john-dixon_web.jpgThe north-central and north areas of Miami-Dade County are home to high unemployment, an under-educated and supposedly an unskilled workforce. Congressional District 17 has been recently targeted as one of the poorest in the nation. However, in the current economy, these communities, with a strategic incentivized development plan, have prime economic real estate engines that can be used to attract businesses to employ residents. This will empower urban neighborhoods while infusing capital into the tax base. One such prime location is Poinciana Industrial Park located in Liberty City. 

There has been much discussion, planning, environmental clean-up, re-planning and ongoing discussion about the development of Poinciana over the past 20 years.


The Miami-Dade Economic Advocacy Trust (MDEAT), formerly Metro-Miami Action Plan (MMAP), in conjunction with

New Century Development, played a role in the area’s cleanup in the 1990s. Everyone talks about Poinciana's amenities and how great a developable site it is — and still nothing happens.

New Times wrote an article in its July 15 issue, entitled “Black-Owned Businesses Getting Screwed in County Contracting.” The article expressed the dismal outlook of local black businesses receiving economic crumbs compared to other businesses in our community. 

Miami-Dade County Commissioner Barbara Jordan of District 1 broke it down this way:  “I believe that a lack of commitment to underserved communities reflects a failure of leadership.  There have been valiant efforts over the years … But it has not been enough.”

Commissioner Jordan is on point.  However, not only are black businesses getting screwed; so too is the black community.  We continue to get the short end of the stick with a diamond in our neighborhood such as Poinciana. I would venture to say if this property were located in other Miami-Dade communities, serving as an economic vehicle to address job creation, it would be developed, be profitable and be utilized to provide a revenue stream to the strained tax-base.         

Poinciana Industrial Park is a multi-acre site that provides an excellent opportunity to enhance the existing local industrial base, generate employment and redirect the overall image of the Liberty City area. The Park’s proximity to major traffic arteries and nearby amenities makes the site attractive for development with a goal of job creation.

The following is a list of the benefits that Poinciana offers that make it marketable for development, in terms of transportation: Interstate 95 is just 1.5 miles east, State Road 112 (the Airport Expressway) is two miles south, Gratigny Parkway, linking up with Interstate 75, is 2.5 miles north, State Road 826 (the Palmetto Expressway) is five  miles west, Miami International Airport is four miles southwest and the Port of Miami is 7.5 miles southeast.

Also, Opa-locka Airport is five miles northwest. This airport serves as a general aviation facility and can provide, depending upon the needs of the industry, a readily available means of transportation for bulk load shipment of materials

The gem of the park is the availability of rail transportation. The Florida East Coast railroad is adjacent to the site and is able to serve businesses within the park.

We must not overlook the physical and human resources that Poinciana and other sites in similar Targeted Urban Areas provide.  Many of them are suitable for the development of cold storage facilities, light industrial manufacturing, assembly plants and other targeted industries.  Targeted industries must be matched with the residents, who must have access to the jobs.  Residents in many of these neighborhoods are able to walk or travel short distances to work, due to the sites that are located in their immediate community.

If we are truly, truly concerned about injecting  an economic boost in these underserved communities to employ local residents, we need to use what we have to achieve our goal of job creation in these areas of high unemployment.

History can be made by the Miami-Dade mayor and Board of County Commissioners investing in the urban core to develop land in these areas to create jobs.  This can significantly be done in Liberty City.  The area is becoming very diverse, consisting of an African-American population and an aggressively growing Hispanic population.

John Dixon is executive director of the Miami-Dade Economic Advocacy Trust.

Photo: John Dixon