Who's Most Vulnerable to the Economy?
By Dan Breitwieser, WCJB TV 20 News.
Palatka is the second most vulnerable town, according to stats compiled by Forbes Magazine. City leaders say the raw data doesn't include all the other things they are doing to encourage the economy.
The magazine added up five factors, median income, unemployment, poverty, outstanding mortgage debt and education, among 141 cities and surrounding areas that average 65,000 to 188,000 residents. Palatka is second worst.
"Perhaps the people writing the magazine know more than I do," says Mary Rhadigan, owner of The Art Shoppe and Gallery in Palatka. "But for my viewpoint, i don't see we have a problem here."
Palatka lost the most points in the median income and education categories. Only 14.8% of city residents have an associates degree or higher, 10 percentage points below the average of the other towns. The median income of Palatka is $32,121. That's almost $13,000 less than the average of other cities at $44,817.
"Numbers and statistics are what they are," says Palatka Mayor Karl Flagg. "But the truth of the whole matter is we look at everything as being versatile and not vulnerable."
Flagg points to $20-million in improvements in the works to the water treatment facility, wastewater plant and the airport--all to make Palatka more attractive to business.
"The important thing is that we supply qualified workers for the industries that we have," says Putnam Chamber of Commerce President Wes Larson. "And we have many good industries that pay very good wages."
But Palatka's main thoroughfare remained quiet on a Monday afternoon.
"I think, if anything, they've given us some really good advertising," says Rhadigan.
Palatka is not the only Florida city that is on the list. Key West is the second Least Vulnerable city and Lake City is in the middle of the pack at number 95...closer to the least vulnerable end of the spectrum.
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