Beacon Council building a foundation for Miami’s strong economic future

IBM marketing communications associate Marty Peterson, left, explains the Smarter Cities Initiative to Alejandra Slatapolsky at the 2014 eMerge Americas in Miami Beach. The annual event has pushed Miami into the technology spotlight.
IBM marketing communications associate Marty Peterson, left, explains the Smarter Cities Initiative to Alejandra Slatapolsky at the 2014 eMerge Americas in Miami Beach. The annual event has pushed Miami into the technology spotlight. Miami Herald Staff

One Community One Goal (OCOG) is the community-wide initiative coordinated by The Beacon Council. Its goal is to promote seven categories for diversifying and strengthening our economy. The program focuses on attracting and growing industries with the highest potential for creating well-paying jobs, working with educators to develop a pipeline of qualified workers and creating a sustainable business environment.

OCOG was created in 1996 by the Greater Miami Chamber of Commerce and reinitiated by The Beacon Council in 2011.

As we prepare for our fourth annual report to the community on July 21, there are many positive indicators of the program’s success. According to a new study by the Economic Innovation Group, Miami-Dade County is the only Florida county to rank among the Top 10 nationwide, with the largest increase in employment from 2010 to 2014, with a 14.7 percent increase. This is good news for our community, which experienced only 5.9 percent job growth during the boom years of the mid-2000s leading up to the recession.

Five of the target industries are even exceeding the 14.7 percent job growth. Banking and finance has seen 17 percent increase, and trade and logistics and hospitality — our legacy sectors — are exceeding expectations with 24 percent and 21 percent growth, respectively. Industries like banking, with higher than average wage jobs, and trade and logistics, which provide high-growth career paths, are particularly important for growing our economy.

Most impressive, Miami’s newest “power” industry, technology and innovation, continues to expand with 34 percent growth. Once an economy based primarily in real estate and tourism, Miami-Dade has become well-known for its tech and entrepreneurial activity that is attracting millennials at an unprecedented rate. Miami is ranked second in the nation in startup activity, according to the Kauffman Foundation and came in No. 1 as the “happiest place to work” in 2016 according to Career Bliss.

This spike in entrepreneurial activity and innovation is partially a result of the robust ecosystem of incubators, accelerators, workspaces, mentors, service providers, angel and venture-capital investors, along with the support of universities, local government and philanthropies that have been developed in recent years. The Knight Foundation is igniting Miami’s startup ecosystem through entrepreneurial investments, and the rapid growth of eMerge Americas reinforces Miami’s position as the technology hub of the Americas.

OCOG chairs Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos Gimenez, Knight Foundation Program Director Matt Haggman and Doctors Hospital CEO Nelson Lazo, have made creating a world-class educational ecosystem and growth of our target industries their primary focus.

Growing the pipeline of talent and the development of skills needed to support our new local economy is a top priority for the Academic Leaders Council. Created by OCOG and comprised of Miami-Dade’s university and college presidents and superintendent of schools, the ALC is aligning academic curricula with the needs of today’s businesses.

In recent weeks, OCOG partnered with United Way and The Urban League to bring more than 100 local high school students together with a group of successful entrepreneurs to learn about career path opportunities. Students from Miami Northwestern, Miami Central, Stellar Leadership Academy and D.A. Dorsey Technical College interacted with Angela Benton, CEO, NewME; Brian Brackeen, CEO, Kairos; and Marcell Haywood, CEO, Encompass Onsite Solutions, who all discussed challenges and opportunities in the workplace, and provided encouraging words on how to be successful in business and life.

OCOG also partnered with Miami-Dade Public Schools to sponsor The National Academy Foundation’s “Conversations with Businesses & Educators: Creating Miami’s Next Generation Workforce.” This event focused on preparing students for college, career and the future. Business leaders Roberto Muñoz, South Florida Market president, BBVA Compass; Gary Goldfarb, chief strategy officer, Interport; and Ed Toro, lead instructor at Wyncode, provided their perspectives on workforce needs.

No one does this alone. The July 21 event will highlight the unprecedented collaboration between business, academia, government and nonprofit sectors and provide opportunities for further efforts. We are working together to make Miami a thriving, world-class 21st-century city for all of our residents and in the eyes of the world.

Ernie Diaz is the chair and Jaret Davis is the chair-elect of The Beacon Council, Miami Dade’s official economic development partnership.