The recent economic downturn has forced many Americans to experience personal financial struggles. In response, they have looked to government for answers. We talked to Dale V.C. Holness, Broward County, Fla., county commissioner, to find out how he helped boost the local economy and what he sees in store for his district's future.
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What economic challenges does Broward County have that the neighboring counties do not?
I see it as we have more of an advantage in that we are centrally located. Businesses have the convenience of being in the center of the (more than) 5 million (population) metropolitan area. I do think Broward County needs to focus more on international trade.
With the nation's unemployment numbers decreasing, has Broward County's unemployment rate decreased as well?
Yes, Broward County has a lower unemployment rate than Miami-Dade and Palm Beach counties and the state.
Since being sworn into office as commissioner, have you taken any major actions to boost the economy of the county?
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Yes, I went on a trade mission to Trinidad and Tobago in December 2010 with 26 businesses. One of the businesses entered into an agreement with some businesses in Trinidad, (and) 22 of those businesses have undertaken business with Trinidad. I received a letter from Caribbean Airlines, (and) they would like to pursue Broward as their North American hub.
I got Broward County to adopt as a goal: Make Broward County the center for trade in Florida and to the rest of the world.
I visited Tallahassee to seek support for the development of the film industry in Broward County (and) established a local filmmakers guild to assist in growing the filmmaking industry in Broward County.
I strongly supported airport and seaport expansion as I entered office as Broward County Commissioner, (and) I continue to do so.
Given your experience holding public service office positions, how does the recovery of the real estate market of Broward look in comparison to the other counties of South Florida?
I believe, because Broward County is a central portion of (more than) 5 million people, we should start seeing a recovery by next year. We have already seen prices and the number of sales increasing. I believe that will continue as we get more international buyers in the market and more first-time homebuyers qualify to purchase.
According to Fannie Mae, the median income for Broward County is the same as for Miami-Dade and Palm Beach ($56,900). The National Association of Realtors says the median home value is $184,700 for Fort Lauderdale, Fla. Can you speak to these two numbers and what that means for Broward County?
It means the (median home) value will probably not go up dramatically in the near term because the median income will (find it) tough to support higher prices than what we currently have in place. So in addition to increasing the economic development, we must also attract higher-paying jobs.
We would like to thank Broward County Commissioner Dale V.C. Holness for talking to us about this issue.