ECONOMY & JOBS
Since my arrival on the Board of County Commissioners, I have worked hard each and every day to bring jobs and economic development to our county. In that time unemployment in Broward County has dropped from over 11% four years ago to 5% in 2014. We must continue to expand our local economy by seeking outside investment and encouraging new headquarters and business startups to choose Broward County as their home.
I am most proud of the work I have done with the Greater Fort Lauderdale Alliance and the Six Pillars Initiative where I serve as Co-Chair of the Steering Committee. Over 300 Broward County businesses, civic, government leaders and residents are leading the Six Pillars strategic planning process for Broward County. Six Pillars is designed to help communities throughout the state of Florida prosper and create high paying jobs by creating a visioning process through 2030.
Beach tourism is a major economic engine in Broward County. In 2013, over 13 million visitors traveled to Broward County and 62% of these travelers visited our beautiful beaches. Tourism in Broward County created $10.7 billion in economic benefits generating $200 million in state sales tax revenue and nearly $48 million in tourist development tax revenues.
As a Broward County Commissioner, I represent the coastal communities from Deerfield Beach to Fort Lauderdale. Our beaches have been severely eroded over the years by hurricanes and tropical storms and in some areas they are close to disappearing. One of my primary goals since being elected has been to secure state and federal funding to replenish our beaches. While in office, I have successfully assisted Broward County in bringing in $10.1 million in federal funding and $6.7 million in state funding. The Segment II project for the renourishment of the beaches at Fort Lauderdale, Lauderdale-By-The-Sea and Pompano Beach is slated to begin in the fall of 2014. I have worked diligently with our local, state and federal partners to keep this project on track and overcome the many challenges along the way. During this process, I have traveled to Washington DC and Tallahassee multiple times to advocate on behalf of Broward’s beaches. We still have a long way to go but I remain resolute in my mission to replenish our beaches.
PORT EVERGLADES MASTER/VISION PLAN
Port Everglades is South Florida’s main seaport for receiving petroleum products including, gasoline and jet fuel. A foreign-trade zone and available office space inside the Port’s secure area make Port Everglades a highly desirable business center for world trade. The Port Everglades Department is a self-supporting Enterprise Fund of Broward County government. It does not rely on local tax dollars for operations or capital improvements. The total value of economic activity at Port Everglades is approximately $26 billion. More than 201,000 Florida jobs are impacted by the Port, including 11,700 people who work for companies that provide direct services to Port Everglades.
The Port Everglades Master/Vision Plan is a roadmap for future growth over the next 20 years that identifies $1.6 billion in capital investments to improve productivity for cargo, cruise and petroleum businesses that operate at the South Florida seaport. The Broward County Board of County Commissioners, which governs the Port as a self-funded enterprise fund, approved the Port Everglades 2014 Master/Vision Plan on June 24, 2014. To develop the Plan, Port staff and maritime consultant AECOM Technical Services, Inc. held more than 20 meetings with customers, stakeholders and the general public. As a “hands on” county commissioner, I attended many of those meetings and public hearings to hear the feedback of the interested parties. Those current projects include lengthening the Southport Turning Notch from 900 to 2,400 feet to add up to five new cargo berths; deepening and widening the navigation channels to a depth of 50 feet; and the Florida East Coast Railway’s new intermodal container transfer facility (ICTF) that opened successfully this past July. The plan also includes conducting traffic and environmental studies for projects in the five-year Master Plan, and an affordability analysis for the projects in the 10-year timeframe. I have traveled to Washington DC multiple times on behalf of Broward County with the Port Everglades Action Team to advocate for the expansion of Port Everglades by deepening and widening the port entrance and channels.
CONVENTION CENTER EXPANSION & HOTEL
The Greater Fort Lauderdale/Broward County Convention Center has hosted more than 5,500 meetings and 5 million guests since opening in 1991. The planned expansion of the existing facility and addition of an on-site hotel is expected to result in many economic benefits for Broward County and Florida, including: over 115,000 new annual overnight stays and an estimated 80,000 in new attendees, creation of 721 permanent full-time jobs, resulting from annual spending associated with the expansion project, over $96 million in future tax revenues (present value), over $70 million in new state tax collections during the life of the project ($21 million in tax revenue for Broward County).
The Board of County Commissioners received an update in May of 2014 on the Concept Master Plan for a new convention center hotel and expansion of the current convention facility. Design principles include: create an iconic waterfront destination, integrate existing community assets and businesses, explore a building design that creates a sense of place, promote multi-modal transportation and encourage sustainable development. Concepts being presented incorporate months of input gathered through public workshops and community stakeholder meetings with County agencies and residents.
Since being elected in 2010, I have been working to make this issue a priority for the Broward County Commission. Throughout my term in office, the lack of a convention center hotel and the necessary convention center expansion has cost our economy over $60 million per year and this is unacceptable. The commission has decided that it is time to move this issue to the forefront.
Broward County is improving traffic flow through our “Green Lights Program,” to coordinate traffic signals along our major streets. We will be synchronizing the most frequently traveled roadways over the next several months according to the Green Lights Program schedule. Drivers traveling along streets where signal retiming is in effect will experience fewer delays and more green lights. When you drive at the posted speed limit, you will you pass through more continuous green lights during your trip. The primary benefit to signal coordination is to improve traffic flow and reduce delays and stops. Reducing the number of unnecessary stops along our busiest streets will minimize fuel consumption, reduce carbon emissions, reduce travel delays, reduce economic losses and improve safety.
Throughout District 4, the Green Lights Program has been in effect and the timing has been completed for the US1 Corridor from downtown to Hillsboro Boulevard, as well as many other main arteries throughout Broward County.
MY PLEDGE TO BROWARD COUNTY
One should not go into public service to get rich or to benefit financially from elected office. As a candidate for reelection and your commissioner, it is my pledge to you that I will never abuse the trust you have placed in me. Not one campaign donation or one dollar of taxpayer money will be spent without rigorous oversight and scrutiny by my office. The hard-earned money of each and every Broward taxpayer should be cared for and used productively – not as a way to line your personal coffers.