Sunday, January 31, 2010


The following is the highlights of the coming of the Army Special Forces by Colonel Bloomberg. Hopefully, this will also provide some useful information in understanding this group of military to our area. As noted, these families are allowed to arrive as early as this summer. With supply of affordable/quality being low for this number of folks, it will make sense for these families to show up now before the prices go up because of high demand and very low supply next year. If you have any questions about this process don't hesitate to give me a call.

Bloomberg helps squelch rumors as move from Fort Bragg nears
Northwest Florida Daily News 315-4443  
FORT WALTON BEACH — Army Lt. Col. Gary Bloomberg starts every meeting he has with 7th Special Forces Group (Airborne) families with the same question: “Who’s heard something crazy about Northwest Florida?”
As chief of the integration team charged with preparing the arrival of Eglin Air Force Base’s new tenants, Bloomberg has heard many myths about Fort Bragg, N.C., and Northwest Florida. He shared a few of them recently when he talked with the Daily News’ Editorial Board.
He said he and his team were assigned to Okaloosa County last summer, two years before 7th Special Forces battalions start to arrive.
He said local officials have asked whether they will need more jail space and police to handle the “rowdy” Army guys. On the Fort Bragg trips, he hears about fears of hurricanes and alligators.
Bloomberg said he was surprised in both cases.
“I almost didn’t know how to respond to the jail thing,” he said.
The Green Berets Bloomberg describes sound more like Jack Bauer of “24” than America’s Most Wanted: They are dedicated to their profession and their country.
Bloomberg calls them “triple volunteers.” They volunteered for the Army, then volunteered to jump out of airplanes and then volunteered for the Special Forces.
Its members are deployed in 18 South American countries and in Afghanistan. They deploy in detachments of 12 men or go on missions with one or two men.
The average Green Beret is 30 to 32 years old, has about 10 years of experience and is as fit as a professional athlete. He has a college degree or has attended college, is culturally sensitive and is fluent in at least two languages.
The soldiers are trained as engineers, medics, communications or weapons specialists. They usually are noncommissioned officers with an E-7 pay grade, or more than $40,000 a year.
Soldiers deploy for about seven months a year, which means families become resilient and learn to function without family members. Bloomberg said he has been gone for six of the last eight years and for half of his 16-year marriage.
The danger Green Berets face also takes a toll on families. Bloomberg said every child of a soldier knows at least one person with a father who has been killed or wounded in action.
Bloomberg also said the soldiers are family men, avid hunters and fishermen and likely will coach youth soccer.
They are going to invest in real estate — and not just in Crestview, as another rumor claimed.
Because Special Forces soldiers donotchangestations,theylikelywill retire in the area. Bloomberg considers that an advantage for everyone.
“It’s so obvious how pro-military this community is, and what’s interesting is it seems genuine,” Bloomberg said. “We’re going to add to the fabric of this community. There are no downsides for us.”
More than 2,000 soldiers — about 500 a month — will start arriving in May 2011. Because the Army allows families to move down a year ahead of time, the area could start to see the 4,300 family members this summer.
The Special Forces will be at this year’s Eglin air show. Visitors can meet one of the detachments and see a demonstration from the Black Daggers, the Army Special Operations parachute team.
Bloomberg said he never has felt more welcomed than he has on the Emerald Coast. Eglin has made accommodations for its newest tenants, including a BX and gas station (which will be open to anyone with military identification) just outside the Green Berets’ campus south of Crestview. Base officials also have made relocation resources available online and have visited families at Fort Bragg.
Through Base Realignment and Closure, Eglin has funded an overpass across State Road 85 that will allow soldiers easy access to Duke Field.
The soldiers will train with special operations units at Duke and Hurlburt Field. Bloomberg said that will create a natural synergy that will carry over to missions.
“The end result will be a better joint force,” he said. “It’s going to be amazing.”

Saturday, January 30, 2010


If the news I have been sending you in the Blog hasn't lead you to believe "Crestview" is where it is at and where it will be, I don't know what else to say. This story below and the help of the Economic Development Council and the Crestview officials are making it a place to move to and live. As I have stated many times, our area is the target for many businesses and folks wanting to live our good life. Keep in mind, this study was not done here. It will catch the eye of businesses around the country and world. The question has also been, are we ready? I say, we will rise to the occasion with some bumps and bruises, but we will rise.

