Monday, September 27, 2010


Okay my fellow BLOG readers. I thought you might want to read what the Executive Director of the Crestview Chamber might have to say. First, let me tell you, he is not only, the Executive Director of the Chamber, he is an Okaloosa County Commissioner, Retired Air Forces Service Member, and a good friend. I also have him scheduled to be my Guest Speaker at the November 2010 Military Officer's Association. I am formally inviting my fellow business men and women to attend this meeting in Fort Walton Beach. If interested, please give me a call. Enough said about that. As you will see, excitement is in the air about the 7th Special Forces Group and the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter; however bigger things will happen because of the incoming university and the Crestview Industrial Airpark. So read on, and if you are in the position to development, build, or invest, you might want to get serious about Crestview NOW. The timing want get any better.


"I’ve told you in the past and most of you know about the 7th Special Forces Group and their numbers, 2200-2500 military and corresponding families.The last time we talked about the Joint Strike Fighters the official number had not been determined and I am sure you all know now that 59 will most certainly be making their home here at Eglin and the other 48 with go to Luke AFB in Arizona. Yea, I know not what we expected but my Daddy always taught me that “A half of loaf is always better than no loaf when you’re hungry” so let’s be happy we are getting the bulk of the contingent. Even with that the Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) action was very good to us so we all need to be thankful. Next and just as important is the official transfer of the deed for Alatex building downtown to FAMU. This, again I believe, will have a more significant impact on the downtown area than anything else that can be achieved, even more in my estimation, than the BRAC. This will create strong desires by the business world to open their shops, boutiques, restaurants etc., on or in and around Main Street. In fact, the UWF’s Haas Center for Business Development estimates a $100 million dollar impact to Crestview in the first 5 years and more after that. A point of interest to us all is the fact that during a down economy two communities that do well are Military communities and College/University towns, folks we will have both. Additionally, as FAMU gets up and running and start educating upper level Pharmacists, Nurses and Dental students, mark my words, you’ll probably start seeing other colleges and universities vying to get a place at the table of Crestview. Wow! Next month maybe I will be able to fill you in on some of the other great things that are on our plate over the next few years…stay tuned and if you want to really know what’s going on in our home call Beverly White at the Chamber and talk to her about joining our Chamber if you are not already."

Friday, September 24, 2010


What this means. Duke Field, which is about 5 minutes from Crestview will see a good portion of the training of the new F-35 Training program. I would expect that training will be for the F-35, which is designed with vertical take off (Marine Version) and they will use this field because of some increases in noise associated with this type of take off. A good reason for this, is because Duke Field is further away from the general population and the noise will not affect them. What this also means, with the training being conducted at this location, you will probably see the support staff at this location make Crestview their home. So not only will you have the Army's 7th Special Forces Group at the door steps of Crestview, you will have a good part of the F-35 program. FOOD FOR THOUGHT!!!

Eglin, Duke Field finalists for primary F-35 activities
Northwest Florida Daily News 315-4443 |  

