Is Boca Raton a ‘World Class’ City?


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To be or not to be ‘World Class’…that is the question!!!!

In my early days of publishing, and I mean early, the question of ‘World Class’ arose and that experience provided me with a lifelong learning lesson.   The synonym then for the word ‘world’ was ‘international’ and the tag line to the publication I was associated with was “The International Fun Magazine.”

The lifelong lesson learned was that the ‘world’ is a big place and reaching an aspiration of being ‘World Class’ is challenging; so challenging, in fact, that it requires leadership taking off their blinders in order to  see what others around the ‘world’ are doing.   Broadening the vision, aspiring to be ‘World Class’ requires looking beyond our borders to identify what defines the term in the first place.

A few years back former City Council member Constance Scott raised an aspirational idea to take our city beyond its borders.  Her suggestion for Boca Raton was to become active in the Sister City International initiative.  Ms. Scott recognized the benefit of reaching globally while acting locally but for reasons unknown to me, her initiative fell on deaf ears within the city’s leadership; a missed opportunity to broaden the city’s vision and encourage development beyond our borders and, a vision not necessarily requiring greater building density.

With one of the country’s largest diplomatic posts just a mere 40 miles down the road, reaching across the globe is literally at our fingertips.  However for such an aspiration to be achieved, an inspiration is essential.  Such inspiration has been and still is missing in the dialogue of Boca Raton’s leaders….the aspiration of ‘world class’ is a slogan needing inspiration; an aspiration needing a visionary willing to champion a different path, a path of economic and cultural development working in tandem to earn the status of ‘world class’.

Recently, Councilwoman Andrea Levine O’Rourke traveled both nationally and internationally.  Upon her return, she spoke enthusiastically about the notion of ‘place making’.  Boca Raton citizens are also actively taking part in a place making effort with the 2020 Vision and in the November, 2016 referendum where residents spoke loudly on the subject of ‘world class’ place making for our beach and parks.

Through Councilwoman O’Rourke’s commentary, Boca Raton may now be recognizing that it has affordability challenges; affordability challenges facing our citizens generally, including those in our creative communities.  In order to attract and inspire young residents and students to remain in Boca Raton, leadership must address this affordability issue as a key priority.

This June city leaders from around the world will convene to explore and address global challenges facing creative communities.  For Boca Raton to aspire to ‘World Class’ status, leadership and staff should participate in the first-ever Leadership Exchange Program, an initiative of the World Cities Culture Forum (WCCF).

This event will be hosted in Toronto and led by the non-profit creative place making organization, Artscape, The Exchange will bring together thought leaders from around the country and the globe. Participants will explore urban affordability for the creative sector and establish global best practices for retaining and growing affordable creative spaces.   Participation in the Leadership Exchange Program will enable our leaders to aspire to meet this challenge; to aspire to what is working in other cities; and to inspire the development of creative solutions, strategies and resources.

Reaching out around the globe will provide inspiration to invest in projects ranging from cultural facilities and arts programming, to affordable workspace, tourism, engagement and sustainability;  an unparalleled opportunity for our leadership to come together with global cities for the inspiration to achieve the aspiration to truly be ‘World Class’.

Al Zucaro, Publisher

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  1. It is hard to beat Inspiration when it comes to becoming great. Here’s an example (and no, I’m not suggesting that we become like Delray, I’m merely suggesting the power of inspiration).

    Years ago, in the 80’s, Delray Beach decided that they wanted to compete to become an “All American City”. To compete, there was a checklist of items that made an AAC complete. This checklist was used to inform and guide the city council and the CRA in most of the decisions that were made in this era. Delray won this honor not once, but twice, competing with dozens of cities across the nation.

    So Boca, where is the overarching vision for what we want to become? Where is a checklist of elements that can be used to guide and inform? Art in public places is great, but it would be only one item on such a list. In other words – What exactly do we mean when we say “World Class City”?

    I can think of many “World Class Cities”, large and small, all different in their own way. Paris, Palm Beach, Rome, The Riviera, Barcelona, San Antonio, San Francisco, Stuart, New Orleans, and many more. We don’t have to be just like any of them. But we do need a blueprint for success, or else we will keep making decisions based on which way the wind is blowing today.

  2. Never vote for this person….Another developer, lawyer looking for fast money like Hainny!!!

    These people that move down here want to destroy our unique exclusive beach town…this is not New York !!! They want to turn our town into a cement city, get rid of our parks, etc. all for their personal pocketbooks !!!!
    Zucaro stop telling us what to do and your version of Boca … we don’t want that!!!
    you came here 10 yrs ago, you don’t know our history of the city, the people that have lived here for 30 yrs or more, generations, born here want NO MORE BUILDING !!! go back to where you came from if you like cement buildings, traffic jams, etc. etc.

  3. I grew up here. Lots of my friends who love Boca had to leave and build careers before they could afford to move back. Good folks with a lot of love for this town can’t afford to build careers here a lot of the time. I had to get the experience to know how to do what I do now from working in Miami Beach and Hollywood. It’s not that we need more buildings, or maybe we do – whatever. What we really need is a way where the young people who call this their home be able to stay here and grow, not have to move away to be complete. This means better opportunities first and foremost, being friendly to businesses trying to grow, having genuinely effective means for them to do it. What’s needed has to be, by definition, so much better and more than what we have now here in Boca to promote business. It’s almost if the people who are in that role have the breaks on for new business, like there’s old entrenched forces that benefit from keeping things as ugly, outdated, ineffective and disconnected on purpose to stifle new growth. Or maybe I’m completely wrong and just a little hypersensitive to those things as a marketing guy. Thoughts?

  4. BOCA Raton has always had the potential to be great. To be a @world class citu” but this potential was never realized due to regressive thinking on the part of many of its political leaders. Since the 1970’s BOCA has taught the negatives bed of over crowding. Of allowing developers to build more and more housing without addressing the infrststructure needs to accommodate all these new residents. In Al Zucaro, and Mayotte and Andrea O’Rourke we have the makings of progressive and thoughtful leadership to attain the extraordinary potential our city can achieve.


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