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December 12, 2008-MainStreet Economic Recovery Report

September 29, 2008,2008-Urban Land Magazine article

August 27,2008-Census figures show South Florida poverty rates down

August 25,2008-Miami number 35 cleanest city.

November 26, 2007 -Inner City 100 Top 10

July 20, 2007 - Miami Condo Glut Pushes Florida's Economy to Brink of Recession

June 8, 2007 - City of Miami Selected #1 City to Do Business

May 9, 2007 - Award from The Brookings Institution! 2007 Urban Markets Pathfinder Award for Excellence in “Capturing Market potential by Investing in Communities.”

May 9, 2007 - Little Haiti Business Owner is Exonerated by DERM

April 26, 2007 - Social Compact research found that the population and spending power of Miami's inner-city neighborhoods has been undercounted

April, 2007 - Market Study Suggests Household Sizes are Larger than Mainstream Data Sources Project.

April 25, 2007 - City of Miami Listed as a “Top Ten City of the Future” by Renowned Magazine fDi.

April 25, 2007 - Super Enterprise Zone in Overtown Gets OK

April, 2007 - City of Miami Economic Development Department Will Apply for New Markets Tax Credits (NMTCs)

December 12, 2008-MainStreet Economic Recovery Report

America’s Mayors Report to the Nation on Projects to
Strengthen Metro Economies and Create Jobs Now
Release #2: December 8, 2008

Infrastructure Jobs in Cities – “Ready to Go”
Today The U.S. Conference of Mayors releases the second in its series of reports on
infrastructure projects that are “ready to go” in cities across the nation – projects that can be
started quickly after funding is received and generate the significant numbers of jobs that are
needed to strengthen the economies of our metro areas and our nation as a whole.
Today we are reporting that in 427 cities of all sizes in all regions of the country, a
total of 11,391 infrastructure projects are “ready to go.” These projects represent an
infrastructure investment of $73,163,299,303 that would be capable of producing an
estimated 847,641 jobs in 2009 and 2010.

The Conference of Mayors MainStreet Economic Recovery plan, developed under the
leadership of Miami Mayor Manual A. (Manny) Diaz, the President of the Conference, calls for
federal investments in 10 sectors that will quickly create jobs in metro areas, improve the
infrastructure that the private sector needs to succeed, help the small businesses of Main Street
America, and produce lasting economic and environmental benefits for the nation. The
following chart summarizes, for each of the 10 sectors, the number of infrastructure projects
described by the 427 cities, the total investment that would be required to implement these
projects, and the estimated number of jobs that could be generated by these projects.

Click here for more information and detailed listings.

Creating the World’s Next Great Waterfront City

In the past decade, downtown Miami has been the site of more than
$13 billion in private development as well as of an unprecedented flow of
public investment for transportation projects, cultural venues, and parks.

Click here for the PDF article

Census figures show South Florida poverty rates down

While most of the country is stuck in an economic funk, Miami-Dade is statistically less poor than it was a year before with Miami Gardens seeing the most explosive growth in household earnings -- jumping a whopping 29 percent, according to census figures released Tuesday.

The income findings are part of the U.S. Census Bureau's annual report on income, poverty and health insurance. On a national level, household income increased, the poverty rate stayed the same and the number of people without health insurance dropped for the first time in seven years, even as Florida had the highest rate of poor children living without insurance in the nation.

Demographers cautioned that the data is a year old -- based on figures from 2006 to 2007 -- and offers a mere snapshot of what's to come since the economy's decline happened in the latter part of 2007 and in 2008. More significant changes will be evident next year.

In South Florida, poverty in Miami-Dade fell for the second year in a row, to 15.3 percent from 16.4 percent in 2006. In Broward, the poverty rate held steady at just over 11 percent.

Activists said the figures were somewhat misleading because poverty remains a serious problem in a region where many cities are home to some of the nation's most impoverished.

Last year's 2006-07 census figures ranked Miami as the sixth poorest city in the nation, with nearly a quarter of its residents living below the poverty line. Miami also has been among the country's 10 poorest cities for at least a decade, even earning the dubious No. 1 distinction in 2000.

One local advocate for the poor said Miami-Dade's drop in poverty stemmed from residents leaving because of unemployment and other economic ills.

''The poverty rate going down does not mean poverty is going down,'' said Tony Romano, organizing director of the Miami Workers Center in Liberty City. ``It means the displacement of the poor.''

To the south, Monroe County secured its reputation as one of the richest counties in the nation, with the top 5 percent of households earning about $625,000 a year. That's No. 6 in the nation.

In other developments:

• Weston saw a slight decrease in median household income but remained one of the wealthiest cities in the nation.

