UNIVERSITY TOWN PLAZA THE RENOVATION AND REOPENING
An Interview With Christian Wagley Record Tourism And Revenue For Northwest Florida Ten Phrases That Should Be Banned From the Workplace Forever Cloud Computing www.nwflbusinessclimate.com
publisher’ s pen Malcolm Ballinger Publisher
The communities in the Florida Panhandle have weathered many storms, both literally in the form of devastating hurricanes, and also in the 2010 environmental disaster of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, which struck an area already hard hit by the economic recession. But Northwest Florida is nothing if not resilient, and this key feature of our area has helped it back on its feet after much adversity. Many aspects of our economy now thrive despite various setbacks, and we’ve got several success stories in this issue of Business Climate. The University Town Plaza, formerly University Mall, has been slowly piecing its way back together following its steady decline, subsequent damage from Hurricane Ivan, and eventual demolition of all but the anchor stores. Now it’s on an upswing, with renewed efforts in construction of an exciting development set for completion in November that includes many well known stores and restaurants that will invigorate this once blighted property. Get the full story on page 22. Additionally, as the local area prepares for the warmer months and high tourism season, we’ve got an article looking at the growth in tourism since the BP catastrophe. Many local tourism spots have bounced back with tourism numbers higher even than pre-spill figures, thanks in part to BP funding to which many area tourism entities have availed themselves for targeted marketing and cleanup efforts. Turn to page 11 for more. We also have an interview with Christian Wagely, a recent appointee as environmental representative for the RESTORE Act Committee. With the environment so clearly tied to our area’s economic future, it is imperative that local resources are conserved to meet the beneficial ends of both. For more on Christian’s background and vision for his post, see page 18.
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C ontents f e a t u re s
18. An Interview With Christian Wagley 22. University Town Plaza: The Renovation And Reopening
> 11. economic development Record Tourism and Revenue For Northwest Florida
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Record Tourism And Revenue For Northwest Florida By Josh Newby
The Deepwater Horizon BP oil spill of 2010, dubbed the largest accidental marine oil spill in the history of the petroleum industry, seemingly spelled disaster for many businesses and residents along the Gulf of Mexico, some of whom were already struggling with the Great Recession. The oil spill, which could be seen from space, reached the shoreline quickly, with many reporting oil residue on their previously pristine, sandy beaches as far west as Louisiana. An environmental and economic disaster though it was, affected citizens and professionals have been successfully picking up the pieces ever since, bouncing back stronger than ever and refusing to be defined by the spill, thanks in part to a $20 billion relief fund instituted by BP to compensate victims of the catastrophe. The fund has received more than one million claims, many of which have gone to cleanup and recovery, but some of which have
also gone to marketing the Gulf’s newly restored waters and promoting businesses to those outside the area who may still be hesitant about visiting the region. Gov. Rick Scott secured a $30 million grant from BP in April 2011 for the seven-member Northwest Florida Tourism Council, which includes Escambia, Santa Rosa, Okaloosa, Walton, Bay, Gulf and Franklin counties. The three-year grant has been used for the purposes of tourism promotion, mitigating negative impacts to the tourism industry, and awareness building— even in far off markets. Visit Pensacola, for example, has marketed to audiences as far away as Chicago and Washington. One of the most impressive success stories of the whole situation involves the record-breaking tourism and tourism development tax numbers being reported recently from many counties along the coast, including Escambia, Santa Rosa,
Walton and Okaloosa counties in Florida. Tourists and visitors have begun flocking back to Northwest Florida in numbers exceeding those of the prespill glory days, thanks in part to the grant. This unprecedented increase has led to a local economy and employment boost, and many officials report that the growth should continue for awhile, before plateauing at a high number. These numbers were calculated using tourism development taxes, which is a local tax on transient rentals. Because it applies exclusively to the rental of living quarters or accommodations for a term of six months or less, it has been nicknamed the “bed tax,” and is a useful method of tracking tourism in the area. It is not a perfect unit of measurement though, as bed tax rates in certain counties have also increased. Even if rates had not increased, bed tax revenue now would still be at its highest level since
before the spill, according to a University of West Florida Office of Economic Development and Engagement bed tax collection analysis. Tourism in Escambia County is presently setting all-time lodging revenue records for fiscal year 201213 to date, with lodging revenues generated in October and November 2012 totaling $24.1 million, a 12 percent increase over revenues collected in the same period in 2011. In fiscal year 2011-12, lodging revenue collections on hotel and rental stays in Escambia County totaled $178 million, an 11 percent increase over the previous year’s record. “These numbers clearly depict the momentum that the Pensacola Bay Area’s tourism industry has been experiencing over the past few years, which we believe to be a testament to our increased marketing efforts and to the region’s growth,” said Terry Scruggs, vice president of tourism for the Greater Pensacola Chamber. “Undoubtedly, continuing to fund Escambia County tourism at the level at which it had been funded, following the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, has provided tangible benefits.” Pensacola Bay Area marketing initiatives are managed by Visit Pensacola, the tourism arm of the Greater Pensacola Chamber, which serves as the destination’s Convention and Visitors Bureau, housed in the Visitor Information Center located at the foot of the Pensacola Bay Bridge. In Walton County, the bed tax is 4.5 percent. After administrative costs, 2 percent is allocated for marketing/promotion, 1 percent for Autumn Tides Fall promotion, 1 percent for beach nourishment and restoration, and 0.5 percent to bring low-cost air travel to the region. The Tourist Development Council (TDC) oversees the expenditures of the tax and reports to the Walton County Board of County Commissioners. Walton County is frequently visited and is home to Florida’s largest and best-equipped fleet for boating and fishing. Area accommodations include luxurious condo vacation rentals,
magnificent beach houses, historical bed and breakfasts and some of the country’s finest resorts. Activities include golf, tennis, nature trails, amusement parks and water sports. Approximately 150,000 call this county home, and many, many more call it their favorite vacation destination. For fiscal year 2012, which stretched from October 2011 to September 2012, Walton County benefited from bed tax revenue of a record-breaking $14.5 million, up 19 percent from $12 million the previous year and $9 million the year of the spill. 2012’s numbers exceeded those of the pre-spill Walton County tax earnings as well, when revenue averaged between $9 and $11 million a year.