EGLIN AFB — The Air Force has narrowed down the primary airfields for the Joint Strike Fighter to Eglin Main and Duke Field. In a draft of the Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement (SEIS) released this week, the Air Force said the F-35 jets will bed down, be maintained, launched and recovered at one of the two fields. A final decision will be made after public hearings next month and released in the final Environmental Impact Statement. “I’m pleased that we’ve reached this stage in the process and am confident the critical analysis from this effort will ensure the best possible decision for F-35 operations at Eglin,” Col. Sal Nodjomian, commander of the 96th Air Base Wing, said in an e-mailed statement. “I also look forward to hearing what the community thinks throughout the public comment period.” The public will have 45 days to review and comment on the SEIS draft. The Air Force unveiled 18 options for the F-35 operations during a series of scoping meetings in August 2009. Many of the alternatives involved building more runways at a cost that was not included in original Base Realignment and Closure funding. The Air Force added a 19th option after the scoping meetings. The suggestion was to use Duke Field and Choctaw Field as auxiliary fields and build one new runway at Eglin for the primary airfield. The list was narrowed down to five options at Duke Field and two alternatives at Eglin Main. Eglin Main’s alternatives call for using Duke and Choctaw fields as auxiliary fields. One option has an additional runway being built at Eglin. The Air Force’s preferred option is to use Eglin Main as the primary airfield and Duke and Choctaw as auxiliary fields. No changes would be made to the runways. Valparaiso Mayor Bruce Arnold said Thursday that he had not seen the draft but would be given a copy that night at a meeting. “I have no comment until I’ve seen the document. I have no comment because I’ve seen nothing,” Arnold said. Copies of the draft SEIS are available for review and download at Eglin’s website and at  . Printed copies can be found at the following libraries after today: Robert L. F. Sikes P u b l i c L i b r a r y i n Crestview; Niceville Public Library; Fort Walton Beach Library; Navarre Public Library; Valparaiso Library; and the Monroe County Library in Monroeville, Ala. The comment period runs from today through Nov. 8. Public hearings are tentatively scheduled for Oct. 12, 13 and 14. The times and places have not been decided. For more information about the environmental impact analysis, contact Mike Spaits, 96th ABW/ PAV, Eglin AFB, FL 32542, The phone number is 882-2836.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010


As reported by the AP, new home construction jumped nationwide. That is good news. If you think that is good news, keep an eye on the new home sales in our area. It is going to skyrocket. I am seeing pre-sales, spec-homes, and builder's looking for good locations for new home construction. If you have been following my BLOG with the updates of the growth of our area, it is not surprising this is happening NOW. The mistake some have been making is looking at trends and absorptions and they are missing the boat. Throw that out the window. Apparently they have no understanding of military unit moves and the insights of the military culture. The government has ORDERED thousands of military people to our area now and in the immediate future, with plans to bring more government jobs (military and civilian) to our area. WHY, it is cost advantageous and the right thing to do. With a need to reduce the military budget, streamlining a number of processes are needed and Eglin and the surrounding military bases are going to the the benefactor of this streamling.

Home construction jumps 10.5% in August
WASHINGTON (AP) – Sept. 21, 2010 – Home construction increased last month and applications for building permits also grew. But the gains were driven mainly by apartment and condominium construction, not the much larger single-family homes sector.

Construction of new homes and apartments rose 10.5 percent in August from a month earlier to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 598,000, the Commerce Department said Tuesday. That’s the highest level since April.

Pulling the figures up was a 32 percent monthly increase in the condominium and apartment market, a small portion of the total market. Single-family homes, which represent about 80 percent of the market, grew more than 4 percent.

Housing starts are up 25 percent from their bottom in April 2009, but are still down 74 percent from their peak in January 2006.

Building permit applications, a sign of future activity, grew by nearly 2 percent to an annual rate of 569,000.

Builders are struggling with weak demand for new homes caused by high unemployment and a glut of foreclosed homes on the market. They had benefited in the spring from federal tax credits, but those expired in April.

Lennar Corp., a major builder based in Miami, said Monday the number of buyers signing agreements to purchase its homes fell 15 percent from a year ago in the three months ended August 31.

“It’s been a tough summer,” said Stuart Miller, Lennar’s chief executive, on a conference call with investors Monday. “As we’ve gone into September, we’re seeing a little bit of pickup in our traffic, but that shouldn’t be cause to heave a sigh of relief at this point.”

Construction activity rose 34 percent in the West and was up 22 percent in the Midwest and 7 percent in the South. However, construction fell by 24 percent in the Northeast.

On Monday, the National Association of Home Builders said its monthly index of builders’ sentiment was unchanged in September at 13. The index has now been at the lowest level since March 2009 for two straight months.

