Mayor reports on ‘State of the City;’ chamber installs new leaders
More than 200 business leaders attended the Coral Gables Chamber of Commerce monthly breakfast Thursday, Sept. 20, to see Darla Thompson (Cherry Bekaert & Holland) be sworn in as chair along with her executive committee and board for their term.
Held at the Biltmore Hotel, the Good Morning Coral Gables breakfast began with a moment of silence for longtime chamber member Marge Hartnett, who passed Aug. 30 at age 95.
Outgoing Chair Drew Kern was recognized and presented with a plaque before he thanked his leadership team and chamber staff. He boasted attending 50 ribbon cuttings during his year as chair.
It was also announced that Ms. Thompson was recently named a partner at Cherry, Bekaert & Holland, a full-service CPA firm providing audit, tax and consulting services.
Mayor Jim Cason presented the State of the City address and said, like most businesses, the city continues to make difficult decisions.
Pension reform costs are down more than $4 million annually and the city has a workforce of 791 employees, he told the audience. He discussed partnerships with businesses such as Bacardi USA, which generously provided $50,000 toward this year’s Fourth of July fireworks celebration, the first in several years.
“Fireworks once again lit the sky of the Biltmore Hotel,” Mayor Cason said.
He also discussed Neighborhood Acton Plans in which the community will be split into eight zones to address community needs.
Many roads have gone from “pothole heaven to newly paved paradise,” he said.
The new trolley, its expanded route, the renovated and restored Alhambra Water Tower, new trees on Ponce and other beautification, the driver’s-license unit at the library and park improvements were among the items the mayor discussed.
“Seniors are the fastest-growing segment of our population,” Mayor Cason said, referencing plans to build the city’s first senior center.
He finished by saying, “Our best days and greatest opportunities are emerging before us.”
In her remarks, Ms. Thompson told colleagues of several strategic priorities that will be among the chamber’s program of work in 2012-13, including:
• Streetscape project / permitting assistance as economic catalysts.
• Implementation of One Community One Goal, an initiative launched by the Beacon Council to map out how the community is going to build its economy through targeted industries.
• Ensuring candidates in the 2013 municipal elections are aware of chamber priorities and that chamber members have opportunities to meet the candidates and make their voices be heard.
• Leading the efforts in the promotion of the city of Coral Gables as a premier destination spot for dining, shopping, arts, culture and aesthetics.
The Coral Gables Chamber of Commerce represents more than 1,500 members and is the second-largest business association in Miami-Dade County. Its mission is to foster and enhance the economic interests of the Coral Gables community, while advancing the quality of life of our members, partners, neighbors and visitors.