Bradenton redevelopment agency hears positive reports

cnudi@bradenton.comJanuary 25, 2013 

BRADENTON -- Lacking a quorum, the Central Redevelopment Agency board could not take any action at a meeting Thursday, but did hear positive reports on its retail plaza project.

Presentations were given to the three board members in attendance, Lynette Edwards, Vincent Foderingham and the Rev. Edward Leftwich on the status of the grocery store to be built on the former site of a youth center, the success of a jobs training program, and an update on the work of a CCRA partner, Suncoast Community Capital.

Agency Director Tim Polk said the leasing agency, Wagner Realty, handling the rental of the storefronts at the retail plaza the CCRA is developing on First Street and 13th Avenue West, has possible leads on a furniture store, a restaurant and a hair salon.

These contracts would be for five years and are only waiting for the final agreement between the contractor, NewStart, and the federal agency arranging the financing, Mew Market Tax Credit Fund, Polk said.

"The big sticker (slowing down the construction) is the negotiations between NewStart and the syndicator (New Market Tax Credit)," he said.

Polk said he has communicated with the two parties the urgency and importance of moving the project forward. Also in the works, he said, is a call to artists for public art pieces to be included in the design of the project.

Mireya Eavey, executive director of CareerEdge Funders Collaborative, reported that in the two years the jobs training organization has been a partner of the CCRA, the $200,000 agency grant has been leveraged into more than $6.6 million in benefits to the community.

CareerEdge has been able to solicit grants from such companies and organizations as Suncoast Community Capital, Microsoft, Jane's Trust and Bank of America.

In the program's healthcare sector, to date more than 1,274 people have been served, Eavey said, with training, completing more than 5,600 courses and earning more 3,604 certificates in partnership with three local employers, Manatee Memorial Hospital, Tidewell Hospice, and Planned Parenthood of Southwest and Central Florida.

Similar success was accomplished in CareerEdge's Bridges to Career program, with 481 people earning more than 1,020 certificates, resulting in 297 people placed in jobs, she said.

Mike Kennedy, director of CCRA partner Suncoast Community Capital, presented three public service announcement videos his organization produced to inform the public of the free Volunteer Income Tax Assistance tax preparations services that are available and the Earned Income Tax Credit many taxpayers are eligible to receive.

These PSA will hopefully be broadcast through Bright House Networks cable services, Kennedy said.

He also said a new option for free tax preparation is the Virtual VITA, accessible at www.myfreetaxes.com/manatee.

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