Wednesday, December 21, 2011


Nationally, the Builder’s confidence is rising. Locally, they are off the chart, as they try to keep pace to provide quality and affordable homes for our tremendous growth. The problem, which most of the local builders are experiencing is access to capital to get into the game. This problem has put pressure on the larger home builders to meet the need. As many know, we have a built in influx of military personnel transferring in and out of the area, with numbers in the area of 3000-4000 every summer period. These folks will be looking for rentals and new homes. As many of us, military folks know, the Emerald Coast is an area, where many of us return and call their home in our later years. Therefore, home buying seems to be a better option. Especially, when the most junior married enlisted person gets a housing entitlement (Tax Free) close to $1200.00 per month. With low rates, they money goes along way. An example of a Principal and Interest Payment alone for a 30 year VA (No money down) at 4%, the payment for a $225,000 is $1074.00 per month. This make us go, HMMMMM!!!!!

Builder Confidence Rises for the Third Consecutive Month
Posted By susanne On December 19, 2011 @ 4:49 pm In Business Development,Marketing,Real Estate,Real Estate Information,Real Estate Trends,Today's Top Story
Builder confidence in the market for newly built, single-family homes edged up two points from a downwardly revised number to 21 on the National Association of Home Builders/Wells Fargo Housing Market Index (HMI) for December. This marks a third consecutive month in which builder confidence has improved, and brings the index to its highest point since May of 2010.
“While builder confidence remains low, the consistent gains registered over the past several months are an indication that pockets of recovery are slowly starting to emerge in scattered housing markets,” said Bob Nielsen, chairman of the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) and a home builder from Reno, Nev. “However, the difficulties that both builders and buyers continue to experience in accessing credit for new homes are holding back potential sales even in areas where economic conditions are improving.” “This is the first time that builder confidence has improved for three consecutive months since mid-2009, which signifies a legitimate though slowly emerging upward trend,” said NAHB Chief Economist David Crowe. “While large inventories of foreclosed properties continue to plague the most distressed markets and consumer worries about job security and the challenges of selling an existing home remain significant factors, builders are reporting more inquiries and more interest among potential buyers than they have seen in previous months.” Derived from a monthly survey that NAHB has been conducting for more than 20 years, the NAHB/Wells Fargo Housing Market Index gauges builder perceptions of current single-family home sales and sales expectations for the next six months as “good,” “fair” or “poor.” The survey also asks builders to rate traffic of prospective buyers as “high to very high,” “average” or “low to very low.” Scores from each component are then used to calculate a seasonally adjusted index where any number over 50 indicates that more builders view conditions as good than poor. Each of the HMI’s three component indexes registered a third consecutive month of improvement in December. The component gauging current sales conditions rose two points in the latest month to 22, while the component gauging sales expectations in the next six months edged up one point to 26. The component gauging traffic of prospective buyers gained three points to 18, which is its highest level since May of 2008.

Friday, December 16, 2011


Work on SR 85 overpass scheduled to begin in spring
John Parrot
2011-12-14 17:42:41

This improvement to State Road 85 is just another reason why Crestview has been the choice for future homebuyers. Not only is the new folks from the Army’s 7th Special Forces Group travels made easier to Crestview, the folks from the new F-35 Training Squadron also get a speed way from their place to work to the north side of the County. These infrastructure improvements and others in the planning stage are making it much easier for folks to live in the north side of the county and work in the south side of the county. Therefore, you don’t have to be a brain surgeon to understand, Crestview and MossyHead areas should see some major growth for businesses and future homebuyers/renters.
CRESTVIEW —Construction of an overpass across State Road 85 to connect Duke Field to the Army 7th Special Forces Group (Airborne) camp is tentatively scheduled to begin next spring. Lane Construction Corp. of Cheshire, Conn. has been awarded an $11 million, two-year contract to build the two-lane flyover, which will include bicycle lanes. Pat McGriff, Lane Construction’s Central Florida management area representative, said work likely will begin in March. “We haven’t established a firm timeline on the exact date construction will begin, nor do we know how many resources we will use, but the further along we get toward the target date, the better we will be in answering these questions,” McGriff said in a telephone interview from his Maitland office. Kurt Dowden, planning and program manager for the U.S. Department of Transportation, said there may be some minor revisions to the contract, but that “there doesn’t seem to be anything on the horizon that would adversely affect the start-up of the contract.” The good news for motorists is that the contract stipulates that traffic on SR 85 “remain unencumbered.” “Much of the work may be done at night or in the early-morning hours,” Dowden wrote in an email from his office in Washington, D.C. The overpass will allow military personnel and equipment to cross SR 85 without stopping traffic. “We’ve already experienced a slight increase of traffic due to the 7th Special Forces community, but this is nothing compared to what we expect in the future,” said Ian Satter, district spokesman for the Florida Department of Transportation. “We are looking at numbers approaching 100,000 vehicles a day within the next 15 years.” In addition to the overpass, plans call for on and off ramps and parking aprons on both sides of SR 85.


The F-35’s continue to keep coming. The Training Squadron continues to grow as the planes arrive and the permanent crews set up shop. Not only are the Flight Instructors setting up shop, the Trainers for the maintenance crews, as well. The F-35B is the plane of choice for the Marine Corp, it is also the plane for the British, who will be training their pilots and maintainers here, as well. My question to my readers. Can we expect to see someone from the Royal family here soon, maybe on a graduation day?

Jet will be valuable because it can land vertically, supporters say
Northwest Florida Daily News 315-4478
EGLIN AFB — The first Marine Corps version of the F-35 fighter jet is due to arrive next week, although base officials say they do not know the exact time or date. Military pilots will fly the jet from the headquarters of Lockheed-Martin in Fort Worth, Texas, to Eglin Air Force Base. The Joint Strike Fighter jet is one of 59 expected to be based at the new training center at Eglin. The F-35B, which is a shorttakeoff, vertical-landing variant of the F-35, was put on probation because of technical problems in January by former Defense Secretary Robert Gates. Marine Corps Gen. Joseph Dunford was quoted in late November saying he was “bullish” on the jet and that it was “no longer in the crosshairs.” He said progress had been made in resolving the technical problems and that the fighter jet had met 98 percent of its test points in 2011. The F-35B made its first vertical sea landing in early October on the deck of the USS Wasp. Supporters of the Marine variant say the F-35B can go where Air Force jets can’t because of its short takeoff ability and ability to land vertically. The first production model of the Air Force variant of the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter arrived at Eglin on July 14. Five others have arrived since then. Eglin spokeswoman Lois Walsh said that a Navy version of the F-35 also will be brought to Eglin in the future.


Okay folks, as the U. S. talks about scaling back on the purchase of F-35’s, other countries are stepping up with requests for this Fifth-Generation Fighter. Recently, India has announced their desire to purchase the F-35, and now Japan has stepped up. With the training of the pilots and maintainers located at Eglin, I expect we will see a very diverse community in our local area very soon. For some reason, EPCOT comes to mind. Stay tuned, it is my understanding other countries have their eyes on this plane, as well.

Japan to pick Lockheed’s F-35 as new stealth fighter
By Chico Harlan, Tuesday, December 13, 5:40 AM
SEOUL — Japan is set to select the Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II JSF as its new stealth fighter, Japanese media reported Tuesday, upgrading its air defense at a time when China and Russia pose growing threats to its territory. The multibillion-dollar deal with the U.S. defense company also opens new opportunities for Japan to cooperate with Washington, its closest ally and military partner. Japan will purchase roughly 40 fighter jets, the Yomiuri newspaper said, and as part of the deal, it will receive classified information about the F-35’s construction, allowing some of the fighter’s components to be manufactured in Japan. The Japanese government will make a formal announcement about the decision on Friday, both the Yomiuri and the Kyodo news agency said. Japanese government officials often provide off-the-record briefings to the domestic media in advance of major decisions. Since September, Japan has been weighing bids from three of the world’s largest defense contractors. In addition to Bethesda-based Lockheed Martin, Seattle-based Boeing offered the F/A-18 Super Hornet and a four-country European consortium, Eurofighter GmbH, offered its Typhoon. The decision for Japan came after years of declining defense budgets — a stark contrast to the rapid spending increases of an increasingly aggressive China. Defense analysts had pegged the pair of U.S. bidders as the favorites, with diplomacy influencing the selection. But Japan also picked the priciest of the bids — a fraught decision at a time when the country must uncover untold billions to finance the reconstruction of its disaster-devastated northeastern coastline. Among the bidders, the F-35 uses the most advanced technology — with so-called “fifth-generation” design and a top-of-the-line stealth capability. The deal could be between $6 and $8 billion, according to estimates from defense experts. Amid several high-profile territorial disputes with China and Russia, Japan has grown sensitive to incursions from its neighbors, often scrambling planes to chase off Chinese and Russian fighters. Japan’s newest defense strategy emphasized the growing threat of China, which this year will increase its military spending by more than 12 percent. Earlier this year, China tested its own stealth fighter, the Chengdu J-20, which features its own fifth-generation stealth technology.
Tokyo will receive its first four F-35s in 2016, the Yomiuri said. Eventually, the planes will replace the fleet of antiquated F-4s.
The F-35 has faced criticism for years of delays and cost overruns, with per-plane costs nearly doubling during development. But the Pentagon still expects the plane to come into service in 2016, and the Air Force, Navy and Marines plan to purchase more than 2,000 planes over the next 25 years.
Japan intends to import the first four planes that it will acquire in 2016, Kyodo said, but in the following years, it expects a hand in some of the production. Such a move would help domestic defense manufacturers, who currently struggle under a national ban that restricts weapons exports.
The weapons export ban is a fundamental part of Japan’s pacifist constitution, but politicians have recently indicated an interest in relaxing the law. That would give Japan a place in joint development projects — a move that would be welcomed in Washington.