Study: Crestview one of best places for manufacturing plants
Dusty Ricketts
2010-01-29 21:44:05
CRESTVIEW — The Hub City is the seventh best small city for high-tech manufacturing companies to expand or relocate, according to a national study.
The Boyd Co. a Princeton, N.J.,-based consulting firm that provides location recommendations for companies around the world, recently completed the study of 45 cities that compares the cost of operating a high-tech manufacturing facility. The study determined the cost in each city to operate a 250,000-square-foot production plant that employed 300 hourly workers.
It would cost a little more than $20.97 million a year to run a business of that size in Crestview, the study concluded.
“(Crestview) certainly has a major concentration of aerospace industry,” said John Boyd, the company’s founder. “It’s the type of market now that really is on the radar screens for not only expansions, but for relocations.
“Wage pressures here are competitive, especially with some of the northeastern markets and the larger markets in the Midwest,” Boyd added. “There’s an abundant workforce. There’s tremendous turnover and linkages between the presence of the military and the private sector. There’s a large labor market and it tends to keep wages attractive.”
Lenoir, N.C., was the top-ranked small city, with a total estimated cost of $19.97 million a year to run the business. Although Lenoir’s total cost was lower, Crestview’s average estimated employee wage was $17.57 an hour, compared to Lenoir’s $18.91.
In addition to wages, the low cost of energy was another reason Crestview ranked so high. Boyd said Gulf Power Co. provides abundant energy at a lower cost that many other similar companies.
“In the real estate world, it’s all about location, location, location,” Boyd said. “In the site selection business, the big issue is energy, energy, energy. Energy is the most important thing when it comes to manufacturing operations right now.”
The study ranked Lynn Haven in Bay County as the eighth best small city for a manufacturing plant to locate.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010


MY OPINION AND EXPERIENCE: As a former Military Housing Director, it does not surprise me that the program is running into opposition. What does this mean for the private sector developers/builders? It means, as the Air Force continues to wonder what to do, the private sector needs to step up and meet the needs of the housing in civilian sector by building quality/affordable homes for the newly assigned personnel to our area. As a reminder, the Air Force started this privatization program many years ago and was trying to start in 2004. Time flies when you are having fun. Also, the military housing inventory in our area has been reduced from about 2750 homes to about 1200 homes in the last year of so. Does supply and demand come to mind to anyone? We have a reduction of homes at Eglin and a increase in demand coming with the Army and the Joint Strike Fighter Test Wing coming to town. You make the call. Any questions, give me a call.

Eglin housing plan meets opposition
Northwest Florida Daily News 315-4443   Air Force officials have met opposition from several points over their plans to privatize housing.
“And it wasn’t just in places like your Spout Off column and online comments,” Eglin Air Force Base spokesman Mike Spaits told a reporter. “They came up at each of the scoping meetings.”
About 200 people attended the three meetings that reviewed possible sites on Eglin’s land to build homes. The same misunderstandings came up each time, Spaits said.
Two issues are proving to be points of confusion, said Larry Chavers, chief of Eglin’s Environmental Analysis Section.
At the scoping meetings, some people thought that privatizing military housing was just throwing money at big corporations. They also believed the Air Force’s goal was to build housing off base property, Chavers said.
Shalimar resident Christina Larson opposed any housing off base, calling it “environmental mayhem.”
“I support adequate housing for everyone and therefore endorse the upgrade of military housing as need be but only on base where infrastructure already exists or damage to the natural environment has already occurred,” she said.
With the exception of the homes that will be built at FAMCAMP, Hurlburt Field will build and renovate military housing on existing sites.
The family camping area will be moved to land off Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd. Other proposed housing sites are on and off Eglin’s main base. Many residents have argued the base should improve existing homes as Hurlburt plans to do rather than develop a new site.
“No decision has been made on where housing will be built,” Chavers said. “NEPA (the National Environmental Policy Act) requires that we study a ‘reasonable range of alternatives.’ Therefore, we are looking at a broad range of siting alternatives to give the decision makers the most robust collection of potential locations possible.”
NEPA also requires the Air Force to hold public scoping meetings and perform an environmental assessment.
Chavers called privatization the best and fastest way to get adequate housing for service members, citing information from the Web site of the Office of the Secretary of Defense.
“Congress established the Military Housing Privatization Initiative (MHPI) in 1996 as a tool to help the military improve the quality of life for its service members by improving the condition of their housing,” Chavers wrote in an e-mail to the Daily News. “The MHPI was designed and developed to attract private sector financing, expertise and innovation to provide necessary housing faster and more efficiently than traditional military construction processes would allow.”
Chavers said the only motivation for the proposed housing was to find a solution to the poor housing and a shortage of quality affordable homes.
The DOD has authorized the armed forces to enter into agreements with private developers selected in a competitive process to own, maintain and operate family housing through 50-year leases.
Larson said the arrangement violates NEPA. She said a key responsibility of the Air Force under NEPA, 42 USC 4331, Sec. 101. (b) (1), is to “fulfill the responsibilities of each generation as trustee of the environment for succeeding generations.”
“Keep in mind that Eglin Air Force Base, Hurlburt Field and Duke Field occupy Choctawhatchee National Forest, which was set aside by presidential decree,” Larson said. “No one, not even the military, has the right to construct private housing tracts in our national forests.”

