The Havana Community Development Corporation, Inc. (est. 2009) is a 501(c)(3) Florida not-for-profit public charity and community development corporation (“CDC”), having as its core mission the enhancement of the quality of life of the residents of Havana, Florida and surrounding communities, with an emphasis on economic development, jobs creation, health and wellness, youth, children and senior citizens initiatives, nutrition, life-long learning and sound environmental stewardship.
The CDC is headquartered in a 62,000 square-foot facility in the City of Havana, Florida and located on a 20- acre complex valued at $2,149,000.00, which formerly housed the city's first African-American high school, Northside High. The faculty and staff of Northside nurtured and educated the African-American community for 40 years through redistricting, integration and finally closure in 2003, when the school was shut down to facilitate reducing the number of high schools in Gadsden County, Florida, due to budget cuts and the overall economic condition of the County. This treasured gem of the African-American community in Havana remained vacant for 8 years until 2011, when it was purchased from the Gadsden County School Board by the Havana CDC. And even though it will require upwards of $3,000,000.00 in renovations and repairs, its acquisition and preservation is essential to the fabric and vibrancy of the entire Havana community.
Havana, a township in Gadsden County Florida, is the only predominantly African-American County in the State. The County's overall health rating is among the lowest in the State, ranking 64th out of 67 counties, largely attributable to poor health and wellness outcomes in the areas of diabetes, high blood pressure, heart related diseases, obesity and infant mortality. Unemployment in the County is 11.2%, nearly comparable to the State’s average of 11.9% and more than 2% above the national average of 9.0% . Poverty, extremely low graduation rates, joblessness and crime are pervasive.
Organized to address the many problems which plague Gadsden County, the Havana CDC is implementing programs which will bring about the needed change. The CDC is comprised of a mix of Northside High graduates as well as residents and philanthropists in the area who have an interest in preserving the facility and providing solutions to many of the problems outlined above. Given the size and condition of the facility the CDC purchased from the Gadsden County School Board, the first portion of the implementation phase will be devoted to renovation, hardening and" greening” of the physical plant. Once the physical plant is deemed fully ready for occupancy, the CDC will then focus its efforts on project implementation, including but not limited to opening a law enforcement substation, commencing an organic farming operation (designed to combine nutrition and physical fitness with sound eating habits to address the problem of childhood obesity), setting up a business incubation and development center (to house startup businesses and encourage the formation of small businesses), establishing an afterschool computer, homework and learning center, GED tutorial and job-readiness programs, and a senior citizens day care center.
Funding for operations and services will be pursued through private planned giving (e.g., wills and trusts), charitable foundations, grants, corporations, state, local and federal governmental entities, along with various fees for services and activities from an array of public-private and faith-based strategic partners.