Three-week project focuses on Downtown revitalization
A consulting team commissioned by the worldwide technology services company IBM at no cost to taxpayers has concluded a three-week research project Downtown and is now finalizing an action plan to help Mayor Alvin Brown’s efforts to revitalize the urban center.
The work comes as part of the IBM Smarter Cities Challenge, a worldwide initiative to distribute a total of $50 million worth of services and technical assistance to 100 cities through 2013. The project carries an approximate value of $400,000.
Preliminary results were unveiled at City Hall Friday, casting a strong focus on the need for mixed-use redevelopment while suggesting that the mayor’s plan for a Downtown Investment Authority, authorized earlier this month through a unanimous City Council vote, marks a positive step forward. The IBM team made comparisons to best practices in other cities and advocated for Jacksonville officials to increase signage, better utilize historic buildings and create a stronger sense of identity to promote Downtown to attract visitors and business people.
“Investments Downtown will create the action and energy that will draw new talent, new ideas and innovation,” said the mayor. “A vibrant Downtown will help to boost property values, grow career-building jobs and develop a stronger identity to brand our city in the global economy. I commend IBM’s work on this issue and look forward to continuing to work with all the stakeholders for solutions to make Jacksonville the most active and competitive city that it has ever been.”
“A healthy downtown equates to a healthy city,” said Emily Santos, corporate citizenship and corporate affairs manager, IBM. “Jacksonville’s passion for revitalization was reflected throughout the interviews the team conducted. It is clear that stakeholders across the city are committed to building a healthy downtown to help improve economic opportunity for all residents. “
The IBM team also provided Jacksonville with a model for building an advanced technology tool which could help to determine investment priorities for Downtown. During the course of its engagement, the IBM team met with more than 80 organizations ranging from the mayor and city staff to business, religious, academic and nonprofit leaders.