Collaboration needed to heal local economy

admin | 2/1/2012, 7:30 a.m.

Once a year we have an epic discussion about jobs and the economy in Miami-Dade County. However, the discussion is always centered on layoffs, pink slips and the need for more union concessions, instead of implementing a focused economic initiative. Besides the casino proposal, we have yet to see any recommendations for policies that would create and attract new businesses, particularly public-private partnerships and encourage joint ventures. Its a well-known fact the economy is weak and people have too much debt while corporations continue to close, downsize and relocate. Government has to step in with incentives and make it attract for businesses to invest in our local economy which would in turn help our local government. The business community narrative wants to suggest that there is uncertainty in our tax structure and too much government regulation. Perhaps the business community, labor and local government should have a series of meetings to discuss and lay out an economic opportunity policy aimed at creating local jobs. We could start with several that are already on the books. For example, the Targeted Jobs Incentive Fund (TJIF) is a program whose purpose is to attract out-of-area businesses and encourage expansion of existing local companies by providing cash incentive awards. We probably should expand the list of industries. The Community Development Revolving Loan Fund (CDRLF) is another program that was created to assist businesses seeking financial assistance for start-ups and expansions. The loans are awarded up to a maximum of $200,000 for working capital and fixed assets. Maybe the amount of the loan should be increased. During this economic crisis there can be no single solution obviously addressing our local financial dilemma should not be facilitated by one group alone. It should be a coordinated effort between local government, organized labor and the private sector. The creation of innovative opportunities are within our grasp. By proactively engaging in new ideas thru a collective conversation, imagination and modifying economic strategies, we can open up a new dialogue that will address an economic policy in a sustainable way even if its only temporary. By Henry Crespo, Sr. Miami Times contributor hcresposr@gmail.com