Wednesday, July 29, 2009


The Panama City News reports the Panama City International Airport is on schedule despite efforts to slow it down. Look out west Panama City folks, this area will explode when people get a first hand look and the Emerald Coast with the white sand beaches and emerald waters.

Airport Construction on Schedule, In Budget 07/28/09 -
05:15 PM By: Mary Scott Speigner Bay County, Fla:

The first airport since September 11th is more than half way finished with a little less than a year to go before opening day. The actual site is 4,000 acres but the airport will take up about 1,400 acres. The Panama City Bay County International Airport is busy with construction workers getting closer to the May 2010 deadline. “Overall we’re pretty much on schedule we got a few buildings that’s running behind but we got plans in place that we’re going to make up for that,” said Randy Curtis, the airport director. Construction is now 65% complete. The $330-million dollar airport will have two concourses and five gates, only three of them open at first.
Curtis says we still have to wait to find out which airlines are coming. He says it will probably be announced within the next 6 months. “The airline industry is a very competitive industry and typically they don’t make announcements of future service until just a few months out,” said Curtis. Also expected in the next few months are announcements about new jobs at the new airport. The master developers, a company out of Chicago called Jones Lang LaSalle say they will help to bring jobs to the area with cargo and defense companies.

Monday, July 27, 2009


Another step forward to meeting the tremendous growth planned for our area. This move by North Okaloosa Medical Center will only help folks in their decision process to move to the north end of Okaloosa County. Crestview is certainly going to solidify is place as the "Hub City".

Crestview hospital plans for more healthy growth
Medical Center near OK for ‘patient tower’
By KYLE WRIGHT Florida Freedom Newspapers

CRESTVIEW — North Okaloosa Medical Center continues to take steps to grow with the community. CEO David Sanders said the hospital is in the final stages of the approval process for a $22 million “patient tower” that would expand the hospital’s intensive care unit from eight beds to 20 and would add 28 private rooms. The 40 additional beds would expand the hospital’s capacity from 110 to 150 beds. Sanders is optimistic that ground will be broken for construction by the end of this year. He hopes the patient tower will be complete in time for the arrival of the Army 7th Special Forces (Airborne) at Eglin Air Force Base. The Special Forces’ move is scheduled to be complete by the fall of 2011. The patient tower would follow $12 million in upgrades completed since 2007. Recent improvements include a renovation of the labor and delivery unit, new PET/CT and CT scanners, and an upgraded catheterization lab. The hospital’s interior and exterior also have been refurbished. “I am very optimistic about the direction the hospital is going in. I believe we are working well with the community to be an active part of the community,” Sanders said. “We are very well supported by our corporation, as evidenced by more than $12 million spent in the last two and half years and by the possibility of greater expansion,” he added. “For someone to put about $30 million into a facility in a five-year period shows the community a lot of people’s commitment to the success of the community and the success of the hospital.”

Thursday, July 23, 2009


The below is a recent memo sent to local businesses and other developers in the area asking for the private sectors help in meeting the demands in housing and other commercial needs for the new military families arriving to our area. On top of this demand from the military, we are beginning to experience a tremendous need for quality/affordable housing for new arrivals to Eglin and other surrounding military bases because of the demolition of about 1700 homes at Eglin since last year.

Economic Development Council
of Okaloosa County, Florida
July 2, 2009

To: Business Presidents and CEOs
Re: Okaloosa County, Florida Unprecedented Growth

Dear Sir or Madam:
Okaloosa County is facing unprecedented growth within the next few years. The Congressional 2005 Base Realignment and Closure Commission (BRAC) identified Okaloosa County’s military installations for an increase of approximately 4,500 military personnel; with their families the total population influx will be 11,000 by 2016. The majority of this growth will saturate Okaloosa County within a six month period in 2011. This information is provided to assist you in your future planning; what you have seen is not what you will see. Army 7th Special Forces Group (Airborne) 7SFG(A) – Estimated Personnel at Eglin AFB

Personnel Number
Total Daily 7SFG(A) Personnel 2,200
Spouses 1,452
Children 2,415
Total New Population to Area 6,067
Arrival time expected to be April-September 2011 predominately locating in the City of Crestview area.
Air Force Joint Strike Fighter Initial Training Center
JSF IJTS – Estimated Personnel at Eglin AFB
Personnel Number
Total Daily JSF Personnel 2,326
Spouses 1,163
Children 1,396
Total New Population to Area 4,885
Arrival time expected to be March 2010 through September 2016.