Friday, January 22, 2010


Crestview continues to draw attention from higher education instituitions. This is the third college to set up shop in the City of Crestview. The others being Northwest Florida State University, Florida A&M University, and now Troy University. Stay tuned, others are coming, as well. With Eglin AFB down the road from Crestview, they bring a number of colleges with satellite campuses to assist the very successful college tuition assistance program the military gives to their active, former, and retired members. Any questions, give me a call.

Trojans arrive in Crestview
Officials welcome Troy to town
By BRIAN HUGHES Florida Freedom Newspapers

CRESTVIEW — Troy University’s newest satellite campus officially opened at noon Thursday at the former Southside Elementary School The Crestview Area Chamber of Commerce hosted a ribbon-cutting for Troy. After several classes of prekindergarten students who share the Southside campus welcomed Troy officials, local officials and business leaders inspected the renovated classrooms at the school. “We’re excited we can complete the cycle from pre-K right through post-graduate here in Crestview,” said Jessica Jarosz, Troy’s site director. She credited Crestview Mayor David Cadle, Okaloosa County Superintendent of Schools Alexis Tibbetts and school district Chief Information Officer J.C. Connor for leading the effort to establish Troy’s presence in the Hub City. The newest of Troy’s more than 160 campuses worldwide already offers an art appreciate course. It will soon add studies in math and music. “We’re just starting out small until we get a feel for the student population,” said Charlotte Ridgell, the college’s site coordinator.


Growth of Eglin also continues . I had the pleasure of talking to the Base Commander at our Military Officer's Meeting and as stated before, continued growth is on the horizon. Below is just another example of the support programs being added to Eglin to meet the increased population of military personnel.

New dental clinic going up at Eglin (DOCUMENT)
Mona Moore
2010-01-20 20:02:26
EGLIN AFB — Construction has begun on a new clinic that will provide dental and medical care to the base’s growing population.
Because of new missions related to Base Realignment and Closure, Eglin Air Force Base’s population is expected to grow by nearly 4,000 people over the next six years.
The $13.6 million clinic is expected to open in September 2011, shortly before the population spikes.
The two-story 31,300-square-foot clinic will be located across from Eglin Regional Hospital and next to the Fisher House.
When the clinic opens, the hospital’s existing 21,000-square-foot clinic will be used for general medicine.
“The medical group is keeping with its strategic mission to take over the west end of the base,” Col. Gary Walker, commander of the 96th Medical Group, joked at a recent groundbreaking ceremony.
Eglin’s existing dental clinic has a 99 percent satisfaction rate, more than 7 percent more than the Department of Defense’s average.
“The best testament we can give to how effective and efficient our folks are is that you take your dental care for granted; you know it’s already taken care of in a very proactive fashion,” Walker said.
The clinic will have 52 dental treatment rooms and a new dental laboratory. Thirty people will join the existing 90-person staff.
The dental residency program also will be expanded. When the new clinic opens, the one-year program will grow from six residents to eight or 10.


Jobs, Jobs, Jobs; It not only the Army coming to town.

North Okaloosa Medical Center requests $150K impact fee waiver
Brian Hughes
2010-01-15 16:43:37