Thursday, September 16, 2010


This below is some recent news, which was reported by local news agency, on the future of Tyndall AFB and Panama City, FL. I am pretty confident, you will hear some more encouraging news on the economic growth of this area from Panama City to Mobile, AL on the I-10 corridor.

WJHG TV - September 15, 2010

Bay County's leaders have been a bit apprehensive for almost two years, since the Air Force announced it was retiring its F-15 jet fleet. Tyndall Air Force Base was slated to lose 48 of the aircraft, along with 800-jobs in support of that mission. Those jobs pump millions of dollars into the local economy.

Then, several weeks ago, the Air Force announced it is assigning an operational squadron of F-22 fighters at Tyndall, to replace the F-15 mission.

With all of the changes, Tyndall commanders felt it was time to brief local politicians and community leaders about what Bay County can expect now and in the future.

As 325th Fighter Wing Commander, Brigadier General James Browne explained it, the future looks very bright.

"We are very excited to have the announcement that there will be a follow up operational F-22 unit that will show up at Tyndall. With that we anticipate approximately 650 jobs. Compare that to the over 800 jobs that we lose because of the F-15's leaving. There is a little bit of a deficit, however there are many unknowns as we see a new operational unit show up on the base. So it may in fact be a zero loss if not a net gain."

Tyndall Air Force Base economic impact on Bay County is between $600-and-700 million dollars a year.


Okay people, one of the biggest sports stories of all times comes to Eglin AFB. The Associated Press reports, I did say, Associated Press, has reported and it is being published around the world, the Miami Heat will have their training camp at Eglin AFB. If you don't think this will bring new eyes on this area, I don't know what will. I can pretty much assure you, there will be daily shows and stories noting the players time and the surrounding area during their stay. I have said, many times, Northwest Florida is on the map in a big way.

Road trip: Miami Heat taking their first training camp with James, Wade, Bosh to Eglin AFB
7:40 PM CDT, September 15, 2010

MIAMI (AP) — LeBron James will take his talents to a different beach when the Miami Heat open camp.

He'll get to South Beach eventually. But first — Fort Walton Beach.

The Miami Heat announced Wednesday night that they'll hold their first camp with James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh at Hurlburt Field and Eglin Air Force Base in Florida's Panhandle from Sept. 28 to Oct. 3. Miami has typically held training camp at its home arena, but in an effort to limit distractions going into this much-hyped season, the Heat wanted a different locale.

Heat coach Erik Spoelstra wanted the camp there after getting presented with the idea by team trainer Jay Sabol. Once military officials agreed, the deal was struck.

"This is a terrific opportunity for our team," Spoelstra said. "The base will provide the ideal setting for us to focus on basketball and building camaraderie with limited distractions. It also presents us a unique and fantastic opportunity to spend time with the Airmen who defend our freedom. I anticipate our team and each of us individually will benefit tremendously from being around this environment."

Eglin officials said Wednesday night they could not recall another professional sports team holding part of its training camp at the base, which is about 650 miles away from Miami. Practices will take place at Hurlburt Field's Aderholt Gymnasium. The Heat said they would be involved in several other on-base events.

"We at Hurlburt Field have a proud tradition of excellence, sacrifice and commitment. Our world-class Airmen and facilities guarantee we can answer the call — any time, any place," said Col. Michael Plehn, 1st Special Operations Wing commander. "We know the Miami Heat share this same commitment to excellence. This is why we're pleased to support their request to use our facilities."

James famously said he would "take my talents to South Beach" when announcing his decision to join the Heat on July 8, and there will be plenty of time for that to happen. The Heat will return to South Florida two days before opening the preseason at home against Detroit on Oct. 5.

"The Miami Heat is extremely humbled to train in an environment where service, sacrifice and discipline are the norm," Heat president Pat Riley said. "We know our players will appreciate being immersed in that kind of environment, and supporting the men and women who defend our freedom everyday."

