Incentives Plan Unveiled Council Has Next Step in Responding to Economic Report
Mathis, Karen Brune, The Florida Times Union
A call yesterday for a strategic plan and vision to deal with
economic incentives clears the way for City Council to take the
next step, possibly within weeks.
After eight months of study by more than 50 citizens,
Jacksonville Community Council Inc. issued its 26-page report
yesterday about Incentives for Economic Development.
The 18 recommendations led with a call for an overall regional
vision for the use of the economic perks. That merges with the
council's debate of a new incentives policy crafted by the
Jacksonville Economic Development Commission for most of Duval
"I would hope that during the month of July the council would
revisit the policy decisions and give the JEDC some direction,"
said commission executive director Mike Weinstein.
"They've all agreed to wait" for the JCCI report, he said.
The commission's recommended policy calls for stricter
targeting and monitoring of city-approved incentives and was
introduced into council April 14.
But council President Jim Overton deferred council approvals
pending the JCCI report. Incoming president Don Davis, who takes
office next week, could not be reached yesterday.
JCCI leaders presented their study yesterday to about 150
people at the Omni Jacksonville Hotel.
In all, JCCI listed 18 recommendations that called for more
stringent awarding and monitoring of economic incentives by
city, state and federal officials.
Those recommendations include a call for the city to target new
development and redevelopment in specific low-income
neighborhoods and to target incentives that provide "significant
new public infrastructure" to benefit the surrounding community.
They also include a request that the commission use a new
economic-analysis model for the region to better measure the
pros and cons of incentives packages, which the commission
already plans to do.
And recommendations also call for the commission to add more
than a half-dozen ex-officio members to represent the Duval
County public schools, the six Citizens Planning Advisory
Committees and local governments in surrounding counties.
"I thought the study was very good, and I thought that they
handled the issues very well," said committee member Bill
Weston, a professor at the Florida Coastal School of Law.
JCCI study chairman Henry Thomas now takes over study
implementation, typically a two-year process. "I really think in
many, many regards we are on the same page as people at the
city," he said.
At the same time, JCCI's No. 2 recommendation called for the
Duval Delegation to lobby for Florida legislative approval to
create a regional economic-development commission to start by
The call for a regional economic body comes in wake of two
recent area economic summits, both of which yielded requests for
better regional communication but not a legislative authority.
Weinstein cautioned JCCI as the regional counties, specifically
dominant Duval County and growing St. Johns, work out problems
in their political relationships. He doesn't think a regional
commission is the next step.
"If you discuss it seriously now, you risk offending a lot of
people and you won't be successful," he said. …