PBC Economy

What ideas do you have to stimulate Palm Beach County’s economy?

1. Housing Stimulus. I believe the American Dream Down payment Initiative Program (ADDI) could be expanded, supplemented and or modified. Modifications could include a $5,000 contribution from the county for each change of ownership closing on a residential property. For each $1 million contribution to the program, 200 homes could benefit. A goal of $2.5 million would translate into an incentive for the purchase of 500 homes. Eligibility would be on a first come first served basis with a program time period of 2 years or the funds being dispersed, whichever comes first. The program could be partially funded to ensure smoothness of procedure and effectiveness of the desired result. Once finely tuned and achieving the desired result, the remaining funds could be funded. The two year program life would create a sense of urgency to participate. Requirements of the ADDI guidelines could be relaxed to ensure all income levels could participate and all of the diverse inventory of homes could be included. The purchases of homes would then create income for all parties involved in the home sale process and would slow falling home prices and tax base do to the abundance of inventory.

2. Four Wheeling. Mecca farms is a drain on the County. It is a non-producing asset that has continued carrying costs. A proposal for equestrian lots with personal homes has yet to produce a single sale. I propose that a portion of the land be used for four wheelers and off road recreational vehicles. Private landowners in Okeechobee and other areas have weekend events throughout the year. According to an online website, over 15,000 people participated in a 2008 event. Entry fees usually range from $15.00 – $45.00 per person. The county could copy a proven plan and either implement a park like program with a yearly access pass/permit fee like the boat ramp parking process or an event specific schedule.

Bare minimal investment is required and could possibly be recouped during the very first event. The Sheriff’s department runs a gun range, perhaps they could also run a Four Wheeler park that would draw participants from within as well as outside the County. Local retailers would benefit from the increased availability of riding area that presently does not exist. Off road vehicles currently pay a registration fee but receive little to no benefit for this tax. The BCC said they would sell the property immediately if they could so why not utilize an unwanted albatross and provide a way of offsetting it’s cost while the four wheeler community benefits?

3. Lake Okeechobee is an underutilized asset. The Pahokee Marina is nicer than many on the ocean. More events and focus needs to be put onto the recreational uses of the lake. Where else can you get a Key West sunset that is an hour or less from just about anywhere in the county? The Sunset Celebration in Key West draws nightly crowds. Events could be planned around the same type of atmosphere.
Previously low water levels have been corrected my Mother Nature (barring any future emergency water releases by man) therefore the fishing industry should be promoted again. Weekend motorcyclists make the Lake a destination spot. Tourist development dollars need to highlight the Lake.

4. Gaming. It is hard to argue that gaming doesn’t create jobs and revenue. The Isles of Pompano and Seminole HardRock are two examples of gaming venues that draw people from outside the county. Constant pressure on state lawmakers to include Palm Beach County in the list of counties to offer limited gaming. Voters could then make the ultimate decision, along with the County, to provide the conditions of such an enterprise.

What suggestions or recommendations do you have for more active involvement of the business community in the county government? Are you willing to put together an advisory group from the business community to discuss any major issue that comes before the county commission?  How will you do that?

Some of the most valuable input comes from those who are affected most by the circumstances surrounding them. I will always encourage the business community to bring forth ideas that lead to economic advancement and stability to our County economy. As Commissioner, my office could facilitate meetings of key organizations and present our conclusions to the BCC for implementation. PBC has numerous advisory boards tasked with researching a plethora of issues. If there is an issue specific to the business community, I would recommend an advisory group with appointees from the business community.