Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

3 Things That Have Caught My Eye

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

3 Things That Have Caught My Eye

Article excerpt

Byline: Karen Brune Mathis

Finally, City Council will take up the proposed revised city incentives policy, now called the "Public Investment Policy."

A joint meeting of four council committees is scheduled for 11:30 a.m. Monday in council chambers to review the legislation. The policy was introduced to council in January, but has been circulating since last year, before executive director Ron Barton joined the Jacksonville Economic Development Commission in August. While I'm in favor of public debate, there comes a time for action.

Council, which has a final say on most JEDC deals, has had several months to study the revised policy, which proposes to drop some programs, add others and set up a scorecard for issuing city incentives. The commission has been operating without city incentives as it waits for council action, although it has been dealing with state incentives that require city participation.

Commission executives have been meeting with council members to explain the changes, especially the parts about the inclusion of small business. City Council President Kevin Hyde said the policy might be approved by the first week of May. Meanwhile, the Legislature is reviewing a bill to expand the seven-member commission by two members and to streamline it, including repealing the Downtown Development Authority and creating a downtown committee. Hyde said that could be completed any time now. Let's get 'er done.

Quick Hit No. 2. Wal-Mart Stores Inc. can't seem to get its foot in the door in some parts of town. The world's largest retailer was rebuffed in Mayport and in Jacksonville at Atlantic and University boulevards, and faces opposition in Neptune Beach.

Would the Arkansas-based chain face similar challenges if it sought a site in Northside or another area in the urban core? Wal-Mart wants to build more than 50 stores in struggling urban neighborhoods, generating jobs in areas that suffer from high crime and unemployment rates, that might be environmentally contaminated or that offer vacant buildings or malls. …

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