Friday, December 9, 2011


The Northwest Florida Military Officers Association (NWFMOA), lead by Ken Wright, closes the year with their Annual Ball. At the Ball, the NWFMOA also announced the 2012 Officers and Directors. These individuals are tasked with supporting and defending a wide range of national military personnel and benefit issues for our armed forces.

The 2011 Officers and Directors include:

Ken Wright - President

Jeff Watson - 1st Vice President

Gayle Norgaard - 2nd Vice President

Scott Berry - Secretary

Dan Cobb - Treasurer

Board of Directors

Jim Summitt

Bob Garcia

Bob Padden

Eileen Arpke

Bill Van Hoesen


In recent testimony by the Secretary of Defense, the F-35 Program is extremely important in the defense of our national security in the future. This position by the Secretary of Defense and senior members of both houses of congress and both political parties in support of the F-35 program keeps the pressure on Congress to do the right thing. While this is being debated, additional F-35’s continue to be delivered to Eglin AFB and training moving forward, as planned. In closing, the cost of the training squadron is not in question, as much, as how many planes we will buy. What is happening to address this now is that the F-35 manufacturer is looking into selling planes to other countries approved by the US. Most recently, India has become one of the those counties looking to buy.

Miller, Nelson continue to support F-35 program
Northwest Florida Daily News 315-4443
As congressmen continue to debate the production rate of the Joint Strike Fighter, Rep. Jeff Miller says Eglin’s training mission still is on track. “F-35 aircraft continue to arrive at Eglin Air Force Base, and with ground and simulator training preparations in place, I do not foresee any long-term effects on the health of the training mission at Eglin,” Miller said in an email Thursday night. Sen. Bill Nelson also conveyed his strong support for the F-35 to leaders on the Armed Services and Appropriations committees, and told the Daily News he will continue to support the program. “It’s in our country’s best interests,” Nelson said. Nelson’s and Miller’s assurances came days after Sen. John McCain made a floor statement that he agreed with the sentiments of Vice Adm. David J. Venlet, head of the Department of Defense’s Joint Strike Fighter program, that production should slow down. “When the head of the most expensive, highest profile weapon systems program in U.S. history effectively says, ‘Hold it! We need to slow down how much we are buying!’ We should all pay close attention,” McCain said Monday. Venlet told AOL Defense, an online newsletter, that the F-35 has several structural cracks that must be fixed. The issues could add an additional $3 million to $5 million to the current $133 million per-plane price tag. “Most of them are little ones, but when you bundle them all up and package them and look at where they are in the airplane and how hard they are to get at after you buy the jet, the cost burden of that is what sucks the wind out of your lungs,” Venlet said. McCain and Venlet agreed that the issue was “concurrency” in the production and testing of the aircraft. Despite delaying the delivery of the first aircraft by 33 months, testing and evaluation still is under way. “In other words, the overlap between development and production is still too great to assure taxpayers that they will not have to continue paying for costly redesigns or retrofits due to discoveries made late in production,” McCain said. The cost is expected to increase again when the DOD factors in the last two years of program changes and updates its estimate. McCain said the final phase of testing likely will not happen before 2015. Regardless of the completed stages of testing, Eglin’s pilots will be able to train on simulators. The aircraft at Eglin now will hit the runways after they have been certified as safe to fly. “I think we are all in agreement that we want to make sure the F-35 is the safest it can be before flight training begins,” Miller said in the email. “However, the Aeronautical Systems Center and Joint Strike Fighter Program Office have indicated they will meet the established safety certification criteria.”

Thursday, December 8, 2011


As you will read, the folks around the country continue to flock to the Panhandle of Florida to enjoy what we get to see every day. This increase in visitors has also increased the number of folks looking for their retirement homes on the beach and the surrounding areas. Also, let’s not forget, our annual snowbird migration is happening now and I am sure by the foot traffic around the surrounding area, we should continue to see a strong fall and winter on the Emerald Coast.

October bed tax numbers increase
Northwest Florida Daily News 315-4448
October was another strong month for the local tourism industry. Tourist development agencies in Okaloosa, Santa Rosa and Walton counties recently released their bed tax collection data for October. Collections were up 14.7 percent in Okaloosa County, 42.7 percent in Walton County and 10.9 percent in Santa Rosa County. “Okaloosa County had the best October ever, adding to the record summer season our resort destination experienced,” Mark Bellinger, executive director of the Okaloosa County Tourist Development Council, said in an email to the Daily News. “I believe major fall special events and fall festivals helped to contribute to the success of the fall season.” Bellinger attributed the record performance to continued aggressive marketing by the area lodging industry and Northwest Florida Regional Airport, as well as fall promotional campaigns by the TDC. Bed taxes are collected on short-term rentals in Walton, Santa Rosa and southern Okaloosa counties and are indicators of how many tourists are visiting the Emerald Coast. The funds are used primarily to promote the area to potential visitors. “I think Navarre Beach and Santa Rosa County are on the map now,” said Kate Wilkes, executive director of the Santa Rosa County Tourist Development Council. “All the money we spent from BP really helped and I think it’s going to maintain. Hopefully we’ll continue to grow and increase our bed tax.” November and December are two of the slower months for Santa Rosa County, but Wilkes said she expects the county to continue to perform well compared to 2010. “I’ve heard good reports,” Wilkes said. “We’re happy with the way things are going.”

OKALOOSA County OKs tax break for Pharmaceutical Company with eyes on Crestview

Just another major step in bringing a major manufacturing plant to Okaloosa County’s Crestview Industrial Airpark. As noted before, with the FAMU’s new Pharmacy School opening in 2012, it only seems natural, you have a Phamaceutical Plant nearby with access to students of the Pharmacy School.

Northwest Florida Daily News 315-4438
CRESTVIEW — County commissioners on Tuesday voted to offer a five-year property tax abatement to an Alabama pharmaceutical firm eyeing a move to Okaloosa County. The Alabaster-based Pharmacy South, which makes the respiratory drug albuterol, is considering buying land at Bob Sikes Airport to build its next manufacturing plant. The company is eligible to receive almost $800,000 in tax breaks from the state. Okaloosa County has agreed to pay $156,000 of that total, while the state would cover the remaining $624,000. Commissioners were unanimous in their support of the measure during the public hearing. “It gives us an advantage,” Commissioner Wayne Harris said. “This will create highskill, high-wage jobs.” One resident opposed the tax abatement, telling commissioners it works against the free market. “This board is saying it can choose winners and losers in business,” said Pete Blome of Niceville. “It is not the role of government to own businesses or grant favors.” Blome said the board would be wiser to “cut taxes for everyone” instead of offering one company a tax abatement. Others praised the tax abatement, saying it was an investment and would bring much-needed economic development to the county. Pharmacy South also is considering locations in Georgia, New Jersey and Alabama. It is eligible for the tax abatement under Florida’s Qualified Target Industry Tax Refund Program, which is designed to attract companies from the aviation, aerospace, defense, life sciences and information technology industries. Okaloosa voters approved the use of such tax breaks in a 2004 countywide referendum. Since then, the measure, which is available to new and existing companies, has been used four times. Pharmacy South would have to satisfy certain requirements, including building its $22 million manufacturing facility, before the tax abatement would begin. “They’ve got to put their money on the table and do their building before they get one dime from the county,” Commissioner Dave Parisot said during the meeting. If used, the tax abatement would be effective from 2014 to 2018. Commissioner Bill Roberts said landing the company would bring new industries to the county. “If we’re looking at clean diversification, that’s what we’re going to get with this project,” he said. Pharmacy South has proposed building a 45,000-square-foot plant that initially would generate an estimated 130 jobs with salaries averaging $43,800. Former Destin Mayor Craig Barker, whose company Cobalt Blue has led the recruiting effort, told commissioners Tuesday that the deal has the potential to make the area an “epicenter of pharmaceutical manufacturing.” Barker said Okaloosa County drew major interest when the company learned of the Florida A&M University pharmacy school planned for the Alatex building in downtown Crestview. FAMU would have the “opportunity to … conduct research and development for the company as they move through clinical trials to gain FDA approval,” Barker said. He said the facility Pharmacy South has proposed building would include a 6,000-square-foot research and development lab where FAMU doctoral students could work.

Friday, December 2, 2011


One more business being moved to the Crestview Airport. In a recent conversation with the Executive Director of the Crestview Chamber of Commerce, who is also a Okaloosa County Commissioner; he noted to stay tuned for some more opportunities coming to the Crestview area. I would like to add, my hat is off to all the forward thinking folks, who believe in sharing our great part of the country to the folks wanting to call this place their home.

