The federal government is not coming to the rescue. That’s the bracing message that Global Cities Initiative, a forward-looking partnership between Brookings and JPMorgan Chase brought to Miami last week as this region explores ways to grow the economy.
GCI has examined the economic growth potential of several cities, looking for symbiotic — and lucrative — relationships. Advocates have globe-trotted from San Diego to Sao Paolo to Los Angeles, among other cities. Given Miami’s blessed position as gateway to Latin America and the Caribbean, it was only a matter of time before the GCI landed here — with another sobering warning:
Miami can’t take its blessings for granted. That’s all too true, and both public- and private-sector leaders must confront the threats and seize the opportunities.
Already, other U.S. cities are exploiting what should be our slam-dunks. For instance, Miami is the favored port — this year — for Brazil, Honduras and Peru. But Houston is the port of choice for Argentina, Chile, Colombia and Venezuela, according to WorldCity, a Miami-based trade publication. And Los Angeles, bereft of Latin American banks, may be giving a flirtatious eye to those lining Brickell.
GCI’s overarching mission is to encourage cities to develop their own trade policies and recalibrate their economies to allow them to more fully engage in global markets. As Bruce Katz, vice president and director of Brookings’ Metropolitan Policy Program, told the Herald Editorial Board, “Trade policy is not just nation to nation — it’s city to city.”
In its analysis of greater Miami’s potential, GCI sees the expansion of PortMiami drawing more goods from Asia’ Brazil as a major partner given the draw of South Florida real estate for thousands of Brazilians; and more parts manufactured elsewhere that can be assembled in this community before being shipped out.
But with those opportunities come a challenge, and the question: Can Miami stick to the plan and do it? It’s the 21st century. This community cannot rely on tourism, agriculture and construction as its mainstays.
GCI’s analysis only underscores the hurdles outlined in the Beacon Council’s One Community, One Goal “playbook,” which earlier this year comprehensively outlined where greater Miami must shore up its foundation if it is to compete head-to-head in a global economy.
Higher education is our strong suit. There are about 200,000 students enrolled in college in Miami-Dade County, making it the seventh in per capita college enrollment in the nation. And public schools are delivering better graduation rates. But we’re also waving goodbye to too many of these young, educated people. So many teens are heading out of state to college and not returning. Young adults are heading north and west for the kinds of high-skill jobs we’re not providing here. We’re losing the return on education investment.
The Global Cities Initiative, to which JPMorgan Chase, commendably, has contributed $10 million, is a five-year project. Its administrators plan to remain engaged in each of its target cities. Greater Miami can accomplish so much in five years. GCI has acknowledged this community’s potential and reached out. It’s imperative that the community respond in kind.