Over the past twenty-five years, South Miami-Dade County has been subjected to an unrelenting series of disasters, hardships, and change. In 1992, Hurricane Andrew caused widespread devastation to the area and its economy. In 1993, the Homestead Airforce Base was effectively closed and later realigned, greatly reducing the number of jobs and impacting the economy in the area. In 1994, the North American Free Trade Agreement was signed leading to extreme struggle for the region’s agriculture-dependent economy to survive amidst imported competition. The housing market collapse and “Great Recession” hit the Miami region hard and the South Miami-Dade area even harder with some of the highest rates of foreclosure in the nation. In 2017 the area was struck by Hurricane Irma, causing extensive loss to the agricultural economy and allied businesses. Estimated agricultural losses from Hurricane Irma total nearly $226 million, not accounting for the total losses in okra and avocado crop harvests. Despite all the tribulations and the apparent need, South Miami-Dade County has never had an economic development strategy of its own. Now, in the wake of Hurricane Irma, is the time to ensure that recovery and future development is done in a manner which will strengthen the area and its economy.
Through the leadership of Councilmember and Miami-Dade County Commissioner Daniella Levine Cava and Miami-Dade County Commissioner Dennis Moss, and in partnership with Miami-Dade County staff and key stakeholders from the South Miami-Dade community, the South Florida RPC, in its role as the Economic Development Administration’s (EDA) Economic Development District for South Florida, is spearheading the development and implementation of a South Miami-Dade County Economic Development Strategy. Council staff is assisting with the preparation of an EDA Economic Development Assistance Program grant proposal to secure funding for this initiative. The South Florida RPC has submitted a preliminary funding request for EDA Disaster Supplemental funding. Total project costs are estimated at $2 million, inclusive of a $1 million in-kind match.