Saturday, October 31, 2009


As you will see below, the Crestview Industrial Airpark has the attention of businesses throughout the world. With Eglin AFB at our doorsteps and our country's emphasises in high tech weapontry and rapid deployment, our region will be on the eyes of the country. You have heard of the silicone valley in California. Be ready to hear about the silcone valley in the Panhandle. The underlining question will be; will investors and developers have access to capital to meet this need.

Bob Sikes Airport attracting corporate interest
Brian Hughes
2009-10-30 18:50:49
Northwest Florida Regional Airport may not have lured Southwest Airlines, but Crestview’s Bob Sikes Airport was looking pretty attractive to several business execs attending last week’s National Business Aircraft Association conference in Orlando, said county airports Director Greg Donovan.
Speaking at Wednesday’s meeting of the Crestview Area Chamber of Commerce’s airport committee, Donovan said “several prominent companies are interested in relocating existing operations to Bob Sikes Airport.”
In addition to the $22 million that has been spent in the last three years on airport infrastructure upgrades and improvements, a major attraction is the facility’s effective residential buffer, Donovan said.
“Limiting residential development has been effective,” Donovan said. “That's very important for companies that are interested in investing money for future development.”
Another attraction was a new program being developed by the county commission. Commissioner Wayne Harris described to the committee the new pre-permitting and pre-engineering buildings program that is “in the works,” which will streamline the process to build new commercial development at the airport and in the neighboring Air Park.
One airport tenant, Sunshine Aero president Bob Keller, whose company is constructing a new hangar for its flight-testing businesses, applauded the development.
“We've been working on our permits for a year,” Keller said. “I’ll be glad to see this pre-permitting underway, because it’s a mess right now.”
Okaloosa County Airports snared a prime corner booth for its debut at the NBAA conference. In addition to three county airport staff members, a representative of the regional Economic Development Council attended. Donovan had particular praise for 10 volunteers from the business community who also helped man the booth.
“These people that went stepped up and in a lot of cases, took personal time off to do something very genuine for the community,” Donovan said, noting that most used leave or vacation time to present the airport and its capabilities to the more 30,000 business leaders who attended the highly regarded conference.
“The curious part of this was, it wasn’t just about the people who were walking the hallways and attending the show that we talked to,” Donovan said. “We were actually marketing to our fellow exhibitors.”
For example, one exhibitor at a nearby booth, Donovan said, was dissatisfied with local airport where his company is now based in Ohio, “and he was looking for a place to go,” Donovan. “The dialogue ensued over the course of a week.”
Thanks to the county and city’s representation at NBAA, “Now we have contacts we would not normally have found,” Donovan said.
In other airport business:
• “Fuel sales are breaking records” for the airport’s fixed-base operator, Emerald Coast Aviation, and customer service “is getting rave reviews.”
• The bid for service by Southwest Airlines at Northwest Florida Regional Airport generated lots of national interest in the region, benefiting all area airports. “The competition was enormous,” Donovan said. “We would’ve loved to have them. Another airline is coming and that’s a win for Northwest Florida. This was one chapter of many more to come. There will be many opportunities for air service development.”
• “We’re starting to see a rebound in passengers,” Donovan reported. Other airports are still down “quite a bit more.”
• A recent University of West Florida study shows Okaloosa County airports have more than a $216 million annual impact on the area’s economy.
• As the 7th Special Forces and Joint Strike Fighter programs gear up, “airports will play an important role,” Donovan said.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Southwest Airlines not only has brought excitement to the area; it brought a lot of attention and ideas from potentional investors to help grow the economy. The new international airport with the backing of St. Joe is sure to make travel to the panhandle a lot easier for folks around the country and outside the country. It is my belief, with the selection of Panama City by Southwest Airline, folks from the west will sure find Defuniak Springs and Freeport on the map since accessing the Airport from the west will take it south on Hwy 331 and East on Hwy 20. Stay tuned, I am sure there is a number of projects and attractoins which will be announced soon.

