Where do I stand?
Jon McGowan noted in his column this week in the Beaches Leader (2/22/2018) that "some of [my] views have unsettled the business community." I am not sure which views have the business community unsettled, but I would like to provide some clarity.
I am a strong supporter of local businesses. I frequent many local businesses, and I have since moving here. They are integral to enhancing our quality of life at the beach. When we (my husband and I) were looking to purchase a house, one of the main factors on deciding which house was right for us was the ‘walk score’ among the houses we toured. (The one we purchased had the highest score.) The ability to walk (or ride our bikes) to stores, restaurants, events, and bars are aspects I often note when people ask about where I live. And of course, I also mention the beach!
I am not anti-business; I am pro-resident. The two are not mutually exclusive. Indeed, to me businesses and residents are natural partners. However, in order for businesses to compete on the quality of their products and services, and not on benefits or advantages given to one and not another by government, they all need to play by the same rules. This helps to ensure that we, the residents, are getting top-notch services and goods from our local businesses. Vibrant, local businesses are a critical aspect of successful communities.
At the fore of all decisions facing City Council, the impact on us - the residents - should always be the first priority. This includes thinking of the long-term implications of issues on the quality of life in Jacksonville Beach. Since I moved here in 2010, candidates for local office have repeatedly asked how can we get more visitors to come to Jacksonville Beach, especially downtown. I think this is the wrong question. We should be asking how do we get more of our residents to frequent our local businesses and public space downtown? It is OUR downtown. When our residents are attracted to the businesses and events taking place there, they will also attract visitors, visitors who have the same interests as our residents.