Let’s play a game. Let’s assume there are essentially two ways for economic growth.
- You either add more people to the economy
- Or you add more productivity to a current population – which generates more money per capita to spend in the economy.
Jacksonville faces headwinds on both fronts. We don’t have high-growth companies importing talented folks. We don’t have great colleges attracting and cultivating young talent. Without much of a cultural identity, we are not much of a refuge for artists.
Despite these disadvantages, a resurgence is bubbling in Jacksonville. Entrepreneurs are coming out of the woodwork to do their part. Every week a new restaurant or storefront opens. Local artists are organizing fantastic events to showcase their skills. Political leadership is pouring money into infrastructure improvements.
Now, it’s up to us – the members of the community – to step up. This wave of new destinations and experiences is exciting, but without population growth, I don’t see how these businesses will keep their doors open. If we don’t start voting with our dollars and spending money, this momentum will never build into a full transformation. We’ll have a small blip of awesomeness that flushes complacent businesses out but never quite leads to a vibrant future.
So get out there! Treat yo self. Enjoy a dinner out on a Tuesday. Join your friends at brunch. Check out that pop-up shop. Buy cool shit at places not located at the St. John Town Center.
And to help revolutionize Jacksonville’s image, I want to throw out an idea.
Jacksonville’s best assets are its quality of life and history. The cost of living is outstanding here. The southeast is the most affordable quadrant of the country, and Jacksonville is the among the most affordable cities in the Southeast. Thus, it is among the best values in the United States. It’s also home to river adventures, beaches and one of only a couple cities in Florida with a rich history.
How can capitalize on these assets? You could invest in entertainment to reap the returns through tourism. Louisiana enjoyed a streak of attracting film and tv production with tax incentives, but due to the state’s financial woes, Louisiana was forced to end the tax subsidies. Georgia is now bidding for their attention with similar programs. Jacksonville should consider the benefits Lousiana garnered during their stretch as Hollywood of the South and consider a similar tax incentive. Movies, and movie stars, brought media attention to Louisiana This attention helped drive visitors to the state. There are a lot of dope old buildings sitting empty. They would make great sound studios or interesting movie sets.
I’m just saying, think about it.