• Kendall experienced a 20 percent increase in median household income, to $67,648. The biggest jump in South Florida came in Miami Gardens. The median household income in the north Miami-Dade city leapt 29 percent, reaching $43,578.

City Manager Danny Crew attributed the increase in earnings to new housing developments for middle- and working-class residents in the city's north Andover neighborhood in recent years. The projects, he said, lured an estimated 500 people, many of them families with working parents. The lure for buyers: a central location for commuters in Dade and Broward.

''When you get two people who work, it brings up your median income,'' Crew said.

The city with the nation's biggest gap between rich and poor, meanwhile, was Miami Beach, world-renowned for celebrity revelry. It moved up in rank from the fifth city with the widest income disparity the previous year.

''I'm not at all surprised,'' said Daniella Levine, president and CEO of the Human Services Coalition in Miami-Dade. ``While we are bringing in wealthy people, we are also pushing out the middle class.''


Nannette Rodriguez, a spokeswoman for Miami Beach, questioned the findings, saying the city has created jobs and curbed unemployment. Since 2002, Miami Beach has had a 15 percent increase in jobs, 33 percent increase in average wage, and a 64 percent decrease in unemployment. ''When you look too micro, you're not looking at the big picture,'' Rodriguez said.

Along with Miami Beach, Miami and Tampa also have striking gaps between the wealthy and poor, the census report states.

''It means that it's more visible, who has and who doesn't,'' said William Frey, a demographer for the Brookings Institution in Washington, D.C. ``It's kind of up close and personal with people who are on the other side of the tracks.''

Some say the income disparity is cause for concern in South Florida, a de facto suburb of so many Caribbean and Latin American capitals.

> ''Our socioeconomic profile could more logically reflect trends in the Caribbean and Latin America,'' Levine said. ``It's especially worrisome.''

In its look at health insurance, the census data revealed some mixed trends.

In two unexpected developments, the number of people without health insurance dropped for the first time in seven years. The reason: More people are getting government coverage, despite the Bush administration trying to curtail certain government programs.

The numbers show that in 2007 the uninsured were 45.7 million, or 15.3 percent of the population, down from 47 million, or 15.8 percent of the population in 2006.

The mainstay of America's health coverage, however, employer-based insurance, continued to erode -- 67.5 percent in 2007, compared to 67.9 percent in 2006.

Meanwhile, there were increases in those receiving Medicaid, the insurance for the poor, and Medicare, the insurance for the elderly.

Ron Pollock, head of the consumer group Families USA, told The Miami Herald that Medicare grew by one million people and Medicaid by 1.3 million. ``What clearly saved the day were the safety net programs.''


Even as the rate of uninsured fell slightly in Florida, more than one in five Florida residents are still without health insurance. From 21.2 percent in 2006 to 20.2 2007, the state has the third-highest rate of uninsured people in the nation, behind New Mexico and Texas.

Miami Herald staff writer John Dorschner contributed to this report.


One has only to tune into CSI: Miami and spy the features the city’s long been known for: rowdy nightlife, beautiful people and breathtaking beaches. Those, combined with Miamis warm weather and plentiful sunshine are a major draw for tourists, who come by the plane, car and cruise ship-full. But did you also know that Miami is doing a lot to increase awareness of environmental issues? The Dream-In-Green Foundation is reaching out to public schools through the Green Schools Challenge, a program that has high school students conducting carbon footprint inventories for their schools and homes and assisting in recycling and tree-planting campaigns. The citys sustainability initiative, called the Miami Green Commission, includes a master tree-planting plan that calls for a thirty percent tree-canopy by 2020 and a goal of 1,000 green city vehicles. Its also documenting contaminated “brownfield sites for potential EPA funding and cleanup. Miami is already seeing benefits from Mayor Manuel Diazs leadership -- Forbes named it “Americas Cleanest City in 2008.




Inner City 100 Top 10                                                                  

Now in its tenth year, the Inner City 100 is a national competition to find and rank fast-growing companies in inner cities across America. The program represents a unique partnership between the Initiative for a Competitive Inner City, a national non-profit focused on creating healthy urban economies, and Inc. magazine, the leading publication for growing companies and entrepreneurs with a circulation of over 1 million. The Inner City 100 celebrates and supports these growing companies and spotlights the importance of a robust business sector in creating healthy urban communities.

Do others consider your business a model for entrepreneurship, revenue growth, and innovation? If so, we want you! Apply today for the 2008 Inner City 100 and join the prestigious fellowship that has become the national standard of success for companies operating in America’s urban communities.  

Now accepting Applications for 2008!