At the Crestview City Council’s Monday night meeting, North Okaloosa Medical Center CEO David Sanders asked the body to waive impact fees as the local hospital prepares to construct a 40-bed “patient tower.”
Sanders said the planned $18.2-million project will take 13 months to complete, and will provide 204 construction jobs while it is being built. Upon completion, the new facility will have a $1.2 million annual payroll impact on the community with 27 new jobs, Sanders said. Currently the hospital has a $32 million annual payroll, he said.
“There will be new construction jobs created for this community and new sales taxes raised,” Sanders said in his address to the council. “The project will enhance access to patient care and clinical services for the citizens of Crestview and the surrounding area.”
Sanders emphasized, “We’re not requesting a reduction of taxes we pay to the city of Crestview.”
However, the hospital feels that the city’s requirement for more than $150,000 in impact fees is excessive, Sanders said.
Under the recently implemented new fee structure, impact fees would include $37,000 for water, $107,000 for sewer, and $8,000 for public safety, Sanders stated.
Council members seemed eager to work with Sanders to address his request. Councilman Charles Baugh Jr. asked city attorney Ben Holley if there was provision in the city impact-fee ordinance to waive implementation of the fees under special circumstances.
“There is no provision in any of our ordinances to reduce public impact fees,” Holley replied. “If you waive it for one, you’d have to waive it for everyone.”
When council President Bob Allen asked Holley if he had any advice on how to go about waiving it, the attorney replied, “not at this point.”
After the council moved on to other matters without further discussion on the request, the topic came up again during the public input period at the meeting’s conclusion.
“I feel a little disappointed in y’all,” said Tom Moody, a member of the hospital’s board of trustees, who felt the city attorney “didn’t give them much opportunity to think it over.”
Noting the city’s hospital is a public service and not like a “bunch of developers” wanting to build a housing development, Moody reminded the council “I don’t think it’s like everything else, and I do think if you wanted to do it [waive the impact fees] you could find a way…. I think there are ways to trying to do this. You are smart people, much smarter than I am. I would expect you to reconsider this thing and come through for us.”
Baugh asked Sanders if not waiving the fees was a “deal breaker.”
“It will cause us to reconsider the timeline,” Sanders said.
“Our city has several jewels that make the city what it is. Our hospital is one of them,” Baugh said, leaving the hospital’s representatives hopeful that their request was not dead on arrival.
In other matters:
Also at its recent meeting, the Crestview City Council:
• Approved the Spanish Trail Cruisers Club request to block off Main Street and receive city services for its annual car show on April 17.
• Updated the library materials selection process policy, bringing it in line with American Library Association recommendations and providing for an appeal mechanism when a book challenge is upheld.
• Scheduled a Feb. 17 workshop to discuss revisions to the city’s sign ordinance and its Joint Land Use Study.
• Approved the Public Services department’s request to pursue an Energy Efficiency & Conservation block grant available under the American Recovery & Reinvestment Act.
• Received a report from Mayor David Cadle on the reorganization of the Crestview Police Department. “We’ve moved some folks around,” explained Cadle.

Thursday, January 14, 2010


Tuesday, January 12, 2010

The following is the 2010 Military Housing Allowance for Eglin AFB area for military members without dependents. This allowance is a tax-free entitlement. if you have any questions about this entitlement, please don't hesitate to give me a call. I have alot of experience in this area as the result of me being a former Military Housing Director for the Southeast United States.Paygrade Housing Allowance

E-1 - E-4: $912.00
E-5: $1080.00
E-6: $1182.00
E-7: $1218.00
E-8: $1281.00
E-9: $1317.00
W-1: $1200.00
W-2: $1278.00
W-3: $1320.00
W-4: $1383.00
W-5: $1425.00
O1E: $1257.00
O2E: $1308.00
O3E: $1371.00
O-1: $1083.00
O-2: $1245.00
O-3: $1329.00
O-4: $1419.00
O-5: $1461.00
O-6: $1491
O-7: $1521,99

NWF Regional Airport (Fort Walton Beach) to Improve Road, Expand Lots and more

Great job by the Okaloosa County Commissioners for their foresight in improving the NWF Regional Airport. This is just another opportunity and asset this area has to bring more military operations to this area.

NWF Regional Airport to improve roads, expand lots
Kari C. Barlow
2010-01-10 13:07:47