Southwest leads the way to economic growth
By SCARLET SIMS News Herald Writer
2009-10-29 21:56:15
SANDESTIN — Capturing Southwest Airlines as the low-cost carrier at the new international airport is just the beginning of boosting Northwest Florida’s economy, local leaders said Thursday.
“The next decade is going to be our decade,” said Janet Watermeier, Bay County Economic Development Alliance executive director. “Never have the global opportunities for Northwest Florida been greater.”
During the second annual Fall Leadership Summit, a daylong conference in Sandestin, hundreds of businesspeople and local leaders talked about working together to grow the economy.
Southwest Airlines announced earlier this month its plans to begin serving the new Northwest Florida-Panama City International Airport in May. The decision remains the talk among leaders.
Southwest hopes to expand the Panhandle’s tourism industry exponentially by convincing people who might drive to Northwest Florida to fly instead, said keynote speaker Bob Montgomery, Southwest’s vice president of properties.
Southwest is known for its low airfare. Northwest Florida has some of the highest fares in the region, but those are expected to drop when Southwest begins selling tickets in December. Low prices create a demand and that means more people will come to Northwest Florida, Montgomery said.
Other carriers will consider the new airport, said Cynthia Kennedy, Walton Area Chamber of Commerce member.
Airport Executive Director Randy Curtis said plans for the airport include construction to accommodate cargo planes. The airport also hopes to draw international travelers, Curtis said.
“It will take the entire region to make it work,” said Jerry Ray, a St. Joe Co. vice president. “What Southwest does for us is provide a global network.”
St. Joe is the major property holder in Northwest Florida and a major partner with Southwest. The company agreed to repay Southwest should the airline lose money during the first three years of operation at the new airport.
Southwest looked at serving the entire region when the company chose Bay County’s new airport, Montgomery said. Talks with the other regional airports, such as the one in Pensacola, will continue, but Southwest plans to focus on Bay County, he said.
Keynote speaker Brian Wilson said the airport and Southwest offer a golden opportunity to the region. Wilson is a veteran reporter for Fox News and part-time area resident.
“I believe that this particular part of the Florida Panhandle is poised for great things in the not-so-distant future,” Wilson said. “This is the right place, and the right time is just around the corner. The world is about to beat a path to your door.”

Thursday, October 22, 2009


Well folks. Southwest is on their way and the Panhandle of Florida is going to be better for it. As you will see, the impact is far reaching for our region. I am sure more information will be forthcoming, but the initial information on the impact is extraordinary.
Southwest to benefit local businesses, officials say

2009-10-21 17:56:58
WEST BAY — Southwest Airlines will bring lower airfares and draw more businesses to the Panama City area, officials said Wednesday.
“What a low-cost carrier will do is connect us to the world,” said Janet Watermeier, Bay County Economic Development Alliance executive director.
Southwest announced Wednesday its intention to add up to eight direct flights to the new Northwest Florida-Panama City International Airport when it opens in May. The announcement comes after months of speculation about whether the airport could draw a major low-cost carrier. Southwest has about 3,300 flights a day and is the largest U.S. carrier for domestic departures as of last year, according to the company Web site.
Bodine and Watermeier said the low-cost carrier means lower airfares.
Southwest’s average passenger airfare is about $114, according to its Web site. Delta Air Lines, which has served the Panama City airport 25 years, will be competing with Southwest. Using the company Web site, a roundtrip ticket to Washington, D.C., currently costs about $500.
“While we can’t comment on future pricing, Delta is a vigorous competitor in every market we serve,” Delta spokesman Kent Landers said in e-mail.
Delta has a global connection it brings to Panama City, Landers said. On Tuesday the airline announced plans to grow its international flights, according to its Web site.
Delta and its carriers probably will lose passengers to Southwest, said Dr. Rick Harper, the University of West Florida’s Haas Center for Business Research and Economic Development. Northwest Florida Regional Airport in Okaloosa County and Tallahassee Regional Airport are also likely to lose passengers who have been driving an hour to find cheaper fares, he said via e-mail.
Capturing Southwest’s attention means the largest domestic carrier thinks highly of the areas growth potential, Harper said.