Apply Now



Miami Condo Glut Pushes Florida's Economy to Brink of Recession., July 20, 2007
By Bob Ivry

July 20 (Bloomberg) -- In the middle of the biggest glut of condominiums in more than 30 years, Miami developers keep on building.

The oversupply will force prices down as much as 30 percent, the worst decline since the 1970s, and help push Florida's economy into recession as early as October, said Mark Zandi, chief economist at West Chester, Pennsylvania-based Moody's, who owns a home in Vero Beach, Florida.

``Florida is the epicenter for all the problems that exist in the housing industry,'' said Lewis Goodkin, president of Goodkin Consulting Corp. and a property adviser in Miami for the past 30 years, who also foresees a recession. ``The problems we have now are unprecedented and a lot of people will get burnt.''

Thirty-seven new high-rise condos and 20,000 new units are being built in Miami's 1,040-acre downtown, where sales fell almost 50 percent in May, according to the Florida Association of Realtors. The new units will join the 22,924 existing condos in Miami-Dade County that were for sale in April, according to Jack McCabe, chief executive officer of McCabe Research & Consulting LLC in Deerfield Beach, Florida. That's the most unsold units since McCabe began tracking sales in 2002.

``Have you been to Miami lately?'' Florida Governor Charlie Crist said at a homebuilders' conference last week in Orlando. ``It's like we have a new state bird: the building crane.''

Construction Jobs

While the housing industry is responsible for 10.6 percent of the nation's jobs, in Florida it accounts for 20 percent, Zandi said. Florida construction jobs fell 2.9 percent in May to 626,200 from the peak in June 2006, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

The national housing industry's weakness prompted Federal Reserve policy makers this week to cut their forecasts for U.S. economic growth for the next two years.

The economy will grow by 2.25 percent to 2.5 percent in the fourth quarter of 2007 from a year before, compared with a range of 2.5 percent to 3 percent the Fed predicted in February, the board said in a report to Congress.

Florida's robust economy of 2001 to 2005 was driven by the thousands of well-paying jobs related to the real estate market and homeowners who used home-equity loans to pay for items such as boats and big-screen TVs, McCabe said.

``All those jobs are going away now, and we're seeing the trickle-down effect in declining sales in big-box retailers and home-furnishing manufacturers,'' McCabe said. ``Florida is headed to a recession.''

Influx of Retirees

A Florida recession could be averted and the state housing industry's ``serious problems'' solved by an influx of American retirees and foreign buyers, said David Denslow, a University of Florida economist in Gainesville.

``The wave of baby boomer retirees is gathering momentum, and the weaker dollar makes Florida seem like a bargain to Europeans,'' Denslow said. ``With any luck at all that will sustain us.''

Downtown Miami developers already are offering incentives for brokers who connect them to buyers. John Rosser, president of the Key Biscayne, Florida-based John Paul Rosser & Associates Inc. estate brokerage, said he is usually paid a commission of as much as 5 percent when a sale is completed. For the Capital at Brickell, a block off Miami's Brickell Avenue, he was offered what he called ``an unheard of'' deal to steer buyers to one of the 832 units proposed. A salesman said Rosser would be paid 5 percent -- payable when buyers put down a deposit. The project has just broken ground and won't open until 2011.

Puig Bankruptcy

Puig Development Group, a closely held company that converted rental apartments to condos, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection on May 29. The Hialeah, Florida-based Puig and its subsidiaries controlled 2,900 units in Florida, including 980 condos, worth about $210 million, said Ronald Glass of Atlanta-based GlassRatner Advisory & Capital Group LLC, chief restructuring officer for the Puig properties.

``Puig got a little overzealous and a little overly optimistic, and was caught when the market slowed,'' Glass said.

Florida banks have already quit making loans to Miami condo developers, said Kenneth H. Thomas, a Miami bank consultant and a lecturer at the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia.

``South Florida lenders were the first to put money into the condo market, they were the first to see the oversupply and they were the first to get out,'' Thomas said.

Because of the lag time between making construction loans and closing sales on completed condos, loan problems showed up for Florida lenders in first-quarter bank statistics from the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. in Washington, Thomas said.

Overdue Bills

Florida banks posted a 43 percent jump in the first quarter in loans no longer paying interest compared with the last three months of 2006, while the number for banks nationwide rose 13 percent, according to the FDIC.

Loan payments that were one to three months overdue to Florida banks increased 30 percent in the first three months of 2007 from the fourth quarter of last year. The same number for banks nationwide fell 1.8 percent, the FDIC said.

Angel Medina Jr., who runs the Southeast Florida operations of Regions Bank, a division of Birmingham, Alabama-based Regions Financial Corp., said Regions has financed projects by two of Miami's biggest condo developers: Related Group of Florida, headed by billionaire Jorge Perez, and Ugo Colombo's CMC Group.