Visitors to Northwest Florida Regional Airport can expect road improvements and expanded parking in 2010. Construction crews are realigning the entrance road into the airport.
“It’ll be less of a turn,” said Okaloosa County Airports Director Greg Donovan. “It’ll be a more gradual turn and will open a brand new taxicab queuing area.” Also under way is the construction of a parking lot where customers can pay with a credit card. “It’s really fast, kind of like an express lot,” Donovan said. The third project is renovations to the complex’s Baldwin Building that will include installation of an emergency generator that could run the entire terminal. Donovan said the three projects are expected to be wrapped up by April or May.
County officials also took steps this week to position the airport for more state funding for improvements by approving several joint participation agreements with the Florida Department of Transportation. Donovan said Okaloosa’s airports also will compete against airports from across the country for Federal Aviation Administration funds to complete the projects.
On the list of possible projects is an interim concourse extension at Northwest Florida Regional.
“We have engineering estimates that put it somewhere around $5 million,” said Donovan, who added that the airport could eventually receive $500,000 in state funding for the project.
The agreements with the DOT are funding mechanisms that allow the airport to plan future projects with specific budgets in mind, he said. Donovan said he plans to complete the projects within the airport’s working budget rather than borrow money. “The bonding process for us translates into higher rates and charges for our tenants, and we don’t want to do that,” he said. “We want to gauge our expenses and not build (unnecessarily).” County Administrator Jim Curry said the planning is vital. “There’s a balance,” he said. “You want to make sure you build sufficiently … but you don’t want to do too much because you want to keep your operational costs down.” Other projects on the priority list include an overhaul of Northwest Florida Regional’s public parking and the widening of taxiways at Bob Sikes Airport in Crestview.
The taxiway widening, estimated to cost $2.5 million, is the most critical, Donovan said.
“I anticipate that project could very well be achieved this year,” Donovan said. “The pavement is very old and the intersections are pretty narrow for the kind of airplane we expect up there.”
Curry said the taxiway widening is an example of the long-term investment the county has made at Bob Sikes Airport to attract industry and jobs. “We really believe we’ve got an exceptional complex up there,” he said.


As I noted in previous emails, Eglin AFB is home for all services and military missions. This has become more apparent in the last few years. The story below illustrates this even more and the growth of this program is beyond the expectations. However, with the change in military tactics by our enemies, this will not go away anytime soon. Moral of this story. Eglin continues to attract all services of the military and their missions and the civilian contractors which follow them. PRIVATE SECTOR WE NEED YOUR HELP IN TAKING CARE OF THESE FOLKS AND EVERYTHING WHICH COMES WITH THEM.

Explosive ordnance disposal training on the increase at Eglin
Mona Moore
2010-01-13 22:38:52

EGLIN AFB — Lt. Cmdr. Mark McGuckin remembers when he went through explosive ordnance disposal training nine years ago.
“There were no suits and no robots,” said McGuckin, executive officer of the Naval School Explosive Ordnance Disposal at Eglin Air Force Base.
Suits and robots aren’t the only changes on the EOD campus. Since the start of Operation Enduring Freedom, demand for training has increased exponentially.
“We have 25 students start classes every three days,” McGuckin said.
The school will be at maximum capacity in fiscal 2010, with 1,786 students. That’s up from 1,705 students in 2009 and 1,283 in 2008. McGuckin said this year’s increase will be the last one until additional facilities are built.
The school trains all branches of the military and foreign military students. The number of students has doubled in the year since a new Army battalion was stood up at the school.
The increase has meant doubling the facilities as well. The school has added additional training sites and 13 temporary classrooms. More than $27 million was allocated to build barracks that will accommodate an additional 440 students.
Because funding has focused on war efforts, needs at the school have been met at a slower rate.
McGuckin finds that ironic. Since the United States’ involvement in Iraq and Afghanistan, the need for experts in explosive ordnance disposal has increased.
“It’s amazing the strain we have on our facilities. We’re on the low end of the pecking order,” he said.
A 67,000-square-foot building will replace a row of portables added since the surge of students began. A 171,000-square-foot applied Weapons of Mass Destruction facility will be added in 2013 at a cost of $36.7 million.
Fencing and road projects are also in the works.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010


For a note of history, we had over 2750 military homes at Eglin and the surrounding area a year or so ago. I can tell you from experience since I lived on Eglin as a kid, they could basically withstand a hurricane but looked like a square box. The military has demanded two things in the their housing program. First choice is to give the servicemembers an housing allowance and have them live of base. Second choice is to build quality housing as a last resort and only the amount to meet to the military population who would have problems renting or buying in the area. As you can see below, Eglin is reducing their housing inventory and more military members are coming to our area. Therefore, the private sector will have to meet the gap. Meeting that gap in today's banking world is the challenge. Any suggestions from the banking world in taking care of this tremendous need. The builder's need money to buy lots and build for our military.

