Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

City Has Major Image, Marketing Issues

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

City Has Major Image, Marketing Issues

Article excerpt

The city of Jacksonville has major image and marketing issues.

This conclusion is based on a reading of the lengthy report produced for the transition committee to Mayor Lenny Curry.

Let's start with this biggie: Jacksonville doesn't have a brand or a long-term goal. As the saying goes, if you don't know where you're going, any direction will take you there.

Quoting the Economic Development Subcommittee:

- "The city has limited visibility and national identity."

- "No long-term strategy."

- "Uneven investment and economic opportunity across the city."

Given Jacksonville's consolidated city, we should have more focus. Our city's propensity to study endlessly without enough action is part of the problem.

OUT OF ACTION ON MEGA DEALS

Another big issue: Jacksonville is hurt when competing for big economic development projects, the "mega deals."

JAX Chamber reports that the bigger the deal, the less competitive Jacksonville is.

When asked what's missing, Chamber spokesman Matt Galnor explained that a "mega project" is one that involves 500 to 1,000 acres, several hundred million dollars of capital investment and more than 1,000 new jobs. That usually means industrial and manufacturing projects.

Some of the barriers:

- The perception that Florida is not the best location for projects of this scale. Florida cities are eliminated without consideration.

- The perception comes from the state not offering the size of incentives of competing states. While Gov. Rick Scott has worked to make the state more competitive, the negative perception remains.

In these mega deals, the state is the largest player in terms of incentives. Locally, if the project has a major impact, the city has been willing to invest.

And what do state officials say? Good question, says Bill Johnson, Florida secretary of Commerce and CEO of Enterprise Florida. Those are issues set to be raised at future Enterprise Florida meetings, perhaps even at Enterprise Florida meetings this coming week in Ponte Vedra Beach.

Florida should not be out of the game for the biggest industries. Jacksonville, with Cecil Commerce Center ready to go, ought to be a big-time player for big-time projects.

Florida's business governor and Jacksonville's business mayor need to figure out what we're missing and fix it.

CRIME AND BLIGHT

As far as crime goes, the transition committee rightly states that Jacksonville needs a coordinated strategy to use a carrot-and-stick approach for young men who may turn to violent crime.

That means be ready to arrest but also be ready offer a better alternative than the street gangs can offer.

The marketing part of this is to get the word out that there are other options than the code of the street.

That depressing code was summarized this way in the transition report:

- It's OK to go to prison. …

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