workforce is directly employed by tourism, Visit South Walton continually strives to establish and maintain a strong presence in our major and emerging markets,” said Ervin. “Those efforts are paying off in both recognition and revenue. These are community awards, in the truest sense.” The Walton County tourism economy is responsible for approximately one billion dollars annually. Like Walton County, Okaloosa County attracts millions of tourists a year, mostly to places like Ft. Walton Beach and Destin. In fact, it is estimated that 80 percent of the annual 4.5 million Emerald Coastseekers travel to both cities. An eclectic array of festivals, award-
Naturally, as tourism funds increase, marketing and promotion of the region will also increase, leading way to a very favorable and profitable cycle. “We have been very fortunate, by some accounts, to lead the Gulf Coast in recovery and growth recently,” said Jon Ervin, director of marketing and communications for the South Walton TDC. As a result of the settlement, the TDC was able to utilize an additional $11 million for marketing, promotion and other needs, which definitely seems to have aided in the recent uptick in awareness and revenue. “In a county where an estimated 57 percent of the measured
winning beaches, high-rise condominiums, historical fortifications, and even the filming location for many popular movies can be found in this county that is home for about 180,000 people. Okaloosa’s 5 percent bed tax rate has helped marketing efforts to promote and entice tourism to the county. Fiscal year 2012 brought in $13.2 million in bed tax revenue, an impressive 13 percent increase from the previous year’s $11.6 million. “I’m excited to build on the increased tourism activity we’ve seen in Destin, Fort Walton, and Okaloosa Island,” said Dan O’Byrne, director of marketing for the Tourist Development Department in
Okaloosa County. “BP has invested in a community significantly impacted by the oil spill in 2010, and we intend to keep that momentum going.” Most funds were collected in the popular beach months between May and September, indicating that tourists no longer fear the images of tar-stained beaches that dominated the news in the months following the spill. Totals have never been as high as they are right now in Okaloosa County, signaling an improvement over pre-spill numbers as well. Previously, bed tax revenue averaged between $7 and $10 million a year. “While we are excited to see the uptick in tourism activity over the past two years, we are committed, now more than ever, to capitalize on that momentum,” said O’Byrne. “This community looks forward to welcoming visitors to our sugar-white beaches and emerald green waters.” To the west, Santa Rosa County boasts Navarre Beach, one of the most popular beach destinations in the state, along with miles of natureshrouded rivers, historical museums and a number of folksy and charming downtowns. In Santa Rosa County, where there is a 4 percent bed tax rate, revenue and tourism have been on the rise as well. During the year of the spill, the county saw only $768,567 of revenue from tourism taxes. Just two years later, thanks to an influx of BP marketing money and an attitude determined to come back stronger than before, tax yields increased by nearly 60 percent to $1,190,475 and also set a record. Just as in Walton
and Okaloosa counties, this is an even stronger number than the county experienced pre-spill, when revenue averaged about $800,000 annually. “I attribute a lot of our recent success to the fund,” said Kate Wilkes, executive director for the Santa Rosa TDC. “We were able to advertise in markets that we previously weren’t able to. The markets include Atlanta, Tennessee, and as far west as Texas.” Wilkes went on to say that, while the spill has given the Florida panhandle a lot of attention for the wrong reason, the comeback has supplied counties across the region with an opportunity to turn that
attention into a positive outcome. “Everything in this area has received so much attention lately because of the spill, and we’ve been able to turn that into a good thing,” said Wilkes. “I definitely expect this positive trend to continue. As long as we continue to get our message out there, people will continue to see that this area isn’t defined by the oil spill, but by the families who live here and the nature they enjoy. That message has gone over very well thus far.” The numbers speak for themselves. For more tourists than ever, our white sandy beaches, focus on fun and family, and cultural heritage are irresistible to visitors looking to get away from it all and escape to Florida’s own paradise. Our restoration is a testament to this area’s resolve and refusal to back down from adversity, no matter how overwhelming the opposition may seem. It speaks to our motivation to make the best out of something terrible, to improve far beyond the setback. Northwest Florida is back and better than ever.
Ten Phrases That Should Be Banned From the Workplace Forever By Darlene Price
Darlene Price, author of the book Well Said! Presentations and Conversations That Get Results, uses the lessons learned from over 20 years of working closely with top corporate executives and leaders helping them present themselves and their message more effectively.
Do the top leaders and successful managers use specific words to achieve success? Are there words and phrases that should be avoided at all costs? Yes, indeed! You’ve got to know your audience and tailor your content to meet their needs. Being sincere, natural, enthusiastic and passionate go hand in hand with maintaining good eye contact and being calm and polite. It’s also crucial to learn that there are certain words and phrases that are certain to cause damage to one’s progress. If you want to maximize your success as you climb the career ladder, and avoid slipping, here are the top ten phrases to stop using in the workplace. 1. AVOID: “I can’t do that” or “That’s impossible” or “That can’t be done.” Even though you may feel this way on the inside, these negative phrases are perceived by others as pessimistic, unconstructive, and even stubborn. Your boss, peers and customers most likely want to hear what CAN be done. Instead say, “I’ll be glad to check on that for you” or “What I can do is…” or “Because of company policy, what I CAN do is…” 2. AVOID: “You should have…” or “You could have…” or “You ought to...” The words should, could and ought imply blame, finger-pointing and fault. There’s no quicker way to upset a boss, colleague or customer than to suggest they’re guilty of something (even if they are). Instead, take a collaborative approach. “Please help me understand why” or “Next time may we adopt an alternative approach” or “I understand your challenges; let’s resolve this together.”