Medical helicopter will be replaced later this month by one that will fly out of Crestview
Northwest Florida Daily News 315-4432

Officials with Air Methods are expecting to launch their medical helicopter in Okaloosa County later this month after removing GULFlight 1 from operations. A new module station will be set up at Bob Sikes Airport in Crestview. Larry Hall, field operations manager with Air Methods, said a trailer is scheduled to be delivered and set up by Dec. 9 and a tentative start date is Dec. 16 with Air Heart 3. “All of our operations will be shifting to the west,” Hall said. “We’re in the strategic planning stage now.” GULFlight 1, which has operated from Twin Cities Hospital in Niceville since June 2006, made its last emergency runs Wednesday. The helicopter no longer is needed because of a decrease in calls, Hall said. He added that the large number of medical helicopters in the area will help ease the transition. AirHeart 3 will be moved to Bob Sikes from DeFuniak Springs. Hall said response times for Walton County might be affected, so an “auto-watch procedure” will be put in place. That means medical helicopters will respond to certain areas immediately rather than wait to be called. If the air ambulance is not needed, it will turn around. “That method helps buy us time to get to the patient faster,” Hall said. “We are deciding on the areas that will be on the autowatch list.” Hall added that AirHeart 2, which operates out of Marianna, also will be available for calls to Walton County. AirHeart 3 will continue to operate from DeFuniak Springs until Dec. 16. Dino Villani, Okaloosa County’s public safety director, said the transition is expected to be seamless. “We’ve been preparing for this,” Villani said. “While we’re operating out of DeFuniak Springs I don’t expect problems with response time. It will be similar to the times GULFlight has.” Hall said residents should not see a difference in coverage and response times. “It’s all the same basic coverage that we’ve provided for years,” Hall said.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011


Many can give thanks to Senator Don Gaetz for his efforts in bringing this project to the area. As he noted, with the growth of the new F-35 Training Squadron along with the many others wishing to live in Crestview and work in Fort Walton Beach, it only made sense to have this project to move the traffic more efficiently from the North to the South parts of the county.

Flyover continues on course
Project also will widen SR 85 from General Bond Boulevard to NWF Regional Airport
Northwest Florida Daily News 315-4438
VALPARAISO — The flyover under construction at State Roads 85 and 123 once again is changing shape. Earlier this month, crews installed eight concrete beams that will elevate SR 85 traffic above the entrance to Northwest Florida Regional Airport. “They’re forming the deck for the airport overpass on 85 with reinforcing steel,” DOT district spokesman Ian Satter said. “They’re going to be doing a lot of work in that particular area.” The 120-foot concrete beams were brought in from Tampa and lifted off trailers with large cranes. “The effort required a significant amount of coordination and planning,” said Mike Lenga, project manager for Greenhorne & O’Mara, the firm managing the project. “The entire team did a great job and we’re pleased to see this milestone achieved.” Crews also will work on the barrier walls for the overpass in front of the airport. The mechanically stabilized earth walls that have been completed bear the U.S. Air Force insignia as a tribute to the community’s longtime partnership with Eglin Air Force Base, Satter said. The $25.6 million project began in August 2009. It is being built by the Florida Department of Transportation with federal stimulus dollars. The flyover, which is set to be completed by the fall of 2012, was designed by H.W. Lochner and is being built by Anderson-Columbia. The project will widen SR 85 to six lanes between General Bond Boulevard and the airport. The flyover on northbound SR 85 will connect motorists to SR 123. Access to Northwest Florida Regional also will be changed by elevating the northbound and southbound lanes of SR 85 to pass above the northernmost entrance to the airport. A new frontage road will link airport traffic to SR 123. “One of the things people will probably start to see around February is … the steel beams for the bypass section, the main part of the project,” Satter said. “People are probably curious that we built up part of that overpass and then left it alone for a while.” Satter said work crews had to make sure all the necessary traffic shifts were built before the main flyover could be finished. “We had to do those smaller bridges first and then we can do the actual bypass,” he said. DOT officials said motorists should continue to be aware of reduced speeds and lane shifts, and use caution when driving through the construction zone.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011


Alatex renovations on track
FAMU’s pharmacy school should be finished next fall
Florida Freedom Newspapers

CRESTVIEW — With the clock ticking down toward its opening next fall, work continues on schedule to renovate the historic Alatex building. Workers for Peter Brown Construction are renovating the building to house Florida A&M University’s Rural Diversity Healthcare Center. “We’re working daylight to dark,” site foreman Bobby Kennedy said. “We’re finishing up the demo and getting ready to start the under-slab and MEP (mechanical, electrical and plumbing). We are on schedule.” Like many workers, Kennedy is a Crestview resident and proud to be working on a major project in his hometown. “We’re trying to keep it local,” he said. “It’s sometimes tough for local contractors when they come up against the state bidding process.” To prepare the building for its new life as a pharmacy school, the interior has been gutted, including the distinctive upside-down-peace symbol-shaped columns. (Some of the columns will be reused in the lobby.) But before gutting the interior, the exterior had to be stabilized. The outside has been braced by 2,000-pound steel flying buttresses against I-beam columns and temporary steel belts to hold the walls in place. Then off came most of the roof and out came the forest of support columns, interior stairways and what little other structures the original building had, revealing its spaciousness. “We could’ve knocked it all down and been way ahead, but we’re preserving the character of the building,” said Nolan Raybon, supervisor for Peter Brown Construction. Heavy equipment chugged around the building recently and holes and trenches began to appear in the floor to accommodate underground MEP services that will snake under the building. Ten-inch diameter PVC conduit was offloaded from trucks parked outside the buildinglastMondaymorning. W h e n t h e M E P i s “roughed in” under the slab, crews will begin pouring the top floor, Raybon said. “That’ll be followed by pre-engineered interior sections,” he added. “It’ll be assembled inside. It’ll be like watching a pre-engineered warehouse go up, except the exterior walls are already there.” Raybon said the interior modules are scheduled to be installed in the middle of December. The project is almost precisely on schedule, he said. “There’s always glitches, but we make up for it along the way.”

Friday, November 11, 2011


Thank you to my fellow service men and women for serving this Great County in defending our Constitution through the many sacrifices you give or have given in protecting the rights our U.S. citizens enjoy every day. BRAVU ZULU.

Thursday, November 10, 2011



Tourists return after spill
Northwest Florida Daily News 315-4448
Tourism professionals were hoping for a strong turnaround this year after last summer’s disastrous BP oil spill. But record-breaking bed tax collections exceeded even the loftiest hopes. September was the final month for the local tourist development agencies’ fiscal year, and bed tax collections in Okaloosa, Walton and Santa Rosa counties each were up about 30 percent compared to 2010. “We were optimistic. We were hopeful that we would have a strong recovery,” said Dawn Moliterno, executive director of the Walton County Tourist Development Council. “I don’t think any of us knew exactly what those results would be, and certainly we are very pleased and continue to (hope) that this will be a strong shoulder season and catapult us into a strong season next year. We’re just absolutely pleased that the recovery happened as quickly as it did, and none of us truly expected to see the numbers come in the way that it did.” Bed taxes are collected on short-term rentals. The fiscal year ran from Oct. 1, 2010, through Sept. 30 of this year. Walton County’s bed tax collections for fiscal 2011 were up 29.54 percent compared to last year and set a new record. Okaloosa County’s numbers were up 31.98 percent, and Santa Rosa County’s were up 34.98 percent. “We did so much more advertising and so much television advertising, and things that we’ve never been able to do that we sure had our hopes and we’re happy,” said Kate Wilkes, executive director of Santa Rosa County’s TDC. “A lot of people learned about us and came to visit us this year, so I don’t think we’ll have any trouble keeping the momentum,” Wilkes added. “We have to keep ourselves out there with smart advertising.” All three counties finished the fiscal year strong. September’s bed tax collections were up 46.78 percent in Okaloosa County, 47.69 percent in Walton County and 11.78 percent in Santa Rosa County compared to September 2010. “As a result of the team effort of the community and stakeholders, the Emerald Coast had its best June, July, August and September months ever,” Mark Bellinger, executive director of the Okaloosa County TDC, wrote in an email.