Military impact
Southwest’s arrival also will be welcomed by defense contractors and serve as a boon to area efforts in attracting future military missions to Tyndall Air Force Base and Naval Support Activity-Panama City, Panama City-based Applied Research Associates vice president Glen McDonald said.
Businessmen will have fast and affordable transportation, something that is especially important to defense contractors, Bodine said. A lot of defense contractors come in and out of the city, having Southwest might draw even more defense contractors, said Bay County Chamber of Commerce President Carol Roberts.
“It’s a win-win for everyone,” Roberts said. “More people are going to come to the region.”
Watermeier said she knew one contractor who told her that his business would double should Southwest come to Panama City.
ARA vice president Glen McDonald said Wednesday’s announcement would mean more direct flights, lower airfares and a wider choice of travel options for defense contractors.
“It will not only lower our costs, it will also lower military costs,” McDonald said.
Most area contractors fly to the Washington, D.C., area for business purposes, McDonald said, which would make daily flights to Baltimore-Washington International Airport well traveled. Southwest will fly direct from Panama City to four cities, but those locations have not yet been announced.
McDonald said the addition of Southwest’s flights would be “a big deal” for contractors, with the added competition putting pressure on existing carriers to lower their fares as well.
ITT director Matt Miller said Southwest’s arrival would make it cheaper to do business.
“It’s long overdue,” Miller said.
Defense firms have to include travel expenses when they bid contracts, another reason to applaud the Southwest decision, McDonald said.
McDonald said the Department of Defense and various military branches, when considering locations for new military missions and platforms, look at potential travel costs as a factor in their selections.
“In the past, when we’ve been up against those travel costs, we’ve lost,” McDonald said.
ARA had collected data on military, defense contractor, business and overall travel, as well as projected travel, in and out of the area and provided it to the Bay Economic Development Alliance, McDonald said.
He said that information was provided to a number of airline carriers, including Southwest.
Bay Defense Alliance and area officials have been aggressively promoting Tyndall Air Force Base as a possible future F-35 training site in light of the Air Force’s May announcement of its intentions to accelerate the drawdown of Tyndall’s two F-15 squadrons.
BDA President Tom Neubauer said the addition of Southwest would also make Bay County’s military bases more competitive with other bases for future missions.
“Getting those fares down is very, very big,” Neubauer said.

Tourism impact
Other businesses already rooted in the community will benefit, too, said Berg Steel Pipe president David Delie. Delie might fly to Washington, D.C., up to 24 times during a year, he said. More affordable flights will mean either more travel, company savings and also benefit Berg’s customers and venders, he said.
“It’s a good thing for Berg, it’s a good thing for the city,” Delie said. “We’re really excited. It makes doing business a lot easier.”
Getting Southwest also means more tourism, Harper said. That’s exactly what Coastal Vision 3000, an organization established to promote Panhandle tourism, hopes for. Southwest is exactly what the region needed, said Mel Ponder, executive director.
“When they (Southwest) come to an area, the whole area just explodes really,” Ponder said.
Tourists often decide to look at Panama City to open a business, said Gulf Coast Workforce Board executive director Kim Bodine. More businesses might choose to start up in Panama City, she said.
Ponders expects an immediate difference, with about 2,000 seats filled and flying into Panama City the first day. Bodine said area businesses see gradual improvements instead of a major burst because of the recession.
“I think we’ll see an immediate improvement; I’m just not sure how large that will be,” she said.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009


Lookout Walton and Bay Counties. If this doesn't bring folks and attention to our area, I don't know what can.

