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BUSINESS JOURNALS

SANTA ROSA, OKALOOSA and WALTON COUNTIES

Panhandle’s Military Bases Bolster Economy, Supply Talent, Create Jobs and Lend Assistance to Nonprofits

FOREST RESTORERS At Santa Rosa campground, longleaf pine reach for the sky


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DESTIN CHARITY WINE AUCTION F O U N D AT I O N P R E S E N T S

NOVEMBER 5-7, 2020 WATERCOLOR, FL TICKETS ON SALE JULY 1 HarvestWineandFood.com

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850 Magazine Summer 2020

IN THIS ISSUE FEATURE

Military Presence Officers 39  and personnel at military bases

along the Emerald Coast rate the region as one of the most militaryfriendly in the nation. Jets passing overhead remind residents that the military is a key component in local economies. For example, Tyndall Air Force Base, prior to Hurricane Michael, accounted for fully one third of Bay County’s economy. The bases’ missions are continuously evolving. Eglin Air Force Base has become a center for the training of medics in battlefield wound care. By Steve Bornhoft and Hannah Burke

SPECIAL REPORTS

PHOTO BY U.S. AIR FORCE PHOTO/S BY 2ND LT. KARISSA RODRIGUEZ

anta Rosa County 22  SBusiness Journal By landing

Leonardo, a manufacturer that won a contract to replace the U.S. Navy’s fleet of aging training helicopters, economic developers and local officials further solidified Santa Rosa County’s status as a key player in the growing aerospace component of the regional economy. In addition, the relationship with Leonardo will go a long way toward satisfying a jobgrowth requirement tied to the Triumph Gulf Coast board’s award of a grant for development of an aviation park where Leonardo will be setting up shop.

kaloosa/Walton County 50  OBusiness Journal Okaloosa

County’s economic development director Nathan Sparks, joined by representatives of Enterprise Florida and regional utilities, has been traveling the country, spreading the word about an ideally suited and situated 10,500-acre gigasite that includes 2.043 acres currently ready to accommodate industrial projects. In Walton County, tourism officials are systematically working to attract a manageable number of affluent visitors.

ON THE COVER: Co-manager Sarah Flaningam, owner Rusty Erdman and co-manager Nick Phoenix maintain a campground near Milton in environmentally conscious fashion. Together, they grow mushrooms, raise vegetables and baby longleaf pine trees while guests enjoy rustic retreats not too far removed from creature comforts. Photo by Sean Murphy

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850 Magazine Summer 2020

IN THIS ISSUE

PROMOTIONS PREVAILING OVER CHAOS

17 Natural disasters or a health-andfinancial crisis like that resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic may leave businesses feeling disoriented. The antidote to chaos, says Ryan Giles of Traction Strong, is planning.

MARKETING MEASURES

20 Compass Marketing & Consulting offers businesses advice on how to gauge the effectiveness of their marketing campaigns. One telling measure is the overall cost to acquire a customer.

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á NEW LIFE FOR STRUCTURES

In This Issue

Departments

10  From the Publisher 64  Sound Bytes 66  The Last Word from the Editor

THE 850 LIFE

Special Sections DEAL ESTATE

61 At 27,300 square feet, the former Comcast building, located on Panama City’s main 23rd Street artery, offers a singular investment opportunity with outstanding upside potential. The 11-yearold property offers ample parking and provision for storage.

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14 As the St. Joe Company’s director of planning and development, Catherine McCloy plays a key role in actualizing the developer’s ambitious and transformational sector plan for Bay and Walton counties. She explains that St. Joe’s myriad projects, ranging from a shooting range to a 55-plus community, are market driven.

SECOND CAREER 18 As a major league baseball player, Scott Hemond was employed primarily as a catcher, but at one time or another he played every position on the field other than pitcher. Today, he puts that versatility to work as the owner of a baseball school in Destin.

á ADJUSTING ON THE FLY 36 William Loiry, chairman of the Defense Leadership Forum, finds that the ability of the U.S. military and the defense industry to adapt to unforeseen circumstances is especially indispensable now.

PROVIDING SOLUTIONS

60 Commercial construction general contractor and construction management firm ReliantSouth undertakes collaborative relationships with clients in the pursuit of optimal solutions.

PHOTOS BY KANSAS PITTS (18) AND SFRAMEPHOTO / ISTOCK / GETTY IMAGES PLUS (34) AND COURTESY OF WILLIAM LOIRY (36)

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34 Phoenix Coatings in Pensacola is dedicated to revitalizing buildings by making them more durable, efficient and beautiful than they ever have been. The company’s founders proudly say that their work speaks for itself.


Be prepared. Be ready. Be connected. When a storm hits and power is out, Gulf Power is on — working hard to restore your power. Connect with Gulf Power so you are ready before, during and after a storm.

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Join - Connect - Grow Summer 2020

850 THE BUSINESS MAGAZINE OF NORTHWEST FLORIDA

Vol. 12, No. 4

PRESIDENT/PUBLISHER BRIAN E. ROWLAND EDITORIAL EXECUTIVE EDITOR Steve Bornhoft MANAGING EDITOR Jeff Price CONTRIBUTING WRITERS Hannah Burke, Rebecca Padgett, Wynn Parks CREATIVE DIRECTOR OF PRODUCTION AND TECHNOLOGY Daniel Vitter CREATIVE DIRECTOR Jennifer Ekrut EDITORIAL DESIGNER Lindsey Masterson SENIOR PUBLICATION DESIGNER Shruti Shah PUBLICATION DESIGNERS Sarah Burger, Jordan Harrison GRAPHIC DESIGNER Sierra Thomas CONTRIBUTING PHOTOGRAPHERS Javier Alvarez, Mike Fender, Cody Hendrix, Scott Holstein, Jennifer G Photography, Joseph Pick, Kansas Pitts Photography, Sean Murphy, Saige Roberts, Karissa Rodriguez, Stephan Vance, Chase Yakaboski SALES, MARKETING & EVENTS VICE PRESIDENT/CORPORATE DEVELOPMENT McKenzie Burleigh SALES MANAGER, EASTERN DIVISION Lori Magee Yeaton SALES MANAGER, WESTERN DIVISION Rhonda Lynn Murray DIRECTOR OF NEW BUSINESS DEVELOPMENT, EASTERN DIVISION Daniel Parisi DIRECTOR OF NEW BUSINESS DEVELOPMENT, WESTERN DIVISION Dan Parker AD SERVICES COORDINATOR Tracy Mulligan ACCOUNT EXECUTIVES David Doll, Julie Dorr, Darla Harrison MARKETING MANAGER Kate Pierson SALES AND MARKETING WRITER Rebecca Padgett SALES AND EVENTS MANAGER Mackenzie Little SENIOR INTEGRATED MARKETING COORDINATOR Javis Ogden OPERATIONS ADMINISTRATIVE SERVICES DIRECTOR Melissa Spear CUSTOM PUBLISHING MANAGER Sara Goldfarb PRODUCTION AND DISTRIBUTION SPECIALIST Melinda Lanigan ACCOUNTING ASSISTANT Amber Dennard

DIGITAL SERVICES 850 BUSINESS MAGAZINE 850businessmagazine.com, facebook.com/850bizmag, twitter.com/850bizmag, linkedin.com/company/850-business-magazine ROWLAND PUBLISHING rowlandpublishing.com SUBSCRIPTIONS A one-year (4 issues) subscription is $20. To purchase, call (850) 878-0554 or go online to 850businessmagazine.com. Single copies are $4.95 and may be purchased at Barnes & Noble and Books-A-Million in Tallahassee, Fort Walton Beach, Destin, Pensacola, Panama City and at our Tallahassee office. Availability may change subject to COVID-19 restrictions.

WWW.PENSACOLACHAMBER.COM 850.438.4081 SUPPORT@ PENSACOLACHAMBER.COM

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850 Magazine is published quarterly by Rowland Publishing, Inc. 1932 Miccosukee Road, Tallahassee, FL 32308. 850/878-0554. 850 Magazine and Rowland Publishing, Inc. are not responsible for unsolicited manuscripts, photography or artwork. Editorial contributions are welcomed and encouraged but will not be returned. 850 Magazine reserves the right to publish any letters to the editor. Copyright June 2020 850 Magazine, Inc. All rights reserved. Reproduction in whole or part without written permission is prohibited. Member of three Chambers of Commerce throughout the region.


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From the Publisher

BACK TO BASICS When we focus on essentials, people naturally come together The word “essential” has been inescapable through recent months in which societies the world over sought to prioritize business activity and to maintain the availability of primary goods and services.

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that so many of us encountered in PSYCH ı0ı? Of late, it seems, we have had to set aside ego satisfaction and progress toward selfactualization while focusing on more elemental physical and security-level needs. And we have experienced, acutely, how very essential it is that our social needs are met, even if via computer screens. Maslow believed that we all have a need to be loved, to enjoy a sense of belonging and to feel included. In those regards, I am indebted to my wife, my business and my social circles. They enrich my life beyond measure. Too, I have had the good fortune of working with accomplished mentors and consultants, including Ryan Giles of Traction Strong, who have taught me valuable and rewarding lessons. The editor of this magazine, Steve Bornhoft, told me a story about a gentleman, David Dennis, whom he knew when he was a bank marketer and Mr. Dennis was a member of a bank customer advisory board that Steve managed. The story bears repeating. Mr. Dennis died last year at age 86 in Marianna, where he had lived for 25 years. Prior to retiring and moving south, he was in the retail lumber and hardware business in Massachusetts and Vermont, and once met the reclusive novelist J.D. Salinger when he stopped by the store for a pound of nails. Mr. Dennis was a familiar sight around Marianna, given his penchant for morning walks with a hat and cane. He came to be known as the “Mayor of Green Street,”

where his home was located. He looked like granite, but really he was pudding. He intentionally went about helping to meet the social needs of others, and often said, “Everyone deserves a conversation.” And, in conversation, he had the good sense to know when enough was enough. Mr. Dennis’s obituary, as it appeared in the Jackson County Times, read in part: “In lieu of donations, please take the time to spread his message by meeting and greeting someone with conversation during your day.” Like Mr. Dennis, I am a habitual walker. I delight in the exercise, and the farther I walk, the clearer my thinking seems to become. And these days, I carry with me the message of Mr. Dennis and try to greet someone along the way. That’s good advice, always. Be well,

BRIAN ROWLAND browland@rowlandpublishing.com

PHOTO BY SCOTT HOLSTEIN

Each of us, I suspect, has been given occasion to rethink and rediscover what is truly essential and to give thanks for those people who are dedicated to ensuring that our most basic needs are met. A relative few of us harvest our own food, stitch our own clothing or build our own shelters. In those regards, we are shoppers, not producers. I have a newly refined appreciation for the durable and flexible means of production in our country and the incredible reliability of our logistical and delivery systems. Education and health care are as essential to our way of life in America as sunlight. Absent education, a man or woman is a key ring without keys. We rely upon educators as teachers, mentors, motivators, stimulators, social workers, coaches and child care suppliers. Teachers unleash the potential of America. In Northwest Florida, we are fortunate to be served by meritorious schools of real distinction from pre-K to postgraduate levels. Of late, we have witnessed the heroic efforts of nurses, doctors and health care workers who have selflessly and tirelessly put themselves in danger to extend the lives of people they will never get to know. Again, Northwest Florida is blessed — with hospitals, clinicians and other practitioners who are not just engaged in healing arts, but also are dedicated to advancing the science of medicine. Remember Abraham Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, that five-tiered pyramid


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P RO M OT I O N

850businessmagazine.com

Marketing Amid A Crisis

On September 29, 2020, 850 Business Magazine will honor 12 outstanding women for their character, integrity and service to the community. Location and more details to come. Visit 850BusinessMagazine.com/pinnacle-awards for more.

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Suzuki Motors Into Panama City

» Deal Estate

Suzuki Motor of America Inc. announced on Thursday plans for Suzuki Marine Technical Center USA to be built on a 20-acre waterfront property off Frankford Avenue in Panama City. Visit 850BusinessMagazine.com/corporatepartner to learn more.

Browse residential and commercial real estate opportunities, recently sold properties and dreamy second homes, sponsored by Beck Properties.

» The Latest News

LET’S NETWORK! Find 850 Business Magazine on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook. You’ll also find Rowland Publishing on LinkedIn, where you can join the 850 Business Group for conversations with fellow readers.

@850BIZMAG

Tag us on Instagram stories at your favorite local businesses for a chance to be featured. Supporting local establishments is crucial to the development and growth of our communities.

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ONLINE EXCLUSIVES

@850bizmag 850 - The Business Magazine of Northwest Florida @850BizMag

Stay up to date with local stories and reports about local business events, happenings and gatherings across Northwest Florida.

» Legal Insights

Stay aware of new industry issues and legal updates with these online exclusives.

» Flip Books

View 850 issues and Business Journals present and past in a digital book format.

PHOTO BY MIKE FENDER (PINNACLE AWARDS) AND ZUBADA / ISTOCK / GETTY IMAGES PLUS (MARKETING AMID CRISIS) AND COURTESY OF SUZUKI MOTOR OF AMERICA

Save the date for this year’s Pinnacle Awards Luncheon

From scheduling Zoom conferences to redoing your entire business model to fit an online platform, local businesses have learned a lot from the pandemic. But what about your marketing strategy? Visit 850BusinessMagazine. com/marketing-amid-a-crisis to learn more.


IT’S YOUR

BUSINESS Tell Your Story Your Way

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Executive Mindset

The (850) Life MASTER PLANNING

COMMUNITY IN PROGRESS Site work has begun at the future site of Latitude Margaritaville Watersound, a residential development that will be reserved for people 55 and older. The project is a partnership among St. Joe, Minto Communities USA and Margaritaville Holdings.

Market-Driven Catherine McCloy and St. Joe respond to public’s pulse in transforming region BY STEVE BORNHOFT

T

he Bay-Walton Sector Plan, a 50-year vision of growth, development and resource protection, went into effect in June 2015. It comprises 110,500 acres, all of them owned by the St. Joe Company — 97,216 acres in Bay County and 13,284 acres in Walton County. Per state law, a sector plan must address a minimum of 15,000 acres, and is approved in two steps. Step one is the creation of a Long Term Master Plan that is adopted by local government as a comprehensive plan amendment following review by local governments and state and regional agencies. Additionally, local government must adopt a Detailed Special Area Plan (DSAP) before any new development may occur. Expressed purposes of the sector plan are:

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Add a significant active adult community component and provide the amenities, recreation, entertainment and medical facilities required for a successful active adult community. Connect the Northwest Florida Beaches International Airport and its surrounding commercial properties with Bay County and Walton County for a wellplanned and cohesive development. Provide the uses needed by working families serving the airport commerce area and the active adult communities. Through policies, establish urban form planning concepts for walkable communities that encourage multiple transportation modes including walking, biking and golf carts.


