The fund, aimed at sparking private investment in a long-neglected part of town, helped win African-American support for Mayor John Delaney's far-reaching $2.2 billion Better Jacksonville Plan in 2000.
The key findings:
- The program failed to meet its goals as a job-generator. Forty-seven percent of the companies receiving trust fund money either didn't create the number of jobs promised or failed to provide any proof of doing so - a program requirement. A review of records could find evidence of only 923 jobs spawned by the fund.
- The city gambled big on risky startups and lost. The failed bistro and car dealership-related ventures alone swallowed $5 million and haven't created a single job.
- Oversight was lax and requirements laid out to safeguard taxpayer dollars often were ignored. A $1.7 million facade grant program was under the control of one employee who ended up doctoring documents from contractors and forging signatures to steal $95,000.