The bank hasn't financed any Miami condos in the past 18 months because development is ``too aggressive,'' Medina said.

Chicago Lender

That leaves the business to lenders such as Corus Bank, a division of Chicago-based Corus Bankshares Inc. Corus has lent a total of $1.07 billion to eight condo developments in downtown Miami, according to the company's Web site.

Corus's net income in the first three months of 2007 was $26.4 million, a 39 percent drop from a year earlier, according to a company regulatory filing.

``It would not surprise us to see an even greater impact on earnings over the next several quarters, or even years, depending on when'' the national housing market improves, Chief Executive Officer Robert Glickman said in a statement.

Miami condo sales fell to 599 in May, a drop of 46 percent from a year earlier, according to the state realtors association. Condo sales in Orlando, home of Walt Disney World, have plummeted 80 percent, said Zandi of Moody's

``The statistics are scary,'' said Michael Wohl, a partner in the Pinnacle Housing Group, a Miami developer that has stayed out of the condo market. ``There's going to be a lot of blood in the water in the next 18 months.''

Hedge Funds

With prices falling, international investors, hedge funds, private equity firms and Wall Street banks are beginning to shop for deals, said Peter Zalewski of Condo Vultures Realty LLC, a consulting firm in Bal Harbour, Florida. Miami lags only New York in the number of foreign visitors to U.S. cities, attracting 5.3 million in 2006 from Europe, Canada and Latin America, according to the Greater Miami Convention & Visitors Bureau.

``Bigger and bigger funds are coming to me wanting to buy,'' Zalewski said. ``Prices have yet to hit bottom because the bulk of Miami properties won't come on the market for another six months.''

Cement dust swirls at 10 high-rise condo construction sites on Biscayne Boulevard, with its prime locations overlooking the waterfront; at six sites on Brickell Avenue, home to the glass and steel offices of Banco De La Nacion Argentina, Banco Industrial De Venezuela and Banco Santander Brazil International; and at eight locations on the Miami River, which splits the city into north and south. That's according to data collected by the Miami Downtown Development Authority.

Covering Costs

Since it can take up to four years for a condo project to travel from conception to completion, many of the towers rising from the coral rock of Miami were planned and financed during the Florida housing boom, which lasted from 2001 to 2005.

Lenders typically require enough advance sales to cover the cost of a construction loan. Customers' deposits, however, don't always mean the sales will close, said Ian Bruce Eichner, a developer whose latest Miami Beach condo tower is scheduled to open in November.

``The market is as close to a depression as Miami has seen in 30 years,'' Eichner said. ``There's a gargantuan supply of homes and the overwhelming preponderance were built for speculators, not for people who are living there.''

As much as half of those putting down deposits for Miami condos are speculators looking to flip units, or sell them quickly for a profit without living in them, said McCabe of McCabe Research.

Buyers Walking Away

With sale prices falling, McCabe said he expects up to 50 percent of them to walk away from their deposits in the next 18 months rather than complete the sales.

``What's going to happen to all those units?'' Eichner asked. ``God only knows. You couldn't give me a piece of property in Miami for nothing. I like sleeping at night.''

Condo developers encouraged short-term investors, whose deposits helped them secure funding, Goodkin said.

``The developers didn't get to start building until they had a certain number of contracts signed, so anyone putting down money was good for them,'' Goodkin said.

Many ``flippers'' closed on their units and now can't sell them, said Michael Cannon of Integra Realty Resources-Miami Inc., leaving completed condo towers with floors of dark windows and empty balconies.

The Jade Residences at Brickell is an example, Cannon said. The 338-unit, 48-story waterfront tower, a block from the Brickell Avenue financial district, opened in August 2004 with buyers willing to pay as much as $5 million snapping up all the units. Now, the new owners have listed 112 condos for sale and 17 units totaling $15 million are in foreclosure.

Trade Center

Jade Residences developer Edgardo Defortuna, president of Fortune International Realty, didn't return calls seeking comment.

The desire to strengthen Miami's position as a center of international trade is spurring the growth, said Dana Nottingham, executive director of the Miami Downtown Development Authority.

``We want to be a premiere urban center, not just nationally but globally, and downtown residential development is part of the formula for a great city,'' Nottingham said.

Mayor Manny Diaz said he's happy about what he calls ``the unprecedented flurry'' of residential development because it reduces sprawl and brings more people and money into Miami.

``We will continue to build because I see more and more interest from foreign investors coming into Miami,'' Diaz said in an interview. ``I don't think we're done.''