Southwest Airlines chooses new Panama City airport
October 21, 2009 11:09 AM
Pat Kelly
Florida Freedom News
WEST BAY — Southwest Airlines CEO Gary Kelly officially announced Wednesday the low-cost carrier will come to the new Northwest Florida-Panama City International Airport when it opens in May.
Kelly’s announcement came shortly after 1 p.m. Wednesday live via “streaming video” as part of Southwest’s media day from Dallas, about 15 minutes after the start of the a Panama City briefing attended by local business leaders and government officials.
The local leaders were meeting at the airport for the expressed purpose of hearing an update on construction progress and airline marketing efforts, but Southwest’s announcement had been anticipated.
The new airport is set to open in May, and Kelly’s confirmation answers one of several questions still remaining, such as whether a low-cost carrier like Southwest Airlines is coming to the West Bay location.
Officials and business leaders in Pensacola, Okaloosa County and Panama City have been courting the coveted carrier for months, citing lower fares that can bring in more tourists and businesses.
“The Panhandle has so much to recommend it,” said U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Fla. and a leading advocate of the new airport serving the region. “I know that as more and more people and businesses learn about the area, we’ll attract even more jobs and opportunities.”

Monday, October 19, 2009


Okay folks. If you don't think Okaloosa County has it eyes on moving people to the North, you haven't been keeping your eyes on the ball. If part of this comes to be, it will put Crestview in the bulleye for more growth beyond what is planned.

Okaloosa asks for $299 million in stimulus money for SR 85 expansion
By KARI C. BARLOW Northwest Florida Daily News 315-4438

Okaloosa County has applied for a $299 million chunk of federal stimulus money to overhaul infrastructure in the north end of the county. The prize being sought is the Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery, or TIGER discretionary grant, which is funded from a national pot of $1.5 billion being distributed to projects across the country. The county’s application is centered on the expansion of the State Road 85 corridor from Mid-Bay Bridge to north of the Shoal River bridge in Crestview. “That’s never been laid out in one piece before,” said Jim Breitenfeld, president of Breitenfeld Development Services, who helped prepare the grant application. “That’s the map for going forward.” The county’s proposal lays out a plan of action for the future growth headed to north Okaloosa County in the next 20 years because of changing military missions, said Danielle Slaterpryce, director of public works for the county. Among the major projects included in the grant application are: Widening SR 85 to six lanes; Widening State Road 123 to four lanes; Extending the Mid-Bay Bridge connector to SR 85; Creating a SR 85 interchange at Duke Field; Establishing a park-andride program between Crestview and Niceville, with possible solar-powered electric vehicle charging stations; Studying alternative corridors from Shoal River to U.S. Highway 90; Studying the expansion and renovation of P.J. Adams Parkway. Slaterpryce said the economic impact of the proposed projects would be significant. As early as 2012, 6,645 jobs are projected to be created, with 631 of those jobs in construction, bringing in an average wage of $45,558. By 2030, a decade after the proposed projects would be completed, nearly 44,000 jobs would be created in the region that otherwise would not have existed, according to the county’s grant application and data from the Haas Center for Business and Economic Development at the University of West Florida. Slaterpryce said federal officials will notify winners of the grant between January and mid-February 2010. “We could win the whole thing; we could win parts of it,” she said. “I think we’re a strong contender simply because this is a huge support to our military. Because of Eglin, I think we should stand out.” Widening the SR 85 corridor directly supports the base’s mission, Breitenfeld said. “It’s critical for the (military) to get the 20,000 people who work on the base … to work, to move supplies … to function.” The special forces units bound for Eglin will be operating on both sides of SR 85 near Duke Field, he added. Slaterpryce and Breitenfeld say the expansion of the corridor would be a crucial milestone for the county. “If we don’t expand SR 85, the economic impact will be tremendous,” Breitenfeld said. “It would effectively keep the northern part of the county from developing further.” The economic impact of the projects would be felt in a number of ways but particularly in construction jobs.

