By Roger Caldwell
Mayor Buddy Dyer and his team have created an innovative initiative, and is one of the strongest plans for economic development in the country. The Blueprint is a collaborative effort which is inclusive of the many diverse segments of the Orlando demographics, and the African American population specifically. Its goal is to provide access to contracting opportunities for Minority/Women Owned Businesses and intends to accomplish this through job-training opportunities.
There are four Community Based Organizations who will have the responsibility to engage the residents in the community with the opportunities available through the Blueprint. The four Community Based Organizations are 1) Center For Change Inc, 2) Church and Community Assistance Program, 3) Community Service Center Of Central Florida, Inc, and Nehemiah Educational and Economic Development Inc.
This is an historic achievement for our community and it provides hope and job opportunities were there were none. It is time for all segments of our community to get involved and infuse a vision of opportunity in the African American community. The lines of communication exist with the Community Based Organizations and they cannot be successful unless there is excitement and a “can do attitude” in our communities’ mind-set.
It is too early in the initial phases of the Blueprint’s benchmarks and goals as it relates to the minority community in general and the African American community specifically, but the commitment is there and funds have been allocated. In order to build a successful relationship and partnership, it will take both sides. In order for our community to benefit from the Blueprint, we must be engaged and mobilized by our community leaders.
The Venues Blueprint is a massive and monumental economic revitalization program in the Parramore Community and will energize the community with jobs, resources, and opportunities. The 1.1 billion dollar project will happen with our involvement if our community is organized, and mobilized to take advantage of the opportunities through information and education. It is time to get busy, get engaged, get motivated, get organized, and talk to our District 5 City Commissioner Daisy W. Lynum, and Director of Urban Development Walter Hawkins.
Daisy Lynum and Walter Hawkins are both Black and their offices and phone numbers are accessible and they will take time to sit down and discuss concerns and issues which affect the Parramore Community. The wheels turn slow in the challenging political environment of Orlando with community programs and initiatives. There are concerns at this juncture if the Blueprint will be able to deliver on its aggressive plans and goals.
At this point there are more than 31 percent of the contracts with the Blueprint Venues that have been awarded to Minority/Women Owned Businesses. This is a tremendous accomplishment and the partnership with the Blueprint Venues is not just dialogue, but a reality with signed contracts and minority participation. At this date 7 million dollars in contracts have been given to Minority/Women Owned Businesses.
In July the new Orlando Magic Arena had its groundbreaking ceremony, and set the wheels in motion for a significant economic revitalization project that can provide jobs and improve lives. It is too early to make an assessment and give out a report card. The elements and resources are in place to shape the vision of the future of this city.
The Blueprint Plan at this point appears to be transparent with accountability, and with formidable challenges with a project of this magnitude. Every segment of our community must stay informed and be educated on their role in the project. Partnerships and relationships will grow with time and everyone must be involved in this project for the long haul.
The Black Partnership at its joint Town Hall Meeting is an excellent example of keeping the community engaged, informed, and educated. The city and venue partners have newsletters and announcements to keep the community involved. The success of the projects and the distribution of contracts and jobs will be determined by the targeted/minority community organization and mobilization.
There are times in history when conditions and opportunities exist that can change the course of hundreds of people lives in a short time. The City of Orlando is providing that opportunity “Now.”