For two decades, Miramar has experienced astronomical growth, resulting in both benefits and growing pains. Expansive new construction resulted in an under-resourced historic community, lack of human services, few cultural resources and transportation headaches. Through resident collaboration, Miramar has proven itself to be resilient in its response to these challenges.
Building an Equitable and Resilient Economy
In 2015, Miramar’s business community approached the city commission about strengthening small business support. Through individual and group stakeholder meetings from 2015-2016, the community began to develop the Miramar Economic Development Action Plan.
The experience of working together to develop the economic action plan proved valuable when in 2016, the small business community and residents voiced concerns over the lack of opportunities for small businesses and a lack of diversity in city procurement. The city held several public meetings to gather information from residents and determined that a Disparity Study was necessary.
The study found evidence that there was underutilization of small businesses and that Minority/Women-Owned Business Enterprises (M/WBE) received fewer bid awards. The city hired a diversity professional who developed and implemented a Business, Inclusion and Diversity (BID) Program to address the discrimination identified.
Working through small business empowerment meetings, stakeholder strategy sessions and community outreach forums, BID fosters the adaptive capacity of small, minority, and disadvantaged businesses so that they can tackle tough challenges and thrive. Activities include:
From 2011 to 2016 only 7% of the city’s procurement was awarded to local M/WBE firms. Through intensive outreach and training, that number grew to 29% in 2019 and 33% in 2020.
The Miramar Cultural Center (MCC)
MCC celebrates the creativity and cultural diversity of Miramar. Located in Miramar’s center, it is a natural gathering place for performances, educational activities and civic events.
The COVID-19 pandemic posed significant challenges to MCC’s cultural programming, but MCC staff re-evaluated its strategy and pivoted to meet the new needs of the community.
Residents are enjoying a virtual programming series called MCC LIVE2U that offers free digital connections to the arts at any time via the Center’s YouTube Channel. Audiences are taking virtual classes and engaging in the arts from home.
Programming has included:
Helping Seniors During the Pandemic
Catering and theater staff have been preparing meals to be delivered to seniors on a weekly basis, allowing MCC to maintain staffing levels while offering a meaningful service to senior citizens.
Helping Students and Families During the Pandemic
Cultural Center staff forged a partnership with FLIPANY (Florida Introduces Physical Activity and Nutrition) to provide more than 100 children and their families with a week’s supply of food.
MCC also learned that parents desperately needed virtual extracurricular activities to engage their children constructively. MCC partnered with the Palm Beach Symphony (PBS) to bring free classical instrument training to the community. Each week since September 2020, community members learned to play orchestra instruments from professional musicians.
Employing Local Artists to Create Free Art in Public Spaces
An outdoor Windows to Our World mural gallery was launched to safely showcase the work of local artists. This year’s themes are Hispanic Heritage, Black History, Earth Month and Caribbean Heritage.
Revitalizing Historic Miramar
While much of Miramar has experienced rapid development in the past 15 years, Historic Miramar was left behind. Several programs have been launched to revitalize the area.
Located on city-owned property and managed by volunteers as a micro-urban farm, this educational program embraces healthy living, urban agriculture, science, family nutrition and wholesome cooking.
A gardening training center, manned by 42 active volunteers, increases resident awareness of healthy eating to reduce chronic diseases, such as diabetes, heart disease and obesity.
Farm-to-Youth events engage elementary school children by teaching them where fresh food comes from and letting them taste nutritious fruits and vegetables.
During Disco Soup events, adult residents come together to slice, dice and boogie to music while transforming ugly or blemished veggies into a deliciously prepared meal.
Early Childhood Program
The Early Childhood Program provides a safe, healthy, and chemical free environment. The program partners with childcare professionals to reduce environmental health hazards found within or around child-care facilities.
In response to growing community need, city government financed and constructed the Historic Miramar 34,000 sf senior center complex, connected to the city and region by its own transportation system. There are two Senior Centers and an Adult Day Care, each with its own extensive programming, and 13 vehicles on the road daily, shuttling passengers to medical visits, day trips, the grocery store and other appointments.
During the pandemic, the senior center team reimagined how to connect with seniors by developing numerous methods of virtual contact including weekly reassurance calls, and twice weekly home food delivery.