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Broward urged to cooperate with Dade, Palm Beach


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A massive new report that could become a master plan for Broward County economic development through the year 2020 can be summed up in three words:

Coordinate, collaborate, cooperate.

Although Broward has been criticized in the past for a go-it-alone strategy that frequently rankled its metropolitan neighbors in Miami-Dade or Palm Beach counties, the VisionBroward report concludes those days must end -- in inter-county cooperation.

''If we're going to get where we need to be over the next 15 years, we need to deal with these things,'' said James ''JT'' Tarlton, head of the Broward Alliance, one of the organizations sponsoring the VisionBroward effort. ``We can't just keep talking about it.''

Fledgling efforts along that line have already begun. In June, for instance, the main development agencies of Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach hosted an economic summit that focused on regionalism.

But the VisionBroward report -- 237 pages long -- strongly advocates pushing that agenda forward. It calls on the county to dedicate itself to working with the rest of South Florida to create a regional identity that can be marketed to the world, as well as foster regional approaches to common problems like education, transportation and economic development.

''There was no more common theme throughout all of the task forces than the idea captured by these three words: coordinate, collaborate and cooperate,'' says the summary of the report.

Next, hundreds of volunteers on the project will decide how to proceed with the report's recommendations.

Although there's no shortage of economic studies about South Florida, the VisionBroward report comes with a pedigree that suggests its recommendations have a higher-than-average chance of success.

For one thing, it's backed by some powerful groups, including the Broward Alliance, the county's main economic development agency, the Broward County Commission, and the Broward Workshop, whose members are executives of leading local companies.

The project's chief facilitator was Nova Southeastern University.

Furthermore, the effort is a successor to the Project Horizon initiative of the 1980s, whose recommendations led to the creation of the Greater Fort Lauderdale Convention & Visitors Bureau and the development of the Broward County Convention Center.

More than 700 volunteers from government, civic organizations and private businesses took part in VisionBroward, which has been conducting research since last year.

Michael O'Rourke, a partner at the Morrison, Brown, Argiz accounting firm, chaired a group that examined how the county can improve its weak attraction of venture capital for start-up firms.

''We concluded we needed to have a culture of venture capital in the community,'' he said. ``In places like Boston, you have a group of entrepreneurs familiarized with the process of seeking venture capital. You have groups of professionals like lawyers and accountants to help them. And you have funders who know that's where the action is.''

But the common thread for all the task forces was regionalism. A key recommendation was establishing a regional economic foundation to address pan-South Florida issues like transportation and development. Another was to start an International Trade Center that could promote and attract international trade and foreign direct investment in the region.

''I thought it was a very worthwhile exercise, especially the part that said we had to look at things from a regional point of view,'' said Christopher Pollock, president of the Fort Lauderdale Chamber of Commerce.

With the report done, ''now we're moving to implementation,'' said Devin Avery, the county's project manager. After the involved parties review the report, ``they'll come together with the county for a time line on how to move ahead.''

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I support more regional coordination. Every square inch of land is developed from West Palm to Miami, so it's basically one gigantic metro-area. There should be more merging and cooperation, especially when it comes to transportation. The SFRTA (South Florida Regional Transportation Authority) is in charge of Tri-Rail, which is basically the only inter-county route. I wonder if they'll ever merge all the bus services into one huge system. Currently, there's PalmTran, BCT, and Miami-Dade Transit, and they only have limited service into their neighboring counties.

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I was just thinking about bus consolidation the other day. I don't know if it's absolutely needed, but it'll be nice to have and money saving i'm sure. We need with a passion, an regional airport authority. We have 3 major airports and scores of smaller general aviation ones, and everybody seems to be competing with each other to the detrement of consumers.

While regionalism is taking hold in south florida, broward tends to be a little slow. Even after the 3 counties agreed to stop luring business's away from other counties, miramar gave tax incentives to lure a miami based business to move. The mindset seems to be similar to the battle between downtowns and suburbs. Broward thinks of themselves as newer, cleaner, safer and definitely richer. They don't want to be brought down by associating themselves with Miami.

More and more of Miami's problems are creeping across the county line however. I think Broward is realizing that if they don't adopt a regional attitude, that they'll soon be losing population and business to Palm Beach and Martin counties.

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South Florida could benefit from a similar bus system in Central Florida, the Lynx. Its totally extensive and can get you anywhere from Osceola, Orange or Seminole County. It has actually become so large that they have outgrown their terminal and have almost completed the construction of a new (quite large) Intermodal Center.

Photographed here by Sunshineboy (thank you):


Now only if the Orlando area could get some sort of commuter rail system, we would all be in business.

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It does like pretty cool, better than the rendering suggested. The waiting area is indoors and the bays appear to be outdoors. This is from the website:

The opening of LYNX Central Station (LCS), the new downtown bus station, on Sunday, November 14 will usher in a new era of convenience for our riders. In addition to providing customers with a spacious terminal and separate air-conditioned waiting area, the LCS also contains additional features designed to get our customers where they need to go as efficiently as possible:

* Massive 10' x 20' screen effectively displays all bus arrival and departure times

* Separate bus walkways and an enhanced lighting system ensure rider safety

* On-site lost and found department and customer service staff to assist passenger needs

* The ability to purchase bus passes or sign up for a LYNX I.D. at one convenient location

In news related to the station, the separate opening festivities scheduled for elected officials/business leaders and the public, have been combined into one daylong event. The Grand Opening Celebration will take place at the LCS on Friday, November 19 from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. The celebration features a formal dedication, live radio station remotes, food and plenty of fun activities.

The LCS began construction in February 2003. It consists of 24 bus bays, a 20,000 square-foot terminal and a 67,000 square-foot office tower on a 4.4-acre site located on Garland Avenue between Amelia Street and Livingston Street in downtown Orlando.


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