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Let the people decide about FIU’s expansion

Let the people decide about FIU’s expansion

Grant Miller

Grant Miller

If you care anything about quality college educations for our young people right here in our community, not to mention a major boost to employment and our local economy, then I urge you to write or call your county commissioner in support of Florida International University’s efforts to expand their campus and programs.

Here’s where things stand now. The 86-acre property next door to FIU is currently owned by the county and leased to the Miami-Dade County Fair & Exposition as it has been since 1972. The Fair uses it once a year for their major event, the Youth Fair, and for numerous smaller events throughout the year. It’s a great event, and I even won a photography award there myself as a youngster. But that property would better serve more people in highly important ways if FIU is allowed to expand their educational facility onto it.

The Miami-Dade County Commission has already unanimously directed Mayor Carlos Gimenez and his staff to negotiate with FIU and the Miami-Dade County Fair & Exposition to create a plan to relocate the Fair.

The Fair’s lease runs through 2040 with extensions all the way out to 2085, and those who operate it have made infrastructure improvements to the site over the years, so to move the Fair would require that a suitable new site be found and made ready and Fair operators be reimbursed for their capital investments. That’s exactly what FIU President Mark B. Rosenberg has suggested previously and reaffirmed on Tuesday, July 22 in proposing a no-cost-to-the-county relocation of the Fair that still allows all of the Tamiami Park activities, like youth baseball, basketball and football, to remain.

FIU’s campus is currently the smallest of the 10 traditional public universities in Florida’s State University System. It will graduate 12,500 students in the coming year, mostly local kids, and it provides financial support to nearly 39,000 students in the amount of $400 million. FIU can continue to grow and serve more students, and will soon be adding the Herbert Wertheim College of Medicine to its campus, but it is fast running out of room.

What’s at stake here? Besides providing college educations for so many deserving students, FIU’s expansion will also create thousands of jobs and a big boost to our economy. An independent consultant estimates that the expansion will bring an investment of $900 million in construction alone, an impact of $1.8 billion long term and a yearly economic impact of roughly $541 million.

Weigh that against the Fair’s full time staff of 40 people and a seasonal temporary employment of 600 folks for the 18 day run of the Youth Fair and you have some idea of what a difference that would make. Both FIU and South Florida would benefit.

FIU’s use of the adjacent property would allow expansion of the College of Engineering and Computing, academic and research space, health care partnerships, residence halls, a conference center, alumni center and a lot more. Allowing it to become the major institution it needs and deserves to be seems to be a win-win for the entire community

So let the people of Miami-Dade County decide what they want for themselves, for their children’s future and the area’s future economic growth. Isn’t that the way it should be?

Contact your county commissioner and let him or her know how you feel about this important issue. This can move forward with your help. Let’s get behind it now.

 

District 1 – Barbara J. Jordan:  305-375-5694

District 2 – Jean Monestime:  305-375-4833

District 3 – Audrey Edmonson:  305-375-5393

District 4 – Sally A. Heyman:  305-375-5128

District 5 – Bruno A. Barreiro:  305-375-5924

District 6 – Rebeca Sosa:  305-375-5696

District 7 – Xavier L. Suarez:  305-669-4003

District 8 – Lynda Bell:  305-375-5218

District 9 – Dennis C. Moss:  305-375-4832

District 10 – Javier D. Souto:  305-375-4835

District 11 – Juan C. Zapata:  305-375-5511

District 12 – José “Pepe” Diaz:  305-375-4343

District 13 – Esteban Bovo, Jr.:  305-375-4831

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