City of Miami Mayor Francis Suarez’s budget for this fiscal year included funds to address numerous quality-of-life issues such as affordable housing, resiliency, and parks/public spaces. In a City as diverse as Miami, deciding where a limited amount of funds will go is no easy task, especially considering all the challenges that come with being a major city — from sea level rise to income inequality.
With such finite and stretched funding to work with, cities need local partners to fill in the gaps. In Miami, Miami Beach, and Coral Gables, property owners have stepped up to create Business Improvement Districts that add resources to improve neighborhoods with thriving businesses. BIDs are common in cities like New York that have several emerging and established neighborhoods with unique needs that are met by a combined effort of the private and public sectors. Greater Miami’s growth is enhanced by cities’ partnerships with BIDs to provide crucial services necessary for the success of these thriving commercial centers.
Wynwood is proud to hold the largest BID in Florida, covering a 50-city-block neighborhood that has experienced an exciting transformation in recent years, taking it from abandoned industrial zone to bustling arts, entertainment and innovation district.
Today, Wynwood welcomes an upward of 3 million annual visitors, supports 5,000 jobs and generates more than 20% of the City’s parking transactions. The BID represents more than 400 property owners that have invested additional funds in the neighborhood since its creation 6 years ago. The Wynwood BID’s annual report details the work done with those funds to improve the area over the last year, among them: 240,000 pounds of litter collected by the Wynwood BID clean team, 300 LED lights installed to increase safety in the area, Wynwood street guide developed for visitors, and Wynwood Streetscape and Street Tree Master Plan created to improve district walkability. In addition, the BID works daily to promote Wynwood via its social media handles and ongoing media relations campaign, supporting the continued growth of the area.
In Coconut Grove, Coral Gables, and on Lincoln Road, BIDs are also making a difference by funding key events and supplementing safety and cleanliness initiatives. Other areas are following suit, with Ocean Drive, Washington Avenue, and Downtown’s Flagler Street working to establish BIDs.
Across the board, Miami’s BIDs represent thriving commercial districts that support thousands of jobs, help maintain Miami’s status as an international destination, and contribute to cities’ overall tax revenue. In fact, a study done by Complete Consulting Group Inc. found that the Wynwood BID area’s tax contribution increased by 270% from 2013-2017, as the area experienced growth. The work of BIDs ensures that neighborhoods can continue to provide positive economic benefits for the greater community.
As the City of Miami and other municipalities across Miami-Dade County embark on their new fiscal year, we are reminded of the complexity of deciding where valuable tax dollars will be allocated and the importance of creative ways to provide for communities. Business Improvement Districts offer a solution that adds funds to enhance areas key to Miami’s tourism economy, markets neighborhoods in ways cities cannot do alone, and ensures area businesses and the employees they support can continue to succeed.
Manny Gonzalez is executive director of the Wynwood Business Improvement District. He was previously at the Coconut Grove BID for eight years. A native Miamian, Gonzalez has a degree in criminal justice from Florida International University. More information on the Wynwood BID can be found at www.wynwoodmiami.com
▪ This is a opinion piece written for Business Monday’s ‘My View’ space in the Miami Herald. The views expressed don’t necessarily reflect those of the newspaper.
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