Michael H. Morris: Entrepreneurship can reduce poverty in Gainesville

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The cycle of poverty remains a vexing community challenge across our nation, and Gainesville is no exception. The overall poverty rate in the United States is about 13.5 percent, representing 43.1 million people, while among African Americans it was 24.1 percent.

Within Gainesville, the picture is more striking. In 2015, 38.1 percent of the residents of the city lived below the poverty line, while 21 percent had income that was below 50 percent of the poverty level. For African Americans residing in Gainesville, 43.1 percent are below the poverty line.

We can also observe clear geographic concentrations within Gainesville. Poverty rates in four key ZIP codes are 29.15 percent (32641), 21.88 percent (32603), 20.73 percent (32601) and 18.5 percent (32609). Geographic patterns of poverty in Gainesville have been well-documented, notably in a health-focused inter-disciplinary mapping initiative pioneered by Dr. Nancy Hardt of the University of Florida College of Medicine. In addition, the North Central Florida Coalition for the Homeless and Hungry reports the homeless population in Gainesville numbers just over 2,000.

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