Jacksonville Daily Progress
The seven-member Jacksonville Development Corporation Board — or JEDCO, as it is popularly called — recently relocated to a new office at 309 E. Commerce Street.
The new headquarters is more-or-less across the street from the organization's former headquarters at the Norman Activity Center, 526 E. Commerce St.
But the much-smaller and more out-of-the-way Norman Activity Center headquarters might as well have been a million miles away in terms of sending the wrong message to incoming businesses, as JEDCO's mission is to create jobs and bring capital investment into the community, officials said.
"It became apparent we needed a different setting if we wanted to attract businesses to Jacksonville," explained JEDCO President Darrell W. Prcin. "We determined this was the best existing structure to move it to."
The new HQ, which is only two doors down from City Hall in downtown Jacksonville, is a vast improvement, officials agree.
Jacksonville Finance Director Freddy Thomas — who also is member of the JEDCO board — said the remodeling cost of the new JEDCO building totaled $26,630.04.
"Of the total remodel costs, $10,313.76 or, 38.7 percent, was spent on flooring," Thomas said. "Remodel consisted of painting, flooring, electrical, ceiling, HVAC and sheetrock replacement. As noted, building had been vacant for several years and needed to be updated."
The JEDCO expenditures did not require City Council permission, but members kept council members in the loop about them nonetheless, City Manager Mo Raissi said.
The new JEDCO headquarters was last occupied sometime in 2006, when the code enforcement and utility administration stayed there.
When Raissi took over as city manager in 2006, he combined several city departments into one building — "one stop shopping" — and moved all occupants of this building to Felix Street.
"Since then, the building has been empty," Raissi said.
Rehabbing and refurbishing of the vacant building was necessary prior to JEDCO officials relocating to the new building about two or so weeks ago.
"We migrated computer files and records from the very small space we were in at Norman," Prcin said. "We had looked at this space for a couple of years and finally made the deacon months ago to make this transition."
Office space was allotted, lights were rewired, floors and ceilings were repaired and the building space was transformed into a posh new-looking office, according to reports.
The JEDCO board hasn't yet met in the new surroundings but is slated to conduct an official meeting Jan. 6.
JEDCO has seven members, all appointed by the Jacksonville City Council. Mayor Kenneth Melvin is allowed to appoint three members and each other council one member.
The mayor appointed chairman Barry Hughes, who has been there two and a half years, as well as Don Walker and Ed Snyder who have been on the board for a comparable amount of time.
Freddie Thomas also is on the board, appointed by District 2 Councilman Jeff Smith. Phil Caron is as well, appointed by District 4 Councilwoman Ann Chandler.
Member Phillis Wilburn was appointed by District 1 Councilman Hubert Robinson. Eddie Lee was appointed by District 3 Councilman Billy McDonald. (Both Wilburn and Lee have served two and a half years on the board.)