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  • [cono~ic~u~ure-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Doral, its strategic location is synonymof a promising economic futureII.,

    The City of Doral has always beenan important commercial and indus-trial hub with a thriving economy. Evenbefore incorporating, Doral was con-sidered to be a "donor" municipality,which meant it contributed more intaxes than what it received in servicesfrom Miami-Dade County - one of thearguments used in favor of the incorpo-ration movement. Once the first councilwas formed. they kept this economic vi-sion in perspective and continued towork hard to foment the economy andmake this a premier city for investors

    and business owners, which hasearned the city some recognition.Forbes magazine, CNNMoney andNews & World Report have recognizedDoral as a top place to invest and openup a business. Although the local gov-ernment has to enforce rules and regu-lations in regard to code complianceand zoning, Doral continues to offer abusi~ess-friendly environment for alltypes of industries - from nationalchains to morn-and-pop shops every-one seems to have found a niche.

    Although the city has a populationof almost 50,000, more than 150,000come to do business at Doral on a dailybasis making it a very busy city duringthe workday. Many Fortune 500 com-panies and government agencies haveestablished headquarters or branchesat Doral, which has served as a strongeconomic foundation for the city. Somerenowned companies that have madeDoral their home are Pepsi, SouthernCommand (SOUTHCOM), the FederalReserve, Univision, Carnival CruiseLines and Wal-Mart, amongst others.In addition to that, there are hundredsof retail.stores, including two malls,and a great selection of restaurants - itis estimated that more than 12,000 oc-cupationallicenses have been grantedand over 9,000 businesses are regis-tered.

    by Cindy Rodriguez-Pereira -

    But Doral's economic growth hasnot happened overnight or by chance.What makes Doral a flourishing com-munity is its strategic location within thecounty - very close to major highwaysand, most importantly, Miami Interna-tional Airport (MIA), which has beenranked number one in the country on in-ternational cargo. Despite the budgetcuts in all spheres of government andthe current economic crisis: MIA hasbeen doing well so Iarano well onits way to becoming one of the most effi-cient airports not only in the country,but worldwide, according to JoseAbreu, Miami-Dade Aviation director.

    MIA is one of the most importanteconomic enginesin Miami-DadeCounty as one in outof four jobs in Miamiis associated withthe airport. Doral,due to its proximityto the airport, is di-rectly impacted anddependant on its op-erations, especiallybecause many in-'dustries have cho-sen to be here pre-cisely because ofthe unique accessi-

    bility to what is a major gateway to mar-kets in Latin America and the Carib-bean.

    "Our city exists, in part, becauseof MIA For us, as a city, the success ofMIA is critical," said Mayor Juan CarlosBermudez during a meeting about thestate of the airport. ''A large percentageof our businesses are affiliated, in oneway or another, with the airport."

    MIA offers more internationalflights to Latin America and the Carib-bean than any other airport in the coun- ,try_ Also, it is American Airlines' (AA)second busiest hub. More than 34 mil-lion passengers go through MIA everyyear which is a top reason for the ambi-tious expansion-project that is currentlyunderway - an initiative that is expectedto have a positive impact on Doral'seconomy.

    Top goals of the expansion pro-ject include increasing capacity, whilestill improving and maintaining effi-ciency and security. Although somephases of the expansion have beensuccessfully completed, airport au-thorities are eagerly looking forward toone of the most important projects, -the creation of the Miami IntermodalCenter (MIC), which promises tochange the public transportation sys-tem of this county as we know it. The

    MIC is expected to be the first massivetransportation hub in the county and iscurrently being developed across MIAby the Florida.Pepartment ofTranspor-tation (FOOD with two top objectivesinmind: connectivity and decongestion.The MIC is composed of four majorphases to include a car rental center,the Miami Grand Station, MIA Mover,and major roadway improvements.The roadway improvements have al-ready been completed and are ex-pected to alleviate the traffic situation.

    Once the MIC is completed,which is expected to occur by 2012, res-idents and airport passengers will beable to access public transportation toand from the MIC - which will provideconnectivity between all forms ofground transportation in the county in-cluding Tri-Rail, Metrorail, Metro bus,city buses, airport buses and Amtralk.The idea is to create a hub similar tothat in New York's Grand Central Sta-tion.

    Rie Katz, public affairs managerfor MIC, said the existing car rental mar-ket at MIA has been less than perfectand unfriendly for thousands of visi-tors. So the MIC will be beneficial in at-tracting more of the corporate visitorsto the area, many of who will makestops at DoraL

    CIUDAD DORAL NEWSPAPER I April 21 - May 5, 2010 I, '

  • E:conomic f"u"ture

    It is estimated that the MIC willhave a significant impact on thecounty's economy with the creation ofmore than 20,000 permanent jobs thatwill be needed to operate the facilities.

    Another organization that has hada continuous presence in our city hasbeen the Southern Command(SOUTHCOM), which established itsheadquarters here more than a de-cade ago when they left their previoushome in Panama. Jose Huiz, spokes-person for SOUTHCOM, explained thatDoral was chosen amongst 100 pro-posed locations because of its strate-gic proximity to the airport which facili-tates operations to the Caribbean andSouth America. "This South Florida re-gion is the right place for SouthernCommand: said USSOUTHCOM'sCommander Navy Adm. JamesStavridis, during the 10-year anniver-sary ceremony held at the commandheadquarters in 2007.

    Doral is also conveniently locatedclose to 'consulates and other re-sources that are utilized frequently bythe organization.

