Mayor Raúl Valdés-Fauli Lauds the Business Community
Each September, the Coral Gables Chamber of Commerce devotes its monthly Good Morning Coral Gables session to two things: installing its new Board of Directors and hosting the city’s mayor to give the State of the City Address. This year, Mayor Raúl Valdés-Fauli had more compliments than criticism, reporting that all is moving ahead in a laudatory fashion.
“The success of our city is a direct reflection of the success of our business community,” Valdés-Fauli told the audience of more than 200 Chamber members and city officials, assembled in the Biltmore’s enormous Country Club Ballroom. One major reason, he told the audience, was that while businesses operating in the downtown represent just five percent of the city’s geographic area, they provide 27 percent of its tax income.
For that reason, he said, the city will continue to enhance the viability of the downtown by maintaining its strategy of creating the right mix of retail and restaurants. “The strategy identified five areas we should be concentrating on: women’s apparel and accessories; home and design retail; men’s apparel and accessories; athleisure wear; and chef-driven restaurants.”
The mayor then named four restaurants recently opened, another five to open in the near future, and four companies recently relocated to the central business district – along with the addition of a vice consulate of Hungary and honorary consulates for Portugal and Singapore.
In order to ensure the vibrancy of the downtown, however, Mayor Valdés-Fauli advanced his agenda for more residential density through mixed-use projects, saying, “Reaching critical mass in the urban core is needed to sustain a healthy downtown.”
He also complimented the use of public art installations, especially on Giralda Plaza, for attracting “new waves of visitors,” and noted efforts by the Business Improvement District (BID) to bring live, street corner music to Miracle Mile on Friday nights.
The result, said the mayor, was an increase of daily foot traffic on Giralda Plaza from 9,000 pedestrians in November of 2017 to 31,000 in September of this year.
Mayor Valdés-Fauli also complimented the contribution of local education – and the trained talent it provides – to improving the business climate.
More than anything, however, Mayor Valdés-Fauli emphasized the importance of using technology and innovation to support business – something he has long advocated. “Today, we’re known nationwide as a smart city, leveraging information and communication technologies to step up marketing efforts, improve safety, and enhance quality of life, not to mention make our city more resilient and sustainable.”
In particular, the mayor noted the array of smart devices, sensors, and systems around the city that now form an interconnected network to gather and analyze data. This ranges from the city’s ability to track downtown foot traffic (“We can even tell how long visitors stop in front of your windows”) to its closed-circuit TV cameras that help police monitor crime. For the future, a new online permitting process should speed up reviews when it goes online next year.
“To sum up,” said the mayor, “the City of Coral Gables has a laser focus on supporting companies, improving the business climate, and attracting potential customers to help ensure that our city continues to thrive…”
The Mayor’s Strategies for a More Vibrant City
- The right retail mix of apparel, home design, and restaurants downtown
- The leveraging of technology to streamline business processes
- The use of technology to fight crime and help with merchant marketing
- The increase of residential density to bring more people downtown
- The use of public art to attract new waves of visitors
- The improvement of education to build a better trained workforce