'Gateway to Everglades' Launches Revitalization Program for Lake Okeechobee Region

Dec 03, 2010, 11:24 ET from Collins Center for Public Policy

CLEWISTON, Fla., Dec. 3, 2010  /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Key business leaders, elected officials and community members came together recently to witness the unveiling of a new tourism brand for the Okeechobee region. "Southern Shores of Lake Okeechobee: Gateway to the Everglades" is a united marketing and branding effort established to attract tourists to the southern shores of Lake Okeechobee to help revive its communities. Approximately 100 participants attended the branding event at the Dolly Hand Cultural Arts Center at Palm Beach State College.

The Lake Okeechobee Regional Initiative (LORI) is led by the Collins Center for Public Policy and the South Florida Water Management District. It has gained widespread support from community leaders, including mayors from Belle Glade, Clewiston, Pahokee and South Bay.

"All of our hands are joined so that in the future …they can look back and say, 'what a legacy they've left us by joining in a partnership to better the world,'" said Charles Dauray, a board member for the South Florida Water Management District.

For generations, the communities along the southern shores of Glades, Hendry and western Palm Beach counties have struggled. "Unemployment around the lake is estimated to be as high as 40 percent," said Philip Bacon, vice president for Neighborhood and Regional initiatives for the Collins Center. "Our goal has been to help the stakeholders in the area understand that their economic destiny is tied to one another and that collectively, each community stands to gain if the entire region becomes an attractive place to live and invest," Bacon said.

Since LORI's launch, the initiative has succeeded in:

  • Keeping the bus route between Clewiston and Belle Glade;
  • Improving the intersection of S. R. 80 and US. Highway 27;
  • Procuring and distributing to local leaders maps showing infrastructure, land and water resources, public facilities, tourist attractions and employment centers; and
  • Developing the tourism plan.

Among its goals, the LORI group hopes to improve infrastructure, including broadband, education, health, public safety, planning, agriculture and tourism and to establish workforce training initiatives for construction projects.

The group also hopes to establish urban gardens in Belle Glade, Harlem and other communities; sponsor major tourism events; develop environmental and eco-tourism curriculum for students of urban gardens; provide technical assistance to existing regional initiatives; and help create links between agriculture, Everglades restoration and the workforce.

For more information on LORI, visit http://LORI.CollinsCenter.org

To learn more about the Lake Okeechobee region, visit www.lakeobigwater.com.


Philip Bacon

Vice President for Neighborhood and

Regional Initiatives 305-377-4484 x 1527

SOURCE Collins Center for Public Policy