JSU takes on many roles to improve West Jackson

Jackson State University is the fourth largest HBCU in the country. (Charles Smith/JSU)

Jackson State University is the fourth largest HBCU in the country. (Charles Smith/JSU)

The following excerpt is from the website of the Office of Policy Development and Research (PD&R) U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development:

Residents of neighborhoods immediately west of downtown Jackson, Mississippi, have established neighborhood associations, formed cooperative alliances, and collaborated with local institutions to improve social and economic conditions created by significant population loss and disinvestment over the past 40 years. Jackson State University (JSU), the fourth largest of the nation’s historically black colleges and universities and the largest anchor institution in West Jackson, is an important resource in the community’s revitalization efforts. The slowly recovering economy in the region and reduced state assistance limit how the university can assist in West Jackson’s revitalization. Nevertheless, JSU is committed to helping improve the state capital while also expanding its enrollment, faculty and staff, and academic programs. Although West Jackson residents hope that JSU’s growth results in their own economic betterment, they also worry that the expanding school might overtake the residential community they call home. In this push and pull between adversity and aspiration, the university and the community have found ways to make noticeable improvements that they hope will lead to even greater progress in the near future.

 The Center for University-Based Development

JSU has recently taken several steps to shore up its relationship with its neighbors. One step was to reorganize the university’s activities to improve community outreach. In 2012, then-president Carolyn Meyers created the Office of Community Engagement as a central point of contact with the community. At the same time, the university refocused its existing Center for University-Based Development (CUBD) from its original objective of campus development to redevelopment activities within one mile of the school that require community partnerships. In addition, JSU revised its master plan for campus development to reflect community wishes by directing university-related growth to the east, away from the established neighborhoods on the university’s other three sides.

The university’s most ambitious activity has been real estate development. One University Place, which opened in 2010, sits at a pivotal location between the eastern edge of JSU’s campus and downtown Jackson. The $18 million mixed-use project is the first major off-campus development in West Jackson in 30 years. Designed to be a new activity center that attracts residents and businesses to West Jackson, the 4-story building includes 78 apartments and 20,000 square feet of commercial space. All the apartments have been rented, although the occupied commercial space is down from its peak of 60 percent as businesses ending their initial 5-year leases adjust to their experiences in this new market area.

Click on the following link to continue reading: https://www.huduser.gov/portal/casestudies/study-03032017.html