Labor Day: Neighborhood a historic job center

Labor Day: Neighborhood a historic job center

 

By Susanna P. Barton –
Resident Community News –

September is time to celebrate fall and get back into summer mode with the long Labor Day weekend. On the first Monday of September, residents show their appreciation for their jobs and life’s daily grind by stepping away from them — perhaps with a getaway to the beach or an excursion on the St. Johns River.
According to the U.S. Department of Labor, Labor Day “constitutes a yearly national tribute to the contributions workers have made to the strength, prosperity and well being of our country.” And in the Historic District, we applaud employers and workers who have been making the neighborhoods strong, prosperous and in good standing since the early 1900s.
Some of the biggest job centers over the years have been the neighborhood hospitals and medical offices. St. Vincent’s HealthCare, founded in 1916 when the Daughters of Charity took over DeSoto Sanitorium on 5th and Boulevard streets, was one of the first hospitals in Jacksonville and established a School of Nursing in 1919. The 42-bed St. Vincent’s Hospital later moved to Riverside in 1928 — launching the hospital system’s presence in the neighborhood with its $1 million, 200-bed hospital on the St. Johns River.
Thousands of nurses, medical specialists, doctors and hospital administrators have been employed by St. Vincent’s since its early-1900s founding. Today, St. Vincent’s operates two area hospitals — St. Vincent’s Riverside and St. Vincent’s Southside (the former St. Luke’s hospital) and employs about 750 full-time equivalents with a $325 million payroll, according to marketing director, David Meyers.The hospital also is creating more than 700 construction jobs with the development of St. Vincent’s first Clay County hospital. The economic impact to the Clay County community is roughly $50 million to $70 million, he said. The Clay County hospital is scheduled to open in October 2013.
Other big job creators in the Riverside Avondale community over the years include finance and insurance companies like Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Florida, Independent Life Insurance and Fidelity, as well as many of the state’s prominent banks. In particular First Guaranty Bank, which reopened earlier this year as CenterBank, has a rich neighborhood history providing capital local businesses needed to expand — creating additional job opportunities for local residents.
A celebration of the nation and neighborhood’s laborers would not be complete without a shout out to those who employ them. And at the heart of this group are the local shop, restaurant and business owners who have job creators for decades.
A look at early photos from these neighborhood commercial corridors shows healthy, thriving businesses that provided many people with opportunities for employment. That trend continues today. Over the summer, Black Sheep restaurant group announced plans to hire more than 60 people for its new 5 Points restaurant. The new restaurant openings in the Park & King street area — including Lola’s, Pele’s Wood Fire and the planned Goozlepipe & GuttyWorks, also are providing important new job options for local residents.
For most people, Labor Day is a time to relax and enjoy the fruits of labor. But the holiday also is a time to remember all the business owners, professionals and companies in the neighborhood who are committed to providing neighborhood goods and services. And there’s no better way to say thanks than by buying local.

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