3. AVOID: “That’s not my job” or “I don’t get paid enough for this” or “That’s not my problem.” If you’re asked to do something by your boss, co-worker or a customer, it’s because it’s important to them. Therefore, as a team player, goal number one is to figure out how to help them get it accomplished. Even if it’s not in your job description, by saying so displays a career-limiting bad attitude. For example, if your boss lays an unreasonable request on you, reply by saying, “I’ll be glad to help you accomplish that. Given my current tasks of A…B…and C…. which one of these would you like to place on back-burner while I work on this new assignment?” This clearly communicates priority; reminds the boss of your current work load; and subtly implies realistic expectations. 4. AVOID: “I may be wrong, but…” or “This may be a dumb question, but…” or “I’m not sure about this, but…” or “This may be a silly idea, but…” Eliminate any prefacing phrase that demeans or negates what you’re about to say. Instead, get rid of the self-deprecating phrase, drop the ‘but’, and make your comment. 5. AVOID: “I’ll try.” Imagine your boss says to you, “I need your proposal by 10 am tomorrow for the customer meeting.” Your reply is, “Okay. I’ll try to get it finished.” The word “try” implies the possibility it may not get finished. It presupposes possible failure. Instead say, “I’ll get it finished” or “I’ll have it on your desk by 9 am.”
6. AVOID: “I think…” Which of these two statements do you find to be more effective? “I think you might like this new solution we offer.” vs. “I believe (or I’m confident) you’re going to like this new solution we offer.” The difference in wording is fairly subtle. However, the influence communicated to your customer can be profound. Reread each sentence. The first one contains two weak words, “think” and “might.” These words make you sound unsure or insecure about the message, and subtly undermine your credibility. Notice how the second sentence is confident and strong. Replace the word “think” with “believe” and strike the tentative “might.” That’s a statement from someone who believes in what he or she saying.
AVOID: “I don’t have time for this right now” or “I don’t have time to talk to you right now.”
7. AVOID: “…don’t you think?” Or, “…isn’t it?” Or “…okay?” To convey a confident commanding presence, eliminate validation questions. Make your statement or recommendation with certainty and avoid tacking on the unnecessary approval-seeking question. Don’t say, “This would be a good investment, don’t you think?” Instead say, “This solution will be a wise investment that provides long-term benefits.” Don’t say, “I think we should proceed using this proposed strategy, okay?” Instead, make a declaration: “We’ll proceed using this proposed strategy.” 8. AVOID: “I don’t have time for this right now” or “I don’t have time to talk to you right now.” Other than being abrupt and rude, this phrase tells the person they’re less important to you than something or
someone else. Instead say, “I’d be glad to discuss this with you. I’m meeting a deadline at the moment. May I stop by your office (or phone you) in this afternoon at 3 pm?” 9. AVOID: “…but…” Simply replace the word “but” with “and.” The word “but” cancels and negates anything that comes before it. Imagine if your significant other said to you, “Honey, I love you, but . . .” Similarly, imagine if a software salesperson said, “Yes, our implementation process is fast, easy, and affordable….but we can’t install it until June.” The “but” creates a negative that didn’t exist before, offsetting the benefits of fast, easy, and affordable. Replace the “but” with “and” and hear the difference: “Yes, our implementation process is fast, easy and affordable, and we can install it as early as June.” Most of the time, “and” may be easily substituted for “but,” with positive results. 10. AVOID: “He’s a jerk” or “She’s lazy” or “They’re stupid” or “I hate my job” or “This company stinks.” Avoid making unconstructive or judgmental statements that convey a negative attitude toward people or your job. This mishap tanks a career quickly. If a genuine complaint or issue needs to be brought to someone’s attention, do so with tact, consideration and nonjudgment. For example, when discussing a co-worker’s tardiness with your boss, don’t say “She’s lazy.” Instead say, “I’ve noticed Susan has been an hour late for work every morning this month.” This comment states an observable fact and avoids disparaging language. About the Author: Darlene Price is President and Founder of Well Said, Inc., a training and consulting firm specializing in high-impact presentations and effective communication. As a 20-year veteran of the speech communication training field, Darlene has personally coached over 5,000 business professionals on the art of effective presentations and interpersonal communication. She has presented to audiences across six continents and coached the chief officers and senior leaders in more than half of the Fortune 100 companies. In addition, her work as a corporate spokesperson has earned her 17 industry honors including one Emmy Award and nine Telly Awards. Darlene recently authored Well Said! Presentations and Conversations That Get Results. She’s also written over 20 training manuals and co-authored a book with Stephen Covey and Brian Tracy entitled Speaking of Success: World Class Experts Share Their Secrets. Darlene earned Bachelor of Science Degrees in Marketing and Speech Communications from Appalachian State University in Boone, North Carolina and a Masters Degree in Adult Education from Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia. She is ranked as a Certified Executive Coach through the College of Executive Coaching, and is certified through the Protocol School of Washington as an international business etiquette consultant. Darlene is a supporting member of National Speakers Association, International Coach Federation, American Society of Training & Development, International Association of Facilitators, Toastmasters International, the Screen Actors Guild, and Optimist International. She lives in Atlanta, Georgia.
