Editor’s Note: New Beginnings is our annual update on progress in the fields of business, health and education. We invite you to follow along with the news of the day in 2023 through our print and digital outlets: The printed edition of the Jacksonville Progress, our homepage at www.jacksonvilleprogress.com and our Facebook page at www.facebook.com/JacksonvilleProgress.

Jacksonville has seen significant activity in the retail sector over the past year. Driving down South Jackson or through downtown, you’ll see many new retail establishments and restaurants either open for business or nearing completion. The Jacksonville Economic Development Corporation’s board of directors has partnered with private businesses on many of these endeavors and looks forward to seeing each succeed.

Since the inception of the Downtown Redevelopment Grant, JEDCO has assisted 11 businesses downtown to redevelop underutilized or dilapidated buildings. Grant funds are awarded as a 50% match of expenditures, up to a maximum of $50,000 per project. Most recent recipients include:

Food and Table/Forrest Designs – 107 E. Commerce Street – Now Open

This new business is a unique experience: part retail store selling artisan custom woodwork, part lunch spot/private-dining sushi restaurant. The project was awarded $50,000 for the redevelopment of the building.

Davenport Home + Design – 113 E. Commerce Street – Coming Soon

Business owners John Davenport and Duncan Watson describe their new business as "a design store that offers elevated and thoughtfully-designed furniture and home decor. Our mission is to create a space where form and function come together to get comfortable." The JEDCO Board of Directors approved the award of a DRP grant for up to $50,000.

Roma Italian Bistro - 318 S. Ragsdale – Coming Soon

Located directly across the street from City Hall, this Italian Bistro will bring a new cuisine downtown.  Currently scheduled to open in March, Roma was awarded a DRP grant for up to $50,000. 

201 & 203 E. Commerce – Coming Soon

The buildings most recently known as the “Circle of Ten” have been purchased and are undergoing a complete renovation. The project will feature four units upstairs on the 2nd floor designated for short-term rental with retail space on the street level. The project was awarded two DRP grants of up to $50,000 for the redevelopment of the building.

RITUAL Labratorium & the Soda Fountain of Youth – 221 S. Main Street – Coming Soon

Whitney Graham, of RITUAL, is undergoing a new business venture downtown. The establishment will be part apothecary, part soda fountain and part ice cream shop. Whitney says “the goal of the soda fountain is to transform people’s health one beverage or food item at a time, using time-honored traditions and whole foods with no preservatives.” The JEDCO Board of Directors approved the award of a DRP grant for up to $50,000.

What’s important to note is that for each of the grants awarded above, the business owners invested more than $100,000 of their own capital to complete the project and receive the grant. While the grant award is a contributing factor, these new businesses were driven by local entrepreneurs seeking to make Jacksonville a better place, by providing new amenities to those who live locally and attracting people from outside the area to come and experience what Jacksonville has to offer.

Outside of downtown, we have also seen significant progress with JEDCO playing a part in many of the new businesses along our commercial corridors.

Super 1 Foods  - 921 S. Jackson – Now Open

Jacksonville is the fortunate recipient of a “flagship” Super 1 Foods. The Brookshire Grocery Company chose our store to test out a new model. Inside you’ll notice unique touches such as tomatoes incorporated into the décor, a wall of jerseys honoring professional and college athletes from Jacksonville. A coffee bar, fresh sushi, a full meat and seafood counter, and many other elements not found in other Super 1 Foods stores. The project was a major investment in Jacksonville and brought with it more than 200 new jobs. The JEDCO Board of Directors assisted this project with a $50,000 grant for the demolition of dilapidated structures. Providing quality choices and fresh food options to the citizens along with expanded employment opportunities were some of the key factors in the Board’s approval.

Starbucks – 598 S. Jackson – Now Open

An iconic coffee chain and market leading indicator, Starbucks opened in late 2022. The store resulted in the demolition and removal of multiple dilapidated structures and the redevelopment of property along Jacksonville’s main commercial corridor. JEDCO assistance included an award of a demolition grant for two structures totaling approximately $20,000.

Comet Cleaners – 305 S. Jackson – Now Open

When Wilson’s Dry Cleaners closed its doors in 2022, Jacksonville lost an important service business. Understanding the need, JEDCO staff actively began recruiting a new dry cleaner. Through these efforts, the owners of Comet Cleaners in Tyler decided to redevelop the Wilson’s building and bring their brand name to Jacksonville. JEDCO’s assistance included the award of $50,000 for the redevelopment of the building. The end result of the project is a beautifully remodeled building and property, enhancing the look of the S. Jackson corridor and filling the void left by the closing of Wilson’s. 

Masna Plaza – 517 E. Rusk – Coming Soon

Located on the former El Regio restaurant site, two new commercial strip center buildings will provide an opportunity for new retail and restaurant options. The project will include two buildings, each approximately 6,000 square feet, with the second building also including drive-through windows on each end of the building.  Building number 1 is currently under construction and is slated to be ready for leasing in approximately six weeks. The developer has chosen an attractive design and the use of brick and stone on the facade. JEDCO staff is assisting with recruiting future tenants, and the board of directors approved a $10,000 demolition grant for removal of the former structure.

While these are just a few of the projects JEDCO has assisted with and worked on over the past year, the funding awarded by the board of directors shows they’re committed to helping Jacksonville’s economy grow. New businesses bring capital investment, additional sales tax, jobs and improve quality of life.

“It’s all about making Jacksonville a better place. That’s why we serve” said Darrell Dement, Chairman of the Board for JEDCO. “We want to be a resource for those looking to open a new business or expand one that’s here today.”

If you would like to learn more about JEDCO visit our webpage at www.jacksonvilletxedc.com.

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