Regarding the efforts by Florida International University to expand its facility by utilizing part of the space currently rented by the Dade County Fair and Exposition, the operators of the Youth Fair have now responded with a full page newspaper ad taking FIU to task and challenging the university’s statements. The fair even put up a billboard.
Okay — we get it. It’s understandable that the fair operators don’t want to move and are resisting change. That’s only natural.
The question is, what use for that county-owned property would most benefit the residents of Miami-Dade County? The fair is large scale entertainment for a few weeks a year, with some smaller events scattered through the rest of the time. The educational aspects of it, much touted by fair officials, are limited to the livestock and arts and crafts exhibits, which are a relatively small part of the once yearly event. Most of the space is used for carnival rides, which have doubled or even tripled in the past decade or two.
When the county and FIU find another location for the fair, and the relocation costs are covered by FIU and state funding, wouldn’t it make sense for that area to be used for an improved university facility — a facility with more classrooms, more student housing, more labs, with the addition of the Herbert Wertheim College of Medicine, the Nicole Wertheim College of Nursing and Health Sciences, and the Robert Stemple College of Public Health and Social Work to its campus?
That would help our young people year around, preparing them for great careers and boosting not only the students’ economic future, but that of the whole community as well. Why send our kids off to other parts of the county, or the state, to get a quality education? Low income students especially would be affected. FIU’s five-year plan calls for increasing enrollment to 65,000 students per year.
FIU has educated more than 200,000 students who graduated, and more than half of them live and work in South Florida. More than a third of Miami-Dade County Public School teachers earned their degrees at FIU. Each year FIU gives out $334.6 million to students in scholarships and financial aid. Plus, it’s estimated that the university’s expansion will bring an investment of $900 million in construction, have a recurring benefit to the economy of $541 million and create thousands of jobs. That should count for something, shouldn’t it?
If a solution can be found, wouldn’t “Let’s talk about it” make more sense than “Hell no, we won’t go”?
So…let’s talk about it.