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When we speak in terms of economic recovery, you have to take a look at the whole picture. The largest source of income and jobs within Broward County government exist at Port Everglades, Fort Lauderdale–Hollywood International Airport, and the Greater Fort Lauderdale Convention & Visitors Bureau. We call these entities our “economic engines” and they are revving up this year. Here’s an update:

Colombia Trade Mission with Governor
Broward County is the gateway to Latin America and following the success of the Broward County’s Colombia Mayors Business Mission in September 2012, the County Commission voted unanimously to have me represent Broward County on Governor Rick Scott’s Mission to Bogota Colombia. My previous trade mission success paved the way for exploring business opportunities with Cali, Buenaventura and Medellin to name a few. The contacts and relationships made through these meetings are most valuable. I met with Colombian President, Juan Manuel Santos and Cali Mayor Rodrigo Guerrero Velasco and received a special “distinction” from Buenaventura Mayor Bartolo Valencia. In each meeting the discussion focused on increasing trade between Colombia and Broward County.  This trade mission provided an opportunity to network, make contacts and promote Broward County businesses, and has already resulted in jobs being created in Broward County.  As we grow international trade many people in District 9 will further benefit from this effort because many of them work at Port Everglades, especially those who are members of the International Longshoreman’s Association. 

Commissioner Holness at ribbon cutting ceremony celebrating launch of FLL runway, January 23, 2012.Fort Lauderdale/Hollywood International Airport (FLL)
The $791 million South Runway expansion at FLL is underway and over the next two years will employ nearly 11,000 people and pump an estimated $1 million per day into the local economy at peak construction in 2013.  The total economic impact: $1.42 billion when completed in 2014. The Broward County Aviation Department will spend nearly $2 billion over the next five years to improve the terminals, offer more concession options and more destination choices. The expanded South Runway will keep delays to a minimum by providing added capacity for take-offs and landings.

Port Everglades
Business activity is up at Broward County’s Port Everglades by nearly 10 percent and the number of direct jobs by 13 percent, according to a recently updated economic impact study by Martin Associates comparing figures from fiscal years 2010 and 2011 (October 1 through September 30). As a result of the increased business activity in both cruise and cargo, it’s estimated that an additional 1,260 new direct jobs were supported by businesses operating at Port Everglades during FY2012, which generated approximately $58 million in wages and salaries.

Commissioner Holness reviews growth plans for Port EvergladesThe Southport Turning Notch berth expansion, slated for completion in 2017, will add five new ship berths at Port Everglades and create 16.5 acres of new mangrove habitat. This project will create 2,227 temporary construction jobs in the near term, 5,529 new regional, permanent jobs and $252.2 million annually in state and local taxes by the year 2027.

Widening and deepening the Port’s ship channels, which is expected to be completed by 2017, will create 4,659 construction jobs in the near term, 1,491 new ongoing regional jobs and $934.9 million annually in state and local taxes by the year 2027.

The Intermodal Container Transfer Facility, or ICTF, bringing freight rail into the Port, will create 767 construction jobs. The Florida East Coast Railroad will finance and construct the ICTF on 42.5 acres of existing Port property. Completion of this facility will reduce truck traffic over local roads and improve air quality.

Greater Fort Lauderdale’s tourism industry is surging forward fueled by 12 million visitors from around the world spending $9.8 billion and continuing 34 months of growth in occupancy and more than a year of steady hotel rate increases. Starting 2012 ahead of pace, hotel occupancy was again the highest in the state of Florida in January and February 2012. Last year, Greater Fort Lauderdale experienced the highest hotel occupancies in the first seven (January-July) months since 2006. Hotel occupancy for July 2012 was 70.7 percent, an increase of 3.8 percent over 2011. Tourist tax collections for June 2012 were $2,801,821, up 7.09 percent over 2011 and on pace to surpass last year’s totals.