Sunday, November 6, 2011


City of Crestview, Okaloosa County Officials and Economic Development Council (EDC) of Okaloosa County working hard to bring Pharmacy South to the Bob Sikes Industrial Airpark on the North side of Crestview. They were successful in bringing FAMU’s Pharmacy and Dental Schools to Crestview, so I say, keep your eyes on this one. Dr. Goetsch (Chairman of the EDC) is focusing on the continued efforts in diversifying our local economy.
Okaloosa to mull tax breaks for Alabama pharmaceutical company
November 04, 2011 6:35 PM
Kari C. Barlow
Daily News
A pharmaceutical company considering expanding to Crestview could receive almost $800,000 in tax breaks from the state. Okaloosa County officials are considering providing $156,000 of that total, while the state would cover the remaining $624,000. County commissioners voted this week to hold a public hearing on whether to grant the company, Pharmacy South of Alabaster, Ala., a five-year ad valorem tax abatement. The public hearing is scheduled for 9 a.m. Dec. 6 at the Okaloosa County Courthouse in Crestview. The proposal was presented to commissioners by the Economic Development Council of Okaloosa County. The EDC praises the tax break as an investment in a new industry that would bring to the county an economic impact of $108 million. “I’ll put $156,000 up to $108 million any day of the year,” County Commissioner Wayne Harris said. “To me, it’s a no-brainer.” Pharmacy South is eligible for the tax abatement under the state’s Qualified Target Industry Tax Refund Program. Okaloosa voters approved the use of such tax abatements in a 2004 countywide referendum. Since then, the measure has been used four times as an incentive for economic development, EDC officials said. Pharmacy South, which makes the respiratory drug albuterol, is considering buying land at Bob Sikes Airport to build its next manufacturing plant. The company’s 45,000-square-foot plant initially would generate about 130 jobs with salaries averaging $43,800. The pharmaceutical company’s presence could bring a much-needed third industry to Okaloosa County, Harris said. “I’ve been advocating for years to have more than just the three-legged stool,” he said. “Anything can happen at any time, as we saw with BP and tourism. … We need some type of manufacturing, some type of industry that will sustain jobs in the economy.” EDC officials say the tax break allows Okaloosa County to be more competitive when trying to attract high-tech companies with higher-paying jobs. Harris said the county has a competitive edge because of the Florida A&M University pharmacy school planned for the old Alatex building in down-town Crestview. A major coup would be to assist the company in getting its manufacturing plant approved by the Federal Drug Administration. “If we get one approved here, there will be other manufacturers who will want to be here. … It could be the impetus for filling up our area with other pharmaceutical manufacturers,” Harris said. He said the tax breaks make sense because Okaloosa County currently isn’t making any money off the land Pharmacy South is considering purchasing. “It’s a plain piece of 19 acres of dirt out at Bob Sikes Airport that is not drawing any taxes anyway,” he said.


As many local folks know, Cash Moore is a staple in the Liquor Store and Bar business and he has done very well. It is quite obvious he has seen the writing on the wall with the growth of the north side of Crestview to Laurel Hill and he wants to stake his claim to some more business in the area. This announcement comes right on the heals of the opening of the new Dollar General Store in Laurel Hill, which is doing quite well.

Laurel Hill to get bar, liquor store
November 05, 2011 10:00 PM
Paula Kelley
Florida Freedom Newspapers

LAUREL HILL — Laurel Hill is getting a combination liquor store and sports bar.
William “Cash” Moore told members of the Laurel Hill City Council this week he plans to open a retail liquor store and small sports bar at the site of the Whats It Shop on U.S. Highway 90, which is closing. Moore said he plans to open the business in January. “I had a liquor store here many years ago and here I am planning to open again for business in the north end of the county,” Cash said at a Tuesday night council meeting. “I have researched the state, county and your city guidelines, and my business would be fine under all three as it is more than three hundred feet from any school or church property.” Plans call for a small sports bar, with seating for between 15 and 20 people, Moore said. “I plan to close about 10 p.m. each night, maybe put a pool table in it,” Moore said. “I estimate my annual payroll to be around $50,000.” Moore, who owns 16 liquor stores, most of which include lounges, opened his first bar on Okaloosa Island in 1965 while still in college Although he has bars in major markets, he has also opened Cash's Liquors in smaller markets like DeFuniak Springs and Freeport. He got his start in liquor stores in Crestview, where three are located. Cash said he wants to be an asset to the community. “The school has fundraisers and I will be a key supporter,” Cash said of Laurel Hill School. City of Laurel Hill Attorney Dan Campbell said the proposed location of the liquor store will not violate any ordinances or regulations. “It’ll be good to have new business-associated revenue here and all the guidelines mentioned are correct,” Campbell said. “The property is the legal distance from the school.” “Laurel Hill needs new businesses and people will sure go see you,” council member Willie Mae Toles said. Not everyone was supportive. The Rev. Mike McVay, pastor at First Baptist Church of Laurel Hill, said he gas seen alcoholism destroy families and lives. “I do not support it and I will do everything I can to not see it come to Laurel Hill,” McVay said of the liquor store and bar. “This is not what the city needs. It's not the kind of business that schoolchildren need to see here, and I am not happy.”

Thursday, November 3, 2011


As the President of the Northwest Florida Military Officers Association (NWFMOA), I am looking for your sponsorship for the 2011 Annual Military Ball, which is just around the corner. This year’s Military Ball will be hosted by Emerald Grande at Harbor Walk in Destin, FL on December 8, 2011 from 6:00 – 10:00 p.m. The event will include a social, dinner, dancing, and silent auction. As a sponsor to this time honored event, you will be invited attend this event, as well. The profits from the silent auction and sponsorships are to provide college tuition assistance for the Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps (JROTC) cadets at our five Okaloosa County High Schools to help them achieve a career as a Military Officer of our armed forces. The NWFMOA is a non-profit organization and your donation is tax-deductible.

To be a sponsor for this event, we are asking for a donation of $150.00 to become a Platinum Sponsor. As a Platinum sponsor you will be featured in the Monthly NWFMOA Magazine, “The Defender”, recognized in the Military Ball Program, and seen throughout the night on the slide show. If you wish to be one of our sponsors, please make your check payable to the NWFMOA Scholarship Fund at P.O. Box 310 Fort Walton Beach, FL 32549-0310.

If you chose to sponsor and are interested in attending the NWFMOA Military Ball, please give me a call at 850-582-6442 for the ticket application form. Ticket application forms need to be ceived by November 30, 2011. If you have any question, please do not hesitate give me a call.

Friday, October 28, 2011


In a recent Florida Trend news story in October 2011, writer describes why Northwest Florida is so attractive to businesses. Read on and learn why yourself.

Northwest Florida
By Christine Jordan Sexton - 10/10/2011

Florida's capital city Tallahassee boasts two public universities, a highly educated workforce and a growing R&D sector. Northwest Florida's abundant pine forests, meandering rivers, natural springs, sugar white beaches and nearly year-round sunshine have long made this region a favorite destination for visitors. Along with a thriving tourism economy, the 16-county region is also home to strong aviation/aerospace and defense sectors and a burgeoning market for research and development. And this region is growing by leaps and bounds. U.S. Census data shows that seven Northwest Florida counties grew 15% between 2000 and 2010; Santa Rosa, Walton and Wakulla swelled by 25%.

Affordability may well be the reason. Most housing in the region is priced below the state's median home value of $211,300. And Northwest Florida's population is younger than in many other regions in Florida, which translates into a ready and growing workforce adept at using the latest technologies.

Who Lives Here:
Northwest Florida has a labor force of more than 661,000. It is home to four of the state's 20 MSAs, including Florida's capital city, Tallahassee. The area also boasts bustling urban centers like Pensacola, Fort Walton Beach and Panama City.

Military personnel: Approximately 40,000 well-trained military personnel. Some 8,000 retire or resign from military service to enter the region's workforce each year — many of them with advanced technical training and highly desired industry credentials.

Students: 60,000-plus students in the region's eight colleges and universities, including Florida State University, Florida A&M University and the University of West Florida.
A growing creative class: In Tallahassee — Florida's state capital and the region's largest city — the share of the workforce with college degrees is almost double the national average.

Northwest Florida: At A Glance
Regional Assets
Universities/Colleges• Chipola College• Florida A&M University• Florida State University• Gulf Coast State College• Northwest Florida State College• Pensacola State College• Tallahassee Community College • University of West Florida
Airports• Northwest Florida Beaches International Airport • Northwest Florida Regional Airport • Pensacola Gulf Coast Regional Airport• Tallahassee Regional Airport
Seaports• Port Panama City• Port of Pensacola• Port St. Joe

Thursday, October 27, 2011


Attention Real Estate Developers. If you haven't been following the trends in housing for Baby Boomers, read on. With Baby Boomers visiting our area for years; they are now deciding to make it their home. So with this knowledge, we need to take heed and build accordingly.
Baby Boomers Seek Smaller, Affordable Homes

Daily Real Estate News Wednesday, October 26, 2011
Baby boomers who plan to move for retirement are looking for smaller, affordable homes that are easily accessible to medical care and near their family, finds a new poll of more than 1,000 adults born between 1946 and 1964 conducted by Associated
Baby boomers who make more than $100,000 a year are the most likely to say they plan to buy a new home during retirement. For boomers who plan to purchase a new home, the most important factors cited in a home for retirement included:
* Smaller home (40%)
* Near medical offices or hospitals (39%)
* Different climate--perhaps warmer (30%)
* More affordable home (25%)
* Being closer to family (15%)
About 10 percent of baby boomers said they will search for a new city to relocate to that offers more services for them in retirement. Only 8 percent of baby boomers surveyed say they want a larger home for retirement, the poll finds.
However, more baby boomers say they don’t have any plans to move after they retire, mostly due to a drop in their home values as well as a drop in their personal investments and retirement plans the last few years, the poll finds. About 53 percent of baby boomers polled say they plan to delay retirement until they recoup some of their investment losses. In the poll, only 9 percent of the baby boomers expect they’ll be able to live comfortably in retirement.
Source: “Many Boomers in Poll say They Won't Move for Retirement; Those who will Seek Affordability,” The Associated Press (Oct. 26, 2011)