In addition to this BRAC related growth, and despite tough economic times, in comparison to other counties and states, Okaloosa County continues to sustain a strong economy supported by continual defense-related industrial growth. The incoming military families mentioned above will amplify this economy and support the continued and new presence of commercial and retail businesses such as yours. The Economic Development Council hopes that this information will assist you in your business planning needs. Additional information is available at Please do not hesitate to contact me if I can be of further assistance.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009


Two points you should get out of this announcement. One, the Eglin's F-35 Joint Strike Fighter training program will take on a much bigger role in the defense of our country, and secondly, our leaders see the need for more Army troops to address the ever changing war tactics by our enemies.

Guess what. As I have mentioned before, Eglin Air Force Base continues to be on the mind of the military by bringing all military services to our area and all their operational, testing, and training programs with them. This mindset will place Eglin and the surrounding area in the cross hairs for major economic growth.

Senate votes to halt production of F-22 Raptor

2009-07-21 14:04:30
WASHINGTON - The Senate voted Tuesday to halt production of the Air Force's missile-eluding F-22 Raptor fighter jets in a high-stakes showdown over President Barack Obama's efforts to shift defense spending to a new generation of smaller F-35 Joint Strike Fighters.
The 58-40 vote reflected an all-out lobbying campaign by the administration, which had to overcome resistance from lawmakers confronted with the potential losses of defense-related jobs if the F-22 program was terminated.
``The president really needed to win this vote,'' Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Carl Levin, D-Mich., said. Levin said it was important not only on the merits of the planes but ``in terms of changing the way we do business in Washington.''
The top Republican on the committee, John McCain of Arizona, agreed that it was ``a signal that we are not going to continue to build weapons systems with cost overruns which outlive their requirements for defending this nation.''

Supporters of the program cited both the importance of the F-22 to U.S. security interests - pointing out that China and Russia are developing planes that can compete with it - and a need to protect aerospace jobs in a bad economy.
Defense Secretary Robert Gates and other Pentagon officials have determined that production of the F-22, which has not been used in Iraq and Afghanistan, should be stopped at 187 planes in order to focus on the F-35, which would also be available to the Navy and Marine Corps.
Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, countered that the F-35 is designed to supplement, not replace, the F-22, ``the ``NASCAR racer of this air dominance team.'' Supporters of the F-22 have put the number needed at anywhere from 250 to 380.
The defense bill has funds to build 30 F-35s. The plane is currently being produced in small numbers for testing purposes. The single-engine plane will eventually replace the venerable F-16 and the Air Force's aging fleet of A-10s. Its primary purpose is to attack targets on the ground.
The twin-engine F-22 Raptor is a jet the Air Force would use for air-to-air combat missions.
McCain said the voting margin of victory was ``directly attributable'' to Obama, his opponent in the last presidential election, and Gates, who has pushed for termination of the F-22 and other weapons systems he says have outlived their usefulness.
The vote removed $1.75 billion set aside in a $680 billion defense policy bill to build seven more F-22 Raptors, adding to the 187 stealth technology fighters already built or being built.
The Senate action also saved Obama from what could have been a political embarrassment. He had urged the Senate to strip out the money and threatened what would have been the first veto of his presidency if the F-22 money remained.
Immediately after the vote, Obama told reporters at the White House the Senate's decision would ``better protect our troops.''
White House officials said Vice President Joe Biden and chief of staff Rahm Emanuel lobbied senators, as did Gates.
Pentagon spokesman Geoff Morrell said Tuesday that spending on the stealth fighter would ``inhibit our ability to buy things we do need,'' including Gates' proposal to add 22,000 soldiers to the Army.
``I've never seen the White House lobby like they've lobbied on this issue,'' said Republican Sen. Saxby Chambliss of Georgia, an F-22 supporter whose state would be hit hard by a production shutdown.
According to Lockheed Martin Corp., the main contractor for both planes, 25,000 people are directly employed in building the F-22, and an additional 70,000 have indirect links, particularly in Georgia, Texas and California.
Sen. Christopher Dodd, D-Conn., a strong backer of the program, said his state stood to lose 2,000 to 4,000 jobs if F-22 production ended.
Levin suggested that some workers might be shifted to F-35 production. ``We have to find places for people who are losing their jobs,'' he said.
The House last month approved its version of the defense bill with a $369 million down payment for 12 additional F-22 fighters. The House Appropriations Committee last week endorsed that spending in drawing up its Pentagon budget for next year. It also approved $534 million for an alternate engine for the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, another program that Obama, backed by the Pentagon, says is unwarranted and would subject the entire bill to a veto.
The defense bill authorizes $550 billion for defense programs and $130 billion for military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan and for other anti-terrorist operations.

