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Greater Miami Wants Businesses' Input For Resiliency Plan

Kate Stein
A pump station in the Sunset Harbour neighborhood of Miami Beach. Heavy rains and construction contributed to flooding that damaged businesses in the area multiple times in 2016.

Businesses and entrepreneurs, it's your chance to shape greater Miami's future.


That's the message of chief resiliency officers from Miami-Dade, Miami Beach and the city of Miami, as they put together a plan to address challenges from affordability to Zika.


Their message stems from a program called 100 Resilient Cities, a Rockefeller Foundation initiative that gives 99 cities and one quasi-city -- Miami, Miami Beach and Miami-Dade County -- funding for resiliency officers and access to sustainability experts. The goal is for each city in 100 Resilient Cities to design and execute a plan for surmounting future social, economic and environmental challenges.

And program leaders say input from local businesses is crucial to that plan's development.


"Businesses and their economic well-being really positively affect whether a city can be resilient or not," said Otis Rolley, 100 Resilient Cities' Regional Director for North America. "You can't do this work without businesses partnering with you."


Resiliency officers Jane Gilbert (Miami), Susanne Torriente (Miami Beach) and Jim Murley (Miami-Dade) are collecting input from community members, including business leaders, on resiliency challenges. Rolley said in the coming months, they'll host workshops, panels, focus groups and other opportunities to hear from area residents.


That's music to the ears of George Burgess, chair of the Greater Miami Chamber of Commerce's resiliency committee.


"This could be an opportunity for us to really think creatively, create startups, create an environment for startups," he said. While 100 Resilient Cities helps cities address a variety of challenges -- not just environmental ones -- Burgess said he thinks sea level rise in particular "could be the fuel that really generates business opportunities."


Greater Miami and the Beaches entered 100 Resilient Cities just last year, and won't roll out its resiliency plan for months. But Andrew Brenner, a program spokesman, said cities that have been in the program longer are seeing economic benefits. He cited Norfolk, Virginia, which struggles with flooding related in part to sea level rise.


The Norfolk region’s credit rating was at risk of being downgraded because of flood risks, Brenner said. But the rating agency Moody's decided to maintain the rating and "cited the Norfolk resiliency strategy process as having a positive impact in their decision."


In South Florida, having plans in place to offset sea level rise and flooding could help keep insurance rates low and credit ratings high -- good for businesses and communities here. And Rolley and Brenner said they think other cities in the 100 Resilient Cities program will eventually be able to offer Greater Miami and the Beaches guidance on developing a resilient tourism market.