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- 2012 - September - 17th -

Local vision lessons, advice from San Antonio

by David Chapman, Staff Writer

Jacksonville Community Council Inc. launched its JAX2025 community-led visioning effort Friday with words of advice and experience from someone who is a couple of years ahead of the local curve.

Darryl Byrd, executive director of San Antonio 2020, a similar visioning process developed for the Texas city with the assistance of JCCI officials, spoke to a capacity crowd at the Schultz Center for Teaching and Leadership about what to expect and how the local community can help mold the city they want to see.

San Antonio 2020, referred to as SA2020, launched in September 2010 in the same fashion that Jacksonville’s study is: through six months of community response via survey about what locals want — and don’t want — the city to emphasize and improve.

Byrd said in an interview Friday that when the SA2020 program launched, the hope was to receive about 1,000 responses. They did five times better, receiving almost 5,000 responses.

“Anything less than that (1,000 responses), would have been a failure. We were blown away,” Byrd said.

Byrd said he sees similarities between San Antonio and Jacksonville, but thinks Jacksonville’s efforts will show some differences in what locals want their city to become.

“Every big city in America has different challenges and opportunities,” Byrd said.

Economic competitiveness, education and downtown development were among the 11 narrowed topics San Antonio responders selected to emphasize.

Ben Warner, JCCI executive director and CEO, said Thursday he hopes the Jacksonville effort will net 10,000 responses and also said he believes the local study will show topics distinct to the area. The survey is available at jax2025.org.

Byrd said one the bigger challenges and pieces of advice for the Jacksonville effort would be to not lose the passion for the cause immediately after the six-month survey period ends. After the SA2020 survey period ended, Byrd said it wasn’t until fall 2011 when energy levels again picked up.

“Never letting your foot off the gas,” Byrd said.

Implementation for SA2020 has been under way for some time and technology is one of the more effective ways in linking people to needs. Opportunities for volunteering and donations are constantly updated and response has been positive, Byrd said.

He also said it’s important that volunteers and participants know their efforts are working, and SA2020 calculates progress results — more than 65 indicative metrics — and news of San Antonio’s 11 different topics.

“It’s a Return on Investment report,” he said. “Here’s what happened.”

As for why Jacksonville residents should participate, Byrd said the answer often lies within family.

“Look at your child, your grandchild,” he said. “Make Jacksonville the city you want to see it and give them an opportunity to be successful.”

To see the San Antonio 2020 website, visit sa2020.org.

dchapman@baileypub.com

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