PHOTOS COURTESY OF ST. JOE

Maintain commitment to economic development efforts around Northwest Florida Beaches International Airport. Coordinate and facilitate the planning of regional infrastructure like the West Bay Parkway. Create a regionally significant watershed level environmental framework that contains 53,229 acres of a series of well-connected conservation and preservation areas. Facilitate a regionally significant trail network of at least 100 miles that will connect to an existing network of trails. Five years into the plan, progress has been made. Notably, a DSAP containing the planned Latitude Margaritaville Watersound adult living community is in place. Developer Minto Communities USA, lifestyle brand Margaritaville Holdings and St. Joe announced in December of last year that land development activities had begun at a site north of Panama City Beach and near the intersection of highways 79 and 388. Latitude Margaritaville Watersound is the third Latitude Margaritaville community to be developed by Minto and Margaritaville, and the first to be developed in partnership with St. Joe. The first two Latitude Margaritaville communities are located in Daytona Beach, Florida, and in Hilton Head, South Carolina. The initial phase of Latitude Margaritaville Watersound is anticipated to include approximately 3,500 homes with a sales center, model homes and resort-style amenities. As St. Joe’s director of planning and development, Panama City native and Bay High School graduate Catherine McCloy will have a lot to do with implementation of the Sector Plan and other projects in the 850 area. She holds a bachelor’s degree in business and tourism/hospitality from the University of Florida and a master’s degree in urban and regional planning from Florida State University.

McCloy met for a conversation with 850 Business Magazine editor Steve Bornhoft at St. Joe offices in Watersound in February. Mike Kerrigan, St. Joe’s corporate director of marketing, joined in the meeting.

Q&A WITH CATHERINE McCLOY 

850: How did you and St. Joe come together? McCloy: I worked for St. Joe when I graduated from Florida. I really liked the master planning taking place and the community involvement, and I was intrigued by it. That experience was what inspired me to go to graduate school. After FSU, I worked as a planner for an international engineering firm (Stantec) in Tampa and Tallahassee for about 12 years. Some opportunities arose with St. Joe, and I had always wanted to return to working for them. I was happy to come back on board. 850: What is the scope of your current responsibilities? You have a job that, given the vastness of St. Joe’s real estate holdings, must be close to unique. McCloy: It is. While I do a little bit of everything, I am primarily responsible for long-term planning and permitting. I work with local governments and with our consultants to package and design our developments on both a shortand long-term basis. I coordinate the entitlement process, master planning and design/development. Entitlements and planning are my core focus. I also work on environmental permitting and maintaining compliance and ensuring that we are doing everything properly. 850: Speak to what is meant by entitlements in a development context. (The Bay-Walton Sector Plan is entitled for approximately 170,000 homes.) McCloy: It’s all encompassing. For example, in the Bay-Walton Sector Plan, the entitlements on a large scale dictate

how many residential units, how much commercial/industrial/office square footage we can have and all of the requirements that go along with those developments. And, on a small scale, we implement them on a parcel-byparcel basis. For example, building our new corporate office building at the Beckrich Office Park in Panama City Beach is an individual project that we are utilizing entitlements on. 850: What should people know about the Bay-Walton Sector Plan? How would you characterize it generally? McCloy: Probably the most important thing to keep in mind is that it is very long range. It is a 50-year plan that serves as an overall framework for development and construction. It specifies the entitlements. Our approach is market-driven. We are not going to build something just because it is on a plan. We will wait until the market warrants that it be created. Another significant component of the plan is its conservation areas. They comprise about 53,000 acres out of the total of about 110,000 acres, and provide for wildlife corridors (versus isolating populations of animals in small enclaves).

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THE (850) LIFE

850: Let’s touch upon the 55-plus community, Latitude Margaritaville Watersound. Obviously, you were satisfied that there is a market demand for that type of product. McCloy: We are seeing interest in it already. Site work has started. We have broken ground on the sales center and we anticipate that model homes and the sales center will be complete in 2021, and the first homesites ought to be available. As complements to that development, we will be developing a commercial area along State 79 and a marina on the Intercoastal

Waterway. Minto will market the project. The sales center will be unique. It will have a lot of special, interactive features. 850: Don’t get too far out there or you may leave your target audience behind. McCloy: I am sure there will be oversight and assistance as needed. 850: What is the extent of the infrastructure that a project of that magnitude will require? McCloy: That is all part of the DSAP and the entitlement process. We are required to analyze any of the needs as part of the project approval process. Any needs created we will have to provide in conjunction with Bay County and other jurisdictions. 850: What is your outlook on the VentureCrossings commerce park at the Panama City Beaches International Airport, given the departure of GKN Aerospace? McCloy: We are still very excited about it. A 143-room Hilton Garden Inn is under construction there. We have completed a 60,000-square-foot light industrial building that is attracting prospective tenants. The airport is adding new flights and new carriers and so we are still very optimistic. We don’t like to lose a tenant, obviously. But GKN’s departure had to do with a strategic shift within the company. It had nothing to do with our area. We look at the GKN building as an asset. It has a lot of special features that will be in place for the right tenant when it comes along. 850: What is St. Joe doing to help out with the need for affordable housing in Bay County? McCloy: We have three projects — College Station, Titus Park and Park Place —along the U.S. 231 corridor. Single-family housing has always

MULTI-FAMILY DEVELOPMENT Increasingly, St. Joe has become involved in apartment construction. This complex, located next to Frank Brown Park in Panama City Beach, is entering a second phase. 16

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been part of our long-term development plan, but after the hurricane, there was such a need for housing that we accelerated some of those plans to meet the demand for housing coming from displaced workers and their families. Work is underway on all three projects, and we should have homesites available later this year. We are also developing apartments in Panama City Beach at Frank Brown Park and at Breakfast Point. 850: You remain committed to developing a hotel at the Downtown Marina in Panama City. McCloy: Yes, we’ve been making progress on a lease at the marina, and we are in the design phase for the hotel and a restaurant. We are working closely with the city and the community to come up with new designs that will be a good fit with historic downtown. We had been working with the city before Hurricane Michael and had a memorandum of understanding in place. We recommitted after the storm, and we have held three public meetings to get feedback and input on the hotel. Those meetings weren’t required, but we wanted to hear the voice of the community, and we have modified plans in response to comments we’ve received. Kerrigan: I might add that we have a track record that way. When we were developing the sector plan, we had more than 20 open houses, again not required, to get feedback. We don’t just give lip service to participants in those meetings. Suggestions are implemented. 850: Is there such a thing as a benevolent developer? McCloy: How so? 850: A good guy developer. McCloy: I think we are a good guy developer. Kerrigan: I think so, too. 850: Developer tends to be a dirty word in Florida. If you can, by example, set a high standard, that could be good for the region and the state. Agreed? Kerrigan: We have so much at stake here. We have so many projects. We can’t afford to do something irresponsible. The land donations that we’ve made, and the Conservation Park and the other conservation efforts that we have made over and above what may be required, and the donations for things like schools, hospitals and sports parks. I think that adds up to a nice guy developer. McCloy: This is my hometown, and it’s important to me, and I don’t want to do something that I am not proud of. 850: As a planning person with a big-picture perspective on things, do you find that the center of town has moved to the west in Bay County? McCloy: I don’t think it has necessarily moved. But there are different focal points. They will continue to shift over time. As downtown Panama City redevelops, that will be a core in addition to Pier Park. Things will ebb and flow over time as individual needs and generational needs shift.

PHOTO COURTESY OF ST. JOE

850: St. Joe is involved in diverse projects, many of them joint-venture partnerships (27 at this writing). They include a Starbucks coffee shop, a Busy Bee convenience store, a shooting range and an assisted living facility. What is the process that leads to decisions about which projects and partnerships to pursue? McCloy: We are not a typical developer. We have owned the land that we are developing for a long time. We live in the community where the development is taking place. Some of us are from here. Our friends have history here. We are invested, and we aren’t going anywhere. Our development is important to us because it is our legacy and it is where we are going to be. We start by looking at what the market is demanding and then determine if we have an opportunity to fill a need, either with our own expertise or by partnering with our world-class joint venture partners. In communicating with the Walton County School Board, we found that there was a need for a STEAM school and because we are leaving this campus, it worked out for us to give them an opportunity to locate here. Instruction here commenced in December, and when we leave in June, they will start taking on more and more building space.


SPONSORED REPORT

QUARTERLY PLANNING

The team was scheduled for their next session with Ryan, their first quarterly planning meeting. This would be their opportunity to report on the past three months, review their long-term goals and create the plan for the next quarter. Unfortunately, they were about to be hit hard … COVID-19: It was four days before their

Business in Chaos

P

reviously …We’ve been following the journey of a Pensacola-based engineering firm as they’ve implemented EOS® (the Entrepreneurial Operating System) as a system to run their business. The company’s leaders (John, Ray, Roberto and Sarah) had people and process issues that ultimately led to low profits. During their first three sessions with Ryan Giles, the team built their accountability chart, weekly scorecard, set quarterly goals and established a weekly meeting time. They also built a strategic plan to align the entire team around where the company was going and how it was going to get there.

first quarterly planning meeting when COVID-19 shut down most of the country. Ryan called John to check on the team, and John was in a panic. He wanted to postpone the meeting, but Ryan convinced him that now, more than ever, the team needed a plan.

The Meeting: Ryan and the team

held their quarterly meeting virtually. Uncertainty about the virus and its effect on the company and the world had left the team stressed and scared. Sarah mentioned that with recent hurricanes, economic ups-and-downs and now COVID-19, chaos seemed to be the new normal*. After a longer-than-usual checkin, the team was ready to get started.

The Plan: Ryan reminded the team that when chaos hits, leaders must create a plan and execute it. Sometimes this means modifying the existing plan, and sometimes it means starting over from scratch. It’s time to roll up our sleeves and get to work. Daily Huddles: Most teams work well

with a weekly meeting. This is their opportunity to communicate, report and solve important issues. However, in times of uncertainty or chaos, team meetings should be increased. Most teams will benefit from daily huddles — brief meetings held every day to address issues and increase communication within the team. Leaders must overcommunicate the plan and be the CRO (chief reminding officer).

Looking Backward: Roberto started

by reporting on his goal for the past quarter. He was followed by the rest of the team, and Ryan segued everyone into a brainstorming session on COVID19’s potential effects on the business. While the team came up with plenty of issues, Ray and John thought of several opportunities that could be explored.

Over-Manage: Ryan introduced the

team to the concept of over-managing. In times of chaos, good managers over-

manage. If they usually meet with their employees one-on-one every quarter, increase the frequency. If they keep a close relationship with critical vendors, make the relationship even stronger. If they call clients once per month, call them every week.

Hope for the Best, Prepare for the Worst: The team reviewed the plan for

the year with revenue and profit goals. It was too early to tell how much the company would be impacted, but they all agreed that a “wait and see” strategy was not a good approach. Ryan led them through an exercise to determine what would happen if they lost 10%, 25% and 50% of their revenue. They built a rough plan around each scenario, but dove deep on the 25% option as this seemed to be the most likely outcome based on their current data. They redesigned the accountability chart to show staffing needs and roles with a 25% loss.

Upgrade the Team: In a previous session, John had complained about the available hiring pool in the area. He had problems finding good engineers. Ryan reminded the team of their past dilemma, and while pay-cuts and furloughs were a possibility, this could be a good time to upgrade the team. Unemployment would likely skyrocket, and the team could find great additions if they were in a position to hire. Cash Flow: Sarah led the cash flow discussion, and the team ran the numbers based on their 25% loss projections. Sarah’s goal over the next few weeks would be to address accounts receivable, look for grant opportunities and reduce expenses. *Sarah was right. In today’s world, chaos seems to be the new normal. Most businesses face chaos with fear, uncertainty and a “wait and see” strategy. Learning to lead and manage in chaos can be a huge competitive advantage. Build a chaos-proof business with EOS.

TRACTIONSTRONG.COM | (504) 500-1640 BIZIMMUNITY.COM | RYAN@TRACTIONSTRONG.COM 850 Business Magazine

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Executive Mindset

Personality SECOND CAREER

GROOMING TOMORROW’S TALENT A Zen approach to the national pastime BY WYNN PARKS

S

cott Hemond meets me outside his business, Strike Zone, with the unlighted stump of a fat cigar between his teeth, and sporting a 5 o’clock shadow.

Looking every inch like the major league catcher out of a Robert Redford movie, he checks his watch when he sees me. “That’s cutting it close!” he says, and we shake hands. He grins big like a kid when I reflexively check my watch. Suckered into a “made you look” for the first time since grade school, I can’t help grinning back. Sixth-grade tricks aside, Hemond is the real deal: a former fifth-round MLB draft pick with an awesome reputation as a catcher and the speed to have set a single-season Oakland A’s stolen base record for backstops. He swiped 14 bags in 1993. Beginning in 1989, Hemond played for the A’s, the Chicago White Sox and the St. Louis Cardinals. While playing primarily at catcher, Hemond saw action at every other position on the diamond except for pitcher. When he retired in 1995, “Hemo” might have kidded himself about satisfying his inborn athleticism with his love of bicycling and an off-the-wall notion of “backwards walking,” which he advocates to me, quite seriously, as

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a way to improve agility. But it wasn’t long before the man whose rookie cards included Upper Deck #727 was being button-holed by eager parents wanting private lessons for their sons and daughters. Where “The Game” was concerned, it was a button-holing he couldn’t refuse. After doing one-on-one coaching for a while, Hemond began working with some Panhandle baseball schools, enthused to be coaching a larger number of young hopefuls. Yet, a gradual dissatisfaction set in with what he came to regard as “old school” curricula at the existing programs. He developed a serious itch to put his own evolving concepts for training young wanna-be sluggers, boys and girls alike, into practice. In 2005, he decided it was time to start his own school in Destin. So Strike Zone came to be not just a second career, but also the next chapter in Hemond’s vocation. Outside, sandwiched between a paint store and construction office, the “Zone” is easy to overlook. Inside it’s an Aladdin’s cave of athletic equipment, including net cages for baseball and softball batting practice and weights for leg work. What I take for heavy boxing bags turn out to be batting bags instead.

“The conventional way to train beginners in good form uses a ball and a tee,” Scott explains, picking up a bat. “Using the bag alone (Whack!) focuses on the swing (Whack!) without the distraction of the ball (Whack!), and there’s that satisfying ‘whack’ to it. I can watch the kids swing over and over, and tell them how to correct their head and pelvis and bat positioning.” Hemond employs the CRUSH list, an acronym to help the kids remember their training:

Confident & Collected Relax & Review Utilize & Understand Smooth & Swift Hone Head


FUNDAMENTALS Scott Hemond assesses a student’s swing, making sure that the torso rotation is right, and later checks on the student’s delivery when pitching from a simulated mound.

The most off-the-wall equipment that Hemond uses are music players and what looks like something that should be rotating over a disco dance floor. Hemond shrugs a little. “Yeah, I know, right? So in batting practice you tell the kids, ‘When you swing, as important as it is to keep your head on the right plane, you gotta rotate at the waist, like this.’” He demonstrates, bending his knees and rotating, proper belly-dance style, from the waist down. “Only instead of from the waist down, they do this.” Laughing, Hemond rotates from the waist up wobbling like a top as it loses spin. He steps over and flips a switch on the wall. The puzzling fixture comes alive

Photos by KANSAS PITTS PHOTOGRAPHY

and turns the room into a disco-gym multicolored light storm. “Add music and they begin to get it! Gotta make it fun! In one of the skills clinics, we might take a break from baseball stuff and do a tug of war, or Whiffleball or backward walking! At their ages, kids shouldn’t get into a rut or be locked into some kind of grim do-or-die mentality in a single sport. I encourage them to be well rounded: athleticism in general, not one-trick ponies! It will stand them in good stead the rest of their lives.” Hemond’s CRUSH system and his lighthearted “Zen” approach to teaching baseball and softball skills are augmented by a top-notch staff: professionals including Rafael Bustamente, a former

player with the Phillies; Issac Gonzalez, a recent graduate of the University of West Florida with three years of coaching experience in Pensacola training programs; and Phoenix Sanders, the Zone’s pitching specialist, a player for the Triple-A Durham Bulls. It’s apparently pretty effective. Parents and students alike give Hemond and his school rave reviews. His training of Panhandle youths aged 7–ı4 has brought about standout players on elite regional teams such as Riptide and the Florida Grinders. So, it’s not surprising that Strike Zone’s successes include former students from Niceville and Fort Walton Beach who are with the Boston Red Sox and Pittsburgh Pirate organizations and European Pro Ball. Our meeting complete, Hemond loads equipment into his pick-up. As I’m about to get in my car, he calls out, “Don’t forget to do the backward walking!”

