Monday, March 30, 2009

Panama City International Airport Featured in Magazine

In about a year, the Northwest Florida Airways will be looking alot different. The Panama City International Airport is scheduled to be up and running and opening many doors to our region. If you are not excited, you should be. The areas of Destin, Santa Rosa Beach, Freeport, Defuniak Spring, and other communities in our area should be big benefactors. Take a look at what is coming.

Airport Featured in Magazine 03/30/09 - 09:30 AM Bay County, Fla:
Destin, Fla. (March 30, 2009) – Site Selection, one of the nation’s premier magazines of corporate real estate strategy and economic development activity, highlights the new Panama City-Bay County International Airport construction currently underway as “just one piece of a regional economic development story unfolding in Northwest Florida.” The four-page spread appears in the Florida Area Spotlight section of the publication’s March issue, currently in circulation. Written by Mark Arend, editor of Site Selection magazine, the article describes the events already unfolding and the possible ways the region will be transformed by the new airport.
The article entitled If We Build it, Will They Come describes the atmosphere surrounding the soon-to-be-completed commercial airport occupying 4,000-acres. Slated to open in May of 2010, it will replace the existing 745-acre Panama City airport and, upon completion, will become the country’s first international airport built in the U.S. since 9/11, also hoping to claim the unofficial title of “America’s Greenest Airport.”
The article also highlights opportunities related to the 75,000-acre West Bay Sector Plan, one of the largest mixed-use, planned development and conservation communities in the United States, that surrounds the airport. The West Bay Sector Plan, owned by St. Joe Company, will offer 37 million square feet of commercial and industrial space to aviation-related companies seeking close proximity to the airport’s 10,000 foot runway.
Florida’s Great Northwest is energized by these unfolding events “that could transform the 16-county Florida’s Great Northwest region into a new economic engine for the state and the U.S. southeast,” as stated in the article. In addition, “The Panama City-Bay County International Airport could serve as a key international transport and commercial hub for ALL of northern Florida and the deep Southeast,” said Arend, which will further support and strengthen the regional economic strategy.
“We are extremely pleased with Site Selection magazine’s recognition of Northwest Florida’s economic progress,” stated Florida’s Great Northwest President, Al Wenstrand. “Although the article focused on the Panama City area, the notoriety received from this nationally-respected magazine certainly promotes the region and highlights some of the exciting developments occurring in Northwest Florida,” said Wenstrand.
In addition to appearing in the magazine’s March issue, a full-version of the article can be accessed online at under the ‘also featuring’ section or on Florida’s Great Northwest’s website at listed under press and events, in the news.
The award-winning Site Selection magazine, published by Conway Data, Inc., is the official publication of the Industrial Asset Management Council (IAMC). The magazine delivers expansion planning information to more than 44,000 qualified readers and executives. Site Selection is available in a bimonthly print magazine, or on their web site at
Florida’s Great Northwest provides regional leadership in economic and workforce development, serving 16 counties in Northwest Florida from Pensacola through Tallahassee. Its primary mission is the creation of a diversified and sustainable economy in Northwest Florida that creates nationally and globally competitive advantages for the development of key industry clusters, increases the income and prosperity of workers and families and preserves the region’s vibrant quality of life.

Friday, March 27, 2009


This just illustrates the buyers are savvy and know what they are looking for in a home and a community. As I have said before, the customer controls the market with builders, developers, and investors listening loud and clear. It is time for us to prepare now. With the types of incentives being offered today, the growth of our area, and the reduction of military housing in our area, we must start now to meet our area's need now and in our future. The folks know where the Panhandle is now!

