Economic Point Man Smith Dies
Jesse B. Smith, a point man for Jacksonville's economic
development initiatives under four mayors and a prominent
advocate for cancer research, died yesterday after a long
struggle with lung cancer. He was 58.
Mr. Smith worked as deputy director of the city Planning and
Development Department until November.
Though he was rarely in the public eye, business leaders and
city officials said Mr. Smith was a key organizer of many of the
city's efforts to attract new businesses. His projects ranged
from massive office complexes at Deerwood and Southpoint to
manufacturing centers in North Jacksonville.
"He was a tremendous steward of projects. There are people
getting a paycheck and building houses that, but for Jesse,
would not be doing that," Mayor John Delaney said.
The 28-year city employee worked for the planning department
after graduating from Jacksonville University in 1968.
In 1980, Mayor Jake Godbold appointed him to a two-person
development office within the Mayor's Office. He was reappointed
by every mayor that followed. In 1991, his office was
reorganized to again be part of the planning department.
"Good guys can succeed. He was one of those good guys," Godbold
said. "He was a good man and a good friend."
Godbold said 175 new businesses moved into Jacksonville during
his tenure, and "Jesse was involved in every damned one of