    More than 2,400 civilians are asso-ciated directly or indirectly withSOUTH COM's operations and about21% of these have made Doral their per-manent home. "We estimate that wecontribute approximately $300 millionannually to the local economy, not justas a result of our organizational and op-erational expenses, but also as a resultof the goods and services our person-nel and their families purchase while liv-ing and interacting with the Doral andSouth Florida communities," said Ruiz.This number includes the purchase ofmore than 15,000 hotel nights and10,000 airline tickets.

    SOUTH COM has a close relation-ship with the community and the localgovernment and seem to be here tostay. "The city and its citizens have em-braced our organization, and we feelvery much a part ot this community,"said Ruiz. This is wihy the command willsoon be opening their new state-of-the-art headquarters adjacent to theircurrent location, a $237 billion building.Ruiz said, "The move will mark a newchapter in our history as members ofthe Doral community, and we look for-ward to strengthening our existingbond with the city and its residents."

    Atthough the airport andSOUTHCOM have had a traditionalpresence in Doral, there are other pro-jects underway that promise to con-tinue to stimulate the economy of thisthriving city - even with the economiccrisis that is affecting the nation. And itseems like Doral is recession-proof inthis sense.

    A very ambitious and promisingproject is the Downtown Doral, whichseeks to develop a mix-use area fea-turing residential, retail and officespace that some people are alreadycalling "the heart of Dora!." Unlike othergreat cities, Doral does not have a cen-ter of gravity, as promoters of the pro-ject call it. and this is what Flagler De-velopment Group is trying to cook here- something very similar to Barcelona'sLas Rarnblas.u boulevard in wihich theCity will come alive.

    The project calls for a pedestrian-friendly setting and will provide for anadditional 400;000 square ft of class Aoffice spaca'This is..p1;irticularly impor-tant because Doral does not have anabundance of luxury offices at thispoint - the initiative ts expected to at-tract top companies that are currentlycontemplating other prominent cities,such as Coral Gables, said Juan Ruiz;vice-president of Flagler Real EstateServices. Armando Codina, presidentand CEO of Flagler DevelopmentGroup explains on the projectswebsite that when asked wihere the larg-est concentration of offices is, mostpeople will immediately think of Brickellor Coral Gables. This clearly showsthat Doral still has work to do as th-elarg-est concentration is found here, but forsome reason the city has yet to earn thereputation.

    Possible tenants will soon belured to Doral because the prices arecheaper and the parking situation isnot as tedious as in other cities, ex-plained Ruiz.

    The project. also includes hun-dreds of residential units, includingrentals, retail stores, restaurants, apark and one school. Although some

    . people feel there's too much density atDoral and no rental apartments areneeded, they have been renting well,said Ruiz, because people enjoy livingin a brand new place. The mix use '1~1Ihelp alleviate the traffic situation, pro-

    The Downtown Doral,which some peopleare already calling"The Heart of Doral"

    ponents say. The final result is ex-pected to be a luxurious downtown,Coral Gables style, because everygreat city should have a "center of grav-ity" that will bring some prestige.

    Although the plan is very expen-sive and a lot is at risk, especially in atroubled economy as we are experi-encing now, Ruiz said the owners arecommitted to its completion which is ex-pected within a decade. He said themagnitude of the project allows forsome flexibility - when the residentialmarket is down,the commercialmight not neces-sarily be, so in thisway, an economicbalance could bekept.

    While such alarge-scale pro-ject is being car-ried out by the pri-vate sector, Doralelected officialsare also puttingforth their own ef-forts in continuingto foment the city's economy. As part oftheir economic development plan, staffis currently studying the possibility ofestablishing a design district in wihat iscurrently known as the Tile & Marble .District, an area of the city -that is mostly populated bygranite, tile, and kitchencabinet stores. Director ofPlanning and Zoning Na-than Kogan said the idea isto revitalize this area bybringing a mix-use model,which will provide for resi-dential units and restau-rants, attracting more ell-entshere.

    City staff is also looking at the ideaof creating a business improvementdistrict (BID) which is a public-privatepartnership through wihich the busi-nesses levy an addiiional tax whichdoesnt go to the city government butback to their district itself for anyneeded improvements. New York has

    the nation's largest network of BIDs,but locally an example is Miracle Mile inCoral Gables. Nothing is yet set instone as the city is only exploring differ-ent ways to keep the economy going.

    Other options include participa-tion in the Brown fields Program, whichis a federal program created by Envi-ronmental Protection Agency (EPA)providing funds to municipalities thatdecide to clean up and redevelop va-cant or unused land that could be a haz-ard to the community due to pollutants

    _ or the presence of' hazardous sub-stances. In addition, local authoritiesare studying the possibility of givingDoral its own convention center, whichwill definitely be a major economic im-pact for the area. City staff is stUdying

    the market and assessing ifthere is a real need for such fa-cilities. Once results are in, theidea could be brought to coun-cil for discussion.

    Although Doral is at theforefront of other communitiesin many aspects, especially inits economy, the local govern-ment understands the impor-tance of continuing to look for

    better and unique ways to foment the lo-cal economy and establish a solid fi-nancial base - it is all part of the planand the vision' the community had atthe time of incorporation. Many are theprojects that are underway, and manymore are being planned for the future inorder to make Doral a world-class city.

    CIUDAD DORAL NEWSPAPE'R I April 21 - May 5, 2010 I www.ciudaddoral,com f:ij