Let's change the perception

Published: Thursday, September 1, 2005 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, August 31, 2005 at 6:41 p.m.
Welcome to the first Economic Empowerment column. Many of the issues discussed here will be generated by input from you and others in the community.
Decisions made by elected and appointed officials, business leaders and individuals regarding their personal finances form the twists and bends in a maze called the economic marketplace. One must be informed and able to apply the information in order to successfully navigate this maze. Hopefully, this column will provide some of the tools necessary for proactively engaging in the marketplace.
I will address a range of issues, such as preparation for retirement, stock ideas, credit, bankruptcy, investments, governmental initiatives and legislation, and provide comments from professionals in these areas. My initial columns will focus on economic development plans and initiatives in east Gainesville.
Economic development in this area has been a topic of public discussion for years, especially among elected and appointed officials. The accomplishments on the east side are not as progressive as many of us would like to see. It is clear there are many obstacles facing those of us eager to see financial growth here.
The pros and cons of economic opportunities in east Gainesville have been extensively studied, published and documented, as evidenced by the following list of surveys, reports and action plans: East Gainesville Development Action Plan (November 19907), Duval Neighborhood Action Plan (April 1999), Lincoln Estates Neighborhood Action Plan (March 2001), East Gainesville Redevelopment Plan (May 2001), Plan East Gainesville (May 2003), East Gainesville Market Development Analysis Report (December 2003).
While these documents - available for review through the city of Gainesville's Economic Development office - are not all-inclusive, they are symbolic of the enormous effort people have put forth to evaluate the viability and potential of the area. The intent of the east Gainesville Market Development Analysis (EGMDAR) was to define the various assets and liabilities of east Gainesville. It is perceived by some as a high crime area; however, based on statistics in the EGMDAR between Jan. 1 and June 30, 2003, only 1,311 (16 percent) of 8,220 major crimes occurred in here.
During this same period, west Gainesville, north Gainesville and the central corridor recorded the respective major crime statistics:1,791 (22 percent), 2,399 (29 percent) and 2,719 (33 percent). The data clearly contradicts the prevailing perception of crime within the city. That perception has plagued economic development in the area.
For example, the report states that the Florida Survey Research Center conducted a survey in which employees working in east Gainesville were asked to indicate reasons for not considering the purchase of a home here. Almost three-quarters (74 percent) said a concern for crime was the primary reason for their unwillingness.
The impact of this erroneous perception and others can't be easily measured; after all, countless economic development initiatives have been made based on this negative and inaccurate assumption. I hope my columns will serve to counter some of the negative stereotypes about east Gainesville.
Cain Davis owns Diversified Consulting Concepts Inc, a Gainesville firm providing training in team building, leadership development and diversity programs.

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