Survey: Households say now is good time to buy
Great Time to Buy Florida

ORLANDO, Fla. – March 27, 2009 – Out of 1,000 potential first-time home buyers, 78 percent say that now is a good time to buy a home, despite widespread concern about the economy. And 68 percent think now is a better time to buy than six months ago. The survey was conducted in early March for the Century 21 First-Time Home Buyer Survey. Prices are the driving motivation for potential first-time home buyers, with more than eight of 10 first-time home buyers (85 percent) saying they consider current home prices affordable, and 73 percent citing current prices as a major factor in their decision to buy now. However, potential first-time buyers are still split between “being willing to consider an offer now” (42 percent) and “waiting for prices to go down before they seriously consider making a purchase” (48 percent).“Current pricing, rates and incentives, such as the First Time Homebuyer Tax Credit, provide tremendous opportunities for first-time home buyers to get into the market,” says Tom Kunz, Century 21 Real Estate president and CEO. “Our research shows that while consumers still have concerns about the future of the economy, many are actively considering their options as we move into the spring selling season.”Among the survey’s other key findings:• Bargains in the marketplace provide additional options for buyers to consider. Fifty-six percent of potential first-time home buyers are considering a foreclosed or short sale home, and 63 percent are open to a “fixer-upper” or “as-is” home.• When asked to rate the features that they look for when choosing a home, price is the primary consideration, with 87 percent saying this feature is “very important,” followed closely by neighborhood safety (80 percent) and the home’s condition (71 percent).• Having enough money for a downpayment is a top concern of potential first-time home buyers, as nearly half (46 percent) said they are “very worried” about the issue.• Most respondents (86 percent) are in the market for single family homes.


Satellites Unlimited Inc (SUI), a Birmingham based installation and service company for Dish Network (satellite TV), has announced plans to open a new facility in the Okaloosa/Crestview Industrial Airpark. SUI has offices throughout Alabama, Mississippi, and Northwest Florida. SUI chose Crestview because of the job density, workforce availability, and access to major travel routes. SUE will employ 45 personnel at this location with 40 of them being technicians.

This is just one of a number of companies the Okaloosa County Economic Development Council is working with, to either expand their businesses or move their business to this unique business complex in the Southeast United States.

NOTE: This is not associated with BRAC. This is just a business, who has found out the benefit of working along the I-10 corridor.


If you didn't believe it before, you got to believe it now. With the building of the new 7th Special Forces Group Base, and I said BASE, you can be assured the Army is coming here in a big way. It also has been said by senior Eglin AFB officials, that additional Army troop could be expected. Remember folks, Eglin started as an "Army" base.

Breaking ground for the Green Berets
7th Special Forces Group will be moving to Eglin near Duke Field in Crestview

By MONA MOORE Northwest Florida Daily News 315-4443 EGLIN AFB — Poor weather could not keep the base from celebrating the new home of the Army 7th Special Forces Group (Airborne) Thursday afternoon. In a groundbreaking ceremony held indoors at the Air Force Armament Museum, Team Eglin welcomed the Green Berets. After last Friday’s Joint Strike Fighter groundbreaking, Maj. Gen. David Eidsaune, Air Armament Center commander, was pleased to cap off the week with a second BRAC-related ceremony. “I can’t think of a week where I’ve had more fun. It doesn’t get any better than this,” he said. Army Brig. Gen. Michael Repass remembers when he first read that the Base Realignment and Closure process would send the 7th SFG (A) to Eglin. His first thoughts were “that’s interesting. That’s going to be a clash of cultures,” he said during the ceremony. Where Eglin culture revolves around munitions and planes, Special Forces are all about people, he thought. Repass soon realized he was wrong. “This is where today’s heroes are,” Repass said. “I know when the Special Forces guys step onto Eglin Air Force Base, they’ll know they’re home.” It will be a home of their making. The new facilities mark the first time in the 7th SFG (A)’s 67-year history that facilities have been built to suit their specifications, said Lt. Col. Joe Tyron, commander of engineering for the Special Forces. “We’ve had a lot of user input from top to bottom,” he said. “We’re looking at a world-class facility.” The mission of the Special Forces has adapted since Sept. 11, 2001, and the features in the new 600,000-square-foot campus near Duke Field will reflect the changes. The cantonment will include a gymnasium, dining facility and two group headquarters. With more than 500 acres, the 7th SFG (A) will have room to grow. “It’ll be a city within a city,” said Kirk Hazen, vice president and southeast district manager at Hensel Phelps Construction Co. The Orlando-based company will serve as general contractors for the 30-month project. Crestview Mayor David Cadle said the city would be continuing to prepare for its new neighbors. “We’re very excited to welcome the 7th Special Forces,” Cadle said. “We think we will be ready and look forward to them coming.” Plans included a $15 million water expansion project and connecting roads to improve traffic, said Crestview Commissioner Linda Parkman. “Every little bit of asphalt helps,” she said.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009


Guess what folks. It is not all gloom and doom. As you can see, the real estate market is showing signs of life. In fact, in some areas, such are ours, the real buyers are coming off the bench and are getting into the game. With rates near record lows and choices near an all-time high, you just can't get any better deals now. With the rates and pricing being so low; any small changes in rates have very little change to your monthly payments. So, don't miss that great real estate opportunity because your waiting for another small reduction in the rates. Take a look at the Florida Sales News.

