• Make land available. On the one hand, assembling large parcels in strategic locations is too complex, expensive and risky for many private firms. On the other hand, cities often accumulate small, virtually unusable parcels through abandonment or outright purchase. Miami is no exception. The city should assemble its various city-owned properties and make them available to potential businesses, following a transparent, competitive public process.
• Streamline city processes and reduce costs. Focus groups of residents and industry members can help pinpoint room for improvement in plans review, permitting, inspection and business licensing processes. We can reduce the excessive regulations that can delay everything from putting up an awning to building a new corporate headquarter.
• Increase police patrols in commercial locations, so that business owners and clientele feel safer doing business.
• Increase police patrols in residential neighborhoods. CEOs often locate their businesses near their homes. If they feel that the city is a safe place to live, they are likely to create their businesses in the city as well.
• Work closely with the school board and local colleges and universities to ensure that course offerings for students of all ages prepare residents and their children for future careers — not just jobs but actual well-paying careers.
• Support the activities of the various local entities throughout the area that promote entrepreneurship. Branches (formerly South Florida Urban Ministries), Partners for Self-Employment and Venture Hive, among others, have helped thousands of individuals prepare business plans and secure seed capital to start their own businesses, putting them and their families on a path to economic self-sufficiency. The city can support such groups through a combination of office space, funding and marketing.
Taking these steps can bode well not just for Miami but for the county as a whole, for years to come.
Ralph Rosado, executive director, South Florida Community Development Coalition, Miami