Thursday, April 21, 2011


Vision Airlines is taking off in more ways than one. As I noted earlier, I had the pleasure of having the Vice President of Vision Airlines speak to my Northwest Florida Military Officers Association last month. While sitting next to him his phone was burning up with updates on the projections of Flights leaving and arriving Fort Walton Beach. From what he noted, all their expectations were being exceeded. Great news for us.

Vision Airlines to add five destinations
Dusty Ricketts
2011-04-20 20:46:19
Vision Airlines thinks its next expansion of service from Northwest Florida Regional Airport is a sure bet: The airline will soon offer direct flights to Las Vegas. Vision has announced plans to add five destinations starting the week of June 1. Other flights will be to and from Fort Lauderdale, St. Louis, Memphis, Tenn., and Lafayette, “We see it as a good opportunity for growth,” said Clay Meek, marketing and business development director for Vision Airlines. “It’s increasing our exposure. It gives certainly the people of Northwest Florida many more options. It’s an opportunity to create a lot more reverse traffic.” Meek said Vision’s original business model projected that 90 percent of its business would be from bringing tourists and business people to Northwest Florida. Now, Meek said Vision is trying to give local residents more travel options. Meek said he believes the beaches of Northwest Florida will be a big draw for Las Vegas residents, but that Vegas also will be a popular destination for locals. Mike Stenson, business development manager for Northwest Florida Regional, agreed. He said St. Louis and Memphis are also among the top 10 destinations people travel to from the airport. “There are over 100 people a day that go from the three Northwest Florida airports to Las Vegas, and typically they’ve always had to pay high fares and always had to connect,” Stenson said. “Now they have non-stop service straight to Vegas, which I think is going to be a huge hit for people.” In addition to offering new destinations, Vision Airlines will expand its service to and from Atlanta from four trips a week to daily. While Vision is adding flights, two of its previous destinations are being discontinued. Flights to Miami and Niagara Falls will end May 1. However, the decision to discontinue the Niagara Falls flight is a seasonal one. Vision is in talks with area snowbird associations and is expected to bring back the Niagara Falls flights sometime in November or December. Miami is being discontinued permanently and is being replaced by Fort Lauderdale, which Meek said is much more affordable for Vision.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011


More good news on job creation in the local area. As the F-35 Training Squadron continues to ramp up their training program on Eglin, the supporting cast of defense contractors surrounding the area will begin to expand their support for the program. With a facility costing a couple of hundred million dollars almost completed, you will begin to see a program have the same affect the 7th Special Forces Group, if not more in the upcoming months and years. This program will not only make an impact on the local area, it will also bring a lot of attention from the international community, since approximately 12 other countries will have their pilots trained on the Fifth Generation Fighter.

Lockheed Martin wants to hire 91 locally
Northwest Florida Daily News 315-4448
FORT WALTON BEACH — Lockheed Martin is preparing to expand its operations at Eglin Air Force Base to prepare for the incoming F-35 Joint Strike Fighter and is looking for employees to meet the demand. Lockheed Martin is teaming up with JobsPlus One-Stop Career Center for a series of job fairs later this week. Lockheed Martin is looking to hire 91 full-time employees in a number of technical positions. “They’re ideally looking for someone who has experience with what they’re calling fourth- or fifthgeneration fighters — that’s F-15s, which is our folks here who used to be in the 33rd Fighter Wing,” said Don Holloway, veteran employment representative at JobsPlus. “Looking back at the data over the last few years, about the time we had the economic downturn and the 33rd Fighter Wing moved out, about 40 percent of the aircraft mechanics in this area lost their job,” Holloway said. “So this takes a big chunk out of that. We’re just overjoyed about it.” The job fair is scheduled from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. Thursday and Friday at JobsPlus at 409 Racetrack Road N.E. in Fort Walton Beach. Representatives from Lockheed did not return messages seeking comment on this story. Those who attend the job fair will be able to speak with Lockheed’s hiring managers. Job seekers are encouraged to bring multiple copies of their résumé and be able to start work no later than May 31. All positions will require military clearance. Lockheed Martin has not released salary information for any of the positions yet. According to the Florida Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average salary for similar jobs in this area ranges from about $38,000 to $54,000 a year. Holloway said he expects the Lockheed jobs to pay more than the area average. “All of these people are going to start by the first of June,” Holloway said. “That’s just such good news for our local economy.” For more information and a full list of all positions currently available, go to  .

Saturday, April 2, 2011


FOLKS, if you think we are growing at the seams, Fort Bragg is busting at the seams. Rumor was, the soldiers moving to Eglin might have problems selling their homes. Actually, the truth of the matter is, the incoming folks to Fort Bragg needs homes badly and would probably pack and deliver their fellow Army folks household goods to get them out of town to make room for them. The log jam is us here in Northwest Florida, and the questions is, can we get quality homes built fast enough with the problem of lending to developers and builders. Bragg feeling stress of growth, returning troops By Henry CuninghamMilitary editor PINEHURST - Fort Bragg in recent months has been feeling the stress of growth combined with soldiers returning home from overseas, the garrison commander said Thursday. The redeployment has been "a big wakeup call," Col. Steve Sicinski said. Large-scale troop deployments in recent years tended to obscure the impact of growth, he said. Sicinski, who is in charge of the day-to-day operation of the Army post that stretches 35 miles east to west across the Sandhills, spoke to the Moore County Chamber of Commerce at the National Golf Club. The stress has shown up everywhere from traffic snarls on the roads to more customers in the post exchange to longer lines to get military identification cards. "Everybody knows the pharmacy lines are unsatisfactory," Sicinski said. Fort Bragg's population is about 56,000 military personnel, including soldiers and airmen, since Pope Air Force Base became Fort Bragg's Pope Field in March, he said.Fort Bragg has an estimated economic impact on the surrounding civilian community of $9.5 billion annually or more than $26 million daily, he said. A baby boom "is just beginning" at Fort Bragg's Womack Army Medical Center in the wake of large-scale troop redeployments over the past year, he said. An average of about nine babies are born every day at the military hospital, he said. Fort Bragg and other military installations have experienced increases in births nine months after massive redeployments since troops came home from the first Persian Gulf War in the spring of 1991. The number of generals at Fort Bragg is growing from 19 to 39, he said. Forces Command and U.S. Army Reserve Command are moving to Fort Bragg this summer from Atlanta because of mandates of the 2005 base realignment law. "This is no boutique installation," Sicinski said. He added Fort Bragg is a "working installation" whose main purpose is training troops for combat. The Joint Special Operations Command, which includes members from the Army, Navy, Air Force and Marines, is "growing in importance," he said. The Air Force plans to add a brigadier general at Pope Field, he said. The 7th Special Forces Group, which is leaving Fort Bragg, has sent an advance party to its new home at Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., and large numbers will depart in the next two months, he said. The group has about 2,000 soldiers. Its move also is part of base realignment. Military editor Henry Cuningham can be reached at or 486-3585