Sunday, July 19, 2009


In my opinion, another thing happening in our market is the supply of homes is reducing fast. In a recent meeting with the Eglin Base Commander, he commented on the destruction of military housing at Eglin. He noted from the original military housing inventory of about 2750 homes last year, Eglin has chosen to reduce that inventory to about 1000 homes. Do the math. Private Sector must step up soon. The privatization of the military housing is on hold and when it does get implemented, the inventory will be only about 1300 homes even with the growth of some 5000 new military personnel expected with the Army Special Forces Group and Joint Strike Fighter Group. The base commander noted, it is the policy of the armed forces to integrate the military in the local housing market using their housing entitlement. It is also the policy of the Armed Forces, their will be not mandatory assignment to this housing. As I noted before, I was a former Military Housing Director for the Southeast United States and this policy has not changed and will not change. It is too costly to run military housing and the military families have made it clear. Give me my money and let me live where I want to live.

Interest rates and tax credit help spur local jump in home sales, prices
By THOMAS J. MONIGAN Florida Freedom Newspapers 315-4438

Numbers can mean different things to different people, but recent figures on the local housing market appear to provide some long-sought hope. Last year at this time, the big question in real estate on the Emerald Coast was still, “Where’s the bottom?” All too familiar, after the past several years produced a terrifying mix of foreclosure filings and plummeting values. But six months into 2009, some numbers from Metro Market Trends are worth noting. Single-family home sales are up in Okaloosa, Santa Rosa and Walton counties. Accordingly, so are the average sale prices. Gloria Frazier, owner and broker of ERA American Realty of Northwest Florida, offered several theories on what those figures indicate. “Interest rates are still at historic lows, and the first-time homebuyers’ tax credit ($8,000) is being felt now,” Frazier said. “And prices did reach a point where affordability was there. “I’m still not convinced the market is unconditionally on the rise,” she added. “I think it’s more accurate to characterize it as ‘bumping around the bottom’ through the rest of this year. The price increases are a very good sign, and I think we’ll truly be at the end of the spiral in the spring of 2010.” Frazier offered some numbers of her own from the Multiple Listing Service (MLS) that is generated from the Emerald Coast Association of Realtors. Comparing the first quarter of this year to the first quarter of last year, on single-family homes, condos and town homes combined: In Okaloosa: 982 pending contracts reflected an increase of 58 percent and 253 sales was an increase of 71 percent. The average home was on the market three fewer days (163), and the average price bumped up $4,523. In South Santa Rosa: 329 pending contracts reflected an increase of 57 percent and 707 sales was an increase of 77 percent. The average home was on the market seven more days (156), and the average price bumped up $13,787. In Walton: 572 pending contracts reflected an increase of 35 percent, and 421 sales was an increase of 51 percent. The average home was on the market 23 more days (234), and the average price jumped by $66,446. “There’s been a big increase in people looking,” said Jennifer Howard with Prudential Coastal Properties. “Prices have gotten to the point where it’s hugely compelling to persuade buyers to get off the fence. And with the $8,000 tax credit and other aggressive financing, first-time buyers have boosted the market considerably.” Prudential Coastal Properties opened a new office in Grand Boulevard last