Thursday, October 15, 2009


If you have been following my updates on the growth of this area and the focus on the aerospace industry, you will understand Crestview Industrial Air Park is something which should draw a large number of new businesses to our area. The State of Florida has made Crestview Airpark a target of growth with millions of dollars given to improve the infrastructure at this location. Many in the Aerospace Industry see this as a bedrock for military weapons testing and overhaul of aircraft for many years to come. READ ON -

Okaloosa County team promoting Crestview Air Park in Orlando
Dusty Ricketts
2009-10-14 16:54:19
A delegation supporting Okaloosa County will attend the world’s largest aviation business conference in Orlando next week to try to lure companies to Bob Sikes Airport’s industrial park.
The National Business Aviation Association is holding its annual convention Oct. 20-23 to promote all facets of the commercial aerospace industry. Among the 30,000 people from around the world expected to attend will be more than a dozen county and business leaders to promote the Crestview Air Park at Bob Sikes Airport.

“If we do get someone to come over here as a tenant of the industrial park, a manufacturer, an aerospace company, what ever it may be, that will bring opportunity for lenders, for banks, for Realtors, for everyone in the community to be involved with somehow,” said Derek Lott, vice president of First National Bank of Crestview and chairman of the Crestview Area Chamber of Commerce’s airport committee. “Especially if it’s a big home run like L3, NEW or Segers Aerospace. Those guys came here and they brought high-paying jobs and they brought a lot of jobs.”

All 950,000 square feet of the Orange County Convention Center’s North/South Building will be filled with exhibitors from the aerospace industry.

Lott said Bob Sikes Airport makes an attractive location for prospective businesses because of its 8,000-foot runway and its proximity to highways, the Gulf of Mexico and military bases. The local delegation also will try to sell Bob Sikes based on its location away from freezing winters of the north and far enough from the coast to be protected from most hurricane damage.
Greg Donovan, the county’s airports director, said $22 million has been spent on upgrading the infrastructure at the park in the past three years.

Donovan said county representatives attended last year’s convention with the Okaloosa County Economic Development Council and Florida’s Great Northwest. This will be the first year the county will have its own booth.

“For us to exhibit is a strong step in the right direction. If you go back a few years we weren’t marketing Crestview at all,” Donovan said.

Monday, October 5, 2009


As you will see, the Army's 7th Special Forces Group (Airborne) Headquarters is getting alot of attention and care. These improvements are just a couple of things being done to help make this the premier Army Base of the United States. As you will see, the dynamics of Eglin Air Forces Base will change and all facets of the military will be met. They are, Operations, Testing, and Training. That will mean, Eglin AFB will be on the minds of many military planners in the future.

Overpass fast-track gaining ground
By MICHAEL STEWART Florida Freedom Newspapers

CRESTVIEW — An attempt to fast-track an overpass across State Road 85 to link Duke Field and the Army’s 7th Special Forces Group (Airborne) headquarters is gaining momentum. Rhonda Grice, public involvement coordinator for the Okaloosa-Walton Transportation Planning Organization, said principal players in the project discussed the timeline in a recent telephone conference. They “seemed pretty emphatic they would like people to be able to use it (the overpass) by the summer of 2011,” she said. However, Okaloosa County Public Works Director Danielle Slaterpryce cautioned completion of the project, estimated to cost between $16.5 million and $22.5 million, could be four to five years away. “By the end of the year, we will have a better idea,” Slaterpryce said Thursday at a public meeting in Crestview sponsored by the TPO. The project would include an elevated road at the entrance to Duke Field that would cross over State Road 85. The restricted road, dubbed Special Forces Way, would allow military personnel and equipment to cross busy SR 85 without impeding traffic. “This is going to be a benefit to the community and to the military,” said Lt. Col. Gary Bloomberg, the Special Forces’ integration team chief. “It is a safety issue. With the overpass, residents will be able to safely transverse Highway 85 to get to work every day.” Preliminary plans call for on and off ramps on SR 85 similar to those on an interstate highway. The relocation of the 7th Special Forces Group — the legendary Green Berets — from Fort Bragg, N.C., to Eglin Air Force Base property has prompted the urgency to complete the project. Construction is under way west of SR 85 on a 600,000-square-foot facility the unit will call home. About 5,000 to 6,000 new residents will move to the area when the 7th Special Forces Group’s move is completed in 2011.