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PROMOTION

SPEND TRENDS Are you getting a healthy return on your investment in marketing?

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or businesses big and small, today’s world of marketing is often a confounding one. With countless available advertising media, efforts to arrive at the optimal mix can feel like a guessing game and produce difficult questions: I have opted to go with a combination of traditional and digital media. But how do I decide how to divvy up my advertising budget among print, broadcast, social and online? Once I launch my multi-media advertising campaign, how will I know which platform is performing the best? Do I have to rely on my agency for that analysis, or are there calculations I can make myself? Austin Holm, the operations manager at Compass Marketing & Consulting in Tallahassee, encourages businesses to critically assess their

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marketing approach in terms of the overall cost to acquire a customer (CAC) and the cost per acquisition (CPA), a measure that is focused more particularly on the advertising spend. “The holistic cost of acquiring a customer is commonly referred to as CAC,” Holm said. It includes, then, the cost for staff or agency time and operations related to campaign development and preparation. Divide that total cost by the number of new customers attracted, and you arrive at the CAC. This is a core metric in determining the profitability of a business model. CPA is a bit more specific and is calculated by dividing the advertising spend by the total of new “conversions” obtained. Conversions may include people who become customers or followers or who

LTV 850businessmagazine.com


PROMOTION

complete a desired action such as completing a form or registering to win a prize. CPA is used to compare ad campaign cost to customer conversion and, hopefully, revenue generated. Consider a yoga studio that is new to that busy space. An instructor formerly associated with a large gym had attracted a following there and decided to go out on her own. Students with whom she had worked immediately joined her studio, and she then engaged in Facebook, print, TV and radio advertising. After a month, that integrated campaign had brought her 20 customers, each of whom committed to a six-month $200 membership, making for a total of $4,000 in revenue. Meanwhile, her advertising costs totaled $3,000 or a CPA of $150. From the standpoint purely of return on marketing that may look good, but it does not necessarily mean that the business is profitable because other costs are not considered. The CAC analysis may tell a different story. Let’s add one more factor to the equation — lifetime value or LTV. That is, the yoga studio member who renews her membership several times will have had value to the business going well beyond the original $200 fee, without incurring any additional

costs of acquisition. A business should always be seeking to maximize the lifetime value of a customer while taking on minimal costs of doing so. This is your CAC:LTV ratio and is indicative of the longterm success of your business model. Increasing your average customer’s LTV can help you offset increasing costs of acquiring a customer. “I advise clients to gain a solid understanding of both their CPA and CAC to guide their business to profitability and growth,” Holm said. If you’re just starting out in advertising and don’t have much historical data, Holm points out that CPA benchmarks or averages have been established for various types of businesses and markets for comparison. And, by regularly calculating its CAC and CPA, a business can gain valuable insights into the efficacy of marketing and branding efforts and how they are trending. ADDITIONAL NOTE: Cause-and-effect is easier to see with some media versus others, but Holm discourages businesses from making ad buys based strictly on ease of tracking. Digital may be easier to score, but traditional media are important components of integrated campaigns.

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Santa Rosa County Business Journal SPEC I A L R EPORT

MOVING THE NEEDLE Santa Rosa County is converting assets into high-paying employers By Steve Bornhoft

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he United States is home to more than 3,000 counties, all concerned about their economic futures, and that reality presents issues that are central to Shannon Ogletree’s role as executive director at the Santa Rosa Economic Development Organization … “How do we make ourselves stand out? What makes us different and better?” To those questions, Ogletree has answers that are working well in Santa Rosa County’s behalf. He points to the county’s three industrial sites certified as shovel ready by Gulf Power Company. He notes the ready supply of highly skilled men and women newly separated or retired from the military. He talks about the fact that the Santa Rosa County public school district is among the top five in the state. And, the county has one of the lowest crime rates in Florida.

“Couple all that with our low property taxes, and you begin to understand that people are moving here for a reason,” Ogletree said. In recent months, Ogletree has met with prospects from Washington and California to New Jersey and New York. At this writing, he is about to depart for Washington to meet with businesses that supply parts and materials to aerospace giant Boeing. “Comparatively speaking,” Ogletree said, “their property taxes are eating them alive. I spoke last fall with people in New Jersey who are paying $60,000 in ad valorem taxes each year on homes valued at a few hundred thousand dollars. Here, the taxes on a $500,000 house are going to run about $6,000, and that’s a great selling point for us.” Said Ogletree: “We have become a county of choice.”


A Matter of Metrics Leonardo contract helps county satisfy condition of Triumph

“We are gaining momentum and moving the needle.” — Shannon Olgetree, Executive Director at the Santa Rosa Economic Development Organization

PHOTOS BY STEPHAN VANCE (OGLETREE) AND COURTESY OF LEONARDO HELICOPTERS (RENDERINGS)

Rendering depicts the 100,000-square-foot support center that Leonardo helicopters has committed to build at the Whiting Aviation Park.

Indeed. Among Florida counties, only seven are growing at a percentage rate greater than that of Santa Rosa. That healthy picture has been a factor, certainly, in Ogletree’s and the county’s successful dealings with the Triumph Gulf Coast board, disbursers of tens of millions of dollars in payments made by BP to compensate for losses resulting from the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. Triumph has kicked in $8.5 million for the development of an aviation park adjoining Whiting Field and $3.5 million for infrastructure improvements at the county’s Northwest Florida Industrial Park at I-10. The latter appropriation relates to plans by a medical devices and pharmaceuticals distributor, referred to for now as Project Lionheart, to build a 100,000-square-foot facility on eight acres at the I-10 Industrial Park, where it would become the first business on site. It anticipates employing 90 people in jobs paying more than $50,000 per year. Another distributor, code named Project Runner, has its eyes on 50 acres and has told the county it would employ 400 people. Those jobs, too, Ogletree said, would pay more than the county’s prevailing salary. A separate Triumph application is pending in connection with Project Runner’s anticipated development.

When the Triumph Gulf Coast Board awarded Santa Rosa County $8.5 million for the development of a aircraft maintenance, repair and overhaul facility adjoining the U.S. Navy’s Whiting Field, County Commissioner Don Salter had a word with Shannon Ogletree, the director of Santa Rosa Economic Development. “I told him he was on the clock,” Salter said. Triumph board grants of BP reparations money are made subject to performance metrics. In the case of the Whiting Aviation Park project, the county is required to produce at least 200 new net jobs paying at least 150% of the county’s average wage and at least 300 jobs paying 115% above the average. Those job gains must be achieved no later than three years after the final grant disbursement is made. In addition, metrics require that at least $25 million in capital investment is made within the same time frame. So it was that Salter was relieved when — thanks due largely to Ogletree — Leonardo Helicopters, an international company with its U.S. headquarters in Pennsylvania, secured a contract to replace the Navy’s fleet of aging training helicopters at Whiting Field. That $460 million contract, calling for 160 new helicopters, will itself go a long way toward fulfilling Triumph metrics. “Leonardo has committed to building a 100,000-squarefoot, Phase 1 facility estimated to cost $25 million,” Salter said. “And, they are already talking about phases 2 and 3.” In March, the Santa Rosa Commission awarded a contract to a Milton contractor, Roberson Underground Utility LLC, for the extension of water and sewer lines and roads to the 40 acres that will figure in Phase 1. Salter was instrumental in negotiating an agreement with the Navy that gives the county limited access to the 6,000-foot south runway at Whiting Field. That runway accommodates aircraft, including C-130 cargo planes, but no jets. Phase 1 will yield 50 new jobs, Salter said, and with the addition of phases 2 and 3, some 400 qualifying jobs will have been created. “I am very proud of Shannon,” Salter said. “He does a great job for us.” Salter said the county is working with Pensacola State College to bring about a training facility at the aviation park that would prepare students for the type of jobs that employers like Leonardo offer. Salter is an Army veteran who served in Vietnam, but for the past 30 years, he has “been breathing the Navy” and base protection and mission enhancement. “I have been working on the aviation park for 18 years, and it is going to come to reality soon,” Salter breathed a sigh. He is proud that Santa Rosa and Escambia counties, working together, also helped the Navy gain authorization for an outlying helicopter field seven miles west of Whiting Field. At this writing, the counties are negotiating with a timber management company to acquire 650 acres as a buffer around that new field. 850 Business Magazine

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Thirdly, a manufacturer of products related to alternative energies, has supplied the county with a letter of intent to set up shop at Santa Rosa Industrial Park East. “Project Induction” would result in 150 jobs. “We are gaining momentum and moving the needle,” said Ogletree of Santa Rosa County, whose 2018 population was estimated to be 179,349 by the U.S. Census Bureau. It is quickly moving past a reputation for being primarily a bedroom community for Pensacola. “It’s taken a couple of years for us to get all the pieces aligned,” Ogletree said, “but I have a great team working with me. Our progress wouldn’t be possible without them.” Too, Ogletree acknowledged his gratitude for the Triumph board, whose approval of funding for the Whiting Aviation Park made that 300-acre project possible and enabled Ogletree to land Philadelphia-based aviation contractor Leonardo. Leonardo, via its wholly owned subsidiary, AgustaWestland, will build a comprehensive support center at the Whiting Aviation Park. The U.S. Navy has awarded the company a contract to replace its fleet of aging training helicopters at NAS Whiting Field. 24

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“This facility will not only create jobs for county residents, but will also improve the efficiency of NAS Whiting Field,” said Santa Rosa County District 3 Commissioner Don Salter. “This just goes to show what vision, passion and focus will accomplish.” “Our plan since day one has been to offer the U.S. Navy the training capabilities they asked for, without compromise,” said William Hunt, managing director of Leonardo Helicopters Philadelphia. “We are honored to deliver on that promise, build the new fleet in Philadelphia and maintain it from Milton, Florida.” Leonardo will employ 40 to 50 people at its 100,000-square-foot support center. It will be supplying the Navy with its purpose-built, American-made TH-119 IFR single-engine helicopter to replace the Navy’s fleet of TH-57 training helicopters. “Whiting Field has long proven itself a world leader in helicopter flight training and maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO) activities, and we are thrilled our investment of Triumph funds into the aviation park could help Santa Rosa County and Leonardo arrive at this important defense contract,” said Dr. Pam Dana, a Triumph Gulf Coast board member. “We thank the Department

of Defense for their trust in our region and look forward to partnering with them and the county to further expand Northwest Florida’s maintenance, repair and overhaul industry cluster.” All helicopter pilots for the Navy, Marine Corps and Coast Guard complete training at NAS Whiting Field. A “first of its kind” limited access use agreement between Santa Rosa County and the Navy allows civilian tenants of Whiting Aviation Park use of the runway and control tower at Whiting Field. “I am sure there is a lot of competition in Philadelphia for labor force,” Ogletree said. “Here, as a well-qualified, high-paying company, Leonardo will be a highly desirable employer.” Ogletree and his office actively and intentionally recruited Leonardo. “It took us a couple years to convince them that we could accommodate their business, that we could secure funding from Triumph,” Ogletree said. “Then, they came to believe in us and in our Aviation Park project.” Ogletree is confident that Leonardo will lead to the arrival in Santa Rosa County of additional aerospace contractors. “We have others in the aviation sector that we are recruiting now,” he said.

PHOTO COURTESY OF LEONARDO HELICOPTERS

Leonardo has won a $460 million contract to supply the U.S. Navy with a fleet of 160 new training helicopters.


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FIRST COMES AN IDEA Entrepreneurship students in Milton learn the steps to starting a business By Steve Bornhoft

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he contemporary fascination with entrepreneurship has spawned a reality television show, business incubators, a large body of scholarly work and academic programs at collegiate and even high-school levels. Economic developers, with an eye toward growing businesses in addition to attracting them, see great value in programs likely to inspire students to found enterprises in their hometowns. Milton High School provides a case in point. There, Randy Parazine teaches an entrepreneurship class open to students in grades 9 through 12. Parazine also teaches a class in digital design and one in digital information technology, but he was well suited to teach entrepreneurship, having started a business himself and having come through the instructive experience of seeing it fail. A native of Escambia County who attended the University of South Alabama, he had worked for 22 years in the wholesale plumbing business when he decided to secure a residential contractor’s license. He launched a homebuilding business, but his timing proved unfortunate. The market he sought to get a piece of was overbuilt for a period of years following Hurricane Ivan. Parazine estimates that no more than 25 percent of the students in his entrepreneurship class are the sons or

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daughters of entrepreneurs or business owners. Most take the class, he said, because they have independently come by an interest in business. “We teach them everything involved in starting a business,” Parazine said. “Students begin with an idea, either a new idea or one that is already out there that they work to improve upon. We go through the process of writing a business plan and get involved with more detailed tasks like creating business cards and logos.” Parazine uses a textbook containing case studies that detail what businesses did at various stages in their development. Toward the end of the course, students work to impress “sharks,” two women from the Pen Air Federal Credit Union who react to pitches. “They work on a Shark Tank-type presentation,” Parazine said. “They create a commercial, and they have to make a presentation just like they were trying to secure a loan from a bank. They have to dress up, and we film the presentations and play them back.” In such a way, students find themselves in friendly competition. The sharks from Pen Air also visit the class monthly and offer lessons on business finance. Via role-playing exercises, Parazine introduces students to what it’s like to interview prospective employees. Interviewed in March, Parazine

was teaching students the differences among various types of corporations. “I have had some experience with all of that, and I can tell them what not to do,” Parazine said good-naturedly. Given their creative energy and fresh ways of looking at the world, it makes sense to introduce students to entrepreneurship at a young age. Dr. Thomas B. Ward, a professor emeritus of psychology at the University of Alabama, has written about links among cognition, creativity and entrepreneurship. In an article published in the Journal of Business Investing, Ward writes, “Successful (business) ideas are often a balance between novelty and familiarity: new and different enough to capture consumers’ attention, but familiar enough to not be misunderstood or rejected out of hand as too radically different.” The successful entrepreneur, as Ward points out, is not just a skilled idea generator, but also often excels at the art of persuasion. “Novel and useful ideas are the lifeblood of entrepreneurship,” Ward writes. “To be successful, entrepreneurs must generate valuable ideas for goods and services that will appeal to some identifiable market, and having identified those potential opportunities, they must figure out how to bring the project


PHOTOS BY SHIRONOSOV / ISTOCK / GETTY IMAGES PLUS AND COURTESY OF MILTON HIGH SCHOOL

to fruition. And, depending on the need for capital to develop the new venture, entrepreneurs may even need to craft ideas to convince others of the value of the project.” Parazine’s class gives students their first experience at convincing others of the viability and value of a business idea. It’s the stuff of boardrooms, loan offices and meetings with venture capitalists. Inessa Thibault completed Parazine’s class earlier this year as a freshman. “I have always wanted to have my own business, because I’d love to set my own hours and have my own employees and be successful,” Thibault said. She already had some experience with Parazine — she had taken digital information technology from him — when she became aware of the entrepreneurship class and decided it was a good fit for her. A cousin who owns a business in Navarre has influenced Thibault’s entrepreneurial aspirations. Too, she has taken note of an approach taken by a business, The Joint Chiropractic in Pace, where patients choose from plans that entitle them to a specified number of visits per month. She would like one day to apply that model to a counseling practice. Thibault plans to study counseling in college — preferably the University of Western Kentucky in Bowling Green, where she has family — and obtain credentials that do not require a degree from a medical school. “Mr. Parazine is a really good teacher,” Thibault said. “He really knows what he’s talking about, and I think that’s because he has had experience in business. I knew that starting a business was complicated, but the way he explains it, he breaks down the — Randy Parazine, steps, and it’s a lot easier. Milton High School “It surprised me that anyone can do it. No matter where you come from, you can do it.” Parazine is optimistic that some among his entrepreneurship students will start businesses in Santa Rosa County. “Most kids, when you ask them what they want to do when they graduate, the first thing they say is ‘I want to get out of Milton.’ I am trying to show them that you can be successful here. We’re building a new courthouse in Milton, and we will be seeing new businesses on Avalon Boulevard because of it.”