The Heat have many ties to military efforts, including their "HomeStrong" initiative where soldiers returning from Iraq and Afghanistan are honored before every home game. Riley also has arranged Christmas parties for soldiers and their families in recent years, and former Heat first-round draft pick Tim James joined the U.S. Army in 2008 and was sent to Iraq shortly thereafter.

The Heat plan to practice twice daily during camp, although that's subject to change.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010


Panama City International Airport has triggered one of the nation's top Economic Growth Potential. The door has been opened and a number of folks from around the Globe is finding the Panhandle of Florida. What does this mean? Our area is not a secret anymore. READ ON!!!!

Panama City Metro Ranked #1 for Economic Growth Potential
Business Facilities Magazine Article from the July / August 2010 issue

We recognize that growth potential is not determined by size; in fact, there are a number of “overgrown” metropolises in the U.S. that rapidly are being outpaced by mid-sized contenders. Also, some of the most dramatic growth possibilities can be found in smaller communities. So we’ve divided our Top 10 Metros for Economic Growth Potential ranking into two sub-categories, giving large cities and their smaller brethren a chance to shine side by side.

In the small population sub-category, Panama City, FL remains front and center on our growth radar. As we detailed in our June cover feature [Editor’s Location Picks], it would be hard to find a better example of the seemingly overnight transformation of a region than the current activity on the Florida panhandle.

One of the nation’s largest economic development initiatives is taking shape amidst the piney trees and pristine beaches in Northwest Florida near Panama City. What makes the 75,000-acre West Bay development unique is not just a huge public-private effort that is spearheaded by the area’s largest property owner, The St. Joe Co. and has brought together state, regional and local agencies: West Bay is the only economic development project in the nation that comes with its own brand-new international airport.

The $318-million Northwest Florida Beaches International Airport began operations with the first landing by Southwest Airlines on May 23 after a ribbon-cutting ceremony attended by Gov. Charlie Crist. It is the first greenfield commercial service airport to be built in the U.S. in more than 15 years, replacing the existing Panama City-Bay County International Airport. The new airport boasts a 10,000-foot runway built on approximately 1,300 acres of a 4,000- acre site in the West Bay development. The land for the airport was donated by St. Joe Co. The 125,000-square-foot passenger terminal at NW Beaches features seven gates, two restaurants, two retail shops and six car-rental counters. Southwest Airlines and Delta Air Lines will offer daily service to Atlanta, Memphis, Orlando, Cincinnati, Houston, Baltimore and Nashville.

The West Bay Sector Plan initially calls for a business center and a regional employment center, divided into more than two dozen parcels ranging from 7 to 44 acres each. The business and retail sites are surrounded by more than 40,000 acres that have been set aside by the developers for environmental preservation. St. Joe’s new headquarters will be located within Phase I of the West Bay Sector Plan development near the entrance of the new international airport. The new offices will provide the company with a location central to its numerous residential communities and commercial properties under development.

Sunday, September 5, 2010


I have noted a number of times, the future of the BRAC Realignment was not only going to be about the Army’s 7th Special Forces or the F-35 Training program bringing thousands of new positions to the area; it was going to be the growth of a number of defense contractors, as well. Most people have not read the BRAC decision in whole and are unaware of the military programs, which were going to be moved to the area also. This did not get the same exposure because everybody focused on what the government was responsible of moving to the area, which was the people. These programs will also provide growth in new positions and has the potential to provide many more personnel than the combination of the movement of the Army’s 7th Special Forces and F-35 Training Program and the cost of new hires and moves will be by the Defense Contractors. As you can see below, Dr. Paul Hsu, a successful defense contractor in his own right and a past Presidential Appointee for President Bush on Economic Development, has desires to expand the Crestview Airpark even more. In a recent interview, he noted, what Edwards AFB did for the silicone valley on the West Coast, you can expect the same from its sister base, Eglin AFB, will do for the East Coast. Therefore, you can sit back and watch, or you can get in the game. Again, stay tuned, more will follow shortly.