An Interview With
Christian Wagley By Kelly Oden Recently named as the environmental representative for the RESTORE Act Committee, Christian Wagley has worked on environmental issues in Florida and the Southeast for nearly 20 years. He holds a master’s degree in biology and coastal zone studies from the University of West Florida and is principal of Sustainable Town Concepts, an environmental consulting firm. Christian oversaw environmental and green building issues for several years for the much-acclaimed town of Alys Beach, in Walton County, Florida, and developed a pedestrian and bicycle-friendly master plan for the village of Bagdad, Florida. A strong advocate for restoring Pensacola’s urban core and making the City more pedestrian and bicyclefriendly, Christian recently served as a member of the Mayor’s Urban Redevelopment Advisory Committee. He is also the writer and host of EarthAction—a five-part environmental series on WSRE Public Television.
BC: What first interested you in the environment? CW: Like a lot of people, it goes back to my childhood. I spent a lot of time interested in the environment and oceans. I read a lot as a kid and continue to. I grew up on the shores of the Chesapeake Bay, and spent a lot of time exploring there and looking at critters. I had a couple family trips to Florida, and there were lots of critters in the south of Florida that we didn’t have up in the Chesapeake. That took me through my younger and teen years. It wasn’t until my 20s that I became interested in studying the environment and ecology from a scientific perspective. I became more interested and passionate about protecting those things and those places. I went to graduate school in Pensacola in 1994 to get a Master’s at the University of West Florida in biology and coastal zone studies. It’s an interdisciplinary science looking at the problems of coastal areas, so it combines things like biology and geology and a whole range of things. I realized in my studies that really all the environmental issues we were grappling with go back to the way we use the land, and the way we use our community. I became passionate about that and decided to move into downtown Pensacola to become more familiar with the traditional patterns of development, when we were realizing more and more the right way to do things environmentally: compound, mixed-use, walkable, connected street networks. All these things give people choices in transportation and they ultimately use less land to bring people together in an efficient and smart way, so they don’t have to drive as much. I noticed the pre-WWII part of Pensacola. It was a living laboratory for me, so I enjoyed riding my bike each day, studying what works and what doesn’t, and applying my environmental ideas to that. What we’ve learned more and more from all the research from all over the country is that communities built smart like this is really the way to go, not only environmentally, but also economically and socially. BC: Tell about your time working in South Walton. CW: I spent six years over there from 2003 through 2008. I had some great opportunities to work with the developers of the time, being on the beach and being able to be exposed to some incredibly talented and smart people, designers, architects and town-planners. I enjoyed overseeing all the environmental elements for them, looking at homes and green elements, getting them certified as green and having energy-efficient materials and landscaping. My focus in more recent years has definitely been in how we use the land, how we build our community, and creating walkable communities. That’s certainly the trend nationwide. More people are doing that, especially younger people. They’re not driving as much, not going out in cars as much. They socialize in different ways. They want to live closer to work and school and shopping and anything they need in their social lives. BC: You’ve recently been appointed the environmental representative on the RESTORE Act Committee. Tell me about your role on the Committee. CW: I’ve spent the 20 years I’ve been here just working with
a lot of the environmental community people and with local grassroots organizations, so all these people know me from doing that for so many years. They’ve honored me now with their trust to represent them and really the entire community in the RESTORE Act Committee. I consider myself a representative of the community, not just the environmental community. I think this is an incredible opportunity to educate everybody about the link between a healthy environment and a healthy economy. The only direct damage to the environment was from the oil spill. All other damages were indirect. They were huge, and they were very real, but it points out what happened because when the environment got damaged, then the economy got damaged. So, we need a healthy environment to support a healthy economy, and I think through this process we can help remind people of that connection and that by restoring our environment we really do help restore our economy. All environmental projects are economic projects. When you think about environmental restoration projects, every one of those projects has to be engineered, designed and built, all of which will employ many people. They are very much an economic project. They also help ensure a healthy environment and clean water, all of which are integral to having a healthy economy. Those are some things I’m thinking about. A really big thing, and it’s too early to talk about, a real key thing is for the committee to establish a vision. What do we want our community to be? I think about the community as environmentally, economically and socially sound and healthy and developing criteria for projects that get us to that end. So in other words, we need a community that’s resilient in terms of storms, in case there’s another Hurricane Ivan coming. We want to be a community that can handle that storm and not suffer because we didn’t plan for it. We want to have strong infrastructure, strong buildings, make sure we’re not building in the wrong places that flood. I think starting with that vision of what we want to be, and then developing criteria that we use to help projects get there that’ll be the most important thing of all. I don’t think there’s any hurry to do that. We shouldn’t be chomping at the bit to spend the money. This is a once in a lifetime opportunity, as everybody says, and we need to get it right. BC: Separate from the Committee, and what may or may not happen with that, what do you say are the top two or three environmental issues that we need to address? CW: Going back to the spill, the most immediate damage was water quality. We talk about a lot of environmental restoration activities: restoring oyster reefs, restoring wetlands, repairing damage from poor development practices over the years. Personally, I think water quality needs to be a very high priority. A lot of times, if you’re talking about restoring part of our aquatic environment, if the water quality’s not good enough, it can’t really fully support those types of ecosystems here. You can go out and plant seed rest beds, but if the water quality is not good enough, it might not flourish the way it should. The main issue of water quality in this and most communities is February/March 2013
runoff from land, development, and farm fields, that sort of thing. It’s no longer as much direct discharge anymore. It’s more of what’s running off the land. When you look at this community, for everything built before 1984, when Florida developed storm water rules, the water is funneled into the bay. So there’s a huge amount of community here that doesn’t have any storm water treatment at all. We need to go back in and try to retrofit that and create better water quality that can then support the natural systems we’re talking about. The city’s already doing it now. They put boxes under the street to catch storm water and separate the pollutants in that box underground. The other thing is what they did at Admiral Mason Park, which was a hugely successful project for our community, because you’re treating storm water and you’re doing it in an aesthetically pleasing way. Traditionally, storm water filtering has been horrendously ugly and nobody wants to be near it. There they created an amenity that’s going to bring people in around it. It’s going to attract some good development around it, where we want to see development where the infrastructure is already there.