Tuesday, October 18, 2011


1. You own it: With no landlord, you make the decisions.
2. You deduct it: Mortgage interest, property taxes and some costs involved with buying a home can be deducted from federal income taxes.
3. Interest rates: The cost to borrow mortgage money is at an all-time low. If you’re going to buy, this is the time to jump into the market.
4. You invest in it: Rent money is gone forever. Mortgage payments build home equity ownership interests.
5. You save for the future: Home equity is a ready-made savings plan. Sell it and you can make up to $250,000 cash without owing any federal income tax on the profit.
6. You can predict expenses: Unlike rent, a fixed-mortgage payment doesn’t get more expensive over time.
7. You pick it: Choose from different neighborhoods, styles and price ranges.
8. You create it: Decorate, renovate, get a pet or paint the walls whatever color you want – it belongs to you.
9. You live in a neighborhood: You and your neighbors take pride in the local schools, roads and more – and you work together to build a friendly community.
10. You spend money on yourself: When you buy a chandelier or hardwood floor or kitchen cabinet, you’re spending hard-earned money on yourself and building your equity at the same time.© 2011 Florida Realtors®


I guess we know why our vacation rentals had a record year now. We had a record year at the Airport. I have said all along, the word is out. The Emerald Coast is a “jewel” of a vacation and has folks around the country and world finding it out.

Airport has record year
Northwest Florida Daily News 315-4448
This year will go down in the record books as the biggest in the 54-year history of the Northwest Florida Regional Airport. A record 900,562 passengers flew into or out of Northwest Florida Regional Airport during Fiscal Year 2011, which went from Oct. 1, 2010, to Sept. 30, 2011. That represented a 22.8 percent increase from last year and even beat the previous record of 816,875 passengers served in 2000. “You always like to see a positive growth in your total passenger numbers, but 23 percent for the year is really unheard of for an existing airport,” said Mike Stenson, business development manager for the airport. “It is beyond what we had anticipated. “It would be nice to see that kind of growth next year,” Stenson added. Much of the growth can be attributed to Vision Airlines, which calls Northwest Florida its “hub.” Vision began here with service to Niagara Falls, N.Y., and Miami in December 2010 and expanded to almost two dozen cities, before scaling back to five destinations. They are expected to announce their expanded spring and summer schedule in December or January. Other airlines contributed significant gains, too. Delta, which typically serves the most passengers of any of the airlines each month, was up 7 percent for the year. US Airways was up 8 percent, American Eagle increased its passenger count by 10 percent and Continental Airlines was up 12 percent. Three times this year, the airport broke its record for the most passengers in a single month. “It seemed like every month we were having a record-breaking month,” Stenson said. “A lot of it has to do with Vision, no doubt about it, but all of our airlines did exceptionally well.” N o r t h w e s t F l o r i d a Regional Airport has offered 32 daily departures to 24 nonstop cities through its five airlines during Fiscal Year 2011. Members of airport staff are working on ways to increase that in the future. Stenson said the airport is very active in speaking with existing airlines about their ongoing needs. Earlier this year, Delta upgraded two flights from the 50-seat Canadair Regional Jet to the 149-seat MD-88 aircraft. The airport also goes to other airlines that do not serve Northwest Florida, he said. This year’s Eastern Region — Small Airports Air Service Development Conference is scheduled for early November at Sandestin. Stenson said that will be a great opportunity for local airport staff to meet with airline representatives from around the country. “They’re going to be seeing our area for the first time and no doubt they’re going to be blown away with what this area has to offer,” Stenson said. “Having the numbers like we had this year, it’s an eyeopener to any airline to see what is possible from this airport when you bring new air service into a community,” he added. “It’s really incredible what we’ve experienced this year.”

Friday, October 14, 2011


Okay folks, we have said enough about the military and its impact to the area. Guess what, the time has arisen for another industry to flourish in the Crestview area. That being education with FAMU’s Pharmacy School, which is anticipated to generate 269 jobs and a number of students. If you been following this project, you will know a Drug Manufacturing Company is looking hard to bring their manufacturing plant to the Crestview Industrial Airpark (Florida Enterprise Zone) with the help of the Florida Governor’s Office on down. In fact, this school is a big reason this Drug Manufacturing Company has targeted this area. Stay tuned. Are you getting the idea, something is going on here? Again, stay tuned. It doesn’t stop here. More to come.
Work on new FAMU center starting to bring jobs to Crestview
October 13, 2011 6:07 PM
Brian Hughes
Florida Freedom Newspapers
CRESTVIEW — Jobs already have started to trickle into town as work continues on renovations to the Alatex building to convert it to Florida A&M University’s pharmacy school. “We’ve started reaching out to the community to get resumes,” said David Delancy, president of One Day Came, the project’s construction management firm. Delancy said between 20 and 40 construction jobs will be available. Delancy joined community leaders and officials from FAMU, the state, Okaloosa County and Crestview for a meet-and-greet Thursday at the Crestview Community Center. “The thing that really made us feel at home is when we had former employees of Alatex come out and sit in that hot sun with us to see that wonderful building transition from a factory to an educational center,” FAMU President James Ammons said. Bradley Will, vice president of operations for prime contractor Peter Brown Construction, said his company has hired local subcontractors through the state competitive bid process. The project is well-timed, given the state of the economy, he added. “It’s not creating jobs, it’s saving jobs,” Will said. Project architect David Vincent, senior vice president of Panama City-based JRA Architects, agreed. “This has been a godsend to us,” Vincent said. “Work has been slow.” Vincent said his firm’s design will repurpose many of the wooden components salvaged from the original construction. Floors and baseboards are being refinished and the heavy wooden columns with their distinctive Y-braces will find new uses. He also praised the soundness of the historic Alatex building. “We were shocked when we had a restoration expert look at the building,” Vincent said. “He said it was built like a tank.” JobsPlus and Trojan Labor are helping place workers. Representatives of the groups also attended Thursday’s the event. “Our plan is to gather people from the local community,” said Amy Freeland of Trojan Labor. Seven full-time professional positions have been filled, said FAMU pharmacy school Associate Dean Dr. Myron Honeywell. Of those hired, five are Crestview residents. Crestview City Council President Charles Baugh Jr. said research by the University of West Florida Haas Center for Business Research and Economic Development shows the pharmacy school eventually will generate 269 jobs and ultimately have as much as $20 million impact on the community. Sam Houston, FAMU’s director of facilities, said the project is on schedule. Construction is expected to wrap up in June 2012 and the first class will begin in August. The school will be called the Rural Diversity Healthcare Center. FAMU officials plan to admit classes of 30 students each until the school reaches its 120-student capacity, Honeywell said. The school will offer a PharmD degree that leads to a pharmacy license.

Thursday, October 13, 2011


The next step of many takes shape to make the Crestview Industrial Airport a centerpiece of the aerospace industry. Yes, the 7th Special Forces is here and with more of them to come, but I must continue to inform you. The State of Florida has given this Airport millions of dollars for improvements, which has placed it on radar screen for a large number of businesses. I would say thanks that the 7th Special Forces are here and will be growing for years, but with the F-35 Training Program, which has just completed their close to a half of billion dollar facility, and brings 9 NATO countries to the area with it. This is not the only thing, which will bring aerospace jobs, you have the unmanned drone programs, aircraft rehab, and much, much, more. I say look out. There is more coming, but I don’t want to spoil the surprise. FOOT NOTE: Senator Gaetz, our sitting Senator in NW Florida, has been selected as the President of the Senate. His top agenda, JOBS, JOBS, JOBS, and MILITARY, MILITARY, MILITARY. Do I say more?

Okaloosa’s first avionics shop moving to Crestview
Capital Avionics will expand operations at Bob Sikes Airport
Florida Freedom Newspapers
CRESTVIEW — Capital Avionics’ aircraft services operation already is working in a rented hangar space next door to Emerald Coast Aviation at Bob Sikes Airport. By Nov. 1, the airport’s newest tenant expects to have its component repair division moved to Crestview’s airport from Tallahassee Regional Airport, said Peter Mohylsky, company’s manager of business operations. “It is going to be a great opportunity,” said Mike Stenson, Okaloosa County’s airports business development manager and acting manager at Bob Sikes. “For the first time, we’re going to have an avionics shop in Okaloosa County. It’s a very desirable service that eventually all airplanes need, and we’re very happy we’re going to offer it out of our airport. It’s a very specialized industry.” Founded in Tallahassee in 1978, Capital Avionics became increasingly frustrated with the business environment at Tallahassee Regional. Company owners began talking with Okaloosa County officials about moving to Crestview after meeting at a trade show last year. After the Tallahassee airport was privatized, a group of businessmen forced out most companies except his, Capital Avionics President Al Ingle told the Crestview Area Chamber of Commerce’s Airport Committee. Ingle said he has been impressed by the reception his company has received locally. “This is such a different environment than Tallahassee,” said Ingle, who founded the company at age 24. “It is so nice to be wanted.” “Tallahassee is not an aviation town,” said Donna Ingle, Capital Avionics’ comptroller. “It’s a government town.” In preparation for the component repair operation moving to Crestview, the company hired a local technician, Dan Smith, who is training at the Tallahassee location. Mohylsky said 14 employees with the division will move to Crestview, and six to 10 people will be hired when the division is operational. Before Capital Avionics’ test equipment manufacturing division can move to Crestview, more space will be needed, Donna Ingle said. That division now is in a 10,000-square-foot hangar, and no comparably sized facility is available near the airport. Stenson said the test equipment manufacturing facility might be located off airport property.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011