Crestview's Sunshine Aero expanding operations
Brian Hughes |
2010-09-04 12:26:42

With a fleet of 10 specially modified aircraft, 30 employees and a salary payroll of more than $1 million, Bob Keller’s Sunshine Aero, a fixture at Crestview’s Bob Sikes Airport for more than 30 years, is expanding its operations.
Keller’s SAI Flight Test, the evolution of Sunshine Aero, is the first tenant at the new Crestview Technology Airpark, a joint effort between businessman Dr. Paul Hsu, Keller, the county, airport and state officials, and the Crestview Area Chamber of Commerce. The airpark is located at the north end of the airport’s runway and had its groundbreaking in March.
Last week, Keller briefed the chamber’s Airport Committee on progress. The most visible sign is the construction of SAI’s new hangar and office complex. Built to Keller’ specifications, his company will lease the new building and adjacent taxiways from the county upon completion.
SAI Flight Test performs modifications of aircraft for optimum installation under severe time constraints, Keller explained in his presentation.
“Our customers usually need it yesterday,” Keller said, explaining the “severe time constraints” caveat. Then he jokingly added, “If they have a couple of years, they go to the Air Force.”
The company’s flight-test aircraft have been extensively modified. Seat tracks in the planes accept equipment in racks capable of withstanding 9 G-forces without flying loose from their fittings. The planes’ airframes have been strengthened to support external equipment, such as instrumentation pods and an advanced flying naval torpedo developed by defense manufacturer Raytheon.
SAI has an FAA-certified avionics laboratory in which the company modifies both civilian and military aircraft. The company holds a Department of Defense security clearance, and networks with other area defense companies.
“There is a lot of capability in this area and we talk to each other quite often,” Keller said.
Keller told the packed conference room at the Chamber of Commerce’s office, “We have been doing this for many years. A lot of what we do I can't talk about.”
One of the projects he can discuss publicly is advanced radar mapping with the ALIRT system, a capability his company successfully proved earlier this year. Sunshine Aero flew about 150 hours of mapping missions in Haiti following the devastating earthquake earlier this year.
The company’s equipment peered through thick jungles, clouds, smoke and other obstructions to identify roadways and paths rescue workers could use to get supplies to victims of the disaster.
County airport officials are extremely pleased with partnership that led to the creation of the technology airpark.
“When I see you taking off, that's what makes me happy,” said Okaloosa County Airports project manager Tracy Stage to Keller. “We want to do those things to make you and our other tenants succeed.”
The new 24,000 square feet of hangar that SAI will lease is a first step in the airpark development, and is well under way. It should be ready for occupancy by November, Keller said, and will also house his company’s offices, avionics lab and workshops.
“It’s going to be a nice-looking facility and certainly what we need,” Keller said.
The company has a Crestview staff 18. He has a further 12 Sunshine Aero staff members working at its smaller refueling facility at the Florala, Ala., airport. Last year’s total sales surpassed $6.3 million.
“And we’re still growing,” Keller said proudly. “We try to hide what we do out there because it’s a lot of fun.”

Friday, September 3, 2010


Well folks, some have had their eyes on the Army 7th Special Forces Group coming, you might want to start getting ready for some 2,000 sailors, Marines, and airman, expected to support the training wing. On top of that, you can expect about 13 NATO countries bringing their support staffs for their new F-35 pilots for training. Do you see the picture here? Not only will you have permanent positions here, you will see a flood of new pilots here on a temporary basis. Which means, transient lodging and rentals will be in high demand. Look closely to the below article, CONSTRUCTION COMPLETED BY JANUARY 2011.