“We teach them everything involved in starting a business.”

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MAKING THE LAND BETTER

Coldwater Gardens lures visitors to its ecological makeover project Story By Steve Bornhoft // Photography by Sean Murphy

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ut front of the lodge, a tall man in rubber boots contented himself pressure washing a concrete pathway. The maintenance man, I supposed. “Nick’s inside,” he said. “Right through there.” I had met Nick Phoenix, a co-manager at Coldwater Gardens near Milton, a day earlier at an ecotourism summit hosted by Florida State University Panama City. Phoenix was among the presenters at the meeting, and I was intrigued especially by his description of an aquaponics operation at his place of work and efforts there to create a longleaf pine forest.

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In 2012, Phoenix completed a bicycle tour of organic farms in Florida and settled upon Coldwater as a place to WWOOF. The San Francisco-based Worldwide Opportunities on Organic Farms, USA (WWOOF USA) is part of a worldwide effort to link volunteers with organic farmers and, in so doing, build a global community conscious of ecological farming practices. Phoenix, over the course of a couple of years, would graduate from volunteer to paid employee and from primitive tent to tiny house. The 350-acre Coldwater Gardens has graduated, too. First envisioned

as a produce farm and modest glampground, it is now home to glamping (glamorous camping) tents, yes, and also cottages, including one situated in a tree, primitive campsites and the aforementioned lodge, which often serves as an event venue. Last year, 36 percent of the business’s revenue came from event hosting and almost all of the remainder from accommodations rentals. Most visitors come from within a 2-mile radius. Coldwater is gaining popularity as a getaway for coastal residents overwhelmed with tourist traffic. “In the early days, we sold produce at the Palafox Market and to the Global


Grill restaurant in Pensacola,” Phoenix recalled. “That activity helped make people aware of Coldwater Gardens, and people started staying with us.” But the produce operation proved unsustainable. The business model was flawed, you see — Coldwater’s cost to get its vegetables to market was twice what it could sell them for. It was time for a change.

added eight employees, more frequently. As of 2014, he had seen enough. He dismissed the manager, took over, crafted a new business plan and committed to building the lodge and cottages. And, he had factionalism in the ranks to deal with. “Half of them were hippies and the other half were rednecks,” Erdman said.

“It was an ugly scene. They wouldn’t even talk to each other.” Erdman fired all the rednecks. Of course, he did. He’s a Pollan fan. Phoenix was safe.

He’ll answer to Hermit Phoenix grew up in Watkins Glen, New York — that’s right, boomer, the site

From Miami to Milton In 2007, Rusty Erdman, whose parents had died, had an inheritance to invest. He was living in Miami, where he continues to own and operate a timelapse photography business that is popular among builders. The Discovery Channel hired him to capture the construction of the World Trade Center complex that replaced the Twin Towers in New York City. An employee of the business introduced Erdman — the man with the pressure washer — to inland Northwest Florida. And, influenced by The Omnivore’s Dilemma, authored by Michael Pollan, Erdman decided to buy a parcel along Santa Rosa County’s Coldwater Creek and try to make it better. “It was idealistic, a little bit,” he admits. Erdman bought the land, a portion of which borders Blackwater River State Forest, from International Paper at a topof-the-market price. A year later, the real estate bubble burst, and the value of the property fell 50 percent. Nonetheless, the gardens and glampground gradually took shape. Erdman estimates that some 150 volunteers, Phoenix included, performed land-clearing, planting and other unskilled labors. The produce operation commenced and Coldwater, managed by the employee who had turned Erdman onto the Panhandle, began to entertain visitors. Five years into the investment, however, Erdman was growing uneasy. He began to visit the business, which had Nick Phoenix, top, a co-manager at the Coldwater Gardens campground, collects his thoughts at the entrance to a deluxe tent. Owner Rusty Erdman continues to grow vegetables for fun and consumption, but not as a moneymaking venture. Photos by SEAN MURPHY

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of the 1973 Summer Jam headlined by the Allman Brothers, The Band and the Grateful Dead. He studied media marketing and graphic design and never thought he would make a living in the woods, but he has proved to be a good student of the ecosystem in which he has immersed himself. Along with co-manager Sarah Flaningam, he discharges caretaking duties and conducts tours. Some six miles of trails transect the property. Given his schooling, he serves as the 30

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business’s webmaster. (See coldwatergardens.com.) The co-managers and Erdman all live on-site. Flaningam and Erdman tend to take meals together, while Phoenix keeps to his tiny house, which is equipped with a kitchen. “He’s a hermit,” Erdman nodded toward Phoenix. “Yup, that’s a good word for me,” he replied. The business also employs a horticulturist, Ashley Moore. Phoenix led me on a personal tour

of Coldwater Gardens including places reserved for chickens, shiitake mushroom culture, and the cultivation of native Florida plants and household plants like aloe vera that people often purchase as souvenirs of their stays. Koi goldfish are the engine that drives the aquaponics system. The fish ingest duckweed or pelletized food and produce excrement that is delivered to plants via a circulatory system made up of PVC pipe. The fish waste nourishes the plants, and the system returns clean water to the fish.


Nick Phoenix, top, surveys a shiitake mushroom cultivation room. The mushrooms spring from saturated hardwood logs. Co-manager Sarah Flaningam, left, tends to a flock.

The mellow Phoenix discussed with his characteristic reserve the 7-year-old longleaf pine project at Coldwater, but it’s clear he finds it cool. There was a time when longleaf pine forests stretched from South Carolina to Texas. Because their wood is remarkably Photos by SEAN MURPHY

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Sarah Flaningam and Nick Phoenix inspect a longleaf pine tree that has entered the “rocket stage” of its development. Light-loving longleafs naturally occupy burned over areas — or areas artificially groomed with fire.

dense and strong, the trees were valued by the timber industry. Countless board feet were exported to shipbuilders in London and transported to the builders 32

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of factories in Chicago. They were used for flooring in structures that still stand in Northwest Florida. Today, the longleaf footprint is just 3 percent of what it used to be. Erdman et al have worked closely with the Longleaf Alliance, headquartered in Andalusia, Alabama, to establish a longleaf forest on the Coldwater acreage. The longleaf pine doesn’t like to fight and likes lots of light. It naturally occupies burned over areas where it doesn’t have to compete with other tree species. At Coldwater, Erdman doesn’t wait for lightning to start a forest fire. He hires crews to create longleaf habitat with controlled burns, and brings them back periodically to conduct maintenance work that prevents unwanted growth from making inroads and preventing longleaf pine from becoming dominant. The “burn blocks” thus created are planted with longleaf seedlings called

plugs. Erdman saw to the planting of 22,000 of them on his property in 2013. The trees now measure 4 to 9 feet in height and are entering the so-called rocket stage when they experience accelerated growth. Longleaf habitat attracts other lightloving plants, including carnivorous pitcher and sundew plants; French orchids; and also milkweed, a plant that is an essential part of the life cycle of the monarch butterfly. Fox squirrels, too, like uncluttered canopies. But the most celebrated inhabitant of the longleaf woods is the endangered, cavity-dwelling red cockaded woodpecker. It is possible to spy one at the nearby state forest, but the arrival of the first RCW at Coldwater must await the maturation of its still young planted pines. Phoenix is young, too. Maybe he’ll be around to see that development and permit himself a cheer. Photos by SEAN MURPHY


manufacturing cut red tape experience zoning connection location implementation liaison perm aviation skill population aviation incentives development expediting water site selection access tr personnel gas acreage ownership logistics workforce cut red tape location industry transpor electricity results certification labor water distribution manufacturing zoning connection lo experience logistics implementation telecom liaison tax development permitting skill ince population transportation development expediting access site selection access trained certificatio acreage owner water site selection access training personnel results industry owner logistics lo distribution cut red tape acreage electricity aviation transportation results implementation wor manufacturing zoning connection certification industry location distribution electricity certifi results workforce manufacturing experience zoning connection site selection cut red tape ind skill transportation electricity results development access tax personnel water acreage owner lo population location distribution skill industry workforce electricity transportation certification r manufacturing cut red tape experience zoning connection location implementation liaison av permitting skill population aviation incentives development expediting water access site selection tr personnel gas acreage ownership logistics workforce cut red tape location industry transpor results labor certification water distribution manufacturing electricity connection location z experience aviation implementation telecom permitting development skill population transpor ncentives expediting access liaison personnel gas acreage owner logistics electricity work manufacturing zoning logistics population location distribution industry transportation elec results certification workforce manufacturing cut red tape experience zoning connection loc mplementation liaison permitting aviation skill population aviation incentives development expe water site selection access trained personnel gas acreage ownership logistics workforce cut red ocation industry transportation electricity results certification labor water distribution manufac zoning connection location experience logistics implementation telecom liaison tax develop permitting skill incentives population transportation development expediting access site sele Leonardo was awarded the contract with the U.S. Navy access trained certification gas acreage owner water site selection access training personnel r to supply 130 TH-73A training helicopters. The company ndustry owner logistics location distribution plans to build a technical support center for the new cut red tape acreage electricity aviation transpor results implementation workforce helicopters at Whiting Aviation Park. manufacturing zoning connection certification industry lo distribution electricity certification results workforce manufacturing experience zoning connectio selection cut red tape industry skill transportation electricity results development access tax pers water acreage owner logistics population location distribution skill industry workforce elec transportation certification results manufacturing cut red tape experience zoning connection lo mplementation liaison aviation permitting skill population aviation incentives development expe water access site selection trained personnel gas acreage ownership logistics workforce cut red ocation industry transportation labor certification water distribution elec Ready Workforce results Available manufacturing Funding Whiting Aviation Park connection location zoning experience aviation implementation telecom permitting develop Over 34,000 military retirees, Over $1.5 billion has been Aviation-specific property skill population transportation incentives expediting access liaison personnel gas acreage o many civilian DoD contractors, directed to Northwest Florida at Whiting Aviation Park has ogistics electricity workforce manufacturing zoning logistics population location distribution ind and extensive local training for economic development limited access to the 6,000 transportation electricity workforce manufacturing cut redfunded tape from experience z programs provideresults a uniquecertification enhancements linear foot runway and air connection location implementation liaison permitting aviation skill population aviation ince workforce ideal for aerospace Triumph Gulf Coast. traffic control. development expediting water site selection access trained personnel gas acreage ownership lo and defense. workforce cut red tape location industry transportation electricity results certification labor distribution manufacturing zoning connection location experience logistics implementation te If you’re planning an aviation or aerospace expansion, give us a call and iaison tax development permitting skill incentives population transportation development expe access site selection access trained certification acreage owner water sitetoselection access tr discover all the reasons Santa Rosagas County is the perfect place land. personnel results industry owner logistics location distribution cut red tape acreage electricity av transportation results implementation workforce manufacturing zoning connection certific ndustry location distribution electricity certification results workforce manufacturing expe zoning connection site selection cut red tape industry skill transportation electricity results develop Ready to Get Started in Northwest Florida? access tax personnel water acreage owner logistics population location distribution skill ind workforce electricity transportation certification results manufacturing cut red tape experience z Contact Shannon Ogletree today. connection location implementation liaison aviation permitting skill population aviation ince • (850) 623-0174 shannon@santarosa.fl.gov development expediting water access site selection trained personnel gas acreage ownership lo visitred SantaRosaEDO.com workforceorcut tape location industry transportation results labor certification water distrib manufacturing electricity connection location zoning experience implementation te 850 aviation Business Magazine | SUMMER 2020 | 33 permitting development skill population transportation incentives expediting access liaison pers

Three Reasons Aerospace Projects are Landing in Santa Rosa County


PROMOTION

Escambia County Court House

THE PHOENIX WAY public facilities, industrial plants, government facilities and historical buildings in Florida, Alabama and Mississippi. Recent Northwest Florida restoration projects include Maritime Park in Pensacola, Emerald Grande in Destin, Navy Sea Systems Command in Panama City Beach and Pinnacle Port Vacation Rentals in Panama City Beach. Many of their clients are repeat customers or have been referred by long-existing clients. “Our work and our repeat customers are our best marketing tools,” said Atchison. “Everyone on our staff and all of our clients know that we do things the Phoenix way, which includes quality service, durability and cost-effectiveness.” The Atchisons credit their staff as their greatest asset and contribution to three decades of success. They believe that providing a safe, friendly and gainful work environment benefits their employees, many of whom have been with the company from the start.

“Our goal is to keep people employed in our local economy and provide quality products to our clients,” said Atchison. “Tourism is the driving engine to this market, and facilities must be maintained to the highest degree. That’s what we intend to do with each project.”

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PHOTO COURTESY OF MISSY KIMBROUGH

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phoenix is a powerful bird that rises from the ashes revitalized with strength and renewed with perseverance. As a structural restoration company, Phoenix Coatings strives for each project to transform into a structure that is more durable, more efficient and more beautiful than before. George Atchison and wife Louise opened the company in 1988. Building was in his blood as both of his grandfathers and his father were in the construction business. After serving seven years in the Marines, he sought the work his life was rooted in — building and restoration. Today, he fulfills many roles — founder, owner, president, qualifier, license holder and general contractor, to name a few — alongside his partner in business and life, Louise, who is madam chairman of the board, co-founder and owner. As a structural restoration company, their focus is on existing facilities, including industrial sites,


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SPONSORED REPORT

Pictured left (L to R): Col. Paul Porter, Director of Contracting/JBSA, 502nd Contracting Squadron; William Loiry, Chairman, DLF; Lana Corrigan, Executive Vice President, DLF; Brig. Gen. Greg Chaney, Commander, Texas National Guard; and Maj. Gen. Patrick W. Burden, Deputy Commanding Gen. for Combat Systems, Army Futures Command, pictured at DLF’s Southwest Defense Contracting Summit 2019 in San Antonio, Texas.