year. Broker Chip Jervis reported that as recently as two weeks ago, he had 18 contracts pending. Thomas Williams, chief operating officer for Pelican Real Estate, had a similar outlook. According to its Web site, Pelican has grown into the largest locally owned real estate company. “Literally, it’s been five years since I’ve been this encouraged,” Williams said. “Last week, we had 27 pending contracts in one week. That included singlefamily homes, condos and a few lots mixed in. And they were pretty much across all price points, from $150,000 to more than $3 million. “This market has gotten to the point where there is real value again, and people aren’t sitting on the sidelines anymore,” he added. “The stabilization point is when any listing hits that price point, it’s gone. That’s the market bottom and you’ve got to put the floor in first.” Williams also was quick to factor “a mental process” into any recovery. “Tops in markets are events, and bottoms are a process,” he said. “All recessions to some degree start with a mental process, and that process feeds on itself. And recovery has to start with a shift in attitude, where you just don’t have people sitting around saying, ‘Where’s the bottom?’ The amount of pending contracts right now is 40 to 50 percent of the whole year last year. March, April, May, June — the market has exploded.” Part of that comes from the sales of foreclosed property, as well as “short sales,” in which the lender accepts less than the total value of a home. Not too long ago, this was more theory than practice, but several major Realtors in this area are reporting the process has become easier and thus more successful. All of this puts a dent on the “available inventory” problem. Steve Schutt at the Niceville branch of mortgage lenders Baker & Lindsey said the 15 loans his office had closed in June were nearly twice as many as June of 2008. He said the average purchase price was $285,000, with a low of around $120,000 and a high of around $420,000. However, those sales prices don’t match prices from last year. As a result, the dollar amount of June sales was only about 70 percent of sales from last June. “A home in that market right now that lists for $450,000 was $800,000 several years ago,” he said. “Our buyers here are often retired military who are making $60,000 to $90,000 a year as government contractors.” Among recent first-time homebuyers are Master Sgt. Lassiter Dent and his wife, Stacey Dent. They have been stationed at Eglin Air Force Base slightly longer than three years. They have been married for 15 years and have two daughters, Kora Schae, 14, and Cheyanne, 12. The Dents bought a threebedroom, two-bathroom home with about 1,900 square feet in Niceville’s Palm Estates for about $200,000. Their credit was strong enough that they did not have to make a down payment and they still snagged a 30-year fixed loan for 4.7 percent. The Air Force also gives them a housing stipend based on rank and length of service. “We had rented a house in Crestview our first year here, but we just felt that drive was too far,” Stacey Dent said. “We looked at nine homes in Niceville and Valparaiso, all about the same size.” Dent credited Mary Shaw of ERA American Realty of Northwest Florida and Linda Kirkpatrick from Mortgage One of the South for making the process less scary. “It really surprised me,” she said. “I was deathly terrified before, but it wasn’t nearly three quarters as bad as I thought it was going to be. … Right after we moved in I was sitting there watching TV, and I said, ‘This is just so weird to be sitting here, realizing this is our home.’ But things get better every day.” Shaw recalled the dark days of 2007, but said her contracts pending or closed in the first 6½ months of this year equal all of what she did in 2008. “It makes me feel good because I’m on track to where I was in 2004,” she said.

