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Billions of Dollars Needed for Jacksonville’s Promised Neighborhoods

Billions of dollars are needed for neighborhoods promised improvement during Jacksonville, Florida’s consolidation.

Special to The Florida Star from

In 1968, the same year Dr. King was assassinated, a promise was made for a vote of support. The plan was to make Jacksonville a bigger city, among other things. In order to get that vote, promises of improvements were made to people living in the preconsolidated Jacksonville core areas. Support was given. Those words were never made good, however. As a result, these are the areas today with the highest crime rates, lowest food options, and needing of major infrastructure work.

When an area doesn’t get the proper funding, little to no investments are made in those areas. Businesses do not want to locate to an area and have to pay for infrastructure. That type of issue prevents that location from being a prudent investment.

That means those great jobs will never get to see that area. One major business could mean thousands of jobs as well as hundreds of other businesses that are attracted to the area. Most importantly, businesses that are already there can receive huge economic benefits as a result of the new opportunities.

The solution is to deliver on the promises that were made to those areas. This includes Downtown Jacksonville, parts of San Marco, a larger part of the Westside and the Northside. Because it has been a little over 50 years since those promises were made, these areas have spread.

This is not exclusively about keeping promises and building those areas. It is primarily about keep promises made to people and building the people there in a way that will benefit them for at least the next 50 years.

The money to improve roadways, street lights, water and sewer lines are paramount. The drive on Highway 95 through the city should be spectacular - both day and night. Businesses large and small should find no drainage issues when looking to locate to the area. The latest in beautification, green walkways, and futuristic designs should not be spared. And, it should all be performed by local businesses in the area.

African Americans live heavily in the areas mentioned above. There is a racial element to the history of Jacksonville’s consolidation. In many cities around the United States, there are stories of large scale land developments that split, engulfed, and even destroyed communities occupied by Black people. Jacksonville

has quite a few of these stories.

In Oregon, a highway and a hospital are two projects that violated the rights of Black’s and their communities decades ago. Now, there is a Black-owned construction company that is working on the biggest projects in the state.

Portland-based Raimore Construction company is a prime contractor on a billion dollar Rose Quarter Highway Improvement Project. That project will lead to another larger bridge project.

That bridge project will take years to complete. That means Raimore will year-after-year pay a living wage to many who live in, or are from, these communities. Raimore Construction will also do what many states and cities fail to do. Hiring smaller local businesses as subcontractors to complete the big project creates an exponential economic impact to communities.

There is an old report that showed businesses getting major work but then using waivers to get around the federal diversity guildlines. This type of shortsightedness has consistently set eco-

nomics back in the city. A big complaint about the city’s JSEB program in the past is that you register your minority business but no work comes from it. Or, all of the work goes to the same few companies.

It seems that Oregon decided that instead of making excuses or working on schemes to get around doing whats best for diversity, they hired people to solve problems. They then went to work setting up a process to ensure that those normally shut out would get the opportunities.

Raimore did not get to the primary position

to turn its back on the community by taking the money are running away. It has created state diversity records in hiring individuals and businesses. The excellent quality of

their work is also remarkable.

Jacksonville needs 4 to 6 billion dollars to take the core of Jacksonville and the surrounding areas into the future. It will take the type of leadership this city has yet to have. This city gave its word. When it is finally ready to keep its word, the city will become worldclass.

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