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ach year, the Defense Leadership Forum organizes an average of six events that connect businesses and services in the defense industry. With the presence of COVID-19, the Defense Leadership Forum has had to shift its perspectives and planning in regards to hosting live events. The Defense Leadership Forum is a public service organization bringing together Congressional

leaders, Pentagon officials and business representatives to identify the best solutions to defend the United States. Its leaders have brought together more than 100,000 Congressional, government, military and industry leaders. DLF connects the government and military community in addition to the defense industry. Some of these events include the Air Force Contracting Summit, the Southwest Defense


SPONSORED REPORT

Above: Lana Corrigan poses for a photo with Edward Spenceley, Senior Vice President for Government Contracting, Bank of America as he accepts DLF’s Excellence Award at the Air Force Contracting Summit 2020 at the Hilton Sandestin, Miramar Beach, Florida.

Contracting Summit and the Navy Contracting Summit. The Air Force Contracting Summit in particular draws a large crowd to the Emerald Coast region, taking place at the Hilton Sandestin Beach Golf Resort & Spa. Lana Corrigan, Executive Vice President of the Defense Leadership Forum, provides strategic planning for all programs and events, develops alliances with defense-related businesses and communicates with all vendors and venues, amongst many other roles. “Our events take place all over the country, but without the ability to travel or gather, we quickly realized we needed to pivot our strategy while still delivering the information that is crucial to this industry,” said Corrigan.

Its greatest asset during this time is technology as DLF is now offering weekly webinars, live-streaming and newsletters in an effort to keep the community connected and productive. The webinars include interactions with military contracting authorities as well as updates on current government funding geared toward support of businesses during COVID-19. The newsletter topics focus on defense contracting opportunities and on how businesses are pivoting, reorganizing and restructuring during this unprecedented time. The newsletter is sent to the list of thousands of attendees who have attended past events. Charles Sills and Howard Snow are two featured subject matter experts who are currently presenting

a weekly webinar series on various aspects of how to do business with the government. Snow is the former Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Navy and the national moderator for the defense conferences hosted by the Defense Leadership Forum. Snow has over 35 years of military, business, energy and government experience. Sills is the program director for the Defense Leadership Forum and has served in national security positions in the Pentagon, the Defense Intelligence Agency, the U.S. Middle East Force Command and the Supreme Allied Command, NATO/Atlantic. While DLF has had to pause or reschedule some summits and events, they are considering strategy shifts and how they can offer live streaming in the future. All of this has brought into perspective the challenges and the rewards of live events. “We now realize the value of inperson meetings,” said Corrigan. “When any organization puts together an event, it translates into support for the local area and its economy. When an event is held, the funds directly contribute to that area. This is something to consider when moving forward — how we can replenish the economies in these impacted cities. We can always be conscious about how we contribute.” DLF has found ways to continue to connect the government, military and defense contracting community through online platforms and looks forward to hosting in-person and live-streamed events later this year and into 2021.

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Northwest Florida Military Bases #KeepCalmFightOn BY WILLIAM LOIRY

performed, but those working from home also have opportunities to share their new routines on Tyndall’s Facebook page. CMSAF Kaleth O. Wright and Dr. Lori Santos also started a video series called “The New Normal.” Social distancing doesn’t necessarily mean everyone has to be less social. NAS Pensacola is trying to keep outdoor activities open during this beautiful spring season while doing their best to #SinkCOVID19. The A.C. Read Golf Course is still open for anyone who is willing to walk the course. Sherman Cove Marina and Bayou Grande Marina are both still open for boat, board and kayak rentals. Eglin Air Force Base started the “Minutes to Win It Challenge” as a way for people to participate in physical activities at home to help keep moods elevated, reduce stress and sharpen focus. Federal civilians and active duty military members can register at USAFwellness.com through May 31, 2020.

WILLIAM LOIRY

Hurlburt Field is encouraging parents to share their kids’ artwork of mom or dad working (from home or on the field) or selfies of the whole family together at home in a recent Facebook post. Air Force Colonel Richard Dickens, commander of the 505th Command and Control Wing at Hurlburt Field, shared his personal experience with COVID-19 on Facebook, reminding his airmen to practice social distancing and good hygiene because they are all still needed during this time. Face masks and social distancing have become the norm, but it doesn’t have to be this way forever. Stay home, stay safe and stay positive.

LOCALS HELPING

Pictured left (L to R): Col. Paul Porter, Director of Contracting/JBSA, 502nd Contracting Squadron; William Loiry, Chairman, DLF; Lana Corrigan, Executive Vice President, DLF; Brig. Gen. Greg Chaney, Commander, Texas National Guard; and Maj. Gen. Patrick W. Burden, Deputy Commanding Gen. for Combat Systems, Army Futures Command, pictured at DLF’s Southwest Defense Contracting Summit 2019 in San Antonio, Texas.

The Defense Industry is Ever Adapting

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locals

ach year, the Defense leaders, Pentagon officials Leadership Forum and business representatives organizes an average to identify the best solutions of six events that to defend the United States. connect businesses and services Its leaders have brought in the defense industry. With together more than 100,000 Congressional, government, the presence of COVID-19, the military and industry leaders. Defense Leadership Forum has had to shift its perspectives and DLF connects the government planning in regards to hosting and military community in live events. addition to the defense industry. The Defense Leadership Forum Some of these events include the Force Contracting is a public service organization 9375 Emerald Coast Parkway, Unit 24 | Miramar Beach, FL 32550 | (850) 460-7777 | Air ProffittPR.com Summit, the Southwest Defense bringing together Congressional Best Public Relations Firm 2013-2020 Best Event Planner 2018-2020 Best New Business 2012

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Continuing to Serve Our Community Even in the Hardest of Times

PROUD SPONSOR Best Public Relations / Advertising Firm 2015-2018 Best Event Planning Firm 2015-2018

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PHOTO BY FLETCHER ISACKS

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he word pandemic tends to conjure thoughts of people rushing to the grocery store, buying up all the canned goods and toilet paper, waiting for chaos to ensue. In reality, the word pandemic just means a disease prevalent across a whole country or the world — which is still scary, but our current situation doesn’t have to be chaotic. Military bases across Northwest Florida are making adjustments to help kick the COVID-19 pandemic and get back to normal life. You can see the popular hashtag across social media platforms, with photos of service people in masks or working from home with their kids or pups, telling everyone to #KeepCalmFightOn. As of mid-March, Tyndall Air Force Base had decreased their daily traffic on base by approximately two-thirds. The base reduced hours and patron density at many facilities and had to completely restrict access to others. Critical missions and training are still being


MISSIONS CRITICAL Military installations along the Emerald Coast are critical components of local economies and a source of talent that increases the region's attractiveness to prospective employers. The region further benefits because the installations do not operate in isolation. The bases and their personnel work closely with private contractors, interact with educational institutions and school districts, and perform valuable community service. The federal government and the Department of Defense have signaled their commitment to bases and their missions with budget appropriations and funding for the reconstruction of hurricane-ravaged Tyndall Air Force Base.

ILLUSTRATION BY LINDSEY MASTERSON

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TYNDALL AIR FORCE BASE 2.0 New installation will be stronger, smarter BY STEVE BORNHOFT

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he U.S. Air Force awarded two contracts in 20ı9 related to reconstruction at Bay County’s largest employer, Tyndall Air Force Base — $ıı.8 million to build a fire station and $ı7.6 for an Air Battle Manager F-ı5 simulator building. Two down, an anticipated 42 more contracts to go. “Hurricane Michael destroyed close to 300 facilities at Tyndall,” John W. Henderson, the assistant secretary of the Air Force for Installations, Environment and Energy, reminded the audience for the Gulf Power Economic Symposium in February. “We have a lot of work to do at Tyndall, and we also have an opportunity to upgrade code and make facilities there more resilient than they were. The chance to start with a blank canvas is unlike any other opportunity in the world.” The federal spending bill signed by President Donald Trump in December contained $2.4 billion for Tyndall. Earlier in the year, $ı billion in construction funding was included in an emergency supplemental federal appropriation. Tyndall’s redevelopment as a fifthgeneration fighter base will take place in a context of evolving threats to the nation’s security and the changing face of warfare. Speaking generally, Fletcher said the Air Force and America’s joint force “have to prioritize our investments to ensure that we are modernizing and keeping up with advancing technologies and the changing

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Senior Air Force leaders inspect Tyndall Air Force Base from the sky after Hurricane Michael devastated the installation in October 2018. The replacement base, officials say, will bring Tyndall into the 21st century.

character of war. We need to maintain a lethal, resilient, rapidly adapting joint force. “Our future battlefields aren’t necessarily geographic locations. We have to think in terms of space, cyberspace, macroeconomics, trade, information operations and more. Our installations have to be resilient as to energy, cyber and installations in the face of a variety of threats.” To achieve that goal, the Air Force has some catching up to do. “The Air Force has ı80 installations worldwide, and because of shortfalls in recent years, we accumulated a $33 billion backlog in deferred maintenance,” Fletcher explained. That circumstance makes the high priority assigned Tyndall reconstruction all the more significant. And, the base is in good hands, Fletcher stressed. “We have to demolish the flight line. We’re going to need a bunch of swing space. We have to look at parking $300 million in facilities sustainment, restoration and modernization equipment,” Fletcher cited a few items on a long list. “But I am blessed to be working with the best contracting officers in the U.S. Air Force. They want to see to it that, in rebuilding Tyndall, we get not the base we had, but the base we need. And, our nation

needs Tyndall Air Force Base. The F-35 has direct connective tissue to our national defense strategy.” Three squadrons of F-35s are scheduled to arrive at Tyndall in 2023. They effectively will replace squadrons of F-22s that were reassigned away from Tyndall due to Hurricane Michael. In addition, Tyndall remains the preferred alternative home for an MQ-9 Reaper Wing currently based in New Mexico. At present, environmental impact studies are underway related to the anticipated arrival of both aircraft at Tyndall. That work is expected to be complete early in 202ı. No one can say today precisely what the base of the future will look like, but Dave Robau, the executive director of the Gulf Coast Energy Network, offered some broad hints and educated guesses at an Air Force Contracting Summit, held in January in Sandestin. Robau works to align contractors with the U.S. military. He is close to the action. “Far more planning is involved in the redevelopment of Tyndall 2.0 than has been involved in the building of bases in the past,” Robau said at the contracting summit. He then listed some of the considerations that the planning has entailed …


TYNDALL AIR FORCE BASE

 walkable community to A include a pedestrian bridge over U.S. 98.  Predicted maintenance on mechanical systems.  Occupancy sensors to reduce energy consumption.  Fortified buildings built to withstand the next Hurricane Michael.  An energy microgrid that can be utilized during power outages.  Enhanced-use leases that will make waterfront areas accessible by the public.

PHOTO BY U.S. AIR FORCE SENIOR AIRMAN JOSEPH PICK (TOP LEFT) AND SENIOR AIRMAN JAVIER ALVAREZ (BOTTOM RIGHT)

Further, Robau expects the Tyndall project to embrace systems already in place in the private sector. He offered an example. “If you go to Wal-Mart and buy a can of peas, that same can of peas is on its way to the store from a distribution center no more than 4ı minutes after the bar code is scanned,” Robau said. “Real time data is something that the military can learn from. With a connected system, if you are flying an F-35 and there is an actuator on the landing gear that needs to be replaced, that airframe can connect to a schedule and when the pilot lands, the plane is already in line for service and the computer has automatically ordered that part.” Brian Stahl, the deputy director of Tyndall’s Reconstruction Program Management Office, told an energy and sustainability conference held in Panama City Beach that the total rebuild of Tyndall will require seven or eight years. The six hangars at Tyndall all sustained heavy damage due to the storm. They had been built to withstand winds from 83 to ı30 miles per hour. As a Category 5 hurricane, Michael delivered sustained winds of ı60 mph. Because, Stahl said, there is no existing template or blueprint for rebuilding an entire Air Force base, decision-makers have had to decide what is going to be built, to what standards and where. The Air Force Research Lab at Tyndall, which had been located at the eastern edge of the base in a location just 5 to

8 feet above sea level, will be moved to another area of the base. Stahl said buildings south of U.S. Highway 98 will be built at least ı9 feet above sea level and structures north of the highway will be at least ı4 feet above sea level. An extensive airfield drainage project forms another part of the rebuild. Replacement buildings will be constructed to withstand winds of ı65 or ı70 miles per hour. Stahl said in an interview with 850 Business Magazine that post-Michael conditions at Tyndall were worse than those at “bare base” sites in Afghanistan he visited while on active duty in the Air Force. Stahl has found that the cost estimates and budget arrived at for Tyndall reconstruction — much of that work was done at the Pentagon — are holding up well. “Any time you have a major event like this, like Eglin and Hurricane Ivan in 2004, there is a desire at very senior levels to get a number, and there always is some guesswork,” Stahl said. “We know, under normal conditions, what it is going to cost to build a 20,000-square-foot building.” To those usual costs, money was added for “base of the future” features and the cost to bring a reconstruction workforce in from elsewhere. The budgeters also recognized that Tyndall would be competing for resources with other areas affected by natural disasters and other calamitous events.

“We’re usually pretty good at this,” Stahl said. “Some initial estimates have been revised, but not to the magnitude of changing the program from $3 billion to $5 billion or anything like that.” Stahl said support from the Military Affairs Committee of the Bay County Chamber of Commerce and Bay County, generally, has been critical to the future of Tyndall. “I don’t think you would be seeing Tyndall being rebuilt the way it is being rebuilt without the community support it has received,” Stahl said. Bay County District 3 Commissioner Philip “Griff” Griffitts, addressing the contracting summit, said Tyndall accounts for fully one-third of Bay County’s economy. He described the relief that the county experienced when Vice President Mike Pence came to town shortly after the storm and announced that Tyndall would be rebuilt. “When you live in a military community and you don’t hear a jet, it’s an ominous feeling,” Griffitts said. “The first jet I heard post-Michael, I pulled over, got out of my car and took a picture.” “We’ve got to get this right,” said Stahl, citing Tyndall’s importance to both national security and the economy of Bay County and Northwest Florida. “If a future storm were to destroy Tyndall, we wouldn’t be given a chance to rebuild it again.”

In calculating an approximate replacement-and-enhancement cost for Tyndall Air Force Base, officials made allowances for the need to bring in construction workers from outside Bay County.

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THINKING SYNERGISTICALLY

Rendering depicts a “Futures Park” planned for development outside the gates to Eglin Air Force Base. The park is expected to unite academic, contracting and military communities.

