Jacksonville City Council unanimously passed legislation on Wednesday that could encourage grocers to move to the city’s northwest quadrant to help contain so-called food deserts.
A food desert is any urban area where at least 33 percent of the population live a mile or more from a grocery store, according to Sunil Joshi, president of the Duval County Medical Society.
“Jacksonville itself has about 42 deserts and about 40% of them are in the Northwest Quadrant,” he said.
The Duval County Medical Society has advanced the measure to create an incentive program to attract supermarket developers.
Joshi said the goal of the bill is not only to give people access to healthy food, but also to potentially improve the entire area.
“The incentive package will hopefully not only include an incentive for the grocer to come to the area, but also an incentive for the grocer to hire people from the neighborhood to work, get health insurance and, in some ways, the infrastructure the grocery store area, “he said.
The legislation will use $ 3 million from the Economic Development Office, which was allocated by the city council last year, to help drive economic development in northwest Jacksonville.
The money will make up for some of the costs associated with things like initial upgrading or buying land. The idea is to mitigate some of the economic risks potential grocers would face by opening in the area.
“If we can motivate grocers just as we can companies to get downtown to make sure they are successful in earlier stages, they can potentially have lasting effects,” Joshi said.
Two city council committees recommended approval of the law.
Contact Abukar Adan at 904-358-6319, [email protected] or on Twitter at @ abukaradan17
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