Saturday, July 4, 2009


Okay folks, As I have told you many times - Our Region is prime for growth in military missions and there is much more to come. Missions - Operations, Training and Testing. This is what our area is all about. Area - Air, Sea and Land. This is also what we have to offer to the defense of our country. Can you see the big picture? Stay tuned. Oh, by the way. This reorganization has nothing to do with BRAC. This is just more gravy.

Air Force realignments to add personnel to Hurlburt, Eglin
Realignments will add military and civilians positions to units
By MONA MOORE Northwest Florida Daily News 315-4443

Eglin Air Force Base and Hurlburt Field will see increases in military and civilian personnel, thanks to Air Force structure realignments that take effect in 2011. “The 1st Special Operations Wing wholeheartedly supports the force structure increase for Hurlburt Field,” Col. Gregory Lengyel, commander of the 1st SOW, wrote in an e-mail. “We welcome these personnel to support our increased operational tempo demands, and we will work tirelessly to ensure that the individuals brought onboard quickly understand our mission and their role in keeping Hurlburt Field the most relevant installation in the Air Force.” Eleven civilian positions will be added to assist Hurlburt unit commanders. The National Defense Authorization Act converted the work of contractors to more than 1,100 Department of Defense civilian positions. Thirtynine of those positions are at Hurlburt. The 11th Intelligence Squadron will gain 53 military positions and 13 civilian positions to enhance special operations forces. The 319th Special Operations Squadron also will gain 278 military positions. More than 100 positions were added as a result of Irregular Warfare initiatives. The 1st SOW will add five civilian positions. The 623rd Air Operations Center has an increase of 24 military and seven civilian positions. The 720th Special Tactics Group will get 80 military positions. In all, Hurlburt will have 435 new military and 79 new civilian positions. The additions will help offset more than 500 airmen and civilians connected to the 16th Special Operations Squadron who will transfer to Cannon Air Force Base this year. Hurlburt is drawing down from eight AC-130H gunships at the start of fiscal 2009 to none by the end of fiscal 2010. Eglin will gain manpower through the end of fiscal 2009 for combat air force restructuring. The 2009 Force Structure Announcement shows the base gaining a total of 425 positions — 123 military and 302 civilian. “It’s important that the Air Force manpower authorizations accurately reflect the military and civilian workforce — everything from deployment taskings to accession programs are based on defining the right manpower requirements or authorizations,” said Ms. Lee McGehee, director of the Air Armament Center’s Manpower and Personnel Directorate. The base has nine new civilian positions as a result of increasing support to unit commanders. Contract to civilian conversions, in accordance with the 2008 National Defense Authorization Act, resulted in an increase of 200 civilian positions. As a result of the Combat Air Forces restructuring, the 33rd Fighter Wing will have an increase of 11 civilian positions; the 53rd Wing has an increase of 4 military and 28 civilian positions; the 96th Air Base Wing has an increase of 16 military and 32 civilian positions; the 96th Security Forces Squadron has an increase of 26 military positions; and the Air Armament Center has an increase of two military and one civilian position. Overall, the base will have an increase of 74 military positions. The Air Armament Center program management offices will have an increase of five civilian positions as a result of improved emphasis on Acquisitions Excellence. Other actions resulted in an increase of one military and 16 civilian positions. Also, the 58th Fighter Squadron loses 18 F-15 primary aircraft authorizations as a result of past programming actions. The 85th Test and Evaluations Squadron loses two F-15 primary aircraft authorizations as a result of the fiscal 2010 Fighter Force Restructure Plan. The 33rd Fighter Wing gains six F-35 primary aircraft authorizations. “The force structure announcement reflects our best effort to meet the expanding Air Force mission areas and growing Joint demands,” Gen. Norton Schwartz, Air Force chief of staff, said in a press release. “We’ve made some hard choices,” Schwartz continued. “However, we believe this is the best overall design to meet America’s national security needs and support to the Joint fight.”