‘Futures Park’ could become talent factory BY STEVE BORNHOFT

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xtending due south into the Gulf of Mexico from a point at 86° 4ı’ West longitude is a line of mission-critical importance to Air Force bases in Northwest Florida and the region’s economy. The Gulf of Mexico Energy Security Act of 2006 established a moratorium on oil and gas leasing and any related activity in the Gulf east of that line, which originates near Eglin Air Force Base. But that prohibition is due to sunset on June 30 of next year. “The Military Mission Line enables the Air Force to do all of the weapons development, testing and training that it does,” Nathan Nelson reminded participants in the seventh annual Air Force Contracting Summit, held at the Hilton Sandestin Beach Golf Resort & Spa. “That training range is a national treasure,” emphasized Nelson, who is the director of military affairs in the office of U.S. Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fort Walton Beach). Nelson stressed that the extension of the moratorium beyond June 2022 is not a given. “Flying experimental missiles over an oil drilling area is a bad idea,” Nelson said. “That should be self-evident. But there are companies motivated by their own self-interest, and they are desperate to get into the Eastern Gulf and explore and drill. “We have precious little time. The next NDAA (National Defense Authorization Act) is our last chance to get an extension. If I could ask just one thing of you, it would be to contact your elected officials in support of the Military Mission Line and impress upon them how vital it is.” Pending and future MILCON (military construction) requests and other proposed investments in Panhandle installations may become hard to justify if the Mission Line is erased. Proposed projects include a $400 million Weapons Technology Integrated Nathan B. Nelson, the director of military affairs in Capability (WTIC), essentially an updated the office of U.S. Rep. Matt Air Force Research Lab, at Eglin. Gaetz, addressed the Air Nelson said Eglin leadership is open to Force Contracting Summit at Sandestin on Jan. 30. the idea of building that facility outside the

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gate at the base so that other entities could be colocated with it in a collaborative “Futures Park.” Eglin has a history of promoting collaborative events such as “pitch days,” held at the Doolittle Institute in Niceville. There, small businesses and startups supply ideas related to national security challenges and may be rewarded with Air Force contracts. Nelson described what he called a “fantastic vision” whereby educational institutions, industry and a reutilized supercomputer capable of running sophisticated simulation programs would be situated next to the WTIC. The resulting synergy, he said, would aid in workforce development and provide for better, more immediate flow of information from the military to the private-sector businesses that support it. Students completing internships at the Futures Park could work on obtaining security clearances prior to graduating and be ready to go to work as soon as they receive their diplomas. “The Futures Park is not just building infrastructure for the sake of building infrastructure,” Nelson said. “The idea is that we


PHOTO COURTESY OF NATHAN B. NELSON AND RENDERING COURTESY OF AIR FORCE RESEARCH LAB

F U T U R E S PA R K

can create avenues for undergraduate and graduate students to complete internships in the defense industry, gain exposure to the engineering issues that Eglin is concerned about, become familiar with the work that is here and meet potential employers.” Nelson said the University of Florida is excited about the Futures Park concept. “They want to join hands with initiatives here and expand their footprint and increase their focus on Northwest Florida,” Nelson said. Already present adjoining Eglin is a University of Florida Research & Engineering Education Facility. The REEF offers courses in various types of engineering: mechanical, aerospace, electrical, computer, industrial and systems. Its graduate engineering curriculum is geared particularly toward the needs of the Eglin Air Force Base community.

Nelson envisions an anchor Department of Defense presence surrounded by Class A office space, a large technology farm and satellite university campuses. The supercomputer would be used primarily by Eglin personnel but would also be made available to academic institutions and, potentially, contractors. The Futures Park concept emerged from roundtable discussions that Gaetz conducted with military contractors in 20ı8. Okaloosa County’s economic development agency has taken notice. “One of the defense contractors we heard from talked about difficulties in obtaining information at the Small Business Office, which is located inside the base,” Nelson said. “Contractors new to the area may have a hard time navigating around the base until they become familiar with it. And base entry procedures can be an obstacle.” The Futures Park would include space

for Eglin offices, including the Small Business Office, making them more accessible. “We want to make it possible for program managers to more readily share information about needs anticipated by the Air Force with contractors,” Nelson said. “Today, that kind of interaction is limited; we want to encourage it by creating more opportunities for it.” “The Futures Park is something that we are very excited about,” said Nathan Sparks, the executive director of Okaloosa County Economic Development. “We are in lockstep with Congressman Gaetz and his team in this endeavor.” Okaloosa County is home to 375 military contractors, Sparks said, reflecting the fact that the missions of local bases are contract driven. “Seven of the top ı0 defense contractors in the country — Boeing and Lockheed and the others — have a presence here,” Sparks noted. “Those companies are generally located throughout the county wherever they find a place to do business. “They believe and Team Eglin believes that there would be great value in developing a true research park that is located strategically in close proximity to program offices on base. It could become a real epicenter for developing both talent and products.” About that possibility, Nelson makes no effort to curb his enthusiasm. “We want to shine a great big spotlight on Northwest Florida and show people that we are on the cutting-edge of science and technology and weapons development,” Nelson said. ‘The Futures Park could be transformative for our region and help supply the high-value, highly skilled talent that military contractors need to keep their businesses going.” But, Nelson cautioned, for all of that progress to be realized, perpetuation of the Military Mission Line may be a prerequisite.

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VOLUNTEER MISSION NAS Pensacola is committed to civic engagement BY HANNAH BURKE

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urrounded by hundreds of fellow service members at the Pensacola Navy League’s annual Military Recognition Day luncheon, Petty Officer First Class Kwame Kusi-Appiah, a logistics specialist with the Blue Angels U.S. Navy Flight Demonstration Squadron, stepped forward to receive the 2020 recipient of the Margaret Flowers Civic Award. The honor, which spotlights outstanding leadership and work in the community, was well deserved. Nominated by his command, Kusi-Appiah had recorded over 500 volunteer hours in 20ı9 with Big Brothers/Big Sisters of Northwest Florida, the United Service Organization (USO) and elementary schools. Too, he served as the Blue Angels’ volunteer coordinator, a role to which he devoted an additional 3,000 public service hours. “The thing about the Blue Angels is that they are often travelling,” said Jason Bortz, the public affairs officer for Naval Air Station (NAS) Pensacola. “For Kusi-Appiah to coordinate and participate in that many local volunteer opportunities is amazing.” Civic engagement, said Bortz, is a key component of the NAS mission. That commitment yields collaborative relationships that link the military with the general public and help to integrate new service members into the community. “What’s unique about the military is that every couple of years, you’re likely to be restationed,” Bortz said. “After you’ve been doing that for a while, you don’t really know how to respond when people ask you where you’re from. But, even if you’re only going

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to be here for a few years, venturing out into the public and helping those who need assistance makes you feel a part of something. Suddenly, Pensacola isn’t just a temporary station. It’s a home.” Of the ı30 NAS commands, most are assigned a volunteer coordinator. Bortz, who frequently attends community functions and is a member of the Pensacola Chamber of Commerce and its Military Affairs Committee, makes those coordinators aware of projects and events that would benefit by assistance from NAS personnel. Sailors spend weekends at the Pensacola Humane Society building shelters, walking dogs and spending quality time with cats. They prepare meals for the homeless or families staying at the Ronald McDonald house.

NAS students, who make up a large portion of the on-base population, join volunteer crews at local events, such as Pensacola Comic Con and the Hangout Music Festival. “Each year, we have about 60,000 students come through NAS for training,” said Bortz. “These are ı9- to 2ı-year-olds who are, for the most part, spending their first time away from home. Volunteering gives them something to do as a group and is a fantastic opportunity to get away from the rigors of school for a while. At events like Hangout, they can get their work done, then sit back and enjoy the show.” There is no requirement that service members engage in public service, Bortz said. Rather, public


T H E N AV Y I N O U R M I D S T

U.S. NAVY PHOTO BY MASS COMMUNICATION SPECIALIST 2ND CLASS CODY HENDRIX AND OTHER IMAGES COURTESY OF BB/BS

Big Brother Gabriel treated Little Brother Adrian to minor league baseball action and ballpark food at a Pensacola Blue Wahoos game in 2019.

service is “extremely voluntary but extremely encouraged.” Mentorship — and menteeship — are parts of NAS life. All sailors are advised to find someone within their command from whom they can reliably learn and receive advice. That experience can then be applied to volunteering at after-school homework clubs or youth mentorship agencies, such as Big Brothers/Big Sisters (BB/BS). “We love working with BB/BS because our sailors represent a very diverse snapshot of society,” Bortz said. “They come from all over the world with different educational backgrounds, hobbies and skills. They’ve had experiences, both inside of the military and out, worth sharing.

They have the ability to show children the importance of an education and what happens when you work hard and apply yourself.” “Military volunteers are very important to our agency,” said Paula Shell, president and CEO of BB/BS Northwest Florida. “Our Littles are always in awe of Bigs in the military, and what they bring to the table to teach these children is very special.” A part of BB/BS for the past 23 years, Shell said many of her favorite success stories involve military mentors. In one case, a mentor was in his mentee’s life for only two years before he was restationed, but the impact he made was life changing. “The boy, who was being brought up by a single mother and had no male influence in his life, learned how to tie a tie and how to look someone in the eye when speaking,” she said. “He told me his mentor taught him how to respect women and the importance of being considerate and kind.” That boy went on to earn a law degree and now heads his own law firm in Atlanta.

Shell said military mentors appreciate that connections with youths, however brief, can have lasting positive effects. “For them, this isn’t a resume-builder. They know the probability of getting restationed and often introduce their mentees to other influential members within their spheres that could possibly assume their role.” For Bortz, such relationships make abundant sense given the inextricable links between NAS and Pensacola. “As the base goes, so does the community; as the community goes, so does the base,” he said. That closeness isn’t universal. “I’ve been to many different military communities, and to tell you the truth, you don’t always feel that,” Bortz said. “There are bases that feel alienated from the community, and you get the feeling that that’s the way community likes it. “You don’t get that in Pensacola. When people see our sailors helping in the schools and getting involved in community projects, it shows we care as much about the town as they care about us. We’re family.”

Big Sister Emily serves Little Sister Akeylah as a good friend and mentor. She exemplifies the commitment by Naval Air Station Pensacola to public service.

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MILITARY

MILITARY RETENTION Ways sought to make it easier for spouses to find employment BY STEVE BORNHOFT

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en. David Goldfein, the chief of staff of the U.S. Air Force, had a mission in mind for Glen McDonald. Last May, Goldfein was a member of a receiving line that greeted well-wishers who attended a retirement ceremony for Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson, held at Joint Base Andrews in Maryland. Rather than asking about the post-storm status of Tyndall Air Force Base or the effort to secure a supplemental budget appropriation for base reconstruction, Goldfein, in greeting McDonald, wanted to talk about employment for military spouses. McDonald said that Goldfein impressed upon him that the issue is one that significantly affects the Air Force’s recruitment and retention efforts. “The general told me that he wanted me to get to work on spousal employment in Bay County,” said McDonald, who is vice president for strategic projects and economic development at Gulf Coast State College and the vice president of the Bay Defense Alliance in Bay County. McDonald got to know Wilson well when she was a congresswoman representing a district that contains most of Albuquerque, and he worked for Applied Research Associates, which for years was the fastest growing company in New Mexico. “Our lowest ranked airmen, Eı through E5, don’t make enough money when they get married to support a household with kids,” McDonald stressed in an interview with 850 Business Magazine. “They need for their spouses to find work immediately whenever they transfer to a new location.” At the general’s behest, McDonald brought together a group that furnished “some really good, simple ideas, stuff that you would think would just be common sense.” Today, CareerSource Gulf Coast has three full-time staff members who work with military spouses — and separatees and dependents.

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Cmdr. David Mims, incoming commanding officer, VT-6 Shooters, received his command pin from his wife, Terri Mims, during a ceremony at NAS Whiting Field.

“We got busy, and the truth is that I think we are doing an OK job right now, but the first thing people want to ask me is if we are doing better than everybody else. I honestly don’t know,” McDonald said. “But we are working very hard at it,” he said. “We have face-to-face contact with spouses, and we show them all of the available positions in our area.” McDonald was a panelist at the Gulf Power Economic Symposium, held in February. There, he was asked a question he hears frequently: “What do you say to a business that might be willing to hire military spouses, but is reluctant because they are only going to be here for two years?” As it happens, the difference between two years and the median number of years that private-sector workers have been in their current job is not that great. The latter figure is just 4.6 years, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. “If I’d had enough time during the Gulf Power panel discussion, I would have told everyone that the first military spouse I employed at

ARA was our division administrator,” McDonald said. “She handled all of HR, all of the accounting and cash flow at the local level, and the processes that she implemented at ARA ı2 years ago are still in play companywide today. “She was just that good, and she had experienced so much in her life that she had seen the best way to do things at multiple companies in multiple countries and locations. And she was at ARA for only 2 ı⁄2 years. She was so good, so competent and so committed to us that she was the best employee we had. She won administrator of the year for the entire company.” So it is that McDonald encourages employers not to knock hiring military spouses until they try it. “The difference in time and service between military spouses and the typical private-sector employee is not as great as people believe,” McDonald said. “They think that the spouse is only going to be here for two years and the average employee stays in a job for ı0. That’s just not true.”


M I L I TA R Y R E T E N T I O N

PHOTOS COURTESY OF NAVAL AIR STATION WHITING FIELD AND 2020 ECONOMIC SYMPOSIUM

Glen McDonald, vice president of the Bay Defense Alliance and a Gulf Coast State College vice president, speaks at the Gulf Power Economic Symposium to the importance of spousal employment as a factor in the retention of military personnel.

The idea-generating group that McDonald put together, after the general put the arm on him, came up with a window sticker that reads: Support Our Military; Hire Military Spouses. “People don’t equate supporting our military with hiring military spouses — it’s not a direct correlation,” McDonald said, explaining that the sticker has helped make that connection. He gave a sticker first to Verizon at a chamber event. It stuck. “Verizon was the first national company, based on our discussions, that came up with a fully transportable job,” McDonald said. That means a military spouse may remain a Verizon employee when moving from installation to installation and accumulate time toward being fully vested in its retirement program. “People don’t realize that getting credited in your retirement program is a big deal,” McDonald said, “and usually the minimum amount of time to get fully vested is three

years, so if you are a spouse and you move every two years, you’re not vested in any retirement plan. “If you have a fully transportable job like Verizon is offering, you get to stay with that company for multiple years first of all, and get promoted and get fully vested.” Of course, most people do not work for national or international companies. “But we have to encourage those companies to think about making employment transportable,” McDonald said. “We have to present the problem to them.” Indeed, the problem leads significant numbers of personnel to separate from the military. “Let’s say your child is in a school system and it’s a great school, and your spouse is in a job that she loves, and is earning promotions,” McDonald painted a picture. “You are in the military and your choices are to move and take them out of all that or to suspend your military career and stay. Service members are opting to stay because of those considerations, and

I would assume that the average term of service in the military is shrinking.” John W. Henderson, like McDonald a Gulf Power panelist, has views about spousal employment and other lifestyle factors that align with those of Goldfein. “When we are looking at decisions about whether to base a mission at a certain installation, we take a look at the quality of the schools around the base and housing affordability and the ability of spouses to come and be certified in whatever their profession was,” said Henderson, the assistant secretary of the Air Force for installations, environment and energy. He noted proposed federal legislation that would make occupational certifications held by military spouses transferrable from state to state. Henderson mentioned having spoken to a military spouse in Orlando who spent two years pursuing recertification in her profession. “By that time, the family was on orders to move again,” he said.

