Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

JAX2025: A City the Young Call Home

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

JAX2025: A City the Young Call Home

Article excerpt

Byline: Tonyaa Weathersbee

For many people, 2025 may seem like a long way off, but if a recent survey by Jacksonville Community Council Inc. is any indication, planning for the city's future couldn't come at a more crucial moment.

That is especially true since many of the young people who will be essential to building that future say they aren't planning to stick around.

"One of the scariest numbers when we asked youth about whether they wanted to live in Jacksonville as adults, 23 percent said, 'Not a chance,'" Ben Warner, executive director of JCCI, told me. "We only had 22 percent who said, aeDefinitely.'

"That means that one in five kids ruled it out, and that's not good enough for our town ... so now what can we do to make it better?"

Making the city a place that won't be deserted by its young people is one of the many goals that JCCI is tackling in its latest visioning project, JAX2025.

SETTING GOALS

Recently, about 400 people gathered at the West Touchdown Club at EverBank Field to commit themselves to building on 10 targets that people chose in 14,000 surveys from 183 different zip codes.

"A lot of things are different now than they were years ago, but there are some core questions that we couldn't answer, like what will Jacksonville be when it grows up and more importantly who gets to decide that," Warner said.

"This is the right time for Jacksonville (to begin to answer the questions) ... in 2025, Jacksonville is going to be a majority-minority community, so we've got to think about ourselves differently."

The targets ranged from making Jacksonville a cleaner, greener city to making it the hub of smooth transportation.

What was especially surprising, Warner said, is that although people from throughout the region participated in the surveys, the top priority they all agreed on was that downtown needed to be improved. …

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