I think it’d be smart of us to look at the new developments that are going to come in the future. Looking at ways to link that new development to preserving adjacent land in a smart way, so people have a place to go ride their bike or hike through the forest and go enjoy wildlife. BC: What other environmental issues would you like to see addressed? CW: Water quality and then habitat restoration and preservation, I would think. Restoring some of the systems I just mentioned to you and then also preserving terrestrial systems on land is very important. I think it’d be smart of us to look at the new developments that are going to come in the future. Looking at ways to link that new development to preserving adjacent land in a smart way, so people have a place to go ride their bike or hike through the forest and go enjoy wildlife. If you do it correctly, you connect these green spaces such as parks to streams and rivers. This is
something they did big time in the Jacksonville area and it was nationally celebrated, this network of parks around the city. I think there’s an opportunity to tie that to redevelopment that takes place and to smartly link those areas together in a way that maximizes the environmental value, so that wildlife can travel between them. Ecologically, you don’t want to surround a park with a development. Ecologically, its value becomes limited. Plants and animals can’t freely move about. With smart planning you can link those places. I also think about the need to develop and restore our physical infrastructure in a way that gives us choices in transportation. This is what smart communities all around the nation are doing. You think about the oil spill. It wouldn’t be smart for us to do infrastructure projects that further us down the path towards an addiction to oil. It’s going to make it more likely that another oil spill will happen; it will force us to drill even more into the Gulf of Mexico. The choices we can make will help pull us away from that addiction to oil, and will encourage people to get around by walking or biking someday. I’m talking about connecting the beach and Ft. Pickens with ferries and so on. I’m certainly on the lookout for smart investments in infrastructure that use the money wisely and that give us those choices in transportation. Nationwide people have realized that they cannot afford to continue to subsidize and pay for development in low-density, far-flung areas on the edge of town. It’s very expensive to continue to extend infrastructure when we have this tremendous amount of infrastructure we’ve already built that can be restored or revitalized. To reuse that is much more efficient environmentally and from a financial standpoint. Local governments are wrestling with budgets and keeping taxes low and providing services. It’s much more efficient to provide those services to the citizenry when development is smartly laid out in an efficient way, as opposed to pushing out to the edge of town. That may not be the smart thing environmentally or economically for the community. Communities that have had far more money than we do have realized that and are looking inward again. There are so many communities in need here. When we think about Brownsville and Warrington, places that were once thriving places, and the infrastructure is still there, but it needs to be retooled and renewed to help bring life back to those areas. That’s what smart communities all over the nation are doing, and we need to catch up and do that and not be behind. I’m certainly on the lookout for what might further us down the road toward the smart choices we need to make, as far as choices in transportation and use of our land. We need to extend the use of the taxpayer dollars, which we want to be prudent with. The other thing that comes to mind, as far as criteria for projects is longevity. Projects each have a different life associated with them, but a lot of environmental projects we think about are basically many centuries long. A lot of other parts of projects we may fund have a more limited lifespan, so we want to make sure the money is spent on projects that are really going to last. Why spend money on a project that is only going to last 10 to 20 years, as opposed to a project that will last many, many decades? We need to spend money smartly and well.
University Town Plaza: The Renovation And Reopening By Josh Newby
Known as Pensacola’s “other” mall, University Mall on Davis Highway has not seen a consistent customer base since the early 2000s. A troubled economy, a hurricane, road construction and traffic disruption have all but signed the complex’s death certificate. For almost 10 years, the mall has been a ghost town, an eerie reminder of the shopping destination that once was, barely kept alive by two struggling anchors: JC Penney and Sears. But a
renaissance is coming, according to landowner Simon Property Group, Inc. A slew of new stores and a renovation will soon signal the end of the University Mall customer drought and will welcome a new beginning for the long-time retail fixture. University Mall was built in 1974, two years after its now dominant competitor, Cordova Mall. University was the clear frontrunner in terms of sales and traffic for two solid decades. It benefitted from its proximity to I-10—and the ever-increasing traffic to and from Mobile—and from a business boom in north central Pensacola. It provided a connector for Sears, JC Penney, United Artists Cinema and various successful outparcels, such as Bennigan’s and Silver Screen Theaters. The mall also benefitted from nearconstant traffic on Davis Highway, a road that would later
see years of troublesome and disruptive construction. Both University and Cordova Malls were somewhat small and intimate shopping experiences, and thus cohabitated peacefully in the same city. In 1994, Simon, already the owner of Cordova, purchased the mall. This fateful acquisition would eventually spell the complex’s lengthy demise, though not for another 10 years. In 2004, Hurricane Ivan hit Pensacola hard, leaving much of University Mall in shambles. Rather than restore it to its former glory though, Simon decided to gut the mall and invest more beneficially in Cordova. Cordova Mall has since become one of the area’s premier social and retail centers, attracting shoppers from multiple counties and being continually reinvented and redesigned in fresh ways. The last of University Mall’s non-anchor stores closed in 2009. Since then, the mall’s traffic and income have decreased rapidly. Rumors and speculation of renovation and reconstruction have been around for nearly a decade—as the landscape, traffic patterns and residential demographics surrounding the mall continue to evolve— but now it seems that Simon is taking steps to increase University Mall’s attractiveness. Renamed University Town Plaza, plans for the complex are moving forward and businesses that have procured