Florida’s existing home, condo sales rise in February 2009
ORLANDO, Fla. – March 23, 2009 – Florida’s existing home sales rose in February, making it the sixth consecutive month that sales activity showed increases in the year-to-year comparison, according to the latest housing data released by the Florida Association of Realtors® (FAR). February’s statewide sales also increased over January’s figures in both the existing home and existing condo markets.Existing home sales rose 20 percent last month with a total of 9,858 homes sold statewide compared to 8,181 homes sold in February 2008, according to FAR. February’s statewide existing home sales were 16.7 percent higher than January’s statewide sales.Florida Realtors also reported a 15 percent gain in statewide sales of existing condominiums in February, continuing a trend in recent months for higher statewide sales of both the existing home and existing condo markets compared to year-ago levels. Statewide existing condo sales last month increased 25.1 percent over the total units sold in January.Thirteen of Florida’s metropolitan statistical areas (MSAs) reported increased existing-home sales in February while 11 MSAs also showed gains in condo sales. It marks the eighth month in a row that a number of markets have reported increased sales.Florida’s median sales price for existing homes last month was $141,900; a year ago, it was $199,300 for a 29 percent decrease. Industry analysts with the National Association of Realtors® (NAR) report a significant downward distortion in the current median price due to many discounted sales, including a large number of foreclosures. The median is the midpoint; half the homes sold for more, half for less. The national median sales price for existing single-family homes in January 2009 was $169,900, down 13.8 percent from a year earlier, according to NAR. In California, the statewide median resales price was $254,350 in January; in Massachusetts, it was $321,000; in Maryland, it was $244,820; and in New York, it was $205,000.Significant variations in local markets continue, according to NAR’s latest housing outlook, which also notes that it will take time for the impact of the economic stimulus to show in housing data. “Some markets appear to have reached the tipping point of accelerating home buying,” said NAR Chief Economist Lawrence Yun. “Improvement from the economic stimulus isn’t likely to show as closed home sales before summer, although we may see an earlier lift from lower mortgage interest rates.”NAR analysts estimate the impact of the federal economic stimulus package and lower interest rates on the housing market to be about 900,000 additional home sales in 2009 compared to conditions before the stimulus package. By the end of the year, NAR expects inventory to fall below an eight-month supply, which would be consistent with home price stabilization.In Florida’s year-to-year comparison for condos, 3,198 units sold statewide compared to 2,785 sold in February 2008 for a 15 percent increase. The statewide existing condo median sales price last month was $109,300; in February 2008 it was $173,900 for a 37 percent decrease. In the latest data available at press time, NAR reported the national median existing condo price was $174,400 in January 2009.Interest rates for a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage averaged 5.13 percent last month, down significantly from the average rate of 5.92 percent in February 2008, according to Freddie Mac. FAR’s sales figures reflect closings, which typically occur 30 to 90 days after sales contracts are written. Among the state’s medium-size markets, the Fort Pierce-Port St. Lucie MSA reported a total of 372 homes sold in February compared to 263 homes a year ago for a 41 percent increase. The existing home median sales price was $122,100; a year ago, it was $172,900 for a 29 percent decrease. In the year-to-year comparison for the existing condo market, a total of 71 units sold in the MSA last month, up 22 percent compared to 58 condos sold the previous February. The market’s existing condo median price was $116,700; a year ago, it was $126,700 for an 8 percent decrease.

Saturday, March 21, 2009


Our own economic stimulus package has begun. With the work of the new Army 7th Special Forces Army Base and the groundbreaking of the Joint Strike Fighter facilities beginning, our area will be booming. Add, the privatization of military housing at Eglin, and you will see over 1 billion dollars of construction, yes 1 billion.

