Cultural diversity and the region’s arts, historic, and cultural resources are perhaps the region’s most underappreciated and underutilized resources. Southeast Florida’s climate, geographic location, and world class seaports and airports have attracted people from all over the globe and created a richness of cultures unparalleled in the southeasternUnited States. Reflecting its role as an international hub,Southeast Floridais a minority-majority region where no single racial or ethnic group dominates and international immigration is the principal driver of growth. That diversity brings both variety and vitality to the region and reinforces the region’s connections to the global marketplace. To international investors, that diversity makes the region desirable as place to live or locate a business. Capitalizing on the region’s diversity requires identifying the assets that are important to international location decisions and investing in enhancing the human, built, and institutional infrastructure that makes the region attractive to international markets. It also requires creating leadership and civic structures that are inclusive of the full population spectrum that isSoutheast Florida.
At the same time, the region includes a number of currently distressed communities and neighborhoods that lack sufficient private investment and targeted, effective public investment. Oftentimes these communities have a more limited access to high quality educational opportunities, are impacted by multiple foreclosures and families mired in poverty, and may have weak social and civic networks. These distressed communities are also characterized by inadequate housing, unsafe and unhealthy community environments including brownfields, and deteriorating infrastructure. There tends to be poorer access to nutritious and healthy food options, quality jobs and capacity-building opportunities, and full and fair housing and transportation choices. Such places can be found in the region’s central cities and some of its rural communities. Five such pockets of poverty are the rural Glades communities of Palm Beach County; Northwest Fort Lauderdale in Broward County; and Liberty City, Overtown and Opa-locka in Miami-Dade County. Other pockets of poverty will be identified and assessed as well.
The Partnership must tap into and use the region’s cultural richness and its international gateway role as an integral part of its economic development strategy, recognizing that in the global marketplace of today, the region’s diversity is one of its greatest assets and a story that needs to be told. The Partnership must also address the needs of the region’s distressed communities through a holistic approach to define those qualities that result in economically vital, sustainable, and opportunity-rich neighborhoods; assess the region’s job market and resources as it relates to existing communities; and define the steps and investments needed to plan for successful, safe, resident-empowered, and economically competitive neighborhoods. This approach must include the development of leadership capacity and networks to more fully integrate these communities into the rest of the region.