Island Skyscrapers

For Rosser, a former Air Force and airline pilot who's been working in the South Florida real estate industry for 19 years, a puzzling transformation is taking place on Brickell Key, a 44- acre island made of dredged bay sand connected to the rest of Miami by a 1,000-foot four-lane bridge.

On Brickell Key, 10 high-rises loom over the island's two tree-lined streets. The development is the product of a ``building frenzy,'' Rosser said.

The island's master builder is Swire Properties Inc., a Hong Kong-based developer that's a subsidiary of Swire Pacific Ltd. Swire is building a $140 million tower on Brickell Key called Asia, which is slated to open in December, according to Stephen Owens, president of Swire Properties Inc.

``Anyone who says they're not concerned about the oversupply of condos is practicing the ostrich theory,'' said Owens, who lives and works on Brickell Key.

All of Asia's 123 units are sold, with the average size of the units, 2,800 square feet, and the top sale price of $6 million discouraging speculators, Owens said.

Prices Fell

In the 1970s, when condos were a new product, Florida developers built 500,000 units and prices fell 50 percent, said Brad Hunter of MetroStudy, a research firm in West Palm Beach.

``The difference is, back then they were two-story condo buildings that had $50,000 units,'' Hunter said. ``Nowadays they are $700,000 units in 20-story buildings. Instead of building too much stuff that people could afford like we did then, this time we built too much stuff that people can't afford.''

A lot of the inventory 30 years ago was sold off and converted to rental apartments, Goodkin said. That solution won't work now because prices have soared and properties coming on the market will compete with existing condos whose prices have plummeted, he said.

Goodkin said opportunistic investors will buy construction loans from banks at a discount of 30 percent or more.

``The vultures are in the trees,'' Goodkin said. ``Reality has become the new pessimism.''

Holocaust Survivor

Developer Tibor Hollo, for one, isn't worried about Miami's condo glut. Hollo, 80, was born in Hungary and spent his teenage years in two World War II-era Nazi extermination camps, Auschwitz and Matthausen.

Hollo started building in Miami in 1956 and now his Florida East Coast Realty Inc. has two high-rises under construction, the $603 million, 787-unit Villa Magna, and the $120 million, 635-unit Opera Tower.

``Residential buildings, if they are well-located and top of the line, they will sell,'' Hollo said in an interview in his Biscayne Boulevard office, where the east-facing windows offer a vista of about a dozen new condo constructions.

Well-to-do Central and South Americans like Miami because of its Hispanic culture, while the dollar's weakness against the euro has made Miami attractive to Europeans who seek second homes in the Florida sunshine, Hollo said.

``We sold 38 units of the Opera Tower's 635 units to Russians,'' Hollo said, his eyes widening. ``I would never have dreamed it. I would understand 38 Venezuelans, not 38 Russians.''

The skyline of Miami is visible from Key Biscayne, the barrier island where John Rosser lives. Some nights the real estate broker scans the new buildings and sees more dark windows than lighted.

``This is dumbfounding to me,'' Rosser said. ``It's a building boom in the middle of a housing bust.''

To contact the reporter on this story: Bob Ivry in Miami at .




City of Miami Selected #1 City to Do Business by AméricaEconomía Magazine, Miami Chosen Among 42 Other Cities Across the Americas.  City of Miami Press Release, June 8, 2007

(Miami, Florida)— The City of Miami has been selected as the #1 BEST CITY TO DO BUSINESS in this hemisphere, according to the May 21, 2007, issue of the highly influential AméricaEconomía magazine. The title further solidifies Miami’s position as a diverse and bustling “Gateway to the Americas.”

“This latest award further acknowledges our position as the best place to do business in this hemisphere,” said Mayor Diaz.  “It is a testament to the diversity and strength of our people; we have opened ourselves to the world, and the world has come to us.”

AméricaEconomía looked at a number of variables and ranked 42 cities across the Americas, including Madrid and Barcelona in Spain.  Miami and Santiago, Chile tied for the first place position “thanks to their advantages in connectivity, macroeconomic stability, telecommunications infrastructure, the strength of the branding, quality of life and safety,” explained AméricaEconomía in its article.  Miami is listed above Monterrey, Mexico; Sao Paulo, Brazil and Buenos Aires, Argentina; each of which captured the top five spots in the list.  

With a circulation of over 80,000, AméricaEconomía delivers business news in Latin America with a provocative, forward-looking analysis of business, technology, economic and political trends that are shaping the future of the continent. This bi-weekly magazine is published in both Spanish and Portuguese.