Things are doing quite well and I am certain, they will be getting even better in the residential market. Why, a number of reasons. One, a good percentage of the 7th Special Forces Group are sitting in rentals (homes and apartments) looking around for the right place to live; two, a number of folks did not move their families yet from Fort Bragg, because they have not decided to move yet; Three, 7th Special Forces Group has another Battalion on the way; Four, the F-36 Training Squadron folks are beginning to ramp up, as the new F-35’s are arriving; Five, the Housing Privatization Program is on hold; Six, the military is not the only folks coming to our area. In my travels as the President of the Northwest Florida Military Officers Association, I get to hear some really interesting stories. The latest in regards to the housing situation was the fact, a number of guys are renting homes and living together without their families (Geographical Bachelors) waiting for some quality homes and developments take shape. So in closing, I saying, you haven’t seen anything yet. Yes, the 7th Special Forces Group is operational here at Eglin. However, many have not move into their homes of the future. If you been in the military, which I have, you will understand how this works.

Real estate market better than a year ago
Relocation of 7th Special Forces families is the reason, Realtor says
Northwest Florida Daily News 315-4448
September was the second good month in a row for the local real estate market, as the number of single family homes and condominiums sold outpaced last year’s levels. Metro Market Trends recently released the latest sales reports for Okaloosa, Santa Rosa and Walton counties. Although there was some fluctuation in home prices, the number of single-family homes and condominiums sold in all three counties increased last month compared with September 2010. “I think (September) went very well. Everything was up,” said Jean Floyd, a local Realtor and president of the Emerald Coast Association of Realtors. “I saw a leveling out of pricing and we had another good month. “It’s very telling to me that Northwest Florida and our area in particular is really doing well,” she added. Single-family home sales in Okaloosa County were up 19.8 percent in September compared with September 2010, according to Metro Market Trends. Condominium and townhome sales increased even more and were up more than 35 percent. Walton County saw similar increases, with single-family home sales up 13.1 percent and condo/townhome sales up 31.3 percent. Santa Rosa County’s sales increased 14.2 percent for singlefamily homes and 10 percent for condo/townhomes. Property values also increased in Okaloosa and Walton counties but slipped in Santa Rosa County. The average price of a single-family home sold in Okaloosa County in September was $219,251, up slightly from last September’s average price of $215,472. Condominiums and townhomes had a larger increase, going from $218,417 to $240,247 year over year. The margins were even larger in Walton County, where the average single family home price jumped almost $20,000, from $413,483 to $433,016 in a year. Average sale prices for both single-family homes and condominiums/ townhomes fell in Santa Rosa County, although condo/townhome prices were down only two-tenths of a percent. The average single-family home price fell from $180,389 to $163,117. Floyd attributes the differences in sales prices to the influence of the 7th Special Forces relocating to the area. She said Okaloosa and Walton counties’ real estate markets were seeing more of an effect from the almost 1,000 families than Santa Rosa County. In Niceville alone, the average sales price increased from $213,000 last September to $251,000 this year, Floyd said. “We’re doing very well,” Floyd said. “Sales are up, and I just look forward to that trend through the end of the year being the same.”

Saturday, October 8, 2011


The question was, Is Okaloosa County poised to be the silicone valley of the east coast? From what I know and have seen, I would have to say a big “Roger that”. Once you understand the history of Eglin, the latest missions it was been given (i.e. Special Operations and Training), you can only come away with the same answer. Our area, community support, and our strategic location, make this area a place to help streamline military spending in a number of ways and will make it very attractive for future Base Realignment and Closure Commissions to move more military assets here. Last note. How did we get Bin Laden and some of his associates? Special Forces and Unmanned drones? Do I need to say more?

A magnet for tomorrow?
Local economic leaders say a facility to test unmanned air vehicles could have big impact on Okaloosa County
Northwest Florida Daily News 315-4448
The late Apple founder Steve Jobs knew as he was creating products that revolutionized the digital music player, smart phone and tablet computing industries that you don’t focus on what’s big today. Especially when it comes to high-tech industries, leaders must focus on what are going to be the hot items in the future. Local economic development leaders believe one of the biggest military and commercial industries over the next 25 years is going to be the development of unmanned air and ground vehicles. They hope to put Northwest Florida at the forefront of that industry. “You try to look down the road. What are the emerging technologies and industries?” said Jim Breitenfeld, who is leading a subgroup of the Okaloosa County Economic Development Council’s TeCMEN group. Breitenfeld’s panel is devoted to expanding the unmanned air vehicles (UAV) business in the county. “When you look down the road, I don’t think there’s any question that this unmanned or remotely piloted vehicle is the wave of the future both militarily, commercially and with so many uses,” he said. “We’re trying to position ourselves. You want a magnet, something that’s going to attract folks.” The magnet could be the proposed 45,000-square-foot UAV test center planned for south of the University of Florida’s Research and Engineering Education Facility (REEF) on Lewis Turner Boulevard. The EDC is conducting a feasibility study on the facility and hopes to receive grants to help fund the estimated $1.5 million project. “This is the future. The growth potential for this industry is enormous,” said EDC President Larry Sassano. “It’s a multi-billion dollar industry. Right now, most of it is being done in the military. We see more DOD dollars being spent on unmanned vehicles than just about any other area other than Special Ops. “Everybody has used the word diversification to revitalize the economy,” Sassano added. “This is diversification. It’s technology diversification and it’s emerging technology. It’s innovative and it has all the buzz words that the state and federal government are looking at today to support with funding for the creation of good, high-paying jobs.” The University of Florida already does UAV research at its REEF building, but is limited because of space, said David Jeffcoat, a systems engineering professor with the university. Unmanned vehicles can range in size from an insect to a Boeing 737. The proposed facility would be used to test the smaller unmanned vehicles. “The idea of a new facility is to give us more space, space to actually test some prototype vehicles,” Jeffcoat said. “Right now, we don’t really have that. We have to go outdoors or try to go onto the Eglin reservation, which is difficult to schedule.” The unmanned or remotely piloted vehicles are definitely a growing market. The Department of Defense has 35 times more unmanned vehicles in its inventory today than it did 10 years ago, said Terry Proulx, senior staff analyst for the defense contracting firm ARINC. Proulx said the Air Force has more unmanned aircraft in its inventory than it has bombers. While the primary application for unmanned operations now is the military, Proulx said that is changing. Unmanned air vehicles are being used to assist in law enforcement, firefighting and border security. A power company in Australia is even using them to inspect utility lines for damage rather than have an employee climb poles. “The military applications for this technology are all well and good, and they’ve made a significant impact in the wars at this point, but I think everybody will agree that the potential for the commercial applications of this are really going to dwarf that,” Proulx said. “It’s really going to take off.”

Friday, October 7, 2011


Below 4 percent for Home Mortgages. Unbelievable. Who would have thought? As noted below, for folks with jobs and stable finances, this is once in a life time opportunity. For us here in Northwest Florida with a growing military population, who have jobs and stable finances, it makes the housing ownership market very attractive. Not only do you have the military population increasing in our area, our tourism is growing again, non-defense companies are moving into the area, new higher education opportunities are growing, and much more. The questions comes, will the commercial lending be able to keep pace to provide the needs of all of these new residents? I say yes, but not necessarily from our banks. More and more investment firms are providing the funding at reasonable rates. So in closing, this news and some of the other great opportunities taking off, we should be a bright spot in the country. So stay tuned as we move ahead with our growing pains. Growing pains. One pain, we could live with.

Mortgage rate below 4 percent WASHINGTON (AP) — The average rate on a 30-year fixed mortgage has fallen below 4 percent for the first time in history. For the lucky few with good jobs and stable finances, it’s a rare opportunity to save potentially thousands of dollars each year. For most people, it’s a tease and a reminder of how weak their own financial situation is. On Thursday, Freddie Mac said the rate on the 30-year fixed mortgage fell to 3.94 percent from 4.01 percent last week, the previous low. The average rate on a 15-year fixed loan, a popular refinancing option, dipped to 3.26 percent, also a record. Mortgage rates are now lower than they were in the early 1950s. The average rate reached 4.08 percent for a few months back then, according to the National Bureau of Economic Research. Although mortgages at that time typically lasted only 20 or 25 years. Super low rates haven’t been enough to lift the housing market, which has struggled in recent years with anemic sales and declining home prices. Rates have been below 5 percent for all but two weeks in the past year. Yet sales of previously occupied homes this year are on track to be among the worst in 14 years. And homeownership has dropped over the past decade by the greatest amount since the Great Depression, according to 2010 census data released Thursday. “Considering how far mortgage rates have fallen, we’d expect to see more people refinancing and buying,” said Celia Chen, director of housing economics at Moody’s Analytics. “It’s still the lack of jobs and the difficult credit environment that’s pushing most people away.”