Breaking ground
Ceremony marks beginning of Joint Strike Fighter work

By MONA MOORE Northwest Florida Daily News 315-4443 EGLIN AFB — The Joint Strike Fighter groundbreaking Friday morning included nine flags, nine shovels and about a half dozen references to the base’s “good neighbors.” The ceremony at Eglin Air Force Base celebrated the start of nine construction projects related to the academic training center that will be home to at least 59 F-35s. The JSF mission has been lauded as the most efficient way for the United States and eight of its allies to prepare for the future. Presiding over the ceremony was Kevin W. Billings, assistant secretary of the Air Force for installations, environment and logistics at Air Force Headquarters. He used words such as affordable, sustainable, serviceable and lethal to describe the fifth-generation aircraft. “This is a huge deal,” he said. The JSF is the first time nine allied countries have shared in the development and the cost of producing a new aircraft. “That’s pretty momentous. It is a benefit to the American taxpayer,” said Maj. Gen. Charles Davis, executive officer for the F-35 Lightning II Program. In May, Davis will replace Maj. Gen. David Eidsaune as commander of the Weapons and Air Armament Center. The distant sound of jets overhead and the empty seats in the front row of city, county and state officials were faint reminders of the elephant at the ceremony. Still, lawsuits, noise data and absent Valparaiso city commissioners were not the topics of the day’s festivities. After the ceremony, Eidsaune mentioned the Air Force’s need to solve noise mitigation issues on base, saying he was “completely confident” a solution would be found. During the ceremony, Eidsaune discussed the program’s potential. “I foresee a bright future at Eglin and this is the first step in making that future real,” he said. Billings said the cooperation of Northwest Florida residents has been an integral part of the success of the JSF mission. “Our nation’s aviators had no greater friends than those in Northwest Florida,” he said. Fort Walton Beach Mayor Mike Anderson said he looks forward to the “many good sides” of the JSF mission, including an influx of students in local schools, tourism from foreign JSF partners and military construction. More than $146 million of military construction will be completed in the next 540 days. Nine facilities will house the initial program. Plans include a $5 million dining facility and $15.8 million dormitories that will accommodate 600 students. Air Force and Navy operations hangars with price tags totaling more than $58 million and a $55.8 million training center are expected to open by 2011. “It will literally be a schoolhouse of the future,” said Maj. Gen. Erwin Lessel III, director of plans, programs, requirements and assessments, and director of the San Antonio Joint Program Office, Headquarters, Air Education and Training Command. The construction project could grow to $400 million if 54 additional F-35’s come to Eglin. The scope of the project covers the current JSF Record of Decision. Once a final ROD is filed, the Air Force will build additional hangars.

Friday, March 20, 2009

State of Florida is Taking Aim to Boost Development

State of Florida has recognized that this economy will start when they begin to remove over regulations. The Florida Senate is moving ahead with a bill that will make this happen. Get ready folks, the economic engine is warming up fast in the Northwest Florida area. Senator Gaetz, a Northwest Florida Senator, is taking this ball and running with it. He has been very successful in the past and I expect he will be here, as well. I wouldn't be surprise, if he is our next Governor. He is from South Florida and has done a number of noticable things in the Northwest Florida area, as well. One being, the Superindentent of Okaloosa County Schools. One of the best in the State. Are you ready?

Fla. bill is aimed at boosting developmentMarch 19, 2009 18:17 EDT

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) -- Builders and developers could soon find it easier to build in cities across Florida.A Senate panel on Thursday approved a measure that would eliminate or streamline many regulations for builders seeking to put homes or businesses near cities.It would also make it easier to allow developments in rural areas if they create new jobs. Supporters contend the legislation is needed during a time when Florida's economy is failing. But environmental groups and those representing developers said they were not completely satisfied with the bill that next heads to the full Senate. Developers say the streamlined regulations don't apply to a big enough part of the state, while environmental groups remain worried it could encourage developments in areas that can't handle more growth.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

F-35 Strike Fighter to be a mainstay for Israel - What does that mean to Eglin? Read On.

