BROWARD — The momentum to bring economic development and redevelopment to Broward County’s unincorporated areas continues to build as Broward Commissioner Dale V.C. Holness introduces new people and new ideas to the area.
Recently, Holness took a team of county experts and community leaders on a tour of the large portion of unincorporated Broward that is within his Central Broward District 9 area. The group included Broward’s Director of Small Business and Economic Development Sandy MacDonald; Director of Planning and Environmental Regulation Henry Sniezak, business owners and community leaders.
“There are several neighborhoods in Broward County, such as the unincorporated areas we visited, that can be gold mines for redevelopment and economic generation. All that is needed are visionary leaders willing to innovate, community resources willing to collaborate, municipalities willing to cooperate, and
energetic residents willing to elevate, said Brian Johnson, president/CEO, Minority Builders Coalition Inc.
“As a product of one of who went on the tour Broward County’s most challenging inner city neighborhoods, I am humbled by the fact that I am able to participate in stimulating economic development in many of my old poor neighborhoods.”
Unemployment and po- verty are high in the area targeted for economic development. “I’m pressing forward to keep attention focused on revitalizing this area. I’m reaching out to everybody who can help. This area has been neglected,” said Holness.
The method he’ll use he says is “holistic,” a multi-pronged approach that involves affordable housing, assistance for small businesses, a change in social standards and land use changes. “We have businesses along Broward Boulevard that have absolutely nowhere for people to park. That’s why many buildings sit empty. That has to change,” said Holness. “The County owns land zoned for a commercial use, when really housing should be here.”
There have been some accomplishments. Sixteen single family affordable homes have been completed in the unincorporated areas and will soon be occupied by new homeowners.
“This will bring new people to the area, who have invested in the community and that will have a rippling effect,” said Holness.
Large parts of Washington Park and Franklin Park have been renovated, with old buildings destroyed and many homes and businesses painted and refreshed. Teams of volunteers have cleaned up the community on weekends. The commissioner has had the number of Broward sheriff’s Deputies patrolling these areas increased from 23 to 33. “It’s not my goal to arrest more people, but there is crime here. I’m working with Workforce One and reaching out to organizations who can offer job
training and asking companies to look to this area to recruit employees.”
Change in the area has been slow, says the commissioner, but he is “an optimist” who presses forward. He created the District 9 Economic Development & Job Creation Council in 2011, which is comprised of business leaders and owners, some of whom are located in central Broward County. The Central County Community Advisory Board (CCCAB) was created by the County Commission on September 2012 and has been meeting since January 2013.
Holness serves as a nonvoting member.
The area is also a Community Redevelopment Area, which he says is unfunded. The area has been declared an “Enterprise Zone” by the State of Florida and he hopes that will bring in some grants and money to the region.
“The people visiting here today have good ideas. We’re going to develop a redevelopment plan, which has not been done. I will continue with this effort. There is no reason Broward County should have these large pockets of extreme poverty,” said the commissioner.