Award from The Brookings Institution! 2007 Urban Markets Pathfinder Award for Excellence in “Capturing Market potential by Investing in Communities.”  Urban Markets Initiative, The Brookings Institution, Washington, D.C., May 9, 2007

In recognition of The Shoppes at Liberty City redevelopment project in the Liberty City neighborhood of the City of Miami, the Brookings Institution is awarding the City of Miami Economic Development Department.  “Our Department is honored to receive this distinctive award and will continue to collaborate with the private sector to tout the economic strengths of Miami neighborhoods, remove barriers to entry and support private investment,” said Department Director Lisa S. Mazique.  In addition to positive demographic information from the drill down from Social Compact within our urban core, this award at the International Council of Shopping Centers will highlight opportunities for retailers to put areas like Liberty City, Overtown and Little Haiti on their radar screens. The Department will also be providing services to these retailers to raise awareness of the growth potential and the incentives available for them to do business in these areas.

The neighborhood of Liberty City has been chosen as a winner of the 2007 Urban Markets Pathfinder Award for excellence in “Capturing Market Potential by Investing in Communities”.  This award, sponsored by the Urban Markets Initiative at The Brookings Institution, will be presented to the Economic Development Department at the upcoming 2007 ICSC Spring Convention in Las Vegas.  

Appropriate access to goods and retail services must be a part of any agenda to create healthy communities.  For some retailers, making an investment decision requires a different perspective, one that enables a more accurate assessment of a neighborhood’s economic strengths and weaknesses.  This different perspective—a different frame of reference—is one of the most critical and often ignored steps in the decision-making process.  Often the frames that guide analysis in urban markets are relics of the past guided by assumptions and preconceptions that misdirect the decision process. 

The neighborhood of Liberty City’s success in bringing retail to The Shoppes at Liberty City has demonstrated that, with the right frame of reference, the public and private sectors can fill critical gaps in urban markets while still enabling retailers to operate at a profit.  The award highlights that, with the right vision and strategy, retail can overcome perceptual barriers and thrive in a historically-stressed neighborhood.  Liberty City knew how important this project was to the community and facilitated the county’s assisting with infrastructure modernization and capacity expansion.




Little Haiti Small Business Owner is Exonerated by DERM from Contamination He Did Not Cause.  Economic Development Newsletter, May 9, 2007

Mr. Christian Neptune, owner of Neptune and Son Restaurant (Piman Bouk) and Beauty Shop, was provided a “comfort letter” by the Department of Environmental Resources Protection (DERM) after much effort by them and the City of Miami Economic Development Department to obtain environmental justice for this business.  Both local government departments worked hand in hand to reach environmental resolution of this property site in the Little Haiti business corridor on 2nd Avenue and 59th Street which has taken significant time and cooperation from both sides. This is a perfect example of the public sector working together to preserve public health and safety while showing support for small businesses in our historically underserved areas. With DERM's "comfort letter", Mr. Neptune (a local resident who has created jobs and services in Little Haiti) has now been cleared of a contamination issue he did not cause, and substantial financial burden has been lifted from his shoulders.  Significant value has been unlocked in this commercial property due to the removal of the specter of contamination. Mr. Neptune now has the opportunity to refinance the building (he previously had to put additional mortgages on his home to build the center since he could not get financing due to the contamination), and it also dramatically increases the marketability of the center if Mr. Neptune decides to sell the property in the future.





Social Compact research found that the population and spending power of Miami's inner-city neighborhoods has been undercounted. The study validates what the community has suspected for years.  Miami Herald Article by Elaine  Walker,, April 26, 2007

Persuading grocery stores, banks, movie theaters and chain restaurants to open in inner-city neighborhoods has typically been a tough sell.

Many aren't convinced that there's enough population and purchasing power to justify the business investment.

New research from Social Compact, a Washington, D.C., nonprofit group, may finally dispel those myths. Social Compact's study of Miami's Liberty City, Overtown, Wynwood, Allapattah and Little Haiti found a population that is 39 percent larger and an average household income that is 29 percent higher than traditional data sources show. The research group also found that Miami's informal economy accounts for $183.6 million, or 11.6 percent of the total household income within the study area.

These numbers confirm what community leaders in South Florida and other areas nationwide have long suspected: The U.S. Census and other traditional data sources don't present an accurate picture of the economy in inner-city neighborhoods.

The reason for the undercount includes things like multiple families living in one apartment or people who work off the books and pay bills in cash.

''The numbers we found all point to the vitality of Miami,'' said John Talmage, chief executive of Social Compact, whose Miami research was partially funded by the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation. ``These neighborhoods have the density and the income to support significant additional retail.''

''The challenge is to make sure it's investment that supports the needs of the existing community,'' Talmage said. ``We don't want these numbers to be used to displace people.''


