I like to be a kind of non-official community event organizer wherever I go. Set up cookoffs, runs, classic car nights, etc. I move around a lot with the military, and a friendly, tight, trustworthy neighborhood is key for me to happy in a town/city.
Will it bring jobs? That's to be argued. In my opinion, if you have a close-knit strong community, then you're going to draw people - and wherever people go, jobs will also inevitably follow.
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Oooh, let me pull out the soapbox. I think North and Northwest Florida has a lot more economic potential than is realized. But, it has to expand beyond tourism, fishing, and military bases.
First, I think North Florida needs to capitalize on I-10. If you have a product to ship, you can easily get it to ports in Jacksonville, Pensacola, Panama City, or other locations along the Gulf Coast. If you want to truck it, you can easily take it down I-10 to I-75 and send it down to Orlando or up to Atlanta. There are lots of undeveloped woods and farms that could become a factory or distribution center. There are lots of non-union workers who would love a good job. Your community needs to advertise in the Wall Street Journal and other media for business leaders and entrepreneurs.
Second, North Florida needs to offer tax incentives. Plenty of states are offering property tax abatement and other tax incentives to companies that relocate their facilities in their area. Georgia does it very well. Florida has to be willing to play that game, attract major employers, and reap the benefits of an employed populace.
Third, North Florida needs to overcome objections to living in Florida. State business and government leaders tend to believe that Florida is a magical paradise that everyone would love to live in. It's not. My wife hates it here (in Tally) and I hate many aspects of life here. Our apartment has bugs. We live in a cloud of pesticide. It rains a lot. We get paid a lot less than we did in Atlanta. There are little frogs that want to come into our home. When it's good it's good, but when it's bad it is very bad. I wish Florida's leaders would mitigate some of these Florida-specific issues.
How? Make sure every home and apartment is well built. Don't give occupancy permits if there are gaps that will admit critters into a home. Set architecture and landscaping standards that will ensure adequate drainage and construction that can cope with the heat and humidity. Make sure that every apartment in your community gets sprayed for bugs every month and after every tenant vacates. Fund mosquito control programs in urban and suburban areas. Arrest any landlord, leasing consultant, realtor or developer who shrugs and tells prospective residents, "It's Florida, you're gonna have bugs." (That's code for - "We're half-arsed about pest control and your gonna be miserable.") Don't let your community make headlines for giant snakes, giant rats, or alligators in pools. I love alligators and every town should have a place to see some. But, you gotta nip those potential problems in the bud. Make sure your town is ready for hurricanes and that drainage problems and other issues are addressed proactively and fixed. People from up north worry about hurricanes and your town needs to be psychologically re-assuring by being ready.
Fourth, make your area a special place to live. In the late 70s and early 80s when I was a kid growing up on the beach in Jax, our state and local political leaders were relentlessly focussed on making Florida a special place to live. It seems like Florida has lost that vibe in all the cost cutting over the years. Get the prisoners out cleaning up the highways, byways, and parks. Make redevelopment plans for rundown areas. Plant palm trees in the approaches to your town. Welcome newcomers. Don't say it's a beach paradise, ensure that it is a beach paradise.
Well I know personally for myself after losing my last job thanks to this awesome economic situation it has driven me to start my own small businesses. I know this road is not for everyone because it does get very involved and take a lot of work. But when you have to rely only on yourself it’s amazing what a person is able to do. This country was built on hard work, innovation and the entrepreneurial spirit. I love being my own boss and having the freedom to move as I need to. Any new type of business will help stimulate growth in a local economy. Small businesses in your local area need the support of the local town people which in the long run will bring people together and create a stronger knit community which builds up everything. And as far as skilled and unskilled when you own your company…you set the bar, find something you truly enjoy and turn it into a profession for yourself and enjoy the rewards.
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The land management plan needs to be followed other wise why have one? Palm Coast Florida is a good example to use. We are a retirement community. There are young families here whose parents are very gainfully employed in the retirement fields. The have children and we have the schools here for them. The city always tries to bring new industry in here and cannot understand why they do not come. We are not exactly on the beaten path for industry. We were developed as a retirement community right out of the swamp! We need to keep our focus as to what we are and not we are not. So I would suppose my response would be that cites and counties need to stay on track with their planning and do not stray. Orlando was at one time a very sleepy little town with a lot of oranges. No more, it is an attraction city now, tourist central. And that is exactly what Florida is, a tourist state with a lot of retired people living here that have children and grandchildren who all want to come visit the old geezers, (I am one!) and go see the mouse! Keep on track and do not waiver the direction you decided to take. Or in other words, be careful what you wish for, you might just get it!