SkyRise developer Jeff Berkowitz’s April 8 letter regarding the intent of the $75 million economic development fund is revisionist history.
As one of the principal authors of the $75 million fund put before the voters, a project like SkyRise was not the intent of the program.
The concept was to use this money as a reserve incentive pool to attract high-paying jobs and tax-producing investment.
The projects were to pay salaries above the medium wage and create incremental taxes in an amount that would not only amortize the grant/loan, but also would provide a positive return on investment.
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There were strict regulations and guidelines developed that, unfortunately, the mayor and commission waived in order to fund projects like SkyRise.
In reality we were looking to provide a competitive edge in attracting a major corporate headquarters or manufacturing facilities. Aviation was actually one of the targeted industries. Hence the idea to foster the International Commercial trade show in Homestead.
Raquel Regalado was spot on in opposing this project, not only because the public was deceived with the “no public funding” pledge, but also because Berkowitz’s project wasn’t in keeping with the actual intent of the program put before the voters.
A privately funded SkyRise might be a good project, but I can assure the public the original intent of the economic development incentive fund wasn’t to use public funds to induce projects that primarily paid minimum wages.
Frank R. Nero, former president and CEO, Beacon Council, Miami Beach