Social Compact's findings are critical because it is population and purchasing power that developers, retailers and banks use in calculating whether to invest in these areas.

''You know intuitively that the market is there,'' said Barbara Romani, community relations director for Citibank Florida. But ``nobody is going to make major business decisions based on that. You need facts.''

While Social Compact has performed similar research in 10 other communities, the percentage of undercounted residents in Miami was greater than anywhere else across the country.

A key reason is that Miami's rising housing costs have forced multiple families or generations of the same family to live in one apartment or house. The study found that the average household size in the area is 3.47 people, compared with 2.88 found by the market research firm Claritas using Census data.

Another factor: the large population of both immigrants and African-Americans, which tend to historically be undercounted by the Census. Plus, there's been the recent building boom in Miami's urban core.

''Other cities will see one or two of these factors,'' Talmage said. ``We've never seen all those factors come together like they have in Miami.''

Social Compact's numbers are derived from a ''drill-down'' methodology that combines dozens of wide-ranging data sources to provide an insightful and localized picture of a neighborhood. The Miami project, which began last fall, included the analysis of 36 databases of things such as building permits, property records, driver's licenses, utility records and credit bureau reports.

What the research also found is that even though the services in their communities are lacking, these residents spend money. Social Compact found that those living in the study area spent $1.5 billion in 2006, and almost half of that was on retail.

''There is a perception that people in lower-income communities don't have disposable income,'' said Debra Sinkle Kolsky, president of Redevco, the developer and owner of the Shoppes at Liberty City. ``The reality is they don't have debt, which gives them more liquidity to spend on basic needs. This will help dispel a lot of those myths.''

Miami city leaders agree, which is why they are excited about using Social Compact's findings as a catalyst for driving major change.

''I'm ready to begin a traveling show to sell the retailers and the business community about investing in these neighborhoods,'' Miami Mayor Manny Diaz said. ``It's a tremendous untapped resource that exists in these communities. There is an opportunity for these neighborhoods to see the kind of economic activity we've been seeing in the rest of the community.''

Diaz is so bullish on Social Compact's research that he has convinced the group to go back and expand its research this summer to include the entire city. Talmage is also going to serve as an unpaid advisor to Diaz regarding economic development.

The hope is that if the findings are consistent, there will be enough data to warrant a Census challenge. Talmage estimates Miami could have 150,000 uncounted.


Since its first study in 1999 in Chicago, Social Compact has done similar research in other U.S. cities, including New York, Houston, Jacksonville, Detroit, Cleveland and Oakland. Not including Miami, they've documented 650,000 uncounted residents and $18.2 billion in uncounted aggregate income. The results have led to investments including retail development, new bank branches and more small-business lending.

In Houston, the research spurred more than $50 million in redevelopment of the city's oldest mall, which was more than halfway empty and has been revitalized with big-box retailers. In Harlem, Fleet Bank decided to open two bank branches and three ATM centers, plus increase its small-business lending.

But in Miami, Social Compact hopes to be able to take things even further.

For the first time, the organization will stick around for the next year to work with the city and businesses to help use these numbers to spur investment.

''For the first time, there is an active movement to see things change in my district, and people are inspired by that,'' said Miami City Commissioner Michelle Spence-Jones, whose district includes the study area. ``Overtown and Liberty City have been at a standstill for so long. It's time for something to happen.''


Market Study Suggests Household Sizes are Larger than Mainstream Data Sources Project. Economic Development Newsletter, April 2007

With support and in collaboration with the Knight Foundation and in partnership with City of Miami Mayor Manuel A. Diaz, Commissioner Michelle Spence-Jones, the Economic Development Department, and local community groups, Social Compact applied a DrillDown market analysis to initially five inner-city neighborhoods in the City of Miami: Allapattah, Liberty City, Little Haiti, Overtown and Wynwood-Edgewater. Social Compact is a non-profit organization that promotes investment in low-income communities in the United States. Social Compact has conducted Drill Downs in more than 100 neighborhoods in more than 10 cities across the United States. In these analyses, they have found markets to be larger, growing faster and with greater buying power than traditional data sources would otherwise indicate. Their task in the City of Miami is to conduct neighborhood-specific market analyses through an innovative method called the Drill Down, a model built on innovative sources of dependable, business-oriented data that reveal hidden strengths of traditionally undervalued communities.

DrillDown findings for Miami released in April 2007 show the number of households and household sizes are significantly higher than indicated by the U.S. Census. Consequently, population size, aggregate income and aggregate expenditures are also larger. Social Compact aggressively re-tested and cross-referenced the data to verify accuracy. The goal was to develop a baseline of economic indicators and a database which the City can update with current data as needed. In addition, the DrillDown provides detailed business-oriented profiles of market strengths and opportunities in these underserved communities.

