TC Palm: Editorial: Project Seven50 creates potential for addressing mutual concerns in Southeast Florida

Treasure Coast needs to have voices heard as blueprint for region’s future is being created.

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How does Southeast Florida get to where we want to be in 50 years?

That’s the challenging question being addressed by a new coalition hoping to draft a comprehensive plan for economic development and quality of life for what is expected to become one of only 10 “super regions” in the nation, regions recognized globally as economic engines because of their international trade connections, cultural assets, varied businesses and population.

Two weeks ago, about 500 elected officials, urban planners, entrepreneurs, land management specialists and others gathered in Delray Beach for the opening summit of the project called Seven50 — the creation of a blueprint for achieving common goals over the next five decades for seven counties — Indian River, St. Lucie, Martin, Palm Beach, Broward, Miami-Dade and Monroe counties.

Leading the effort are the regional planning councils of the Treasure Coast and of South Florida, and the Southeast Florida Regional Partnership, which includes more than 200 public, private and civic participants. The project director is Stuart-based Marcela Camblor-Cutsaimanis, who has coordinated numerous projects along the Treasure Coast.

Additional summits are to be conducted over the next 20 months with a target of submitting a plan for growth and development in 2014 to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, which is funding the Seven50 project with a $4.25 million grant.

The project to create a plan for sustainable development and environmental protection focuses on six key areas:

Talent supply and education.

Innovation and economic development.

Infrastructure and growth leadership.

Business climate and competitiveness.

Civic and governance systems.

Quality of life and quality places.

While participants at the summit discussed with national experts some of the possibilities for addressing mutual interests, some also recognized previous difficulties in getting the varied parties to work together. The cities and counties in the region are consistently competing against each other for jobs and for scarce state and federal funding for transportation and the environment. It is not easy resolving differences in goals, for example, between the urban centers in Broward and Miami-Dade and more rural areas in the western areas of the Treasure Coast, or between land developers and coastal residents.

Participation in whatever the blueprint for growth outlines is said to be voluntary. The voices of the less populated areas of the region should not be silenced by the more populated areas. All voices must be heard. And, as far as being voluntary, there could be some strings attached to future government funding based on whatever consensus is reached, which makes it more critical for all to be heard.

But, while there are tremendous variations within the region, there are mutual concerns, including land use, transportation, environmental protection and, what could be a primary concern within the upcoming decades, water supply. Working individually, the local governments may not have the resources to accomplish some necessary improvements on their own. Working together, the possibilities for success may be enhanced. In that regard, especially, project Seven50 can have some enormous benefits.

PROJECT SEVEN50

Find out more about proposed blueprint for future of Treasure Coast and other counties in Southeast Florida at seven50.org.

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