The F-35 is becoming more and more popular to many U.S. friendly nations, which would be mean more and more of a demand on Eglin and the related defense contractors. With the training of the F-35 pilots set at Eglin for not only our U.S. pilots, but pilots of nine international partners, which include, Britain, Italy, the Netherlands, Turkey, Canada, Australia, Denmark, Norway and most likely Israel; it will make Eglin AFB a multi-national Armed Forces Base and a multi-service base, as well. Look out Okaloosa County, we could have our own EPCOT Center.

INTERVIEW-Israel said near compromise on F-35 fighters

* Israel said set to compromise on F-35 electronics
* Pentagon official says model to be tweaked for Israel
* Israel said likely to ink F-35 deal by early next year
By Jim Wolf
WASHINGTON, March 17 (Reuters) - Israel is close to dropping an effort to put its own electronic warfare know-how into Lockheed Martin Corp's F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, a mainstay of its future strike force, a Pentagon official said on Tuesday.
Incorporating Israel's system into the model being built for it "is not going to happen," said Jon Schreiber, who heads the program's international aspects.
"I think our system will meet their requirements with some tweaking, and I think they're starting to come around to that realization themselves," he told Reuters in an interview.
The issue is sensitive because senior Israeli military officials had maintained that their aircraft must incorporate electronic warfare technologies developed by state-controlled Rafael Advanced Defense Systems Ltd.
An Israeli embassy spokesman referred a caller to the Ministry of Defense, which could not be immediately reached for comment.
Dropping plans for incorporating sensitive Israeli technology onto the F-35 would be a significant departure for Israel. Israeli F-15s and F-16s were modified to carry Israeli electronic warfare, radars, munitions and command and control systems.
Israel is set to become a kind of trailblazer for the F-35, which is being developed by the United States and eight international partners: Britain, Italy, the Netherlands, Turkey, Canada, Australia, Denmark and Norway.
Israel has gone further than any non-consortium member toward acquisition, with plans to buy an initial 25 F-35A's in fiscal 2012 for delivery starting in 2014 and an option for 50 more.
The F-35 is a radar-evading, single-engine aircraft, designed to switch quickly between air-to-ground and air-to-air missions while still flying.
The models built for Israel would incorporate Israeli-made data links, radios and other command and control equipment, but not the electronic warfare suite, largely because of the high cost of integrating it, Schreiber said.
"They have pretty tight budget constraints and we're attempting to fit their requirements into their budget," he said. Officials from the Pentagon's F-35 joint program office met Israeli procurement officials in New York on Monday to discuss the program, Schreiber added without elaborating on their talks.
"We expect to get a revised letter of request from (Israel) within the next month or so," and anticipate that a government-to-government deal will be concluded by the end of this year or early next year, he said.
U.S. instructor pilots would join Israeli pilots to train at Eglin Air Force Base, Florida, on four of the aircraft built for Israel, Schreiber said. By early 2015, the U.S. instructors would transition to Israel to continue training pilots there.
Singapore, the other non-consortium member linked to the program through a special status, appears likely to start buying as many as 100 F-35s a year or two after Israel, Schreiber said.
He expected an agreement to be signed with Singapore within the next month detailing security safeguards for program information as a prelude to "more serious discussions" about acquiring the F-35.
"At this point, we don't have any indication from Singapore that they want to put anything unique in the airplane," he said. "They want to go with a plain vanilla airplane."
F-35 competitors include Saab AB's Gripen, the Dassault Aviation SA Rafale, Russia's MiG-35 and Sukhoi Su-35, and the Eurofighter Typhoon made by a consortium of British, German, Italian and Spanish companies
Lockheed's chief F-35 subcontractors are Northrop Grumman Corp and BAE Systems Plc. Two rival, interchangeable F-35 engines are under development. One is built by United Technologies Corp's Pratt & Whitney unit; the other by a team of General Electric Co and Rolls-Royce Group Plc. (Reporting by Jim Wolf; editing by Tim Dobbyn)

Saturday, March 7, 2009

New Airport Fix Base Operator putting Crestview on Aviation Map

Great job to the folks of Okaloosa County and specifically, Okaloosa County Airport Director Greg Donovan. Greg has been very successful in keeping the Bob Sikes Airport in Crestview on the map with the assistance of the Okaloosa County Economic Development Council. Bob Sikes Airport continues to be on the mind of the aerospace industry as a place for growth.

