This week, the Greater Miami Chamber will hold its 45th Annual Goals Conference. Chamber leaders began the process of bringing members together to brainstorm solutions and set goals to improve our community in 1968, when Miami was at an economic crossroads.
In the years that followed, the work of the Greater Miami Chamber and its service to the community expanded significantly. Today, it is one of the largest metropolitan chambers in the United States, organized to create economic progress for the entire region. Its agenda is focused on economic and business issues ranging from regional business development, international business development, leadership programs and governmental affairs through 26 committees and a robust program of work developed by the membership.
Over the years, the Chamber’s Goals Conference has created a wide variety of significant community issues and organizations. The vision for the performing arts center, the first drug-free workplace program for the small business in the United States, the establishment of a full-time county economic development organization (the Beacon Council), a county-wide tourism agency (the Greater Miami Convention and Visitors Bureau), a worker’s relocation center which processed more than 19,000 laid off employees, a major league baseball and a national basketball franchise for South Florida — all began at a Chamber Goals Conference.
This year’s Goals Conference will seek solutions to transportation concerns, explore public policy initiatives and advance issues to grow more jobs more quickly in our community. The conference puts the mission of planning its work in the hands of its members; volunteers with passion and commitment to make our community stronger.
Following directives from last year’s conference, the chamber was on the road a lot, both building business opportunities for our members and advancing the most important issues. We took members to Hong Kong, Singapore, Brazil, Peru and the Dominican Republic. Next month the chamber travels to Mexico.
We also were present in Tallahassee and Washington, D.C. We recently concluded a visit to the nation’s capital to remain engaged with the administration and Congress. And we continue to work with and commend our South Florida legislative and congressional delegations and our two U.S. senators for their continuous support and leadership on issues of importance to this community.
One of the chamber’s priorities is immigration. We have worked to promote policies that address the issue with intelligence and compassion and have advocated for realistic solutions. It is clear that our immigration system must be reformed to better serve America’s national security interests as well as its economic needs. The chamber believes strongly that Congress must take the opportunity during this session to enact a forward-looking solution.
Infrastructure issues are clearly a priority. From the almost $2 billion needed in water and sewer investments to improvements in transportation and a focus on restoration of facilities, such as the Miami Marine Stadium. Congress is considering a Water Resources Development Act (WRDA) and has not passed legislation on water since 2007. The WRDA bill provided for Everglades Restoration and federally authorized PortMiami for dredging. These are both key economic engines for our community.
Bridging the community and help building a better community is the role of the chamber. Its members, which in addition to those in Miami-Dade include businesses in Monroe, Broward and Palm Beach counties, all desire the same thing — a strong business community, more opportunity to succeed and solutions to the issues that impede our path to the future.
And, it all begins at the Greater Miami Chamber Goals Conference. Since 1907, the chamber has been the rallying point for business in our community. Funded solely by its members and sponsors, it remains the independent voice of business. And, with the help of dedicated, community-minded people, that voice will remain strong.
Phillis Oeters is chairman of the Greater Miami Chamber of Commerce and Alberto Dosal is chair-elect.