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New plan to band Jax Beach businesses together

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Updated: 7/03/2013 7:26 pm
JACKSONVILLE BEACH, Fla. -- Jacksonville Beach boasts a new sign welcoming visitors, but business owners say the coastal community still lacks an identity.

"We need to brand this downtown area with a name that we can use advertisingwise," said local business owner Bill Stevens.

Stevens has owned Beachside Swimwear -- a Jax Beach staple for 25 years. He says businesses need to do a better job banding together.

"Have a voice with the city and the citizens here," said Stevens. "Let them understand who we are and where we're at, which we haven't always been on the same page together."

Owners like Stevens are working on a new plan called Better Jacksonville Beach.

Its top priority is changing the perception that it's not safe, following a massive beach brawl on Memorial Day weekend.

"Get the families to feel like they want to come out here and they can feel safe being out here because there's activities for them," said Jon McGowan, the leader of the Better Jacksonville Beach plan. 

The group is still in its infancy but already has plans to host more family-friendly events.

"Have our own art walk out here and work with the local businesses and do what is so successful [in] downtown Jacksonville and at the Atlantic Beach and Neptune Beach intersection," added McGowan.

Stevens says this plan will succeed only if beach businesses band together.

The group is now taking suggestions from the public on what the downtown area should be named.

About a dozen beach businesses, including Beachside Swimwear, have boxes out in which to place suggestions.

The person who submits the winning name can win up to $600 in gift certificates to beach restaurants and shops.
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