building permits include Toys ‘R’ Us, Babies ‘R’ Us, Academy Sports + Outdoors, Cheddar’s Restaurant, and Burlington Coat Factory. Construction has already begun on many of these new facilities. In addition, there will be 30,000 square feet of new, in-line specialty small shops including such familiar names as Famous Footwear, Motherhood Maternity, and Jimmy John’s Gourmet Sandwiches. The renovation has also prompted existing stores to update their look. JC Penney store manager Joe Hebert said University Town Plaza’s makeover has prompted his company’s decision to renovate the store’s exterior. Earlier in 2012, JC Penney remodeled the store’s interior, part of its own rebranding process that is currently happening on a national scale. The new University Town Plaza, which is scheduled to be completed in November 2013, will be an open-air community center and have more than 700,000 square feet of total retail and restaurant space and a small amount of office space. Shoppers will find additional landscaping and lighting in the main parking fields between Sears and JC Penney and new freestanding February/March 2013
signage throughout the property. Work on Phase 1 of the redevelopment began in February 2012 after the completion of the demolition of the existing mall, nearly ten years after the mall’s Ivaninduced demise. It seems that this time, the change for University Mall is real and positive, as the construction continues to go well and remains on schedule, according to Simon. Sears and JC Penney remain open for business as the redevelopment work continues throughout the year. Firestone and Sears Auto Center remain open during the reconstruction as well. “Residents and tourists alike will have an exciting new destination for retail and dining,” said Candy Carlisle, area director of marketing and business development for Simon Property Group. “We are excited about the retailers that are opening at University Town Plaza and we have strong interest from additional prospective tenants who are eager to locate at the project and look forward to making announcements in the near future.” Academy Sports + Outdoors, which opened a new, 71,000 square foot store in January 2013 at University Town Plaza, serves as a relocation from its previous space near Olive Road. Hundreds were lined up in the wee hours of the morning on January 25 to be the first inside the completely redesigned and relocated outlet. Academy Sports + Outdoors is a premier sports, outdoor and lifestyle retailer with a broad assortment of quality hunting,
fishing and camping equipment and gear, along with sports and leisure products, footwear, apparel and much more. The new Academy store employs approximately 150 associates. “Our Olive Road store has moved to a convenient new location where we will continue offering fans our wide selection of sporting goods, outdoor and lifestyle products and services in a newer and larger space,” said John Hay, vice president of real estate and construction for Academy Sports + Outdoors. “We appreciate the support of our Pensacola customers and look forward to remaining an active member of this community.” University Town Plaza will offer patrons many exciting dining options, as well, including Cheddar’s, which is scheduled to open in April 2013. Its founders, Aubrey Good and Doug Rogers, describe Cheddar’s as an inviting and polished neighborhood restaurant offering handmade quality food at exceptional everyday value prices, and those same principles will apply to the Pensacola location. Patrons will find an inviting outside presence including functional external gas lanterns, copper awnings and accents, and vintage reclaimed Chicago brick. Burlington Coat Factory will occupy an anchor position at University Town Plaza with a 67,000 square foot store. Previously, the closest Burlington was in Mobile, Alabama. The Pensacola location will offer brand name merchandise for the entire family and home with savings of up to 70 percent off department store prices every day. The new
location will also feature the latest trends in dresses, suits, sportswear, juniors, accessories, menswear, family footwear and children’s clothing, along with the largest selection of coats in the nation. The Pensacola Burlington Coat Factory will open in September 2013. “We are thrilled to open a new Burlington in Pensacola, bringing jobs to the neighborhood and providing residents with a strong value shopping experience,” stated Thomas Kingsbury, president and CEO. Toys ‘R’ Us/Babies ‘R’ Us will open a 47,000 square foot store at University Town Plaza in June 2013. For more than 60 years, Toys ‘R’ Us has long been a favorite destination for kids and their parents with its impressive assortment of toys, games, learning aids, electronics, children’s apparel and juvenile furniture. The store offers a broad selection of unique toys, old favorites and great values under one roof. Babies ‘R’ Us is the nation’s leading dedicated
juvenile products retailer and features a wide selection of products for newborns and infants, including cribs and furniture, car seats, strollers, formula, diapers, bedding, clothing for preemies through size 5T, toys, and plenty of unique gift ideas. With an area population of nearly 400,000 people and an average household income of almost $60,000, each of these stores has a considerable audience for their products and services. Other specialty stores—Famous Footwear, Motherhood Maternity, and Jimmy John’s Gourmet Sandwiches—will bring niche consumers interested in the hottest brands, latest trends, affordable style, and some delicious food. Famous Footwear is part of the Brown Shoe Company, a global footwear company that focuses on healthy and active lifestyles. Motherhood Maternity focuses exclusively on pregnant women, and seeks to supply all of their apparel needs, from dresses and professional attire, to swimwear, active wear and sleepwear. Jimmy John’s is a gourmet sandwich shop that was founded in 1983 and places a big focus on freshness and healthy, yet delectable choices. “University Town Plaza has a great chance at success if it can attract the UWF crowd, which University Mall has failed to do lately,” said Nick Angelis, a Pensacola area business professional and consultant. “Advertising will be key, since in our area consumers follow typical patterns about where they will and will not go shopping.” With these new and daring developments, and unique and targeted store options, it seems that University Mall’s dark times are finally behind us. After nearly a decade of unconfirmed rumors and false starts, Davis Highway may very well get its busy and stimulating shopping center once again. Area residents, local government, and certainly Simon itself all stand to gain from this possibly profitable venture. Only time can tell if this renovation will provide the jolt of commerce the center needs, but interest is certainly high and hopes are even higher.