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MILITARY

BAPTISM BY SIMULATED FIRE Medics undergo new, highly realistic medical-readiness training at Eglin AFB BY HANNAH BURKE

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we-struck student medics with the 96th Medical Group (MDG) at Eglin Air Force Base stood in shock. The simulation was

that real. Lifelike “manikins” controlled by 96th MDG simulation operators screamed for help. Their ribcages expanded with heaving, racking breaths. Blood spurted from their necks unless a tourniquet was properly applied. Pupils dilated if an airway remained constricted. The Department of Defense’s newly instituted medical readiness course, Tactical Combat Casualty Care (TCCC), teaches students life-saving trauma care techniques for use on battlefields. The four-day course concludes with a scenario in which students apply all they’ve learned to stabilize wounded soldiers removed from medical facilities. “Most of our students are fairly young and haven’t yet had experience in zones of conflict,” said 96th MDG chief nurse executive Lt. Col. Ronald Jones. “To apply new training by using these breathing, bleeding, talking manikins was, yes, very surprising for them. But, it makes them realize this is what they bring to the fight, that this is exactly what they’ve joined the military to do.” Tactical Combat Casualty Care is expected to prevent up to 24 percent of combat deaths that would otherwise occur. According to the National Association of Emergency Medical Technicians (NAEMT), approximately 90 percent of American service men and women killed in action die due to hemorrhaging prior to arriving at a medical treatment facility. Loss of blood

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has, for centuries, been the No. ı cause of battlefield deaths. Progress on that front is now being made, but combat medical training prior to 200ı, the NAEMT reports, mirrored civilian courses and did not take into account tactical and environmental factors. Medics are not required to learn how to apply tourniquets, and they were not consistently used until 2005. TCCC training takes place in three phases — care under fire, tactical field care and tactical evacuation care. “TCCC is an evidence-based approach in preparing our medical staff who deploy for global operations,” said Dr. Matthew Hanson, the 96th MDG commander. “The skills in this program were developed from taking care of patients in contingency operations and collecting information that informs the training that the next generation of technicians and medical professionals will receive, as well as changes we need to make to improve survival.” Hanson reports that in conflict zones in Iraq and Afghanistan, United States Central Command has achieved a battlefield injury survival rate of 98 percent. “You only get there by carefully tracking outcomes and identifying the best practices, standardizing them and applying them to the rest of the medical force,” Hanson said. “What we’ve learned from past conflicts is that our folks need realistic training.” Prior to capstone day, the TCCC course consists of three days of hands-on instruction and lab skills training. Students learn to identify pressure points, treat occluded blood vessels, close open wounds

Senior Airman Andre Alexander tends to a simulated victim during a training exercise at Eglin Air Force Base. A course there introduces medics and non-medical personnel to the best battlefield trauma care techniques.

in airway cavities and apply airway adjunct techniques. In 20ı8, the office of the Air Force surgeon general notified Eglin AFB that TCCC would be implemented throughout the Department of Defense, replacing the Self Aide Buddy Care course, which consisted of classroom demonstrations and computerbased training. “I think you can appreciate that the dayto-day in a clinic doesn’t really prepare you for care under fire,” Hanson said. “You’ve got to create that situation via simulation, or send your medics to a shock trauma center that is more similar to what people will see at a contingency facility in a place like Afghanistan.” The manikins used in TCCC simulation training react to their handling by medics and supply immediate feedback. “The goal is to fix everything that will not allow for normal breathing and circulation,” Jones said.


M I L I TA R Y R E T E N T I O N

CRITICAL MISSIONS Northwest Florida’s military installations play essential roles in the nation’s defense Tyndall Air Force Base Prior to Hurricane Michael, the primary mission of the 325th Fighter Wing at Tyndall had been to provide a combat-ready air dominance force, train F-22A Raptor pilots and maintenance personnel, and train air battle managers to support the combat Air Force. Tyndall’s combat mission was performed by the 95th Fighter Squadron. Reconstruction of the base is underway. Three squadrons of F-35s are scheduled to arrive at Tyndall in 2023.

Naval Support Activity Panama City The primary mission of NSA PC is to provide, operate and maintain facilities, provide defense and physical security of critical infrastructure and provide operational support to the fleet, fighter and family, and supported commands. Major tenants include Naval Surface Warfare Center-Panama City Division (NSWC-PCD), Naval Diving and Salvage Training Center (NDSTC), Navy Experimental Diving Unit (NEDU), and U.S. Coast Guard Station Panama City.

PHOTO BY U.S. AIR FORCE PHOTO/S BY 2ND LT. KARISSA RODRIGUEZ

Eglin Air Force Base All medical treatment facilities, including the 96th MDG, are required to certify their surgical and medical technicians by February 202ı. Jones is confident the 96th MDG will meet that deadline and through its monthly TCCC courses, train approximately 400 medics. “We reached out to our local bases that have the capability to teach the curriculum, and in this case, special ops medics at Hulbert Field helped us get our inaugural force off the ground,” Jones said. Five medical force personnel are now qualified to teach at the 96th MDG. Going forward, the TCCC course will be extended to 96th MDG nurses and other service providers. “This region, with our multiple services, medical departments and conventional and special operations forces, offers a unique opportunity for us to train with sister services units so that when we’re in a safe training area, our Air Force medics might be able to interact with our counterparts and other war-fighting units,” Hanson said. “Our Air Force nurses can learn what to expect when they are vetted with a Marine Corps Special forces unit.” TCCC is just one of many new efforts the 96th MDG is making to ensure its medical force is combat ready. “I would argue that, to a degree, every single patient we care for in our surgical clinics and operating rooms prepares us and sustains our readiness,” Hanson said. “But TCCC is a supplement that takes us to a higher level.”

The 53rd Wing at Eglin serves as the focal point for the Combat Air Forces in electronic warfare, armament and avionics, chemical defense, reconnaissance and aircrew training devices. The wing is responsible for operational testing and evaluation of new equipment and systems proposed for use by these forces. Eglin is also home to the 33rd Fighter Wing, the 6th Ranger Training Battalion, the 7th Special Forces Group, the 96th Test Wing and other tenant commands.

Hurlburt Field The core missions of the 1st Special Operations Wing at Hurlburt include close air support, precision aerospace firepower, specialized aerospace mobility, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) operations, and agile combat support.

Naval Air Station Pensacola The mission of NAS Pensacola is to efficiently deliver the very best readiness from the shore, while adhering to five guiding principles: installation security; warfighter readiness; fleet support; community engagement; and operationalizing of heritage.

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Okaloosa/Walton County Business Journal SPEC I A L R EPORT

Whale of a Site Economic development road show focuses consultants’ attention on Shoal River Ranch By Steve Bornhoft

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n Chicago, Cleveland and New York City, Nathan Sparks educated site selectors and other influencers in recent months about the extraordinary opportunities that he believes the ı0,500-acre Shoal River Ranch Gigasite offers. Representatives of the statewide economic development organization Enterprise Florida and the utilities Gulf Power and PowerSouth joined Sparks, the executive director of the Economic Development Council of Okaloosa County, in that effort. Some of the foremost site selectors in the country, Sparks said, attended showcase events in the three metropolises held to promote Shoal River, a property owned by the Holland M. Ware Charitable Trust. The site straddles Interstate ı0 and is bordered on its north side by U.S. Highway 90 and a CSX rail line. Within the site, Okaloosa County owns ı62 acres and has an option on an additional ı,665. At present, 2,043 acres are ready for industrial development. “Having the state there with us was a great endorsement of the site and its potential,” Sparks said. “Essentially, Enterprise Florida was saying that we believe the future of this part of the state will revolve heavily around Shoal

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River, given the sheer expanse of it and the types of large-scale economic development that can occur on a ı0,500-acre property.” Without exception, Sparks said, feedback to the showcases was highly favorable and a validation of the time and effort devoted to positioning Shoal River among consultants who represent a variety of industry sectors and who are pursued by economic development interests from throughout the country. “We are now at a point where we have developed strategic advocates among these consultants,” Sparks said. “Getting them to fully appreciate the extent of the opportunity is certainly half the battle. “It’s an ongoing process, but we already have seen a nice uptick in interest as a result of consultants getting schooled up, if you will.” Some consultants and prospects have taken the additional step of visiting the property. “We are actively in conversation with several different employers and their representatives about Shoal River as a potential landing zone,” Sparks said. Meanwhile, water and sewer lines are being extended to the site, work that

began in 20ı8 and is being funded in part by $ı.5 million in BP oil-spill reparations money awarded by the Triumph Gulf Coast board. The water line will have been extended 3 miles and the sewer line 4 miles when the project is completed in December of this year. Triumph money is awarded conditionally. That is, it is tied to performance metrics related to job creation and capital investment that the county must satisfy. “All the more reason to be pounding the pavement,” Sparks said. Ideally, Sparks said, progress on the sewer and water lines will coincide with commitments to the site by employers. As of March, two manufacturers were contemplating locations at Shoal River. “When you think about siting a development on a couple hundred acres, you are talking about a large facility,” Sparks said. “And, 200 acres would be a nice initial win for Shoal River, but in comparison to ı0,000 acres, it’s really a drop in the bucket.” An icebreaking has special significance. “Any new industrial site or park has greater success after the first deal,” Sparks said. “The second deal generally occurs faster because there is always some hesitancy to be the first one. It’s


almost like the first party to buy a home in a new residential subdivision. You have to wonder if the development is really going to take off?” About Shoal River, however, Sparks exudes nothing but confidence. “We have every reason to believe,” he said, “based on the response we’ve enjoyed, that Shoal River will not only take off, but will excel and prove to be a location of choice for large scale economic development projects for many, many years given the amount of inventory we have there.” The county’s option on ı,665 Shoal River acres is set to expire in December. At this writing, the county is undertaking an appraisal process and may move to purchase all or some of those acres outright. Or, it could seek and extension of the option. “The desire is to make sure that we have the opportunity to control our own destiny,” Sparks explained. “We have a wonderful partner in the Holland M. Ware Charitable Trust association that owns the site, but everything that we hear from our site consultant friends and businesses alike is that they strongly prefer public control.”

Tax Referendum

PHOTOS BY JENNIFER G PHOTOGRAPHY (SHOAL RIVER) AND COURTESY OF ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT COUNCIL OF OKALOOSA COUNTY (SPARKS, MAP)

Schools are an important consideration for businesses scouting new locations. Sparks, as both a parent and economic development official, was pleased to see Okaloosa County’s business community rally in favor of placing a half-cent sales tax referendum on the November general election ballot. Tax proceeds would go to pay for new school infrastructure, technology and renovations. “We haven’t had a dedicated funding source

for school improvements, and the fact is that our school district continues to be one of the best in the state in terms of performance in spite and not because of our facilities,” Sparks said. “Destin Middle School was the last school built in our county and that was 20 years ago. Meanwhile the community is growing by leaps and bounds. The school my son has attended was built in the ı960s and is well beyond capacity. A half-cent sales tax reserved for county infrastructure such as roads and stormwater improvements has been in place since November 20ı8. Funds, Sparks said, are disbursed pursuant to a “methodical, transparent process that includes a citizens’ advisory component.” A combination of local sales tax dollars, Triumph Gulf Coast funds and a state Department of Transportation appropriation will pay for a State Highway 85 bypass and new interchange at Crestview. “That project was sorely needed,” Sparks said. “Our workforce housing is concentrated in the northern part of county, and jobs are concentrated in the southern part. The daily commute bottlenecks around Crestview due to the limited infrastructure. There is a lot of excitement about the fact that relief is on the way.”

From California to Fort Walton Beach “Recruiting new, targeted employers to Okaloosa County is a central component of the EDC’s work program,” Sparks said. “So, when German automotive performance chip tuning market leader RaceChip selected Fort Walton Beach for the

“The desire is to make sure that we have the opportunity to control our own destiny.” — Nathan Sparks

Within the 10,500-acre Shoal River Ranch Gigasite, owned by the Holland M. Ware Trust, lie 162 acres owned by Okaloosa County and another 1,665 acres that the county has under option.

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performance so that basically you can take a lower-end BMW and make it perform like a midrange BMW just by investing a couple of hundred bucks in a chip.” About RaceChip’s decision to move, Sparks said, “California is a beautiful place to visit, but not a great place to do business. We worked with Enterprise Florida to put together for them a package of the info they needed to evaluate our area. While they looked at other communities in the Southeast, we came out on top.”

company’s new U.S. headquarters, we had cause for celebration. Established in Germany in 2008, RaceChip has experienced rapid growth and now has a global presence. Its aftermarket automobile engine performance technology is available for more than 3,000 individual vehicle models from more than 60 automobile manufacturers.

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Assisted by the EDC, Niceville-based Dynamic Software Solutions (DS2), along with its prime contractor partner, Tapestry Solutions, Inc., a Boeing company, pursued a Weapon Planning Software (WPS) contract solicited by Air Force Materiel Command. Ultimately, DS2 and Tapestry were awarded the ı0-year, $259 million ceiling WPS contract in support of Joint Mission Planning System (JMPS) requirements related to precision-guided munitions planning for multiple aircraft and weapons platforms. To

Northwest Florida State College and the Hsu Educational Foundation of Fort Walton Beach have entered into an agreement that will provide airframe and powerplant training and certification programs at the Crestview Technology Air Park. The air park is located at Bob Sikes Airport and is owned by foundation founder Dr. Paul Hsu. Cristie Kedroski, vice president of college advancement at NWFSC, said a facility to house the training will be developed per a build-tosuit lease arrangement. At this writing, the college has submitted an application to the Triumph Gulf Coast board seeking “capital that will ensure that this is a world-class program,” Kedroski said. Already, the National Defense Industry Association has contributed $25,000 to the project. Students entering the training program

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Now located at 50 Hill Avenue in the Fort Walton Beach Commerce & Technology Park, the company cited Fort Walton Beach’s comparatively lower operating costs, market access and quality of life as factors in their decision to relocate their U.S. headquarters from California. “We considered other states and communities, but with the help of the EDC, we ultimately determined that Fort Walton Beach offered us the best environment to grow our business and attract top talent,” said Chris McCollum, chief operating officer of RaceChip Americas, Inc. “Their microchips,” Sparks explained, “communicate with engines to make them more efficient and improve

meet the new requirement, DS2 celebrated the opening of a second Niceville location at 3ı0 Government Ave. in October. The company anticipates hiring 30 additional personnel to staff the new contract.

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© 2020, The St. Joe Company, “St. Joe”, the “Taking Flight” design and VentureCrossings® are registered service marks of The St. Joe Company or its affiliated companies. This advertisement may contain information that is based on current development plans. Actual development may not be as currently proposed. All information reflected in this advertisement is subject to errors, omissions, changes or withdrawal without notice. This advertisement contains selected information pertaining to the featured projects and does not purport to contain all the information which prospective users may desire. Prospective users should review all available information either from the owner or from independent sources and make decisions based upon their own conclusions. This material does not constitute an offer and the owner shall not be bound to any obligation until a mutually agreed-upon, binding agreement is executed by all parties. 850businessmagazine.com


Grooming Okaloosa for Success EDC pursues varied activities enhancing the county’s attractiveness to businesses

Construction industry training conducted by the Home Builder’s Institute at Northwest Florida State College is open to separating military members, military dependents and veterans.

will be encouraged to complete both AF and PP training, Kedroski said, adding that aircraft mechanics exiting the military will be able to secure the professional credentials they need at the Air Park. Ultimately, project planners hope that the Air Park also will host professional pilot training.

