Tuesday, November 23, 2010


If you have been following the many economic factors affecting this area because of the movement of the Army’s 7th Special Forces Group, F-35 Training Squadron, and other defense related programs. With these factors and those noted below, the future looks very bright for our area. I can tell you, many, and I mean many, new roof tops are coming to our area and the word from the new residents are, Where is my shopping and restaurants? The next question is, who will take the lead and who will be standing by them to take the next step.

WASHINGTON – Nov. 23, 2010 – With more capital available and increased demand for less volatile investments, institutional-level commercial property prices are on an upward trend, according to the CCIM Institute and the Real Estate Research Corporation (RERC). While institutional investors continue to buy or hold commercial real estate, the recommendation to sell has been steadily increasing over the last 12 months.“Though much uncertainty remains in the overall economy, transaction trends for commercial real estate continue to improve,” says Frank Simpson, CCIM, the 2011 president of the CCIM Institute. “The challenge for investors remains finding the right properties at the right price with the best return potential.”CCIM and RERC caution that the commercial real estate market is increasingly divided, with some historically high prices being paid for institutional properties in top-tier markets, while other markets are seeing little or no transaction activity other than distressed property sales.“The good news is the institutional markets are typically a leading indicator … and we expect to see additional activity in more of these markets over time,” says Ken Riggs, CCIM, president and CEO of the Chicago-based Real Estate Research Corporation and the CCIM Institute’s chief real estate economist. “The gap between bid-ask is still too wide in many cases, and until buyers and sellers come closer together, actual transactions will remain sparse.”RERC’s analysis of third quarter transactions shows significantly greater total volume on a 12-month trailing basis, with the hotel sector showing the largest increase at nearly 50 percent. The retail sector volume increased the least at 15 percent. Compared to previous quarters, there was a steady increase in volume of sales greater than $5 million for all property sectors. However, transaction activity of less than $5 million remains flat.In terms of confidence levels of CCIM Institute members, the apartment sector continues to receive the highest investment conditions rating – a 6.0 on a scale of 1 to 10. Apartments easily outscored the industrial sector, which received a rating of 4.5. Investment conditions ratings for the retail and hotel sectors both declined to 3.9, indicating their general weakness, while offices were lowest at 3.8.The apartment and industrial sectors were the only property types whose ratings increased during the third quarter.

Sunday, November 21, 2010


They keep coming and coming. This is the latest of a number of new aerospace businesses coming to the Crestview Industrial Airpark. As I have mentioned before, this Airpark is ideal for a number of new businesses and existing businesses, since it sits along the I-10 corridor and Eglin AFB. AS ALWAYS STAY TUNED FOR MORE. This Airport has the potential of bring far more people than the 7th Special Forces to the area, and I am pretty confident it will. The State of Florida has given over $5,000,000 to Okaloosa County for Airport improvements, which has been used make the airport accessible by the largest aircraft in the world.

Aircraft salvage company to land
Qwest Air Parts will disassemble commercial airliners and sell the parts
Florida Freedom Newspapers
CRESTVIEW — The World Airways DC10-30 that landed at Bob Sikes Airport on Wednesday will be stripped and its parts sold. The plane was purchased by Memphis, Tenn.-based Qwest Air Parts Inc., which disassembles retired commercial airliners and sells the parts to airline companies around the world. Qwest is opening a facility at Bob Sikes. It will operate out of a temporary hangar to be built until construction of the company’s permanent hangar is complete, Okaloosa County Airports Director Greg Donovan said. The DC10-30 is the first Qwest airplane that will be disassembled at Bob Sikes. A second DC10-30 is expected to arrive next week. “This is the start of big things for our airport,” Okaloosa County Commission Chairman Wayne Harris said. Every piece of the airplanes, which each seated 350-plus passengers, will be sold. “One company might buy the landing gears and the engines will be sold to another,” Donovan said. All the parts are certified and utilized. Once stripped, the aluminum hull is salvaged for scrap. Qwest employs 22 people at its location in Tennessee. The company initially plans to hire between five and 10 people for the Crestview location. At 8,000 feet, the runway at Bob Sikes is the second longest commercial and industrial runway in the region. Only the new 10,000-foot-long runway in Panama City is longer. Qwest’s startup at Bob Sikes, along with the airport’s runway capability, instrument landing system and thousands of acres of developable property bode well for future expansion, Donovan said. To help facilitate that growth, $11.5 million in improvements will be presented to county commissioners in December. Plans call for widening taxiways up to 75 feet and storm drainage improvements. The Federal Aviation Administration will fund $5 million and the Florida Department of Transportation is expected to kick in another $3 million. The remaining $3.5 million will come from matching funds by the airport. “None of it is taxpayer money,” Donovan said. Work could begin in December or January. Jonathan Dunn, president of Emerald Coast Aviation, Bob Sikes’ fixedbase operator, said Qwest’s arrival “is what Crestview has needed.” “This is going to bring jobs and revenue to Crestview,” Dunn said.

