For a Small Economic Development Investment, Jackson County Has Realized Huge Benefits
By Sid Riley
The Jackson County Development Council was initiated in Jackson County in 1994, as a part of a federal program initiated under the U.S. Dept. of Agriculture during the Clinton Administration. At that time, certain rural communities which were deemed to be in an economically distressed situation due to significant declines in the employment which were primarily caused by reductions in the textile and farming industries, were made eligible for special financing programs. These programs could be used to improve conditions in those designated areas. Portions of Jackson County met their criteria for being "distressed", with a poverty rate in excess of 30%.
This led to the establishment of the J.C.D.C. which was initially armed with $3,000,000 in federal funding for a ten year period, to be used for establishing a locally funded, self-sustaining function which would continue to work to increase jobs and reduce poverty in the area. In our case, that goal was achieved.
Through coordination with "Enterprise Florida", other state economic development agencies, and local businesses and political officials, the JCDC has been able to achieve economic gains for our area which earned them national recognition.
When the federal funding ended in 2004, the City of Marianna and Jackson County provided $250,000 in annual funding to continue the economic development effort, which was headed by Bill Stanton. That has proven to be a very wise investment for our area. Several examples of the wisdom of this decision which was made by our County Commissioners and the City of Marianna Commissioners are shown below. The industries listed below are a partial listing of the accomplishments of the JCDC thus far. These industries represent significant additions to our local industrial community and are here as a direct result of the work of the JCDC Director Bill Stanton and the local project teams which were formed for each project. In combination, they are currently having a tremendous impact on our local jobs availability, our local tax revenues, and the general health of our communities. Without the impact of these economic development successes, our area would be sinking much deeper into the recessionary sink hole.