BROWARD COUNTY, FL - Over 60 policy decision-makers studied the ins and outs of public-private partnerships during Broward County’s first P3 Summit hosted by Port Everglades held on November 18, 2015 at the Greater Fort Lauderdale/Broward County Convention Center, followed by specialized workshop training on November 19. The neutral, non-partisan think tank, the Eno Center for Transportation awarded Broward County its prestigious Eno P3 Technical Assistance Award, a grant funded by the Surdna Foundation. As a result, Port Everglades hosted an invitational P3 Educational Summit “Is P3 Right for Me?” and extended the Summit’s participation to city officials and other local entities county-wide.

Port Everglades' Chief Executive Steve Cernak provides opening remarks.
Port Everglades’ Chief Executive Steve Cernak provides opening remarks.

“Public-private partnerships are both a challenge and an opportunity,” said Steven Cernak, Port Everglades’ Chief Executive and Port Director. “We must come together to share experiences on benefits and risks that will help us progress in developing P3s and attract future investments.” Alan Cohen, Assistant to the County Administrator, discussed the importance of working partnerships with other municipalities and the private sector, “Our city partners and private-sector partners’ perspectives are important to have at the table while we explore the pros and cons of utilizing P3s as a way to move our public agendas forward.”

Attendees from Broward’s public sector and stakeholder community that are exploring or involved with public-private partnerships (P3) participated in the sessions taught or moderated by the Eno P3 Working Group Members and other experts and delved into important and relevant local P3 issues. Critical topics with specific project-based examples were presented. The Eno Center designed a program to assist public agencies have a better understanding of the P3 development process and to build technical capacity among agencies’ professional staff. The P3 program was presented in a discussion format, which allowed attendees to ask questions, make observations, exchange information, review best practices, and share lessons learned.

“One key barrier to P3 implementation is shortcomings in institutional capacity to handle complex P3s,” said Paul Lewis, Vice President of Policy and Finance, Eno Center for Transportation. “What this means is having management and staff trained and dedicated to work in a P3 environment. And managers need access to experts in all areas within and outside of the agency.”

Eno experts and participants discussed various topics including partnership financing, Florida’s legislation, case studies, public engagement, internal processes, and overcoming obstacles to P3s in South Florida.

Roy Kienitz, former Under Secretary for Policy at the United States Department of Transportation, aptly summed it up, “The question the public asks most often about P3s is ‘Won’t we be paying for this anyway?’ And the answer is yes. But when done correctly, risks are minimized, we get the projects done sooner, and for less money.”