Privatization still in play for military housing (MAP)
Mona Moore
2010-01-11 19:31:58

EGLIN AFB — Eglin Air Force Base still has not given up on privatizing its military housing.
A fourth attempt at privatization will continue with this week’s public scoping meetings. The meetings give area residents an opportunity to voice opinions on the possible housing sites under consideration before a final decision is made. The first meeting will be held tonight at Northwest Florida State College in the Mattie Kelly Arts Center. Like the other meetings this week, the Niceville meeting is scheduled from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. The Air Force will begin a formal presentation at 6:30 p.m. followed by a question and answer period. Residents near the Niceville campus would be most affected by alternatives that include building family housing in the White Point area and on a 2,458-acre parcel of the reservation one mile southeast of Mossy Head. The White Point land lines the coast of Choctawhatchee Bay south of Niceville. About 416 acres near SR 20 are under consideration. The Air Force also will look at 694 acres on Eglin Main Base. The largest parcel (620 acres) is located in the southwest corner of Eglin Main Base adjacent to the New Plew housing area. The remaining parcels are located along the northeast border of Eglin Main Base, near the East Gate and adjacent to Valparaiso.
Wednesday’s meeting will be at the Crestview Community Center. A possible site near SR 85 would have the greatest impact on residents in the area. The option under consideration includes two parcels of land totaling 567 acres between Duke Field and Yellow River.
Thursday’s meeting will be in the Fort Walton Beach Municipal Auditorium. One of the Air Force’s options includes land north of SR 189 and adjacent to the Northwest Florida Fairgrounds. The alternative also includes land — the Camp Pinchot and Poquito Bayou expansion areas — looked at in a previous privatization attempt.
Grassroots organizations opposed building homes in those areas when the idea was introduced in 2005 and 2006. The Camp Pinchot Historic District is not included in the new plans. During the project, the private developer will collect rent for the nine historic units currently in use. Once new housing is built and the families relocated, the historic homes will be turned back over to Eglin. In all, the new housing project will include up to 1,477 units. The developer will construct 548 units for Hurlburt Field and 929 units for Eglin. As it works to finalize the location of the new housing, Eglin already has spent $13 million on renovations to existing base housing. In addition to the meetings, comments received by Feb. 1 will be included in the draft Environmental Impact Statement and taken under consideration by the Air Force. People wishing to mail comments or obtain further information should send them to: Mike Spaits, Eglin Public Affairs Office, 101 West D Avenue, Suite 110 Eglin AFB, Florida 32542-5499. Phone: 882-2836; email:

Tuesday, January 12, 2010


The following is the 2010 Military Housing Allowance for Eglin AFB area for military members with dependents. This allowance is a tax-free entitlement. if you have any questions about this entitlement, please don't hesitate to give me a call. I have alot of experience in this area as the result of me being a former Military Housing Director for the Southeast United States.

Paygrade Housing Allowance

E-1 - E-4 $1218.00
E-5 $1257.00
E-6 $1371.00
E-7 $1413.00
E-8 $1461.00
E-9 $1563.00
W-1 $1371.00
W-2 $1434.00
W-3 $1491.00
W-4 $1590.00
W-5 $1710.00
O1E $1422.00
O2E $1482.00
O3E $1608.00
O-1 $1269.00
O-2 $1368.00
O-3 $1488.00
O-4 $1755.00
O-5 $1947.00
O-6 $1968.00
O-7 $1986.00

Tuesday, January 5, 2010


All I can tell you, as I have said before. Crestview is targeted by the aerospace industry in a big way. This is just one more step in making the Crestview Industrial Airpark a major economic engine for Crestview.

‘Super Walmart of air parts’ eyes airport
Memphis-based company coming to Bob Sikes
By KARI C. BARLOW Northwest Florida Daily News 315-4438

CRESTVIEW — An aircraft parts company has confirmed plans to lease more than 76,000 square feet at Bob Sikes Airport and eventually construct two buildings of its own. Okaloosa County commissioners are expected to approve a lease agreement with the Memphis-based Qwest Air Parts at today’s regular board meeting. The company, which specializes in dismantling retired commercial airliners and reconditioning and selling the parts, started in 1999 in Miami. It has 22 employees, said Scott Lindsey, chief financial officer at Qwest. “We take (aircraft) parts and get them recertified, if you will,” Lindsey said. “We basically put them in likenew condition.” County Airports Director Greg Donovan likened the company to a “super Walmart of air parts.” “It’s huge,” Donovan said. “They’re looking at substantial building, in the tens of thousands of square feet ... and a good number of brand new jobs in this county.” The company has disassembled 150 aircraft since it formed. Those include the A310, DC8, DC9, DC10, B747 and MD80. In addition to disassembly, the company purchases various inventories, such as the B727 spares inventory from American Airlines, the 727 spares inventory from Northwest Airlines and the B727 spares inventory from American Trans Air, according to the company’s Web site. Lindsey said Qwest needs an area with moderate temperatures that will allow them to break down the airplanes outdoors. “We were looking for a facility to dismantle aircraft and based upon the climate and location ... Florida is the perfect spot for us,” he said. Lindsey said the company will start with about five to 10 employees and eventually increase its work force. Donovan said Qwest is a good fit because the area “is so rich with retired military” who have the skills and work ethic needed in the aircraft parts industry. He expects Qwest to be up and running by later this month. “We’ve been working on this for several months to make sure the lease and their agreement is well-suited to their company needs,” he said. Lindsey said Bob Sikes Airport has the industrial space Qwest will need down the road for a hangar and a parts warehouse. “Those guys (in Crestview) have been really great to work with,” Lindsey said. “We think this is going to complement what we do greatly.”

