Wednesday, April 18, 2012


As promised, the economic future of Crestview gets brighter and brighter. All I can say, and continue to say, you haven’t seen anything yet, as many more initiatives to bring more prosperity to Crestview and the surrounding area are in the works. With this said, one of the biggest challenges will be, where are these people going to shop? Hopefully, lending world will cooperate to assist our local developers in the local area to meet this targeted growth in the Crestview area.

Firms eyeing Crestview could bring hundreds of jobs
Growth potential is ‘phenomenal’ in the area, EDC representative says
682-6524 @cnbBrian  
CRESTVIEW — Four companies could bring more than 300 jobs to town, according to Kay Rasmussen, vice president of community and economic development for the Okaloosa County Economic Development Council. Rasmussen made the announcement at a recent Crestview City Council meeting. Of the 25 projects the EDC is pursuing, half are in the Crestview area, said Rasmussen, who noted that “four are strong candidates.” Because of confidentiality laws, she could not identify the firms, although it is known that “Project Pill” is an ongoing effort to lure Alabama-based Southern Pharmaceutical to open a plant in Crestview. “Project Pill is in the final stage of negotiations,” Rasmussen said. “Project Pill has restructured what they are looking for. It would result in an increased capital investment as well as an increased number of jobs. The EDC is working with them on their needs. We’re very confident this is going to happen and we’re working with them to meet their new needs.” Project Clark, an effort to lure a business to open in Crestview’s city limits, and Project Indian, another effort to locate a firm just outside the city, are new undertakings. Their combined projects “will contribute over 300 new jobs,” Rasmussen said. “Project Qwest II, this is a very promising project,” she also reported. “It would locate a corporate headquarters here along with a 100,000-square-foot refurbishing center and would create approximately 75 to 100 new jobs.” Rasmussen said the expansion of Qwest Air Parts, one of Bob Sikes Airport’s newest tenants, possibly might be accomplished with BP funds from the Restore Act, which allocates money to create new jobs in areas affected by the 2010 oil spill. “The trend that everyone is seeing is the growth potential that is actually taking place in and around the city,” Rasmussen said after the presentation. “It is phenomenal.”

Sunday, April 15, 2012


As Mark Bellinger of the Tourist Development Council has noted, The Emerald Coast should have a record breaking year. Our sister company, Southern Resorts, one of the top vacation rental companies in our area, has reported reservations for deep into the year and have been made. As seen by the large amount of traffic in the Fall and Winter, it is quite obvious a large amount of Baby Boomers/Snow birds are making the Panhandle a place to call home during this time of year.

Strong spring tourism buoys hope for summer
The Destin Log
DESTIN — Spring breakers come for the sun, surf and sand. But they stay for the shopping and snacking. “We’ve spent a lot of money at the restaurants at HarborWalk,” said Marlee Ketelaar, 16, from Howell, Mich., who was lying out on the beach behind Jetty East recently with her family. Ditto for Ashley Petty from Louisville, Ky. “I would say, for our family, we’ve probably spent $150 a day going to breakfast, getting gas, buying food, shopping at Target — $150 to $200 a day,” said Petty, who was tanning on the beach behind The Islander with a large group of friends and family. It all adds up to a successful 2012 spring break. “The Emerald Coast 2012 spring break period’s average overall lodging occupancy percentage and total visiting guests number will come in ahead of goal,” Okaloosa County Tourist Development Director Mark Bellinger said. “Emerald Coast bed tax collections for the spring break period are estimated to be a 17 percent cumulative increase in 2012 compared to the same period in 2011.“ Bellinger said he expects similar numbers for the next few months. “TheTDCstill anticipates a record-breaking summer season for attendance, but predicts tourism-related discretionary spending will decrease,” he said. HarborWalk Village, Destin Commons and Silver Sands Factory Stores reported strong sales. “The spring season was an encouraging and enthusiastic launch of what we hope to be the best all-time season in Destin Harbor tourism/visitor history,” Hall said. Still, the beach was the place to be. Destin Beach Safety Chief Joe D’Agostino said that before April 6 the beaches saw almost 300,000 visitors in the first 30 days his lifeguards were on duty. “It was certainly a record-breaking pace,” he said. If those numbers hold for the eight months lifeguards patrol the beaches, it would be a record 2.4 million people. The spring saw one drowning near the jetties, an area not patrolled by the beach safety team. Michele Nicholson with the Okaloosa County Sheriff’s Office said spring break went pretty smoothly. She said one significant difference this year was that many students rented houses in the Crystal Beach area and had large parties in which they could walk from house to house. “There were several weeks, especially at the beginning of the season, that were exceptionally busy on the beaches due to great weather and many of the SEC schools having simultaneous breaks, but no major crime-related issues,” she said.

Thursday, April 5, 2012


Another record breaking month for tourism in the Panhandle of Florida. With the help of BP with their marketing dollars, many more areas of the country have found the Panhandle of Florida to be a place to visit and get away from it all. In a meeting with Southern Resorts, one of the area’s Vacation Rental Company; they noted they are expected to have a banner year.

