residents and 1.3 million new homes, and the impacts of rising seas, we must evaluate the way we have previously developed and determine the best way to accommodate new housing stock and employment areas.
A lack of affordable housing makes home ownership unattainable for much of the workforce with low or moderate incomes. Many residents live in auto-oriented communities that are remote from existing job centers resulting in a lack of economic integration and high housing/transportation costs.
The region’s airports and seaports provide an economic development advantage because of easy access to global markets. However, our transportation systems are overstretched and do not effectively connect our highway and rail networks with the airports and seaports.
Southeast Florida’s diverse arts and cultural resources are one of its most valuable assets. Those resources are thriving thanks to a growing population from all parts of the world attracted by the region’s climate, location, world class sea- ports and airports, and multi-cultural diversity. The result is a dynamic cultural arts community that distinguishes the region as an exciting place to live, work, and locate a business.
The region’s cultural richness and diversity serves as a major economic engine, both in terms of dollars spent in the region and employment opportunity and as a global draw for today’s talented workforce and those companies that employ them. The region’s arts and cultural events also provide a way to express, learn about, and spotlight the diverse cultures that make up the region and help revitalize distressed neighborhoods and create civic connections and pride in place. Embracing and helping grow the region’s arts and cultural assets are key to ensuring a distinctive and globally competitive Southeast Florida.
The natural environment is a key driver of population growth and tourism in Southeast Florida. The Atlantic Ocean, Florida Bay, Florida Keys, Biscayne Bay, beaches, coral reefs, Lake Okeechobee, Indian River Lagoon, aquifers, and the Everglades are among the region’s greatest natural and economic assets. However, they have been diminished by encroaching development and environmental contamination due to population growth and man-made alterations to natural drainage systems has led to declining water quality, loss of habitat, and impaired ecosystem function. Addressing them must be a priority at all scales. Complete solutions are only possible at the regional scale using a system wide approach such as the Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan.
Protecting the region’s food and energy security with a viable agricultural economy is vital. This could include connecting local growers with consumers and the marketplace to facilitate agriculture’s role in the production of food and renewable energy sources. Stronger efforts on the part of the scientific community for new and disease resistant crop options need to be encouraged and supported with adequate resources. Our region’s farmers must be economically resilient when it comes to facing the cyclical pressures of development.
The projected impacts of climate change are acutely relevant to our region which is bordered to the west by a low-lying fresh water environment unlike anywhere else in the world, and to the east and by hurricane-prone Atlantic ocean coastline. Sea level rise, which is already evident in some areas, will impact the region’s ecosystems and way of life.
The region’s approach to climate change should include two parallel approaches mitigation and adaptation. The region can do its part to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, recognizing that the region, by itself, cannot resolve that global problem; and adapting to the impacts of climate change.
Strategies should build on the work of the Southeast Florida Regional Climate Change Compact and other best practices and science. Strategies should focus on prudent steps to address the threats of inundation throughout the Southeast Florida region. According to the Census Bureau, about 40% of the US population (123 million people) live in shoreline communities. A total retreat from the coast is not an option. The strategies we adopt may be valuable to the entire nation.
Globally competitive, opportunity-rich, and sustainable regions require, well-in- formed, focused, and unified leadership that speaks with a single, clear voice. Effective regional leadership must draw from the public, private, and civic sectors; include diverse voices representing the region’s multitude of ages, ethnicity, races, and socioeconomic groups; and pay particular attention to those voices that traditionally have not been represented in regional processes.
The relative “newness” of the Southeast Florida region as an integrated economy, combined with the diversity and transitory nature of the region’s population, make identifying, developing, and retaining leaders a particular concern com- pared to more mature regions. Seven50 incorporates a range of educational and collaborative strategies to create a vital network of regional leaders and champions who can guide the region through the choices of today to set the stage for the future. Seven50 will create more opportunities for involvement of leaders who have been underrepresented in the past. As other regions have experienced, this civic capacity may be the single most lasting impact of this visioning process.