TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WCTV) — The Tallahassee Chamber of Commerce held a community conversation on Thursday, discussing poverty in the area.
Representatives from Leon County schools, Second Harvest, the real estate community, and city and county leaders attended.
Many said the community is divided along economic lines.
Speakers discussed the importance of early childhood education, as well as ongoing projects in the South Side and Bond communities.
The Bond Community is receiving more than six million dollars from the CRA. It’s a neighborhood where the median income is just barely more than $17,000.
61% of residents in the Bond community rent their homes, rather than own. 21% of homes are currently sitting vacant.
“It’s shocking when we see the numbers that 43% of our population are at ALICE or below,” said speaker Talethia Edwards.
The ALICE population is those who live above the poverty line, but whose salaries do not cover costs of living.
Edwards is the president of the Bond Neighborhood Association, and has been instrumental in the creation of the Bond Neighborhood First Plan.
“Citizen engagement is key to this revitalization, right? And so it wards off gentrification, and it’s led from the citizen perspective,” explained Edwards.
Major parts of the plan kick off in August.
“We’re going to break ground for the linear park,” said Edwards.
The grant applications for the residential facades, allotting residents funds to fix up parts of their homes and yards, open on August 1.
“Most times this conversation happens about economic development and the growth of Tallahassee happens without neighborhoods like Bond and the South City, so I’m happy we were included in this conversation,” said Edwards.
Other speakers discussed the importance of early childhood education, and the need for volunteers and mentors in Leon County Schools.
The major focus was getting people from all parts of the community involved.
“The Chamber of Commerce is committed, and really it’s our business community, and our members as a whole, of working with our entire community to really identify needs of the community so that there’s economic prosperity for everyone,” said Chamber of Commerce President Sue Dick.
The third and final community conversation stemming from the City’s trip to Greenville will focus on development of and around the Tallahassee Airport. That meeting is scheduled for late July.