Cloud Computing By Mike White What is cloud computing? Technically speaking… Cloud computing is Internet-based computing, whereby shared “resources” (servers, disk space, firewalls, backup, software and the services needed to install and support it) are provided to users to their personal computer, laptop and other devices ondemand, like a utility (electricity, water, etc.). SaaS, or “software as a service,” is a cloud computing service. The hardware, software and support required to host and deliver the application is the sole responsibility of the SaaS provider, not the end user. The end user only pays for the service of using the software on an asneeded, subscription basis, or simply uses the service. Some examples of cloud-based applications are Quickbooks Online, Office 365, DeskSpace Attorney, etc. Some examples of free cloud applications are Facebook, Gmail and even your bank’s online access. What is cloud computing? A non-geek’s analogy… The best way to illustrate what cloud computing is and why it’s spreading like wildfire is to compare it to the modern electric utility industry. On September 4, 1882, Thomas Edison opened the Pearl Street electricity generating station in New York City, introducing the concept of electricity as a utility. There were four key elements introduced by Edison’s concept of electricity as utility that were previously unheard of: 1) reliable central generation, 2) efficient distribution, 3) a successful end use (in 1882, the light bulb), and 4) a competitive price. Up until 1882, factories or other entities requiring electrical power were required to build and maintain their own generators – a very expensive, time-consuming distraction for most companies whose core business centered on producing a product or other service. The idea of being able to pay for electricity as a utility as opposed to producing it on their own was a highly attractive proposition for businesses who didn’t want the cost and distraction of producing their own power. Cloud computing is essentially offering the same promise to businesses today. Until recently, the cost of building and maintaining your own computer network in
house has been a “necessary evil” of running a business. But now, thanks to major advancements in Internet connectivity and technology, businesses can simply pay for basic IT necessities on a “utility” basis. Of course, cloud computing isn’t ideal for everyone just yet and we will see a period of hybrid networks where businesses have some applications in the cloud and others on site; but it is a much smarter, lower-cost way of meeting basic computing needs (e-mail, spreadsheets, word processing, backup, and file sharing for example). What cloud computing is NOT: The term “cloud computing” gets thrown around a lot and is often used to describe the following services, which are only pieces of a cloud computing solution: • A data center • Colocation of data in a data center • Managed hosting or hosting • A simple “aaS” platform (IaaS, PaaS or SaaS) Why would a business owner choose cloud computing over a traditional network? There are a few key advantages: • The cost of buying, installing and supporting a computer network goes down dramatically. • You gain greater flexibility in accessing your computer network (files, applications, etc.) remotely and from various devices (laptop, iPad, Blackberry, etc). • You gain the benefit of having built-in disaster recovery and data backup. • You can purchase cheaper workstations (devices) and get them to last longer since the computing “power” is in the cloud and not on the individual workstation. • Since you are paying for the service like a utility, it’s cheaper and easier to add and remove workers from your network. • You avoid hefty network upgrade costs. • You no longer need to pay for someone to maintain your network (server, firewall, patch management, backups, etc.).
business news bits you should know
West Florida Historic Preservation, Inc., announces plans to open new exhibit, Pensacola: City of Five Flags West Florida Historic Preservation, Inc., will celebrate Pensacola’s rich, vibrant and cultural legacy with the expansion of a new 3,000 square feet exhibit entitled Pensacola: City of Five Flags. This exhibit will feature how Pensacola transformed itself from a colonial wilderness into a thriving commercial center and tourist destination. Scheduled to be open this year, Pensacola: City of Five Flags will occupy the entire first floor of the T. T. Wentworth, Jr. Florida State Museum. Interactive multimedia stations, immersive exhibits and local artifacts will help create a content-driven experience showcasing Pensacola’s unique history. Visitors and residents will be immersed in more than 12,000 years of West Florida history, starting with the area’s Native American heritage and exploring the cultures behind each of the five flags that have flown over Pensacola.
Rotarians from Escambia and Santa Rosa counties will join together with MANNA On Saturday, February 23, area food pantries will receiveed approximately 100,000 meals to help in their fight against hunger in Northwest Florida. The Rotary Against Hunger service project will involve all 13 Rotary Clubs that have committed financial support and volunteer participation to create more than 16,000 food packets for those in need. The result will be approximately 100,000 meals that the Combined Rotary of Pensacola (CROP) will donate to MANNA for distribution to 17+ partner pantries in the two county area. This donation will benefit pantries that provide much needed food to those in need. This is the second year for the Rotary Against Hunger project and the second time in history that all Rotary clubs in Escambia and Santa Rosa counties have come together on one day to work on a service project. Last year, more than 700 Rotary members and friends donated over 1,200 hours of time to pack the meals. Sen. Don Gaetz announces new bridge, no tolls The state of Florida is going to pay the full price of replacing the aging Three Mile Bridge across Pensacola Bay. The state has allocated $974 million in transportation funds for Northwest Florida, $595 million of which will be for the new bridge. This would mean no tolls, according to Sen. Don Gaetz. Details on the new bridge have yet to be hashed out, but the Florida Department of Transportation says it looks like the new bridge will be built to the west of the current bridge. CPHLAW announces three attorneys receive AV Preeminent Rating from Martindale-Hubbell Three Clark, Partington, Hart, Larry, Bond and Stackhouse (CPH) Law attorneys, William J. Dunaway, Scott A. Remington, and Richard N. Sherrill have received an AV Preeminent rating from Martindale-Hubbell, the highest
possible Martindale-Hubbell peer review rating designation. CPHLAW has been an AV-rated law firm by Martindale-Hubbell for over 30 years and the firm now has 18 AV Preeminent-rated attorneys. Steve Goine, who executed Grand Marlin murals, named “Artist of the Year” Steve Goione, the artist who executed the spectacular murals at The Grand Marlin Restaurant and Oyster Bar and whose work is available on a number of items in the restaurant’s Ship’s Store, has been selected as the Billfish Foundation’s 2013 “Artist of the Year.” Goione, whose studio is in Wilmington, N.C., is a regular on the billfish tournament circuit and is the featured artist at sports-fishing tournaments from the US East Coast to the Caribbean and South America. He offers limited edition prints on his website, stevegoine.com. Pensacola Crawfish Festival accepting Food Vendor Applications The Fiesta of Five Flags Association is now accepting applications from food vendors interested in participating in the 29th annual Pensacola Crawfish Festival, presented by Coastal Bank and Trust, scheduled for May 3, 4 and 5 in Bartram Park in downtown Pensacola. Festival organizers are looking for vendors who serve Cajun, Creole and New Orleans-style fare. A limited number of applications are accepted and final selection of food and cart vendors will be made by the week of March 25. Cart vendor fee is $600, and food vendor fee is $1,575. All prices include an application fee, a refundable cleanup deposit and electricity. Applications are due February 29 and may be found at www.fiestaoffiveflags.org/pensacolacrawfish-festival.com. Chamber now accepting LeaP Nominations The Greater Pensacola Chamber is now accepting nominations for the 50 available slots in next year’s Leadership Pensacola (LeaP) Class.