Okaloosa bed tax collections set February record
Walton, Santa Rosa revenues also rise
315-4448 @DustyRnwfdn  
Having a county break a record for the amount of bed taxes collected in a given month now happens so frequently it’s beginning to be the norm rather than the exception. The trend continued in February when Okaloosa County collected $437,614 in bed taxes, a 19.7 percent increase from last year and the best February on record. While not record-breaking, Walton and Santa Rosa counties also posted gains over last year. “Everybody is doing really, really well,” said Kate Wilkes, executive director of the Santa Rosa County Tourist Development Council. “The predictions for spring break have been great and summer reservations are up. Everybody is thrilled. You can just tell by the cars around. It’s amazing.” Bed taxes are collected on short-term rentals in Okaloosa, Walton and Santa Rosa counties. The revenues are used primarily to promote the area to potential tourists. Martin Owen, regional marketing director for ResortQuest, said a strong snowbird presence contributed to the good winter season this year. ResortQuest operates more than 3,000 vacation rentals in Northwest Florida and southern Alabama. “We were certainly up on the previous year (in February),” Owen said. “It’s been a good snowbird season for us. We’ve had more of them from wider destinations and they stayed longer, which is nice.” In Walton County, $444,324 in bed taxes was collected in February, an increase of 23 percent from February 2011 and only about $55,000 shy of its top February in 2007. “It was very exciting for us to see the numbers the way they came in,” said Dawn Moliterno, executive director of Walton’s Tourist Development Council. “We’re very fortunate to have good bed tax collectors that partnered with us, and as a result the marketing was very strategic.” Santa Rosa’s bed tax collections were up 5.7 percent, from $44,322 collected in February 2011 to $46,834 this past February. Tourism professionals in all three counties expect the strong winter and spring season to carry over into summer. “Overall, advance lodging reservations on the Emerald Coast are still looking strong for this summer season,” Mark Bellinger, executive director of the Okaloosa County’s Tourist Development Council, wrote in an email. Owen said ResortQuest is working with Visit Florida and local tourist development councils to promote the region in the Washington/Baltimore area to take advantage of US Airways’ new direct flights between Northwest Florida Regional Airport and Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport. The company also hopes to beef up summer traffic by promoting outside the normal drive-to destinations, including some international locations. “At the moment, things are shaping up very well,” Owen said. “It looks good for us. We’re having a very good spring break and we’re seeing good signs for the summer. We’re not relying purely on the traditional markets. We’re trying to expand our market and go into new markets, and hopefully that’s having an effect on ResortQuest

Monday, April 2, 2012


As noted before, the one of the newest College Campuses will be opening their doors in August of this year. What does this mean? It means another higher education institution has its eyes on Crestview with growth on their minds. This has also opened the doors for a new Pharmaceutical Manufacturing Company to look seriously at Crestview for their new plant.

Crestview FAMU campus opening in August
2012-03-30 13:44:15
The first class of students will enter the doors at Florida A&M University's Rural Diversity Healthcare Center in August. “We will have 30 students in the first class and we will be adding 30 students every year for a total of 120 students," said Dr. Margareth Lacrose-Pierre, the director of the new FAMU satellite campus opening in the historic downtown Alatex building. “After the first successful graduation we will be able to increase the class by 25 percent every year. That is our plan.” Lacrose-Pierre's remarks were made at the Monday meeting of the Crestview City Council. "The College of Pharmacy will be the pride of the city,” Lacrosse-Pierre said, addressing her remarks as much to the audience as to the council. Of the first class of students who have received their acceptance letters to the school, “the majority of them are coming from right here in Crestview,” she said. The college is working on developing affiliations with local and regional medical facilities, and has already penned agreements with the Veterans Administration, the hospital at Eglin Air Force Base, and Sacred Heart and Baptist Hospitals in Pensacola. Lacrose-Pierre promised the school will be an involved member of the Crestview community and will be represented at events such as health fairs, career fairs, and recruiting students from local high schools and middle schools. “We will be directly involved with city activities,” she said. “At your Triple B this weekend, we were right in the middle, eating and fellowshipping.” “Only God knows how high the sky is, but we will try to reach it,” Lacrose-Pierre said.

Sunday, April 1, 2012


Congratulations to David Jeffcoat. Your customer service and civic mindedness is truly appreciated and we are also glad to call you friend.

Jeffcoat honored by Unishippers Inc.

David Jeffcoat, president of Unishippers of Northwest Florida, recently was recognized for his accomplishments in his first year of business at Unishippers Inc.’s 25-year anniversary celebration in Salt Lake City. Since purchasing the local Unishippers franchise in January 2011, Jeffcoat has increased clientele to 270 active clients across the Emerald Coast region, expanded from one employee to three and increased sales by almost 30 percent. He also has joined several chambers of commerce and become a member of the board of directors for the Niceville chamber, sponsored several youth sports programs to give back to the community, and has become vice president of the Niceville BNI chapter. Unishippers of Northwest Florida helps local businesses save time and money on their shipping needs.