Thursday, October 6, 2011


Folks, stand by. Job growth. It is my belief from what I know, you haven't seen anything yet. As the F-35 Training Squadron begins to order their folks into the area on the heels of the standing up of the 7th Special Forces, and more construction for both commercial/residential takes off, our job growth will grow tremendously from the restaurant workers to the scientist and engineers. So if you are thinking about investing, think about one of the major bright spots in the country.

Note to Self: Army 7th Special Forces Group operational in Northwest Florida, however, many the families have not made the move, YET.

Region has seen healthy job growth
That comes despite hurricanes, recession and the oil spill, economist Rick Harper says
Northwest Florida Daily News 315-4448
SANDESTIN — Despite hurricanes, a worldwide recession and last year’s oil spill, Northwest Florida has seen healthy job growth the past decade. The Fort Walton Beach and Panama City areas each have experienced about 15 percent job growth from 2000 to today, said Rick Harper, executive director of the office of Economic Development and Engagement at the University of West Florida. The Pensacola and Tallahassee areas had about 5 percent more jobs in the same time period, he noted. Harper spoke Tuesday during the second and final day of the 2011 Gulf Power Economic Symposium. While a large portion of Monday’s speakers focused on economic issues facing the state and nation, most of Tuesday’s discussions focused on Northwest Florida. “Panama City and Fort Walton Beach are really the Energizer bunnies of the Northwest Florida economy,” said Harper. “They just keep growing and growing.” Harper contrasted Northwest Florida to the Mobile, Ala., area, which is about flat in job growth over the past 11 years. In the 16-county region of Florida’s Great Northwest, 43 percent of all jobs are supported by the government, which Harper characterized as high-earning positions. That percentage is much higher than the state average of 19 percent of jobs because of the large military presence. Tourism accounts for 9 percent of all the jobs in the region, despite that only half of the counties are along the coast. “The challenge in the visitors sector is that those jobs tend not to be as well paid as the excellent jobs driven by military, defense spending and contracting,” Harper said. “Still, it’s a large part of the economy, not quite as many (tourism) jobs as in the rest of Florida, but a substantial level.” Another large source of income was retirees, which is the top source of revenue for Florida as a whole but placed second in Northwest Florida because the region skews younger than the state average. However, that could be changing. Harper said much of the population growth in the region in the next five years is expected to come from retirees. “We have to figure out what are the best business opportunities to ser ve them,” Harper said. Manufacturing currently only accounts for 3 percent of the jobs in the region.
In the next five years, Harper projected military occupations would grow only about 1 percent. Retail jobs, which are dependent on tourism, are projected to grow by 10 percent. Harper said he also expects larger job growth to occur as the construction and goods and services markets recover.


Their BACK, and they have come back in a major way. In my opinion, our efforts to dispel the rumors caused by local media outlets and others that our beaches were covered in oil, marketing to our visitor base in the Southeast, and the fact we have some of the most beautiful beaches in the world, as noted by a number of Travel Magazine, help bring us back in a major way in our tourism. This major upswing also brought back buyers into the vacation rental mark with low interest rates, great pricing, and access to financing. Oh yea, KNOCK ON WOOD, no hurricanes hitting the coast.

Emerald Coast completes record-breaking summer with solid August figures
Northwest Florida Daily News 315-4448
The final month of summer capped off a record-breaking tourism season in which area counties saw double-and even triple-digit increases over last year. Tourist development agencies in Okaloosa, Santa Rosa and Walton counties recently released their bed tax collection data for August. Collections were up 61.99 percent in Okaloosa County, 63.88 percent in Walton County and 101.3 percent in Santa Rosa County. “I was certainly hoping people would realize (the oil spill was) over,” said Kate Wilkes, executive director of the Santa Rosa County Tourist Development Council. “I have to say, it’s less than I hoped for but more than I expected. I’m not shocked by the figures. Our ad agency really got the word out there.” Bed taxes are collected on short-term rentals in Walton, Santa Rosa and southern Okaloosa counties and are indicators of how many tourists are visiting the Emerald Coast. The funds are used primarily to promote the area to potential visitors. All three counties posted huge increases this summer compared to the same period last year. For the months of June, July and August, Okaloosa County’s bed tax collections were up 57.81 percent from 2010. Santa Rosa County was up 63.11 percent and Walton County was up 42.26 percent. Earlier in the summer, Okaloosa and Walton counties broke records on the amount of bed taxes collected in a single month. The recovery from last year’s oil spill even caught the attention of Florida Gov. Rick Scott, who visited the area earlier this week. “You had a great tourist season,” Scott said. “We think you’re headed in the right direction. All of your regional efforts had a big impact.” John Russell, president of Sandestin Golf and Beach Resort, said it was a tremendous summer. He said he saw in March and April that the year was going to be stronger than he originally thought. At the end of March, Sandestin revised all of its projections for the rest of the year based on the strength of spring break. Even then, it underestimated August and September. “Down here, you expect June and July to be good,” Russell said. “That’s a given, and they were great months and so much better than last year. What’s encouraging is not only was the summer strong, but the spring was strong and the fall was strong. For this economy, this is really what we need. We need to do well in the shoulder months. “What has been the most gratifying for us has been the way August performed,” he added. “August is kind of the shoulder season, but our leisure business in August was up 156 percent over last year and our group business was up 40 percent over last year. It was just an incredible month.” Mark Bellinger, executive director of the Okaloosa County Tourist Development Council, said several factors contributed to the strong rebound from last year. “Visitor numbers this past summer far exceeded the majority of businesses’ pre-summer forecasts and expectations,” Bellinger wrote in an email. “The Emerald Coast received a fantastic positive economic boost from our destination’s record-breaking months of June and July of 2011. “I think a number of things contributed to the recent summer success,” he continued, “such as repeat guests who skipped vacationing here last summer (but) really wanted to return to enjoy our world class beaches and southern hospitality, the amount of national advertising by Northwest Florida’s Tourist Development Councils and regional tourism-related businesses, the wonderful weather and the continued lodging incentives and package plans.” Bellinger and Wilkes said they are focusing their marketing efforts to increase the shoulder and off season. Santa Rosa’s TDC recently completed its second annual sand sculpting contest that drew more than 20,000 people to Navarre Beach last weekend, and Wilkes said there already is talk of bringing it back next year. Russell said October is off to a good start at Sandestin. Reservations from snowbirds already are running 20 percent higher than last year, which was a record-breaker for the resort.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011


The State of Florida is getting very serious about bringing businesses to State of Florida. With the new Pharmacy School being built in Crestview and beginning classes in the Spring of 2012, Crestview should be at the top of the list. As mentioned numerous times before, Crestview is in the center of some exciting growth opportunities, which are focused on a wide range of industries. Diversification of new businesses has been the key and being in the center of the I-10 corridor with rail, highway, and air systems, it makes Crestview very attractive to these businesses.

State makes offer to drug maker
Northwest Florida Daily News 315-4438
State officials have presented a final incentive package to a pharmaceutical company considering building its next manufacturing plant in Crestview. Enterprise Florida, the state’s official economic development agency, finalized the offer to the Alabaster, Ala.-based Pharmacy South Inc., which makes the respiratory drug Albuterol. “There is an official offer on the table,” said Henry Kelley of Cobalt Blue, the local firm working to bring Pharmacy South to Okaloosa County. “It’s in the hands of the client to decide.” Kelley and his partner, former Destin Mayor Craig Barker, said the pharmaceutical company’s presence could introduce a third leg to a regional economy based largely on the military and tourism. Under Florida law, Pharmacy South has 120 days to accept the state’s offer. “We’re optimistic. We feel the offer was solid,” Kelley said. “It’s competitive with the other states to the best of our knowledge.” Pharmacy South also is considering locations in New Jersey, Alabama, Georgia, Mississippi and Pennsylvania. Kelley said Okaloosa County has a competitive edge with its available workforce, quality of life and the Florida A&M University pharmacy school planned for the old Alatex building in downtown Crestview. “FAMU could partner with this company,” Kelley said. “The benefits just go on and on.” FAMU officials participated in the development of the incentive package and have shown interest in forming a research and development partnership with Pharmacy South if it moves to Crestview. The company’s 45,000-squarefoot plant initially would generate about 120 jobs. “Most of these jobs will be high paying, blue-collar manufacturing jobs,” Kelley said. “There will be a number of professional jobs.” A second phase planned within five years could increase the number of jobs to about 500. County and state officials are banking on landing one pharmaceutical firm to eventually form a cluster of similar companies. “We really believe you get one, you get a lot,” Kelley said. “It’s really a chance to diversify this region’s economy.”

Thursday, September 29, 2011


Twin Creeks Crossing Shopping Center is taking shape on the North side of Crestview across the street from the Crestview High School. With the completion of the 10 Screen Movie Theater, Johnny “O’ Quigley, and now the starting of the next Phase, it should help meet the needs of all of the new home owners moving to this side of town, as well as, the many new business setting up at the Crestview Industrial Airport. Hats off to Jack Jernigan and company for their efforts in moving this project forward. As many residents and future residents will till you. It is a long time coming.