LeaP, a program of the Greater Pensacola Chamber, aims to develop community-minded leaders during its 10-month-long program, which is designed to help participants acquire an understanding of the issues facing the Pensacola area and to gain the leadership skills necessary to resolve them. Candidates sought come from a cross-section of the community—men and women from different political, career, educational, social and cultural backgrounds. Michael Holick hosts “The Talk: The D-Lightful Vitamin D for Good Health” Join Dr. Holick for “The Talk” on February 28 at 6 pm at 40 South Alcaniz St., Pensacola. Dr. Holick has established global recommendations advising sunlight exposure as an integral source of Vitamin D. He has helped increase awareness in the pediatric and medical communities regarding Vitamin D deficiency pandemic, and its role in causing not only metabolic bone disease and osteoporosis in adults, but increasing the risk of children and adults developing preeclampsia, common deadly cancers, schizophrenia, infectious diseases including TB and influenza, autoimmune diseases including Type 1 diabetes and multiple sclerosis, Type 2 diabetes, stroke and heart disease. Call 202-4462 to reserve a spot. Andrews Institute Hand Center expands service to Baptist Medical Park-Nine Mile The Andrews Institute Hand Center announces the opening of a new office location at Baptist Medical Park-Nine Mile, 9400 University Parkway, Suite 406, in Pensacola. Dr. Barry Callahan now provides convenient high-quality care for the hand, wrist, elbow and upper extremity for residents living in or near northern Pensacola, Pace, Milton and southern Alabama. Barry S. Callahan, M.D., is a board certified, fellowship-trained orthopaedic hand, wrist and elbow specialist. His clinical interests are in reconstructive microsurgery, wrist reconstruction, peripheral nerve reconstruction, sports injuries and vascularized tissue transfers. Fitness Onboard is making waves in Munich, Germany Cindi Bonner, owner of Fitness Onboard, a Pensacola-based business utilizing stand-up paddleboards (SUP) as exercise platforms, introduced a revolutionary, patented SUP designed to appeal to the growing market. Bonner was recently invited to submit the Fitness Onboard SUP into the International Sporting Goods Trade Show, (ISPO) Brandnew Category at ISPO Munich. Bonner and Mark Castlow, owner of Dragonfly Paddleboards of Vero Beach, Florida, manufacturer of the Fitness Onboard SUP, attended the ISPO Munich show February 3-6. Together, they hosted a vendor booth promoting their products. Cat Country 98.7 receives nominations from Academy of Country Music Association The Academy of Country Music Association announced nominees for Radio Station of the Year and Radio On-Air Personality of the Year on Feb. 13. WYCT – Pensacola’s Cat Country 98.7 and Brent Lane from the Cat Pak Morning Show received nominations in both categories. WYCT – Cat Country 98.7 has been awarded the national Radio Station of the Year from the Academy of Country Music in 2007, 2009 and 2011. Brent Lane with the Cat Pak Morning Show won the national personality award from the ACM’s in 2009; this makes Brent’s fourth nomination for the national award.
peopleonthemove< Twelve Oaks Recovery Center announces new Medical Director Twelve Oaks Recovery Center, a 102-bed residential addiction treatment facility for adults and adolescents, announced the appointment of Timothy A. Gooden, M.D., to Medical Director. In this position, Dr. Gooden will be responsible for the medical management, strategy and development of the substance abuse treatment facility. Dr. Gooden is an established health professional with extensive leadership experience. Local, experienced family medicine physician joins Baptist Medical Group Experienced family medicine physician and recent retiree from the Navy after 26 years of service, Jennifer Driscoll, M.D., has joined Baptist Medical Group’s growing network of primary care physicians serving the Gulf Coast. As part of Baptist Medical Group, Dr. Driscoll now welcomes new patients of all ages at her office on 801 W. Avery Street across from Baptist Hospital. Dr. Driscoll joins Baptist from the Naval Hospital Pensacola where she practiced family medicine and obstetrics while teaching 21 residents. She earned her medical degree from the Uniformed Sciences University of Health Sciences in Bethesda, Maryland, and completed her family practice residency at the Naval Hospital, where she served as chief resident. Chamber welcomes three new employees The Greater Pensacola Chamber has recently added some new talent to its staff. Join them in welcoming Dustin Gabel, tourism accounting specialist; Javon Anthony Lloyd, marketing coordinator; and Caitlin Gottstine, programs and events coordinator.
...at the South Baldwin Chamber of Commerce 69th Annual Gala and Auction
Candace Crowley, Larry Little, Vera Quaites, Christy Kelley, Laura Little, Boyd Litte
Dana Hammele, Molly Peterson
Jason & Natasha Milam
John & Linda Koniar
Paige Shoemaker, Mike Rea
Tara & Braswell McMeans
Glenn Manning and Christina Weaver
Glenn Manning and Cliff Horn