The second phase of the DrillDown will take place in a series of meetings and workshops with different private and public groups that work in the communities under consideration. Social Compact will present, in detail, the DrillDown findings for Miami and get an initial response from the invited attendees. Stay tuned to our ED's Watch Newsletter for more to come.  Questions?  E-mail us at Read more about Social Compact by visiting




City of Miami Listed as a “Top Ten City of the Future” by Renowned Magazine fDi. City of Miami Press Release, April 25, 2007

(Miami, FL) – The City of Miami has been named a North American City of the Future in the April/May issue of fDi (Foreign Direct Investment) magazine. Miami is listed as number 10 out of 108 cities that were considered from throughout North America.

“fDi researchers took more than 6 months to select the ‘top ten’ shortlists of cities of all sizes with the best strategies and resources for economic development,” states a press release sent by fDi magazine.

The cities that made the cut were ranked according to their scores in the following areas: economic potential; cost effectiveness; human resources; quality of life; infrastructure; business friendliness; and development and investment opportunity.

In addition to ranking in the top ten list of cities of the future, Miami also ranked number three in the list of most cost effective major cities and number five on the list of major cities with the best infrastructure.

According to their web site, fDi magazine is produced by the renowned Financial Times group and is the premier publication for the business of globalization. It is published on a bi-monthly basis with an ABC-certified circulation of nearly 15,000.

Attached is the press release sent by the magazine with further details about the selection process for the Top North American Cities of the Future.




Super Enterprise Zone in Overtown gets OK Miami Herald, April 25, 2007


Restaurateur Harold Meadows has seen the government try again and again to raise Overtown out of the economic dumps. Still, over the last 10 years, the owner of Two Guys, famous for its ''ghetto burgers'' and oxtail dinners, has seen business after business walk out of the historically black community.

Meadows was thrilled to learn he might soon be able to knock the sales tax off his customer's bills and the supplies and equipment he buys for his restaurant for the next 10 years under a proposed pilot program being considered by state lawmakers.

''That would be excellent,'' Meadows said, ``Maybe that would work.''

The Florida House on Tuesday made it more possible by passing a bill that would establish a ''super'' enterprise zone in Overtown.

New and existing businesses in the zone would get to pay no taxes on goods and services used to run the business under the proposed law. Their customers would also pay no taxes on items up to $1,000.

A four-year effort by Rep. David Rivera, R-Miami, and Rep. Dorothy Bendross-Mindingall, a Democrat whose district covers Overtown, HB 1503 won House approval but is still at the committee level in the Senate. Supporters said the first-of-its-kind initiative would spur economic development in the distressed urban community.

'As Mr. Rogers said, `What a wonderful day in our neighborhood,' '' Terry Fields, D-Jacksonville, said.

The pilot program is modeled after similar initiatives in other states, including programs in New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Michigan that have been successful in attracting businesses to areas of urban blight.

The super enterprise zone will cost the state an estimated $8.8 million and local governments about $1.9 million annually in lost revenue.

It would build on the state's current enterprise zone program, which also provides tax incentives, credits and rebates for businesses, but nothing for consumers.

Meadows thinks that might be the missing link.

''Hopefully it'll bring more people to bounce through this way,'' Meadows said.




City of Miami Economic Development Department Will Apply for New Markets Tax Credits (NMTCs). Economic Development Newsletter, April 2007

The New Markets Tax Credit (NMTCs) program is nationally recognized for steering low interest, private capital into distressed census tracts to capitalize hard to fund commercial and residential projects. In an effort to bring this focus on the City of Miami, the Economic Development Department created a Community Development Entity (CDE) for purposes of applying and allocating New Markets Tax Credits. The first step for the CDE is to collaborate with industry experts to educate and connect our local constituents to NMTC program opportunities. We are currently partnering with Hampton Roads Ventures (HRV) from Norfolk, Virginia to apply for a $75 million allocation exclusively for Miami! HRV is a community development investment firm that has partnered with the City of Miami to help attract private sector investment capital to apply specifically towards innovative real estate projects in lower income neighborhoods. As experienced community economic development professionals, HRV recognizes the potential to enhance livability across all communities in the City and is sensitive to the unique opportunities, challenges and constraints.

In the interim, the City of Miami Economic Development Department will be sponsoring and co-hosting a number of seminars and conferences to promote and introduce local development entities to NMTC industry peers. Should you be interested in receiving more information on NMTC educational and matchmaking events, please contact us at Read more about NMTCs at






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