New leadership team takes helm at EDC

Paul Neidhart — area businessman, activist and former Palmetto Bay councilmember — has become the new executive director of the Economic Development Council of South Miami-Dade (EDC).

With the departure of the previous director, Herb Parlato, in December to take a job in Broward, Neidhart has taken the helm of the organization that promotes and assists local businesses and development in the Palmetto Bay, Cutler Bay and Perrine areas.

Vanessa Derenoncoart assumes the role of executive assistant, running much of the day-to-day operations and other key functions. She’s Neidhart’s “right hand.”

“Both of us came in cold,” Neidhart said. “The big push initially was the 12th annual Memorial Golf Tournament, which has taken a lot of our time, but we’ve been trying to make as many meetings as we can since we’re trying to get to know the people in the community a little better. And now we’re going to start pursuing the various economic development issues.”

Neidhart said that he is not happy with the turnout for the meetings so far.

“I really wish that we could get more people,” Neidhart said. “The meetings are free, unlike some organizations, and I’d like for folks to come and see what we’re doing. We’re making changes to the newsletter, jazzing it up and going twice a month, and Vanessa is doing a great job on that.

“We’re improving distribution and we’re going to be including information on the big water and sewer project so people who are affected by it will be able to keep track of that,” he added.

“We’re working hard to get good speakers and we hope to not only bring back some of the people who used to attend but also to attract new people who can benefit from what we have to offer.” Neidhart has high praise for Derenoncoart.

“She does all of the work,” Neidhart said with a grin. “She’s very knowledgeable and enthusiastic.”

Derenoncoart, who has an MBA from Nova Southeastern and did her undergrad work at Barry University, said she genuinely enjoys her job.

“What appeals most to me is the opportunity to give back to the community,” Derenoncoart said. “I’ve been a resident of Palmetto Bay for 16 years. I’ve seen the changes from the moment it was incorporated. As a business owner, it means a lot to me being able to help other businesses grow and continue to invest within our community.

That definitely drew me in.” Derenoncoart explained that her background helps her function as a liaison for area business owners, government offices, investors and others in south Florida and beyond.

“I work a lot with small businesses,” she said. “I’ve always helped promote small businesses within the county, within the state, different projects, different vendors, so that knowledge of what it takes to help the small business become a larger business or a corporation that is first and foremost.

“Second is my construction lending background. In order to promote a large area like South Dade with our land and the availability of land to grow, you have to have an understanding of how to work with investors and developers.” Derenoncoart said that even with the current economic conditions, you don’t have to look far to see that the area is still growing.

“Although the market has taken a downturn, that doesn’t stop construction,” she said. “For example, the School Board Credit Union is going up right behind us. Just in the last month and a half that Paul and I have been here, we’ve received several important phone calls, one from an investor in Boston, a market research company that wanted to get information so that they can construct housing in the Naranja area, which happens to be one of our charrette areas.

“They called the EDC and we were able to get them that information. We had another person who called that wanted to put a medical laboratory in the area. We directed him to Cutler Bay, so we’re helping the municipalities; we’re helping to bring business down here. We do our part to follow through so that if we cannot help them, we send them to the correct person or party to help them. It’s all about putting our place on the map.”

To learn more about the EDC, which is located at 900 Perrine Ave. in Palmetto Bay, call 305-378-9470 or send an email to < >.

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