Daily News Staff Writer Kari Barlow contributed to this report.

Friday, November 12, 2010


Again, as I have told many of you. The eyes of the country and world are upon us. I only wish many of you could be with me at some of the meetings I attend, where plans for the future are being discussed. Many of the plans over the last couple of years are now being implemented and some of the more exciting things are yet to be released. With all of the troubles of the country and world, our area is poised to lead the country out of them. Housing starts and sells are flourishing with some of the ordered military making plans to arrive early before increase home prices, CONDO sales are increasing, yes, I said CONDO’s, commercial ventures are being planned to accommodate the BRAC troop movement, military technology is being given commercial application, which will increase jobs, and recent information from the DEP is the Oil Spill did not adversely affect of eco-system. With this being said, the futures bright for our area and we have a responsibility to make our tens of thousands of new residents welcome by providing them quality housing, shopping, and just plan “Southern Hospitality”.

Northwest Florida Daily News 315-4448 dricketts@nwfdailynews.com  

Vision Airlines’ arrival at Northwest Florida Regional Airport will not only bring more tourists to the area, but will help boost business as well, according to local experts. Vision announced Wednesday that it will start offering twice-weekly flights to and from Niagara Falls, N.Y., and Miami. Paul Hsu, chairman of Hsu Enterprise Group and a member of President Barack Obama’s National Advisor y Council on Minority Business Enterprise, said those were good locations. Both sites open up new business hubs, especially Miami, which is a gateway to South America. “If you look at the (World Trade Organization), the trade between us and the South Americans will definitely increase over the next couple of years,” Hsu said. “The Miami connection is really going to seal that.” Larry Sassano, president of the Economic Development Council of Okaloosa County, agreed. “We’ve never had a direct flight to Miami,” Sassano said. “I’ve been here since 1973 and I don’t remember any airport in Northwest Florida having a direct flight to Miami.” David Goetsch is vice president for community relations and workforce development at Northwest Florida State College and a member of Northwest Florida Regional’s strategic planning team. He said the South Florida and upstate New York locations are important hubs for local business people. “There’s not a downside to this airline coming here. It’s all good,” Goetsch said. “It opens up a whole new avenue of access for them,” he added. “It works in both directions, too. That works for people coming here as well as people going from here to wherever they have to go.”

Thursday, November 11, 2010


The speedway from the South Part of the County to the North Part of the County is almost done and will be a major motivator in deciding where to live for not only the incoming Special Forces Group, F-35 Training Squadron, and a number of other folks working in the South Part of the County. Senator Gaetz was instrumental in making this happen with the knowledge that the majority of the folks had a desire to live on the North Part of the County for a number of reason. One of the major reason's of course, is the fact the only available land for the massive growth was on the North Side of the County.

SR 85-123 overpass to be finished 'on-time, if not early' (PHOTOS)
Angel McCurdy
2010-11-09 20:38:28

EGLIN AFB — As motorists continue to drive past the dirt mounds and growing concrete walls at the intersection of State Roads 85 and 123, officials say progress on the flyover is on schedule.
Construction crews have completed support work for the overpass that will connect northbound SR 85 to northbound to SR 123, according to a news release from the Florida Department of Transportation. “Everything is going real well,” said DOT disrict spokesman Tommie Speights. “There have been no major hurdles, and if the weather continues to work on our favor we anticipate the project will be complete by summer 2012.” The flyover ramp will eliminate the need for the traffic signal at the intersection and allow vehicles to move uninterrupted.
The $21.5 million project is being funded by the American Reinvestment and Recovery Act of 2009. The work now is focused on SR 85 in front of Northwest Florida Regional Airport. Crews are building the entrance and exit drives for the airport and the new frontage road adjacent to northbound SR 85. SR 85 will also be widened to six lanes from General Bond Boulevard north to the airport. Speights said the daytime work has caused no traffic tie-ups and should not pose a problem in the future. “They are working out of the way of traffic,” he said. “They sometimes will have to bring in trucks or supplies, but they haven’t had to stop traffic yet.” Mike Lenga, project administrator with contractor Greenhorne & O’Mara, said the substructure for flyover has been completed. The next phase will include laying asphalt. Traffic will be shifted around the work area after Thanksgiving to allow crews to finish work on the two walls of the bridge.
When completed, the frontage road will carry delivery traffic to the airport’s commercial entrance and exit. Crews also are continuing working on the new ramp and a retention pond east of the airport. “This should relieve congestion at the intersection, making the area safer for drivers,” Speights said. “So far, things are moving along well.” Plans call for shifting southbound traffic on SR 85 onto the new frontage road by January. The change will allow crews to build the overpass on SR 85 southbound. “We’re on track for an on-time, if not early completion,” Lenga said. “Things are looking good.”