Friday, October 2, 2009


JSF training wing stands up at Eglin
The Associated PressPosted : Thursday Oct 1, 2009 17:29:38 EDT

EGLIN AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. — Eglin Air Force Base is now the official training base for fighter pilots who will fly the new F-35 Joint Strike Fighter.

At a ceremony Thursday, Air Force leaders officially designated the 33rd Fighter Wing as the new training command for the next-generation jet fighters.

About 60 of the F-35 fighter jets will start arriving at Eglin by early 2011. In the meantime, top fighter pilots will study how to maneuver the single-seat fighter jets using some of the world’s most-advanced flight simulators.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Crestview's 10 Screen Movie Theatre on Schedule

Okay folks. The south part of Okaloosa county will start hearing some sucking noise. It will be all the money staying in Crestview with all of the commercial development on tap to open early next year. The long awaited movie cinema will make Mr. Jack Jernigan a folk hero in Crestview for a long time. Great Job Mr. Jernigan and CCB Community Bank.

Crestview's Twin Creeks Cinema 10 on track for spring opening
September 16, 2009 8:55 AM
Brian Hughes, Florida Freedom Newspapers

CRESTVIEW, FL - The developer of the Twin Creeks Crossing shopping center and movie theatre rapidly taking shape off Richbourg Lane recently answered the burning question local cinema-goers have been eager to have addressed.
“Several screens will be digital,” confirmed Jack Jernigan, a partner with Nels Offerdahl who will be the Twin Creeks Cinema 10 operator.
Offerdahl owns two other multiple-screen cinemas in the Panhandle, including the Ridge Cinema 8 in Pace and the Gulf Breeze Cinema 4. He also operates several movie theatres in his native Louisiana.
“He’s a great (cinema) operator,” Jernigan enthused.
Progress has been rapid at the Twin Creeks Crossing site, which just a few short months ago was a forest off quiet, residential Richbourg Lane. The developers originally planned to use the new street adjacent to the Marquis Self-Storage business as their shopping center’s main entrance, however it is currently unavailable to them.
The new street, which presently dead ends at the Twin Creeks property line, could be used in the future as part of an exit loop from the shopping center, Jernigan said.
“We’re going to widen Richbourg Lane,” Jernigan explained, after utilities serving Twin Creeks Crossing are installed. These include sewer tie-ins to the city of Crestview’s system, which developers were able to negotiate with the city when county services were unavailable. A stoplight will be installed to help control traffic at Richbourg and S.R. 85.
Jernigan said the 10-screen movie theatre is still scheduled for an April 2010 opening, with the retail center planned to open in early summer. He praised area officials who have worked with the developers to realize the project.
“The county really worked hard to help us get started,” Jernigan said. “The city’s been great. They have been super.”
While the cinema has most piqued area movie lovers’ considerable interest, Twin Creeks Crossing will also contain a shopping center.
“We are just a few days away from being in a position to going out and talking to people about pre-leases on the retail center next to the cinema,” Jernigan said. “We want to pick out certain types of businesses that will really synergize with the cinema.”
While more shopping opportunities will be welcomed, it’s the cinema that most grabs the attention of local moviegoers such as recent Crestview High grad Jeremy Mitchell and his friends.
“We have a theatre in Crestview, but we’d rather drive to Destin. It’s nicer,” Mitchell said. “With this new theatre coming, I wouldn’t see the reason to drive that far anymore.”