Monday, September 26, 2011


To update you on the below announcement, I must throw out some observations:

The overpass being constructed to make access from Crestview to the South part of the county, which is adjacent to the Fort Walton Beach airport and the F-35 Training Squadron is on schedule for completion early next year. For the record, this project was a Senator Don Gaetz initiative. Therefore, I expect the next logical piece of the puzzle in making Crestview more accessible to the South part of the County and Eglin AFB (F-35 Squadron) would be to get this State Road 123 (By Pass) road funded.

Another factoid, this is Senator Gaetz District and he has been selected as the next President of the Senate for the State of Florida. In his acceptance speech, he made job creation and the military a priority.

State Road 123 proposal revealed
Northwest Florida Daily News 315-4445
NICEVILLE — State transportation officials and contractors met with residents last week to unveil estimated costs and environmental impacts of a proposed widening of State Road 123. The five-mile stretch of road connects State Road 85 around Niceville. The proposed project would widen SR 123 from two to four lanes by adding two lanes along the west side of the existing road through Eglin Air Force Base property. Construction costs are estimated at $16.2 million. Funding has not yet been allocated for construction. Tommie Speights, district spokesman for the Department of Transportation, said the project is needed to improve safety and relieve congestion at the north end of SR 123 at SR 85. If the project is completed the intersection will no longer require a traffic light, he said. “It bottlenecks there,” Speights said. “We’re trying to relieve that congestion and make it much safer.” Between 2002 and 2009, there were more than 100 vehicle crashes on SR 123, which is higher than expected, according to HDR Engineering, the company hired to manage the project. The south end intersection already is being rebuilt with a flyover just south of Northwest Florida Regional Airport. The proposal calls for new two-lane bridges to be built over Tom’s Creek, Turkey Creek and an unnamed tributary to Turkey Creek. The creeks are home to the Okaloosa darter, an endangered freshwater fish. A Biological Assessment has been submitted for review to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services to determine any effects on the darter. Speights said the bridges will allow the darter to pass under the road and minimize impacts on their habitat.
At the meeting residents were encouraged to submit comments on the proposed project. “The idea is for the public to get input,” Speights said. “We do hear what they are saying. It doesn’t fall of deaf ears. We take the comments and try to incorporate them into the project.” Wayland Davis of Choctaw Beach spoke at the meeting. He asked that the road be renamed the Purple Heart Memorial Highway because it connects Eglin and the Army Special Forces cantonment south of Crestview. Speights said the naming of state roads is generally overseen by the Legislature and it has already approved the name Robert J. Clary Highway. The project hasn’t garnered a lot of attention, mostly because it doesn’t affect any private property, Speights said. “The general public can appreciate the relief they are going to get by building this project,” he said. Comments on the project and the Environmental Assessmentcanbesubmitted untilOct.3.Submitcomments to Alan Vann, Department of Transportation, by mail at 1074 U.S. Highway 90, Chipley, FL 32428, or by email at  .

Saturday, September 17, 2011


Enrollment increases in Okaloosa County Schools, and this is a surprise to the area. You have a couple of thousand new 7th Special Forces directed to come here and hundreds more of F-35 permanent party personnel coming, as well, on top of the normal military personnel moving in and out every year. Having recently attended a couple of local briefings regarding the 7th Special Forces, F-35 Training Squadron, and others, and more importantly working some these folks in acquiring their new homes, I am pretty confident, you haven’t seen anything yet. Because of quality and affordable housing not available in the numbers needed today, a number of these folks are making alternative plans in their housing situations until those quality and affordable homes become available. Remember, their home purchase is one of the biggest decisions of their life and many are making sure it will be the right one, if they have the time to do it. Some of our recent clients and others I have met are like deer in the headlights. Low supply of quality homes for sale, and hardly any rentals available to fall back on. Interesting. Yes, Crestview is where, not only the 7th Special Forces is heading in large numbers, but other folks, as well. Crestview is not the quite town of the North County, I knew as a kid. It is fast becoming, one of the most desirable areas to live. All I can say, is stay tuned. I warned many in the past of this situation. It will get more interesting in the very near future.


Enrollment increases in Okaloosa schools
Special Forces has brought students to the north end, officials say
Northwest Florida Daily News 315-4440
Preliminary attendance numbers show Okaloosa County schools are seeing some growth this year. As of the third week of September, the school district had 29,441 students enrolled, according to figures compiled by the district. There are about 800 more students compared to last October’s official numbers. That is the district’s highest enrollment since the fall of 2009. “We are very pleased with the uptick in the enrollment and we’d like to see even more,” Superintendent of Schools Alexis Tibbetts said. The jump largely is because of the arrival of the Army’s 7th Special Forces Group (Airborne), said J.C. Connor, the chief information officer for the district. From what the district has gathered, the Special Forces brought about 1,000 students to the area. Most of them are enrolled in schools in the north end of the county. Three of the five elementary schools in Crestview have about 800 students. Bob Sikes Elementary, which had been declining, saw a jump of 94 students this year. Nearby Antioch Elementary, which recently lost about 150 students because of rezoning, is down only about 126 students compared to last year. School district officials are certain it will grow more. The School Board on Monday approved adding an assistant principal to Antioch to help deal with the large student population. Other elementary schools with 800 students or more also will get an assistant principal, Deputy Superintendent Rodney Nobles said. While much of the growth is in the north end, some of the schools in the south and central portions of the county also have grown. Choctawhatchee High School has 114 more students than last year. The school, which had been declining for several years, actually has a few more students this year than in 2009. However, the county’s three other large high schools have seen their enrollments drop. That has been the overall trend for several years, Connor said. One reason is that even though students start kindergarten in the county, they don’t necessarily finish high school because of military families’ moves. Several elementary schools in the central and southern portions of the county also saw growth, but district officials say that is because of new military missions at area bases. “There’s nothing dramatic going on (in the south and central portions of the district),” Connor said. “It remains to be seen if we’ve turned the corner or not.” The official enrollment count will be taken in October.

Friday, September 16, 2011


As a note to the recent news of the Homes sales up on the Emerald Coast, I wanted to share some additional NEW home sales data for the Crestview Market only, as provided by the Emerald Coast Association of Realtors Multiple Listing Service. In summary, since January 1, 2011, there has been 283 NEW homes sold and another 72 NEW HOMES pending sale today. Average price is about $212,500. The lessen some homebuilders have found when building for the military. Bigger is better. Also, we have a hundreds of military folks, which have not moved here, and now the F-35 Training Squadron is next to start coming in a big way. Call me for details. Ken Wright, A.K.A. President of NORTHWEST FLORIDA Military Officers Association, former Military Housing Director for Southeast United States, and native to this lovely area.

Home sales up along Emerald Coast
However, prices continue to fluctuate
Northwest Florida Daily News 315-4448
The local housing market continued to show signs of stabilizing in August as sales increased, but prices remained volatile. Metro Market Trends recently released its August real estate sales reports for Okaloosa, Santa Rosa and Walton counties. The number of single-family homes and condominiums sold in all three counties increased compared to August 2010, but property values continued to fluctuate. “The market has done really well this summer,” said Jean Floyd, a local Realtor and president of the Emerald Coast Association of Realtors. “We had a great August. That’s good news for the real estate market and for the area. “I attribute the prices going down and being more affordable and interest rates being good,” she added. “People that have always dreamed of owning a condo down here now see the prices where they are and they’re buying.” In Okaloosa County, 339 single-family homes were sold in August, an increase of 37.8 percent from August 2010, when 246 homes were sold. Condominium and townhome sales were even hotter, increasing 91.53 percent with 113 units sold. Single-family home sales increased 37.96 percent in Walton County, from 108 last August to 149 this year. Single-family home sales also were up 10.09 percent in Santa Rosa County, with 240 homes sold last month compared to 218 a year ago. Condominium and townhome sales were up 42.86 percent in Walton County and 16.67 percent in Santa Rosa County. Real estate values did not see the same consistent increase across all categories. Average prices for single -family homes and condominium/ townhomes dropped slightly. The average price for all single family homes sold in Okaoosa County dropped 2.31 percent from $210,185 in August 2010 to $205,222 last month. The average condo price fell 3.67 percent, from $211,020 to $203,257. Walton County’s average single-family home price in August was $530,026, an increase of 34.19 percent from August 2010 when the average price was $394,981. However, the average condo/townhome price fell 20.25 percent, from $264,987 last August to $211,327 last month. The average sales price for both single-family homes and condominiums/townhomes increased in Santa Rosa County in August. The average price of a singlefamily home jumped from $166,775 in August 2010 to $193,862 last month. The price of a condo/ townhome increased from $240,500 to $275,600 during the same period. Despite the fluctuations, Floyd said the property values are getting better. “The values are starting to have a slight increase and stay more stable,” Floyd said. “That gives people the idea that prices are good; ‘interest rates are probably never going to be this good again, so if I’m going to buy this is the time to buy.’ It’s giving them a sense of urgency. We’re just not trying to sell you something. We’re trying to tell you that if you really want to buy, now is the time.”

Monday, September 12, 2011



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