One lesson learned from the Greater Fort Lauderdale Alliance’s past two annual trips: a city’s brand matters.
About 80 members of the Fort Lauderdale business community returned from a four-day trip to Nashville, Tennessee on Wednesday. The trip was led by Broward County’s economic development partnership, the Greater Fort Lauderdale Alliance. The group met with city officials and leaders in the Nashville business community to discuss common challenges and best practices impacting the two areas.
The trip follows a similar trip to Austin, Texas last year to gain a better understanding of how other cities are attracting companies and fostering economic growth.
In an interview with the Business Journal, Bob Swindell said that one key insight he learned was how Nashville’s Music City brand has helped the city attract talent and create a camaraderie among residents.
“Their brand (music) is a brand that everyone can relate to,” said Swindell. “They own their brand.”
The Greater Fort Lauderdale Alliance had a similar takeaway on the importance of branding when the group visited Austin last year, which has worked to create a reputation as a technology hub.
“We learned to recognize Greater Fort Lauderdale’s and South Florida’s many strengths, and that perhaps we need to take a page from the Texas playbook and brag a bit more,” Swindell said.
Another lesson learned from the Nashville trip was just how much the two cities have in common, Swindell said.
In addition to both being named finalists for Amazon’s second headquarters, the two cities face similar major challenges pertaining to workforce housing, homelessness and transportation.
Swindell said transportation, in particular, has been a big focus of Nashville Mayor Megan Berry, who has been communicating the need for action with the city’s business community.
“She says that today will be your best transportation day,” said Swindell, meaning that the problem is getting worse everyday and the need for action is imperative.
Other highlights of the trip included discussions on:
How to better align educational programs with target industries with Nashville’s Labor Educational Alignment CommitteeInnovations in health care at Nashville’s DNA bank.Research collaborations and how to take that tech to market with the Vanderbilt Innovation CenterHow to attract and develop more high-tech companies with the Nashville Technology Council
The trip was funded through several sponsors including JetBlue, the Florida Panthers, the City of Fort Lauderdale’s Executive Airport and Signature Grand.
The Greater Fort Lauderdale Alliance recently released its 2017 fiscal year results, which showed that the organization assisted more than 300 companies and surpassed its original goals for job creation and retention. For the 2017 fiscal year, the economic development partnership brought in 1,978 new jobs, exceeding initial expectations by 24 percent.