F-35 joint training wing gets ready for deliveries
August 24, 2010

The first Joint Strike Fighter to enter the U.S. military’s first F-35 joint service training wing is scheduled to arrive in November at Eglin Air Force Base, Fla.
By 2014, the 33rd Fighter Wing is expected to reach full strength with more than 2,000 sailors, Marines and airmen and a minimum of 59 F-35s.
The U.S. Navy, Air Force and Marine Corps will each have a training squadron under the 33rd. Fifteen F-35Cs will be assigned to the Navy’s Strike Fighter Squadron 101 “Grim Reapers,” which stands up in 2013; 24 F-35As will fall under the Air Force’s 58th Fighter Squadron “Mighty Gorillas,” which stood up in October; and the Marines will have 20 F-35B assigned to Marine Fighter Attack Training Squadron 501 “Warlords,” which stood up April 2.

“We’re laying a template for how the free world will fly fighters for the next 35 to 50 years,” Col. David Hlatky, commander of the 33rd Fighter Wing, said during a media briefing at Eglin.
Navy Capt. Mike Saunders, deputy commander of the 33rd Operations Group, said the wing set high goals for its training regimen.
“Our hope is that this will be the model for training,” Saunders said.
In July, instructors performed a dry run to “work out the kinks,” said Marine Col. Arthur Tomassetti, the 33rd’s vice commander. The first student pilots will come from other planes and might not recognize the electronic classrooms designed for the 33rd. Rather than a seabag full of textbooks, students will take home a laptop, he said.
“Whether they are pilot students or maintenance students, they are going to start in electronic classrooms,” Tomassetti said, standing in a classroom with joysticks and 42-inch flat screens at each desk.
A basic JSF simulator is at the 33rd. Retired Air Force Maj. Greg Wilder, now a contracted instructor, said the wing has room to install 10 full-mission simulators, but plans to buy six to eight. Each Mission Rehearsal Trainer, built by Lockheed Martin with partners that include Rockwell Collins, will cost about $12.5 million and feature 24 projectors with touch screens and flight controls.
Each pilot will have to fly at least five complete missions inside a Mission Rehearsal Trainer before piloting a JSF, said Maj. Eric Smith, an A-10 and F-16 pilot assigned to the 58th Mighty Gorillas.
The technological advancements built into the F-35 will make it easier to train new students, especially compared with the AV-8B Harrier, said Tomassetti, who started his career flying Harriers.
Construction has started on what 33rd Fighter Wing leaders describe as “the campus,” which includes a dormitory, dining facility and Academic Training Center that will be big enough to fit six football fields.
Construction is scheduled to end in January, Hlatky said.
As the 33rd grows, so will the relationships between the pilots and maintainers from different services and different JSF partner countries. The first foreign students will be British pilots scheduled to arrive in 2011, Tomassetti said.
When student pilots start arriving straight from pilot school, he said the joint training will introduce them early to the Defense Department’s “joint approach.”


As you can see by the numbers, Commercial Real Estate is coming back earlier than anticipated. In our area of Northwest Florida, the commercial markets in the future are much brighter. With tens of thousands of new military personnel being assigned to the Okaloosa County area, who have almost twice the average per capita income of the local citizens, I am sure it will catch the attention of many folks.

Commercial real estate yields spur investors
NEW YORK – Sept. 2, 2010 – Yields on U.S. commercial real estate are nearing a record high compared to Treasury bonds. Many investors take that as a signal to buy property.

Capitalization rates, a measure of real estate yields, averaged 7.22 percent in the second quarter, as calculated by the National Council of Real Estate Investment Fiduciaries. That was 4.29 percentage points higher than the yield on 10-year government bonds as of June 30 and 4.75 percentage points higher than Treasury yields as of Aug. 31.

Current returns are near the record 5.39 percentage points in the first quarter of 2009, when the U.S. was dealing with the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression. The spread shrank to less than 80 basis points when commercial real estate prices peaked in 2007.

“The data indicate that real estate is poised for a rebound,” says Gerardo Lietz, who advises pension funds on property investments.

Source: Bloomberg, Hui-yong Yu (09/01/2010)