Youth Jobs Training Planned For Evans Center
By Space Coast Daily // March 27, 2014
BUSINESSES CAN REAP BENEFITS FROM INVESTING IN PROJECTS
BREVARD COUNTY • PALM BAY, FLORIDA — Businesses now have the opportunity to make a huge impact in Northeast Palm Bay through support of the Evans Center project that seeks to create a health clinic and fresh food market in the Bayfront Community Redevelopment Area (BCRA).
Significant business tax credits are available for all donations toward this project if made during the business tax year that includes July 1, 2014.
Tax credit applications must be submitted between July 1 and July 15 in order to receive immediate benefits. Donating to this project promises to not only pay rewards for those investing in the community but will have long term positive impacts towards the future well-being of the entire community.
“The process is fast, easy and there is a great return on investment,” said Mike Shah, CEO of SE Petro Distributors. “I donated $15,000, completed the application form, and received $6,190 back within a few months!” Shah adds that there is a rare benefit to Florida businesses that contribute citing they can receive up to 50% return on their investment in the form of tax credits or cash from sales tax refunds.
The Evans Center master plan calls for a health clinic through a collaboration with the Brevard Health Alliance. It also calls for a market featuring fresh foods and classrooms for youth job training. This market will double as a training ground for students who have completed the jobs training curriculum.
“Evans Center is a ‘win-win’ for residents as well as for our broader, Brevard community,” said Palm Bay City Manager Sue Hann. “It is located within the BCRA and the city’s Enterprise Zone. We see the Evans Center as a strong community anchor that will provide services within walking distance of north Palm Bay and South Melbourne residents.”
The city of Palm Bay is a vital partner on the Evans Center project as it owns the land and is providing a long term lease to facilitate construction and operation of the planned facility.
Mike Williams, CEO of MHWilliams Construction is committed to being the project’s general contractor and has agreed to donate time and resources to construct the facility at cost.
There are close to 5,000 residents within a one mile radius of the Evans Center site. Forty-eight percent (48%) of households earn less than $24,999 annually, and 68% own one or no vehicle. According to the USDA the area is deemed a “food desert”, because it lacks adequate access to fresh, affordable foods needed to maintain a healthy diet.
“The closest grocery store is 1.4 miles away. That is a long journey for seniors or young mothers without transportation,” said Evans Center Chairman Alan Prestwood. “It is a shame that they choose between paying a taxi to go to the store, or opt for unhealthy, expensive alternatives closer to home.”
Adults and children living in designated “food desert” areas have disproportionately higher rates of life-threatening conditions such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes and obesity. Accessibility to affordable health care is also a challenge, notes Lisa Gurri, CEO of the Brevard Health Alliance.
Currently the Brevard Health Alliance (BHA) mobile clinic visits the community one day per week. Once Evans Center is constructed, BHA will have a permanent presence. Gurri estimates the Evans clinic will receive 3,500 annual patient visits. Patients will contribute to their own care through sliding scale fees.
As capital funds are raised, Evans Center leaders are responding to the urgent need to provide basic job training for youth, ages 16 – 24. Using the nationally recognized “Jobs for Life” curriculum, they plan to launch a pilot program for ten students in 2014 at a temporary site through the efforts of Doreatha Fields, Founder of Diamond Community School just south of the Evans Center.
In recent years, resident leaders of the Powell Subdivision Neighborhood Watch and Congregations for Community Action, working alongside Palm Bay officials, have made great strides to improve safety and strengthening community bonds.
NOW IS THE TIME SUPPORT THE CAUSE
The Evans Center is an outgrowth of these successes. Evans Center is being managed through the development phase by the Brevard Neighborhood Development Coalition (BNDC).
Business donations should be made payable directly to Evans Center in order to qualify for the tax credit program. BNDC will help the donor with the application required to receive the tax advantages.
“Now is the time to support this campaign!” said Lynn Brockwell-Carey, BNDC executive director and manager for the Evans Center project. “In 2012 and 2013, donors to economic development projects like Evans Center received returns of 41% and 40%.”
The opportunity is available to businesses that pay Florida corporate income taxes, Florida insurance premium taxes and any business that collects and remits sales taxes. Donations of cash or equipment/goods can qualify.