Suwannee Democrat


May 8, 2014

White Springs focuses on eco-tourism

Stakeholders in Competitive Florida Partnership Program conduct asset mapping

Jasper — Community stakeholders, regional state departments, and representatives from the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity (DEO) met on Friday, April 25, to continue the process of mapping assets of the town of White Springs, as part of the Competitive Florida Partnership pilot program.

The town of White Springs was selected on Jan. 6, as one of only four rural communities in the state to participate in the first year of the Competitive Florida Partnership Program. The other three communities are the city of Port St. Joe, the city of Newberry, and Desoto County.

As a pilot community, White Springs accepted a support package from the state that included a DEO team to facilitate the process, $40,000 in technical assistance grant funding for asset mapping and a case study that will be completed on June 30, as well as travel funding for two community members to attend collaboration meetings with the other three pilot communities. Members of the DEO team are Julie Dennis, Matt Preston, Sherri Martin and Valerie Jenkins.

“The Competitive Florida Partnership provides our rural communities with the tools they need to work together and encourage economic development throughout the state,” Governor Rick Scott said at the onset of the project.
The objective of the program is to value and market local assets and set realistic goals for advancing  economic development, as well as design and develop innovative strategies to promote partnerships, community design, and a viable local economy.
The White Springs group has held several meetings since the kick-off on Feb. 1. At the April 25 meeting the group broke out into four separate teams who toured and took photographs of specific points of interest within the town, after which they met up again at the community center to bring their viewpoints to a collaborative table for discussion. The DEO team will take everything discussed and prepare a final case study, which will then be provided to the stakeholders that will detail the DEO team's recommendations.
“Our purpose here is to look for untapped potential, look for things that could be improved, and identify resources that as a state agency we have access to,” said Dennis.

Each group summarized their findings and below is a snapshot of their assessments:


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