Monday, January 4, 2010


The below is just a sampling of the kind of improvements the military installations in our area are doing. As noted below, the military has put their money where their mouth is, with the State of Florida and the local governments showing their support, as well. So read on and learn about the future of our area.

Constructing economy
Military projects are bustling, bringing in local revenue
By MONA MOORE Northwest Florida Daily News 315-4443

Local military installations will continue to grow in 2010. From Base Realignment and Closure additions to lodging, construction projects will change the local landscape, employ more residents and increase spending. “There continues to remain a tremendous amount of construction left to be done and also to be contracted out,” said Jim Breitenfeld of the Okaloosa County Economic Development Council. “At the worst, it will continue to do what the military has done for years here, which is serve as a solid base for the economy.” A few projects at Hurlburt Field are scheduled for completion within the next few months. The first phase of Hurlburt’s Soundside Club and Visiting Quarters is complete, a month ahead of schedule. Designed to accommodate 500 people, the new facility includes three ballrooms, a kitchen, outdoor deck and bar with a lounge in 20,610 square feet. The $6.7 million club hosted its first wedding reception Saturday. Its grand opening will be Sunday. The former Soundside Club soon will be Hurlburt’s Joint Operational Planning Facility, said Lt. Col Shawn Moore, commander with the 1st Special Operations Civil Engineer Squadron. “With the new club now operational, construction efforts are now focusing on the adjacent $7.3 million Joint Operational Planning Facility project scheduled to be complete in November 2010,” Moore wrote in an e-mail. “Also, construction of the new $9 million 720th Special Tactics Group facility has been progressing on schedule to meet projected completion in September 2010.” The attached visiting quarters, currently Hurlburt’s largest construction project, is scheduled for completion in February. The 63,987-squarefoot complex includes 120 rooms, a courtyard and two fitness rooms. The $14.2 million hotel will be open to anyone with DOD identification. Money for the project was supplied by nonappropriated funds and lodging non-appropriated funds from the Air Force Services Agency (AFSVA). Hurlburt also used military construction money approved by Congress. “One additional O&M (operations and maintenance) funded project of note is our current realignment of Terry Street and O’Neil Avenue, where we are creating a new four-way traffic-lighted intersection with Independence Road adjacent to our AAFES shoppette,” Moore said. The $685,000 project is expected improve the heavily traveled area. It should wrap up by the end of January. A new vehicle maintenance facility, an MC-130 simulator and electrical improvements also are funded for 2010 at a cost of $18.65 million. The electrical distribution substation will provide a second utility tie-in to support the base. The MC-130 simulator facility will be a 15,000-square-foot addition to an existing building. “The refueling vehicle maintenance will be a 4,600-square-foot facility to replace the existing 43-year-old undersized and deteriorated building,” Moore said. During the next six years, Eglin Air Force Base’s population is expected to increase by more than 6,200, thanks to the Army’s 7th Special Forces Group (Airborne) (7thSFG (A) and the Joint Strike Fighter training school. Those numbers could increase if the base receives more than the initial 59 F-35 jets. Construction projects related to the Joint Strike Fighter could also grow to $400 million if 54 additional F-35s come to Eglin. Preparations for the new missions include an increase in civilian jobs, from carpenters to engineers. Planning for the growth has been in the works since the announcement of the BRAC-initiated missions. The base is at the hiring stage of the plans, said Col. Bruce McClintock, commander of the 96th Air Base Wing. “Eglin is undergoing some major changes in our many missions and is looking forward to a bright future,” he said. Those changes include more than $13 million to renovate existing housing and recreation. The project started in 2009 with $7.5 million in improvements. Eglin will start scoping meetings for its latest military housing privatization initiative Jan. 12 at Northwest Florida State College’s Mattie Kelly Arts Center. The meetings are the first step in turning over military housing to private developers. Plans include demolishing some of the area’s current housing, but McClintock did not want to delay housing improvements. “We’ve got to stop waiting for housing and improve the housing we have,” McClintock said last month. Renovations include $1.2 million to replace fixtures in 574 homes and a $5 million budget request to do more extensive renovations to 100 homes. Playground renovations, new bike paths and running tracks are also in the works. Construction for the Joint Strike Fighter Initial Joint Training Center and the 7th SFG (A) compound will continue in 2010. More than $146 million of the training center military construction will be completed in the coming year. Nine facilities will house the initial program. Plans include a $5million dining hall and$15.8million for 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 the 2011 arrival of the program’s first class of pilots. The first aircraft will arrive this spring and be used for instructor training. The 600,000 square-foot 7th Special Forces Group compound near Duke Field includes a gymnasium, dining facility and two group headquarters. With subcontracted work still available and a full year of construction slated, the BRAC projects are expected to have a greater impact this year than in 2009, Breitenfeld said. “Buildings are starting to come out of the ground and go vertical but there’s a tremendous amount left there, easily over $100 million of contracts to be let,” he said. Eglin’s Emerald Breeze Resort on Okaloosa Island also is expected to break ground in 2010. The project was awarded last month to Innisfree Development. The first phase of the $24 million development will feature a beachfront pool, 150 rooms and two commercial spaces that will be available for lease. Future phases include at least 100 additional rooms. One project has been put on hold. The Army and Air Force Exchange Service Lifestyle Center, a Base Exchange shopping center expected to be built outside Eglin’s main gate, might be renewed as early as September upon completion of the F-35’s Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement.

