After a detailed presentation by county staff on the state of the Glades, Palm Beach County commissioners agreed to move forward with an action plan to bring jobs to the impoverished communities of South Bay, Pahokee and Belle Glade.
While a majority of the discussion revolved around the lack of jobs in the Glades, Pahokee Mayor J.P. Sasser said local residents are making more money off government assistance programs than anything an entry level job would pay.
Commissioner Shelley Vana challenged Workforce Alliance to determine an accurate count of those without jobs. The unemployment rate is said to be as high as 44 percent in South Bay, compared to 9.7 percent countywide, but a specific count has not been provided.
“There’s no silver bullet to fix it,” said Commissioner Burt Aaronson. He suggested the county find an industry to target and recruit and offer it incentives to entice its businesses to move to the Glades.
Shawn Rowan of the Business Development Board said his agency put extra emphasis in recruiting businesses to the Glades, but three recurring issues stand in the way. The main problem involves an inadequate supply of commercial buildings with proper zoning. Rowan noted that one recent prospect found only one building in the Glades that would be sufficient for its business. Other challenges are the lack of incentives and the area’s high crime rate.
In addition to working with federal and local officials in trying to improve the Glades’ outlook, the county will ask Palm Beach State College to participate in the strategic planning process.
In other business, commissioners extended the moratoriumprohibiting new vehicle-for-hire companies in the county until May 25, 2013. With over 600 such companies in Palm Beach County — more than in more populated Broward and Miami-Dade counties — the moratorium was put in place to ensure existing companies can remain viable in the current economy.
During the moratorium, county staff will continue to work with the Vehicle for Hire Committee to make recommendations on how to make the industry safer and more efficient.
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