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Academic leaders fueling job growth in Miami-Dade

Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez said the county has surpassed One Community One Goal’s projects for new jobs.
Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez said the county has surpassed One Community One Goal’s projects for new jobs. cherrera@miamiherald.com

Four years into a five-year local economic development initiative known as One Community One Goal, civic leaders reported solid gains in job growth in Miami-Dade County, led largely by the efforts of a consortium of academic leaders.

The blueprint, created by Miami-Dade’s economic development agency the Beacon Council in 2012, aims to create jobs in seven target industries: aviation, banking and finance, creative design, information technology, hospitality and tourism, life sciences and healthcare, and trade and logistics.

At its annual meeting Thursday morning, held at the University of Miami this year, One Community One Goal’s leaders reported creating an additional 44,858 jobs in the program’s target industries since 2012. That’s a 60 percent increase over the program’s five-year goal of 27,000 jobs by 2017, said Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos Gimenez, who co-chairs the effort with Matt Haggman of the Knight Foundation and Nelson Lazo, CEO of Doctors Hospital Baptist Health.

“Jobs is key,” Gimenez told about 600 attendees. “Jobs is the way out of poverty. Jobs is the way to make your life better. Jobs is the way to the middle class. Jobs is the way to affect future generations.”

Much of the success was attributed to the program’s Academic Leaders Council, led by the heads of six local higher-education institutions and the county’s public schools. In two videos — including one in which each school’s president was dressed in its school mascot — academic leaders showed how they had come together to accelerate the pace of job creation in the county — by starting with education.

Jobs is key. Jobs is the way out of poverty. Jobs is the way to make your life better. Jobs is the way to the middle class. Jobs is the way to affect future generations.

Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez

St. Thomas University in Miami Gardens, Barry University in Miami Shores and Miami-Dade Public Schools have added specialized programs to provide opportunities in high-demand fields, with new nursing programs at St. Thomas and Barry and magnet programs at Miami-Dade Public Schools. This fall, Miami-Dade College will open a fashion institute at its downtown Wolfson Campus to train students in fashion design and merchandising.

At Florida Memorial University in Miami Gardens, undergraduate chemistry majors are researching anti-cancer antigens; the findings will be presented at an annual cancer conference in Barcelona, Spain. The school is also undergoing a full curricula review to better align itself with employer needs.

And most employer needs are in the technology field, many speakers pointed out.

44,858 Jobs created in the One Community One Goal initiative’s seven target industries

Miami-Dade College launched its Magic lab last year, in conjunction with animation studio Pixar, to train students in animation and gaming. The college has also opened its Idea Center, which brings together students in all fields to develop entrepreneurial ideas.

The University of Miami’s version of that concept, known as the Hemispheric Innovation Hub, is in the beginning stages, with plans to encourage entrepreneurship, new ventures and product development locally.

“Miami can play that fundamental role of being a hub of innovation for the Americas,” UM President Julio Frenk said at Thursday’s event.

Florida International University is set to launch StartUp FIU, a 13-week program to develop entrepreneurship ventures and help FIU students collaborate with local startups.

We have to prepare our students to create good jobs, not just take good jobs.

FIU president Mark Rosenberg

“First and foremost, the future of our community is in our youth,” said FIU president Mark Rosenberg, who chairs the Academic Leaders Council. “We have to prepare our students to create good jobs, not just take good jobs.”

FIU also spearheaded the creation of TDNMiami.com, or the Talent Development Network, a community portal for jobs and internships with salary ranges and a road map to employment. Ultimately, the program hopes to keep local talent in Miami-Dade and combat brain-drain driven by students who are forced to find jobs elsewhere.

Tim Rowe, CEO of the Boston-based Cambridge Innovation Center, which is launching in Miami, said startups create more jobs in the U.S. than traditional companies, according to research by the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation.

“If we don’t figure out the startup piece, we’ll die,” Rowe said.

But Miami is on the right track.

“I spend a lot of time in different cites around the world, understanding innovation,” Rowe said. “You guys are more together on this than I’ve seen anywhere, so I’m impressed.”

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