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Ben Warner

JAX2025 to introduce ‘Community Cabinet’

By Max Marbut, Staff Writer

The next chapter in the JAX2025 initiative to create a more vibrant Jacksonville will be unveiled at 6:30 p.m. tonight in Hemming Plaza during “Welcome to Actionville.”

Ben Warner, Jacksonville Community Council Inc. president and CEO, said the event will be a celebration of the one-year anniversary of the release of the JAX2025 community visioning report intended to be a plan to improve the community over the next 11 years.

Warner said the JAX2025 “Community Cabinet” will be introduced tonight. He described the group as “the advisory board for moving the vision forward.”

The cabinet is co-chaired by entrepreneur Ranaldo Allen; attorney and advocate against human trafficking Crystal Freed; and Abel Harding, a senior private banker at Wells Fargo.

“During the past year, a lot of work has been going on – mostly behind the scenes,” Warner said. “We’ve made progress, and it’s time to celebrate.”

Harding said the cabinet’s purpose is to “engage the community and guide the partners to work together.”

“That doesn’t happen without a guide,” he said. “Our role is to make sure everybody is talking, set goals, monitor progress and ensure accountability.”

The JAX2025 visioning process identified 10 “vision targets” based on input from more than 2,000 North Florida residents who participated in four public meetings leading up to May 18, when the report was published. Adding participation through surveys and Internet responses, more than 16,000 people contributed to the study, Warner said.

In June, JCCI hosted an “implementation orientation” to introduce four task groups to narrow the initial focus of the initiative to encouragement of bicycle and pedestrian transportation, working together for people, creating and supporting distinctive neighborhoods, and government openness and responsiveness.

Freed said the role of the cabinet is to put the vision created in the report into action and “help steer the community toward success.”

She said people are “ready for action” and there’s a different mindset in the community since JAX2025 was released.

“For a long time, Jacksonville has been perceived as stagnant. That’s no longer the case,” said Freed.

Warner said the event today also will expose JAX2025 to a new audience during Art Walk and serve as an outreach to get more people involved in supporting the initiative.

“It’s not that Jacksonville feels different, it is different,” he said. “We need to celebrate living in Jacksonville. It’s a great time to be in Jacksonville and a great time to be part of transforming the city.”

In addition to video presentations, performances by One Spark creators and a beer garden, Warner said community leaders, including honorary Community Cabinet chair Mayor Alvin Brown and City Council President Bill Gulliford, are scheduled to speak during the update on JAX2025 progress.

mmarbut@baileypub.com

(904) 356-2466

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