Regional partnership gets counties working toward prosperity

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Nadia Sorocka
July 17, 2013

Michael Busha addresses the audience at the Chamber Monthly Luncheon at Binks Forest Golf Club in Wellington. He discussed the seven county plan to develop the economic climate of Southeast Florida called Seven50.


The goal of Seven/50, the Southeast Florida Regional Partnership’s prosperity plan, is to get everyone in the region working together to accomplish goals of interest, including a recession-proof economy, Michael Busha, executive director of Treasure Coast Regional Planning Council, told the group gathered at the recent Central Palm Beach County Chamber of Commerce luncheon.

“In the Southeast Florida region there are 121 cities and seven counties, which gives the region a local budget of about $40 billion and the fifth largest metro region in the Unites States,” he said.

The partnership is made up of 200 organizations representing the diverse population, interest and geography of Monroe, Miami-Dade, Broward, Palm Beach, Martin, St. Lucie and Indian River counties.

“We share the interest of the communities from Sebastian to Key West,” Busha said. “We need to establish our economy beyond real estate, tourism and agriculture, look into new industries and diversify our economy.”

He said this could be done by re-establishing confidence in the region and establishing the infrastructure to get these industries into the region.

The drafted proposal of the Seven/50 plan is slated to be released on Sept. 6.
Also in attendance was Glenn Jergensen, executive director of the Palm Beach County Tourist Development Council, who gave an update on how tourism is doing here in Palm Beach County.

He said that the council uses tourism development taxes – or bed taxes – to generate maximum return; determine the success of tourism programs; provide marketing and development for local amenities and recreational activities for future economic benefit; and an advisory board to the board of County Commissioners; and to ensure compliance with state and local tourism statutes.

“We are funded by the bedroom tax, which gives us 5 cents or 5 percent of each dollar collected from hotels and stays for less than six months,” Jergensen said. “In 2011 we had a budget of about $25.5 million; this year we slated to have about $30 million.”

Of the 5 cents collected about 2 percent goes to infrastructure such as the renovations of Roger Dean Stadium. The other 3 percent goes to marketing and promotion.

“We would like to see the tax go up to 6 percent,” he said. “This would allow us to put even more money into marketing and promoting.”

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