New airport FBO putting Crestview on aviation map
2009-02-26 14:00:00
Brian Hughes Crestview News Bulletin

When Jonathan Dunn told the committee tasked with awarding Bob Sikes Airport’s new fixed base operator (FBO) contract, “Putting the customer first, that’s my motto,” he wasn’t blowing smoke. Pilots have already taken note of the new airport FBO’s high level of customer service and attention to detail, and have responded positively. “The maintenance is top-notch, and so is the customer service,” said pilot Robert Tanner’s Feb. 13 post on, a Web site for pilots. “The fuel prices are much less than Destin. I heartily recommend CEW.”
(CEW is the FAA designation for Crestview Airport.) At the beginning of the year, Dunn’s company, Emerald Coast Aviation, took over FBO duties. Dunn, president and owner of Emerald Coast, is a bundle of energy with an engaging banter, a passion for service and a catchy English accent from his boyhood in London. Dunn loves airplanes and the people who fly them, fix them and maintain them. He has an eye for marketing to attract more general aviation traffic to Bob Sikes Airport’s refurbished terminal building. “He’s immediately advertising and starting to capture some of that ambient traffic,” observed county airports director Greg Donovan.
Hand in hand with attracting new traffic and supporting current customers is the $50,000-plus Emerald Coast Aviation has invested in refurbishing and furnishing the terminal building.
“In the days leading up to January 1, Jonathan gutted the fixed base operator offices and lounge,” Donovan said. “You wouldn’t even recognize it. He had dumpsters full of stuff. It’s pretty cool to see the progress he made in such a short amount of time.”
Read the full article in the Feb. 25 edition of the Crestview News Bulletin.

Gathered from public comments on
• “I…was very pleased by the prompt fuel service and the professionalism of the line staff. This is definitely a great place to stop and visit.” Christopher Cook, Jan. 8
• “These guys are true professionals and it's obvious that they love what they're doing. Oh, they don't rip your head off on fuel prices either.” Jim Cartwright, Jan. 13
• “Great FBO! Delivering a Musketeer from CA to FL stopped at Emerald Coast Aviation and was helped a lot. … They helped get us good motel rates, transportation service and they were happy doing it.” Robert Mohs, Feb. 9
• “The staff at Emerald Coast was very hospitable. They went above and beyond the call. We are very appreciative of their hospitality. Their acts of kindness were not unnoticed. We will recommend this FBO to anyone who is traveling in the area.” Todd Smith, Feb. 16

Wednesday, March 4, 2009


This is a great example of the international community finding Okaloosa County and the surrounding Florida panhandle home. With the hard work of the Economic Development Council hardwork more folks from around the world are finding this area and making an investment in the community.

Swedish expo aims to link business ventures
By THOMAS J. MONIGAN Northwest Florida Daily News 315-4438

OKALOOSA ISLAND — Okaloosa County took the first official steps Tuesday to forge business links between Sweden and the Emerald Coast. About 100 people attended the inaugural Swedish-American Business Expo at the Emerald Coast Conference Center. About one-third of them were Swedish, said Kay Rasmussen from the Economic Development Council of Okaloosa County. “We want to be the funnel, the conduit, to make contacts between businesses, investors and consultants,” Rasmussen said afterward. Groups with booths at the event included ResortQuest, Northwest Florida Regional Airport and the Emerald Coast Association of Realtors. “We realize international business is coming to the Panhandle,” said Robbie Fenn from the Association of Realtors’ International Council. The council has grown to 50-plus members since starting four years ago. Fenn was joined by Association of Realtors teammate Kelly Klein. “With the addition of the F-35 coming here, we are going to be a true center for international training,” Klein said. “And we’re going to have to learn to deal with people from all over the world.” One of the expo’s visitors was Lill Hanson from the Swedish-American Chamber of Commerce’s regional office in Clearwater. Hanson is a commercial realtor and her chamber has about 2,500 members. “Florida has such a diverse economy, and Sweden has similar things, and they range from defense electronics to sports medicine,” Hanson said. “These things are looking for a foothold here. Some investors from Sweden want to come and live here, and manage with hands on. Others are simply looking for investment opportunities in things like shopping centers, golf courses and marinas. “There’s money out there and they believe in us,” she said.