Saturday, November 6, 2010


More eyes on Fort Walton Beach and the surrounding area. As I noted in the past, the Economic Development Council, Tourist Development Council, the Chamber of Commerce, and many others, have been instrumental in keeping the Panhandle of Florida in their crosshairs of the country. The markets targeted have been some of the travelers visiting us over the years, as well as, some areas, which have benefitted from the Aerospace growth we have now and more planned in the future. There is much more happening and being planned. STAY TUNED. Great job to all parties involved.

New air carrier could land in Okaloosa
Vision Airlines is expected to announce its plans soon
Northwest Florida Daily News 315-4448 dricketts@nwfdailynews.com

It appears a new low-cost airline is on its way to Northwest Florida, and this one will land in Okaloosa County. Mark Bellinger, executive director of the Okaloosa County Tourist Development Council, announced at a Greater Fort Walton Beach Chamber of Commerce breakfast Friday that Vision Airlines will expand its services to Northwest Florida Regional Airport. Bellinger said Vision Airlines was expected to announce that it soon will offer flights to and from Niagara Falls, N.Y., to attract snowbirds. Flights then would be added to other cities in March or April. “I think having a new start-up is going to be extremely exciting,” Bellinger said after the breakfast. “Vision Airlines wants to work very closely with our community. They’ve already met with the lodging industry. They want to do cooperative package plans for overnight lodging that they can offer on their website.” After Bellinger’s announcement, Okaloosa County Airports Director Greg Donovan said it was too soon for him to comment on the airline’s arrival. “We’re in discussions with a new airline and an airline announcement is not ready yet,” Donovan said. “The airline will need to make the announcement. We’ve been working with them and we hope an announcement will be coming soon.” In addition to Niagara Falls, other cities that could be served with direct flights include Atlanta, Louisville, Ky., Huntsville, Ala., Little Rock, Ark., Baton Rouge, La., and Orlando. Bellinger said the TDC will partner with the new airline on advertising. Vision also wants to work with local restaurants and retailers in promoting their businesses and offering discounts to airline passengers, he said. “They just want to work with partners and they want to work with the local community to make this successful,” Bellinger said. “They really are personalizing, I think, the airline experience, and you just don’t see that with the big carriers.”

Thursday, November 4, 2010


In a recent briefing to my NW Florida Military Officer's Association by Wayne Harris, Okaloosa County Commissioner and Executive Director of the Crestview Chamber of Commerce noted below, big things are happening. With the 7th Special Forces Post ahead of schedule and troops being moved early to Crestview or some deciding to buy while now while rates and prices are low, you can see the area changing with restaurants, retail and other commercial popping up all over the place. It should be noted, this is just the group of the Army, we not even become to talk about what is happening with the massive military construction going on right now with the F-35 Training School at Eglin, which will bring approximately the same impact to the area if not more. When investing in the area, you need to understand your customer and I can tell you, our new customers have some unique needs and they will have a lot of money. Example, the Army Special Forces Group get a lot nice bonuses to stay in and when deployed to a hostile area, which they do, their salary during that time is tax free. With some 300 days a year deployed, that is over 75% of their pay tax free. A lot more deposable pay for things like a house, cars, electronics, and other investments. Need to learn more, give me a call.

Harris: Army Special Forces will have huge impact
Some 6,000 people are expected to make the move from Fort Bragg
Northwest Florida Daily News 315-4448 dricketts@nwfdailynews.com   FORT WALTON BEACH — The look of Okaloosa County is changing.

Okaloosa County Commissioner Wayne Harris was the guest speaker Wednesday at the Northwest Florida Military Officer’s Association breakfast at Westwood Retirement Resort in Fort Walton Beach. Harris updated visitors on the latest reports of military growth related to the incoming Army 7th Special Forces Group (Airborne). The 7th Special Forces Group, which includes 2,200 soldiers, is moving to Northwest Florida from Fort Bragg, N.C., as part of the 2005 Base Realignment and Closure law. An additional 3,800 family members are expected to accompany them. The Army group will be based just south of Crestview on Eglin Air Force Base land. “The study we did showed the bulk of the folks will be coming to Okaloosa County, about 90 percent, and about 65 percent of those are projected to go to the north end of the county,” Harris said. “Three percent is expected to go to Santa Rosa County and 7 percent to Walton County. “That’s just projections,” Harris added. “That doesn’t mean that’s where they’re going to move. They’re going to go where they want to go. I just talked to a Realtor the other day who said they came in and went right to Pace.” The deadline to complete the move is Sept. 15, 2011. The largest influx of soldiers and family members is expected to arrive next July. Although Northwest Florida is accustomed to having a strong military presence, Harris said things differentiate the Army group from other military personnel in the area. Harris said most 7th Special Forces troops are away from home about 300 days a year. The mortality rate also is much higher than what the area is used to seeing, he added. It will be important for schools to be prepared to help with that situation. Harris also said the incoming troops and their families will have a huge financial impact on Okaloosa County and will help keep tax rates down. “The forecast for growth because of BRAC is about 10,000 jobs by 2015,” Harris said.