COLUMBIA - The Enhanced Enterprise Zone (EEZ) Advisory Board met at City Hall Tuesday night to discuss ways to create jobs and reduce poverty.
The Senior Scientific Programming Analyst, John Blodgett provided research and information to help the EEZ Advisory Board make decisions for improving Columbia.
Blodgett said they were supposed to share a map of Columbia showing the areas of poverty. But, there were some last minute fact checking decisions. Blodgett said the Office of Social and Economic Data Analysis will post the information on the website within the next few days.
The Vice Chairman of the EEZ Adivsory Board, Anthony Stanton, said he wants to make sure the Advisory Board is looking at the most accurate and recent data. According to the Office of Social and Economic Data Analysis, student housing is the area with the highest poverty population. Stanton opposed including students in the poverty population because they are a transient population.
The map of Columbia showing locations with poverty populations has not officially been released. But, Senior Analyst for the Office of Social and Economic Data Analysis, John Blodgett, said students are a "significant factor." He said students make up a large portion of the poverty population.
"We had some last minute glitches, so we decided we better make sure before we let that out," Blodgett said, "But what I saw showed high levels of poverty right down the center of the city of Columbia. Mostly centered along Providence Road and East Campus."
Blodgett suggested, "a poverty rate excluding students," to get a more accurate representation of the poverty levels in Columbia.
Stanton, agreed with excluding students from the poverty population. "They're poor in personal property, personal income, but maybe their parents or family is their primary source of income," he said, "So that kind of skews, who you really want to help. Our intent is to help the people who live here as residents."
But Stanton said there are priorities. "No I am not opposed to student employment," he said, "but there are people that have families here that need jobs."
According to Blodgett, the Office of Social and Economic Data Analysis is supposed to release the official poverty map of Columbia on it's website within the next few days.