Saturday, January 2, 2010


Take note, Panama City Florida and the surrounding area is also in the cross hairs of economic growth. As many knows, the "Red Neck Riveria" is a hot spot for their vacations and visits. SO STAY TUNED.

Panama City’s star looks bright in 2010
SCARLET SIMS / News Herald Writer
2009-12-31 11:29:53

PANAMA CITY — Panama City’s economy will be a shooting star during the next two years, local business leaders and economists said Thursday.
“The future is really bright for Panama City,” said Rick Harper, director of the University of West Florida’s Haas Center for Business Research and Economic Development. “2010 is the year to be pulling out of the economic trough. It is really the recovery year.”
This past year hit Bay County hard. Median home and condominium sale prices have plummeted, foreclosures are up and unemployment is high. Last month, Bay County reached 10.7 percent unemployment and it may go higher, economists say. Harper said Bay County’s economic woes are bottoming out. Next year will be better, especially the second half when the economy begins to rebound, he said.
Bright spots persisted in 2009 and will continue next year, said Beth Oltman, Panama City Beach Chamber of Commerce president. Area leaders pointed to Southwest as the No. 1 event impacting the business community in 2009. Southwest Airlines’ decision to be the low-cost carrier for the new international airport means Bay County is poised for growth, they said.
“We’re all living on the hopes of the new airport,” Oltman said.
Southwest is drawing the interest of other companies wanting to locate at the new airport’s industrial park, setting the stage for a better 2010. Harper said Southwest will draw tourists and military contractors.
“Southwest is going to be huge for Panama City and South Walton,” Harper said.
More companies mean more jobs, said Kim Bodine, Gulf Coast Workforce Board executive director, in an e-mail. She expects the local recovery to have fits and starts, but joblessness should lessen in 2010. Southwest’s decision increases the area’s visibility and opens the market for more visitors, which will immediately help the tourism market.
“It really broadens our reach,” Bodine said.
Bay County must work to bring more jobs to the area to recover fully from the worst recession in at least 20 years locally. Banks must be confident in loaning money, the county or state must offer incentives for new companies to locate in Bay County and the county must do what it can to be a business-friendly community, Bodine said. The airport is a great start, she said, but the workforce should still consider retraining or improving skills to meet future business demands.
In the short term, this spring’s tourism turnout is expected to be strong, Oltman said. Bodine hoped to expand existing businesses or bring in enough new companies to offset job losses when the tourism season ends.
“With the opening of the airport in May of 2010, this region will begin to see a surge of activity that we have probably never experienced and will assist us in a rapid recovery from the economic downturn,” said Bay County Chamber of Commerce President Carol Roberts in e-mail.
That growth probably won’t be strong until 2011, but when it hits, it will be faster than Tallahassee’s recovery and most of Northwest Florida, Harper said.
“I think the stage is set for robust growth in Panama City,” Harper said.