Broward County became an official "Six Pillars" region this week, setting out a growth strategy for the next two decades.
This is no three-ring binder that will collect dust, said Dale Brill, president of the Florida Chamber Foundation that developed the Six Pillars process. It's an ambitious plan for Broward, holding the county to more than 230 measures for goals it set out to achieve.
More than 300 community members in business, education and government have been working on the plan since August 2011. The goal is for all 67 counties in Florida to have a strategic plan. Palm Beach County developed its Six Pillars plan in 2011.
Broward's plan offers a "clear vision of what we want to do here," said Chip LaMarca, Broward County Commissioner who is a co-chair of Six Pillars Broward.
Bob Swindell, president of the Greater Fort Lauderdale Alliance, said Six Pillars will be different than previous strategic plans because it is so public. Anyone will be able to see Broward's progress at thefloridascorecard.com.
Here are some themes and tactics of the plan concerning business and employment:
Jobs that match openings: Educators must collaborate with employers to make sure they're preparing Broward's workforce with skills that employers need.
"We're designing curriculum around the skills needed," said J. David Armstrong Jr., president of Broward College and co-chair of Six Pillars. Broward College will jumpstart that effort with more than $4 million in grants from the Labor Department to prepare students for increasingly high-tech manufacturing jobs.
Encourage students to have marketable skills upon graduation by obtaining an industry-recognized certificate as well as a high school diploma.
Conduct an annual survey of employers and educators to determine if current curricula is meeting their needs.
Increase numbers of students going into majors in science, technology, engineering, art and mathematics.
Expand learning opportunities for students through internships, shadowing and e-learning.
Ensure affordable opportunities for workers to acquire multilingual skills to compete in a global workforce.
New companies and new jobs: Goals include promoting Broward as a place for young professionals and highly educated adults, to change its perception as a place for snowbirds. Attract and retain innovation-based companies and enhance Broward's position as a global hub.
"It's all about jobs and creating an atmosphere based on quality of life," said Mason Jackson, president of Broward's Workforce One employment agency. "Make this a place where business wants to come and stay. It's got to be beyond the sun and sand.'"
Dev Motwani, managing partner of Merrimac Ventures who co-chairs the innovation committee, said he wants to see the creation of cloud-based technology incubators. "We have a lot of great companies here, but this is taking it to the next level," he said.
Swindell of the Greater Fort Lauderdale Alliance said county leaders already are working on incubator concepts involving local colleges.
Give incentives to companies that hire graduates in technology, science and other knowledge-based fields.
Create business incubation centers and technology parks.
Increase R&D funding for technology-related programs at universities and colleges and identify technology transfer opportunities.
Seek out companies that produce solar power and alternative energy.
Form a volunteer board of finance specialists to gather information on federal and county funds, grants, bonds and venture capital.
Support expansion projects at Port Everglades and Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport.
Centralize database of assets to assist people from other countries who want to open a business or invest here.
Quality of life and affordable housing: Goals include getting residents and business to take more pride in the county and work to enhance it. Promote the county's outdoor lifestyle and ecotourism. And develop a diverse range of neighborhoods that are safe, affordable, attractive and sustainable.
Swindell said Broward has a lot to be proud of, both in education and business. "We're not comfortable with our successes," he said. "Look at our technology innovation, our education. [Instead,] we latch on to the challenges."
Provide incentives for developers to create mixed-use, multifamily housing like the Sailboat Bend Artists' Lofts in Fort Lauderdale.
Create a development fund to purchase vacant and underused land for affordable workforce housing near employment centers.
Expand arts and culture educational programs and create a signature event, such as Miami's Art Basel, that celebrates the county's art community.
Encourage local businesses to support local artists by illustrating the benefits of participation.
For information on Six Pillars, go to sixpillarsbroward.org
[Source: The Sun Sentinel ]