Client Interview: The Carrie Meek Foundation

Posted on December 6, 2017

Client Interview: The Carrie Meek Foundation with Lucia Davis-Raiford

Foundry Commercial has partnered with the Carrie Meek Foundation to both develop the Carrie Meek International Business Park and to provide economic development and job training programs that will help connect the local residents to the jobs that are created in the development. That development will include the new 855,000-square-foot Amazon Fulfillment Center that will create more than 1,000 new jobs. Lucia Davis-Raiford is the daughter of Carrie Meek, for whom both the Foundation and the Business Park are named. Lucia has been the driving force behind the idea, the programs and the development. She has worked tirelessly on behalf of the Foundation with Foundry to make this project and the Foundation a reality.

Foundry Commercial: What does legacy mean to you?

Lucia Davis-Raiford: As a daughter of someone whose work has been so pioneering, both in Florida and across the country, I have a clear sense of legacy. Also, as a beneficiary of so many women leaders, such as Mary McLeod Bethune and others who were leaders and pioneers and groundbreakers, I understand the inheritance of things other than money.

FC: How would you describe the Carrie Meek Foundation and Foundry’s relationship?

LD: In one word I would call it symbiotic. We have a similar mission of doing good as we do well. They are two different things and organizations such as The Carrie Meek Foundation and Foundry Commercial have a very good sense of how to do both. I feel both organizations are serious about trying new things in order to accomplish both. 

FC: What made you ultimately pick Foundry for the development of Carrie Meek International Business Park?

LD: Two words, Pryse Elam. Pryse was and is a visionary and the glue. As we both explored uncharted waters with this project, he was, as compared to all others who we considered, the one who had the temerity to stick through the tough issues and had the vision to see where we needed to go early on. It is really apparent to me that Pryse has had this in his head for many years, long before he and I had ever met. He is the kind of laser-focused visionary who is important to getting big things done no matter the business that you are in. I do appreciate his brilliance. The fact of the matter is, for the long-term, down-in-the-trenches kind of work that it took to get this project where it is, it really had to have, at its center, someone who has the kind of brilliance, focus and temerity that Pryse has. Foundry is a wonderful group of wonderful people and I have met a number of them, but I don’t think the organization could do any better than having Pryse Elam as a leader.

FC: What has been the most meaningful moment so far while working on the Carrie Meek International Business Park?

LD: There were many meaningful moments and I am not sure I can remember all of them. But the groundbreaking, which was the culmination of all those moments, was incredibly meaningful and incredibly powerful. It is just symbolic of everything and every person who made this project happen. It was a celebration by us all. All we are talking about is turning a piece of dirt, but one could see how symbolic it was. It was a community celebration and that was very meaningful for me.

FC: Is there a story in particular while working with Pryse or the team that stands out to you?

LD: Pryse, for as smart as he is and as successful as he is, he is equally humble. Pryse was unavailable to meet with me because he was feeding the homeless, that would be at the top of the list. It was meaningful and it told me a lot about the character of the person who I was trying to do business with. To me, character and integrity are more important than anything. It doesn’t mean that those are the only things that are important, but those are certainly things that I need to be, and anybody in the business world need to be able to rely on in a partner, and I had that 
in Pryse. 

FC: What is the most meaningful part of this development to you? 

LD: The most meaningful part is the potential outcome for community and economic development that can come from what was otherwise just a pure business deal. There is the potential for this to really be impactful on not just the immediate surrounding community but the county as a whole. With the number of jobs to be created by this, we believe that we can absorb a number of the unemployed in Miami-Dade County. The surest way to create economic development is to create opportunities for able-bodied human beings to work. This will provide the opportunity to work for those who might not have had that opportunity. Because we are focused on providing jobs to this core group of people, we have reason to believe that we are going to be successful in creating the impact we intend.

FC: What does it mean to you that the Carrie Meek International Business Park was inspired and named after your mother’s legacy?

LD: It is a fitting monument to the body of work she created when she began as a college professor, touching the lives of thousands of emerging professionals, and through her work as a state representative, senator and ultimately a member of the United States Congress. This will be a lasting physical monument to the work that she contributed to her community and nation, her work being fundamental to community development, community organizing, supporting grassroots efforts, people and organizations.