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April 3, 2014

Business owners brainstorm at community meetings in White Springs

Jasper — The town of White Springs recently held two community meetings, one at town hall and one at Pop’s Place on Sunrise Drive, to publicly announce the town’s intentions and actions through the Competitive Florida Partnership pilot program that they were recently chosen to participate in by the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity (DEO).

Local business owners were urged to attend, as well as elected and public officials and any other stakeholders. Julie Dennis, Sherri Martin, Matt Preston and Valerie Jenkins from the DEO were also in attendance.

“The objective is to help small, rural communities such as ours come up with a viable, workable economic development plan,” said White Springs Mayor Helen Miller.

Among the businesses represented at the first meeting were the Telford Hotel, Family Traditions, Poor Boys Power Company, White Springs Self Storage, radio station WJLN 88.7 and investor Scott Gay.

Mayor Helen Miller presided over the meeting and reviewed past planning efforts and accomplishments that included street paving, brick sidewalks and pavilions in the center of town on Bridge and Hamilton Streets, which was made possible by a $250,000 grant from the Hamilton County Economic Development Authority four years ago.

Miller also explained the ideas that were suggested in the 2010 Mayor’s Focus Group meetings, such as a storm shelter/multi-purpose center/charter school at the Carver School site, a health clinic/pharmacy, an eco-lodge/civic center, the Camp museum, Riverfront Park, a cafe district/folk center, a winery/cannery, and hotels and restaurants at the I-75 interchange. She also reviewed the projects worked on in recent years by the University of Florida and Florida State University.

The town is also trying to move an old, historic Gulf Oil Distributorship building from Jasper to White Springs that was donated to the town of White Springs by the Camp family estate. Miller explained that there is a lack of buildings in the town to encourage economic development. To help matters, the town was recently granted long-term sub leases of three state properties; the tourism center, the Delegal building and two plus acres that will accommodate the Camp Museum.

In the private sector, it was noted there have been many recent changes:

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