PHOTO COURTESY OF STRATEGIC COMMUNICATIONS, NORTHWEST FLORIDA STATE COLLEGE (HBI)

Virginia-based MAG Aerospace selected a long vacant building at 634 Anchors Street in the Fort Walton Beach Commerce & Technology Park to house its Technology Integration and Support Center (TISC). Opened in January 20ı9, the 25,000-square-foot TISC — also known as the “Col. John T. Carney Center of Excellence” in honor of John T. Carney, leader of the first combat controller team during Desert Storm — is focused on the integration of Air Force Special Operations, Special Warfare systems. More than 70 new high-wage technology and engineering positions have been created as a result of the announcement. Taking note of the area’s shortage of construction trades personnel, the EDC successfully partnered with the Building Industry Association of Okaloosa & Walton Counties (BIA) and Northwest Florida State College to recruit a cohort of the Home Builders Institute’s (HBI) military construction trades training program to Okaloosa County. Available at no cost to separating military members, military dependents and veterans, the eight-week program offers construction industry training, certification and job placement. Located in Building 520 at Northwest Florida State College, this program represents HBI’s first co-location with a higher education partner. Classes began in October 20ı9, and the center can accommodate up to ı4 students per class. Vertex Aerospace Aircraft Integration & Sustainment, Okaloosa County’s largest manufacturer, saw an opportunity to stand up a new ballistic foam facility on its campus at Crestview’s Bob Sikes Airport. Made of polyurethane and placed in the dry bays and wing structures of aircraft, ballistic foam prevents fires, adds strength to the structure, slows down the speed of projectiles and offers cost-effective armoring and protection. Requiring a new structure to house the ballistic foam operation, Vertex Aerospace AIS approached the EDC about assisting with certifying the project under Okaloosa County’s Expedited Permitting Program. Now nearing completion, the facility is expected to result in 30 new positions at Vertex.

In addition to recruiting employers and promoting industrial parks, the Economic Development Council of Okaloosa County in 2019 engaged in activities designed to make the county more enticing as a place to do business and to safeguard its relationship with the U.S. military. Specifically, those EDC activities included the following: EXPANDING COMMUNITY DIALOGUE » Hosted two roundtable breakfasts — “Brain Chasing: Talent Attraction as a Community Strategy” and “Economic Gardening: Cultivating Sustainable Entrepreneur Support Initiatives.” » Held the third annual TeCMEN Industry Day featuring panel discussions and presentations from Enterprise Florida, Boeing, Vertex Aerospace, GKN Aerospace, ST Engineering, Eglin Air Force Base, Bit-Wizards and the UWF Center for Cybersecurity. The Economic Development Council of Okaloosa County (EDC) established the Technology Coast Manufacturing and Engineering Network (TeCMEN) in 1989 to be a business advocate for science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) industries. ENHANCING COMPETITIVENESS » Completed a consultant-led Incubator Feasibility Study assessing the potential for a successful entrepreneurial incubator or accelerator in Okaloosa County. » Assisted the City of Fort Walton Beach with the master planning process for the Fort Walton Beach Commerce & Technology Park. » Secured grant funding aid in the planning of a new research and talent development park with a proposed location near Eglin Air Force Base. The park is intended to house defense contractors and Department of Defense research entities in a collaborative environment. SUPPORTING WORKFORCE AND TALENT DEVELOPMENT » Partnered with the Hsu Educational Foundation and the Okaloosa County School District to host 25 area high

school students and principals to interface with manufacturing/ technology sector employers at the TeCMEN Industry Day. » Partnered with the University of West Florida to provide nine no-cost training and industry certification courses to companies participating on the EDC’s TeCMEN committee. » Partnered with the Okaloosa County School District to host “Educate the Educators +1” — an opportunity for teachers, principals and students to gain firsthand knowledge of local employers. » Utilized geo-targeting technology to promote local career opportunities found within the Talent Attraction Portal on the EDC’s website to visitors who may be inclined to relocate to the area. STRENGTHENING THE MILITARY MISSION » Undertook targeted federal legislative outreach in support of enhancement of the Gulf Test Range and extending the current moratorium on offshore drilling activities in the eastern Gulf of Mexico. » Supported Eglin’s NexGen initiative — a strategic plan to transform an aging military complex and make it a world-class center for advanced military technology. » Utilized the EDC’s Tri-County Community Partnership Institute to tackle key community challenges faced by installations and service members. Efforts include transportation/mission readiness, childcare availability and postmilitary career transitions. » Completed a consultant-led Military Mission Impact Study illustrating the potential local economic impact of hypothetical military mission growth or loss.

— Economic Development Council of Okaloosa County 850 Business Magazine

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Desirable Trend Line Per capita spending by visitors to South Walton is rising sharply By Steve Bornhoft

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avid Demarest, the marketing and communications director at the tourism promotion agency Visit South Walton, only said he was going to vacation out of cell phone range in a remote area of Bolivia. Truth is, Demarest escaped instead to Grayton Beach, a drive of less than an hour from his home in western Panama City Beach. Demarest grew up in Bay County, and as a cynical teenager, was disinclined to believe anything good about his hometown. “But the more I saw other beaches in America and elsewhere, the more I began to lend credibility to the claim that the Emerald Coast is home to the most beautiful beaches in the world,” Demarest said. “We have 26 miles of beach in Walton County, and if you want to have a stretch of it to yourself, you can. Once people see our beaches, it’s hard not to come back.” Indeed. Among all visitors to South Walton County in 20ı9, 96 percent said

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they would return. Sixteen percent of last year’s visitors were first-timers, according to Downs & St. Germain Research, but 4ı percent had visited more than ı0 times. And, they come for more than sun, surf and sand. Demarest noted that the number of visits made to South Walton by Texans continues to trend upward. “Many of them drive, and that’s a big compliment to us,” he said. “To get here, they have to pass by ı00 miles of really fine beaches. So, it’s not just the beach that is attracting them to South Walton.” While visitors come from across the country, 69 percent of them in 20ı9 were from the Southeast (including Texas). Twenty-two percent came from the Midwest and 3 percent each came from the West and the Northeast. International visitors accounted for the remaining 3 percent. Fully ı0 percent arrived from Atlanta. Dallas-Fort Worth and Nashville each accounted for 6 percent. Events, many of them held during

what historically were off-seasons, are draws. They include festivals organized around gumbo, wine, projection art, songwriting and films. “When I meet someone who is unfamiliar with our area, and all they know about Florida is Disney World, I tell them that when you do Disney for a week, you are buying a fantasy that involves talking mice and magic and princesses and castles,” Demarest said. “And when you go on a vacation in South Walton, you are buying a fantasy then, too. For people renting a place in Seaside, the fantasy is that this is my home and I live here and I am the type of person who rides his bicycle down to the beach first thing in the morning and grabs a cup of coffee on the way back. And I live in the type of neighborhood where I can let my kids roam free and not worry about them.” Vacations have always been about a departure from the norm — trading one reality for another. “You commute five days a week to your


job in Atlanta or Houston or Dallas and you sit in that traffic, and then for a week or two or maybe a season, you commute to that coffee shop on the beach by foot on cute sidewalks or by bicycle,” Demarest provided a contrast. South Walton’s appeal also has a lot to do with giving people the chance to spend time on vacation with others who have similar interests and likes. “It’s about going to a place where you feel comfortable, whatever that means for you,” Demarest said. “And, if you come down for an event and you see three people down here from your neighborhood back home, it doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s not a vacation.” Said Demarest, “Our numbers are up in all the important categories, and some of the best news for people in our area is that spending by visitors is up by a percentage that is greater than the percentage growth in the number of visitors. A big part of our job is to attract a manageable number of people who are going to spend a lot of money while they are here. That part of the mission has been achieved.” For Visit South Walton, attracting the most desirable people is a function of targeted marketing. “Instead of throwing up a billboard that everyone is going to see, you can spend your advertising dollars more

efficiently by targeting only those people who can afford the vacations you are promoting,” Demarest said. “We are still involved in print to a pretty good extent. But many of the print dollars will be going to social media and Google AdWords and interactive platforms that find the type of user who is looking for what we offer. In that sense, it’s not much different than how you would market any other luxury item.” Remarkably, 40 percent of the land in South Walton County is in preservation areas protected from development. “That is truly a gigantic number, and it is hugely important. It’s something we will never lose,” Demarest said. “Think about what that means. If you are standing on the beach and draw a circle, half of that circle is natural because it is the Gulf of Mexico and 40 percent of the land in the circle is preserved. It is an experience that few other areas can offer, certainly not along the coast.” Demarest is cognizant, always, that South Walton’s economy is highly dependent upon tourism. “That’s where the pressure is,” Demarest said. “You don’t want people to lose their livelihoods in that industry. There is a sentiment among some locals that we don’t need all these tourists. But restaurants and

Visitation and its Economic Impact Grow in Walton County Downs & St. Germain Research, a Tallahassee firm, annually compiles Walton County visitation data, takes a close look at visitor demographics and tracks trends including the average length of stay. It calculates the total economic impact of tourism on Walton County by taking into account direct spending by visitors; indirect spending by businesses that results from tourism activity and increased household spending that can be tied to tourism.

$3,503,895,400 Spending by visitors to Walton County in calendar year 2019 on accommodations, restaurants, groceries, transportation, attractions, entertainment and shopping. That number represents a year-to-year increase of 8.2 percent.

$5,185,759,600 Total economic impact in Walton County attributable to tourism in 2019; increase of 8.2 percent.

4,305,700 Visitors to Walton County in 2019; increase of 6.2 percent.

2,834,100 Room nights spent in paid accommodations by visitors to Walton County in 2019. Increase of 4.1 percent.

PHOTOS COURTESY OF VISIT SOUTH WALTON FLORIDA

23,700 Jobs in Walton County supported by tourism in 2019; increase of 4.9 percent.

5.9 Annually, the community of Alys Beach welcomes Digital Graffiti, a projection art festival that attracts entrants from throughout the world. The alabaster walls of buildings there provide ideal projection surfaces.

Average number of room nights spent by visitors to South Walton County. (Among visitors who stayed 30 or fewer nights.) 850 Business Magazine

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small businesses could go away pretty quickly if we were to lose ı0 percent of our visitors; they deal with thin margins. We have to make sure that we are walking that fine line between the right kind of tourists and enough tourists and getting them in here at the right times to keep the economy going year-round.” South Walton, for all of its assets, is not without concerns. Congestion, if unaddressed, threatens to diminish the quality of the South Walton experience. And, always, there is a chance that a hurricane may make landfall in the area. “For Panama City Beach, Destin and South Walton, mobility is a key and whoever gets there first is going to have an advantage. You want to be able to take the car out of the vacation and make it possible for people to retain the ability to move about and explore their destination. One of our key advantages is that you can walk or ride your bike from Rosemary Beach to Alys Beach and on to Seaside and enjoy distinct experiences along the

way. It’s like going from Spain to Greece without a passport.” Demarest said he is fascinated by the approach taken in Seaside because it runs contrary to typical American thinking of the last 50 years. “For decades, the response to traffic has been to build another lane. If you have a shortage of parking, you build another parking lot. Whereas in Seaside, they decided to put all the buildings close to the road, and that’s how they were going to slow people down. They want parking to be difficult and they want driving to be difficult, because they don’t want you driving at all. They want you to park your car and walk around and ride your bike, and the community’s design encourages you to do that.” Given the threat of hurricanes, Demarest said, all coastal communities with a bed tax-supported tourist development council maintain emergency funds. “If we were to have to rebuild all of the beach accesses, renourish beaches and try

BICYCLE FRIENDLY The paved Timpoochee Trail winds through 12 of South Walton County’s 16 Gulf-front communities, each of them offering distinct characteristics and histories.

to keep people employed when there are no places for guests to come, that would take enormous reserves. And we know that if Hurricane Michael had hit here, we would have been just as vulnerable as the communities that were in its path.”

CREST VIEW • DEFUNIAK SPRINGS • FT. WALTON BEACH • HURLBURT FIELD • NICEVILLE • SOUTH WALTON • ONLINE

(850) 678-5111 | NWFSC.EDU NORTHWEST FLORIDA STATE COLLEGE IS ACCREDITED BY THE SOUTHERN ASSOCIATION OF COLLEGES AND SCHOOLS COMMISSION ON COLLEGES. WWW.SACSCOC.ORG OR 404.679.4500. NORTHWEST FLORIDA STATE COLLEGE IS COMMITTED TO EQUAL ACCESS/EQUAL OPPORTUNITY IN ITS PROGRAMS, ACTIVITIES, AND EMPLOYMENT. FOR ADDITIONAL INFORMATION, VISIT WWW.NWFSC.EDU. FOR INFORMATION REGARDING GAINFUL EMPLOYMENT, PLEASE VISIT WWW.NWFSC.EDU/ACADEMICS/GAINFUL-EMPLOYMENT. MATERIALES DE LA UNIVERSIDAD SON DISPONIBLES EN ESPAÑOLA LLAMANDO A LA OFICINA DE ADMISIONES DE NORTHWEST FLORIDA STATE COLLEGE AL 850-678-5111.

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PHOTO COURTESY OF VISIT SOUTH WALTON FLORIDA

SPEC I A L R EPORT


COUNTS REAL ESTATE GROUP, INC. – COMMERCIAL DIVISION

Destin I 30A I Panama City Beach I Panama City I Mexico Beach

EXPERIENCE COUNTS Office • Retail • Industrial Land • Multi-Family

30-A EMERALD COAST 5231 E. County Hwy 30-A, #100 21901 PCB Pkwy Santa Rosa Beach, FL Panama City Beach, FL (850) 231-1483 (850) 249-1414 CountsOn30A.com CountsEmeraldCoast.com

THOMAS DRIVE PANAMA CITY 2104 Thomas Drive 3009 Hwy 77, Suite H Panama City Beach, FL Panama City, FL (850) 249-3615 (850) 248-3615 CountsRealEstate.com CountsPanamaCity.com 850 Business Magazine | SUMMER 2020 | 57


Okaloosa/Walton County Business Journal SPEC I A L R EPORT

Members of the Costa family — from left, Helen Costa, Amy Killebrew, David Costa Sr., David Costa Jr. and Steven Killebrew — are enthusiastic believers in the mission of Northwest Florida State College. At right, McDonald’s locations owned by David Costa Jr. are no ordinary hamburger stands.

Leading by Example Costa family promotes career development By Steve Bornhoft

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s the member of a family that owns and operates two dozen McDonald’s restaurant franchises, David Costa Jr. has served as a mentor to dozens of young people working what the parent company calls “America’s best first job.” About those entry-level employees, Costa has exclusively positive things to say. He is especially close to the Costa Enterprises restaurant located near Northwest Florida State College in Niceville. “We have been extremely impressed with both the abilities and the work ethic of students from Niceville area schools who work in our restaurants,” Costa said during an interview. “As they enter the workforce, we help them learn the basics of the job and how to work with others and with the general public.” Costa, 39, was born in Wichita, Kansas, when his father was in the U.S. Air Force. His family moved to Florida when he was 5. Costa graduated Niceville High School and attended Northwest Florida

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State College when it was known as Okaloosa-Walton Community College. He earned a bachelor’s degree from the University of West Florida in Pensacola and a master’s in business administration from the University of Florida. The McDonald’s restaurants owned by Costa, his father, David Sr., and his sister, Amy Killebrew, dot an oval that extends from Navarre to Crestview, Marianna, Blountstown, Port St. Joe and Panama City. Costa serves the family business as its chief of operations. The family, Costa said, is passionate about giving back to the community and in Northwest Florida State College, it has found an ideal outlet for that desire. “We are constantly trying to help people achieve their potential and develop leadership skills as members of our organization,” Costa said. “We asked ourselves how we could get involved in something outside of our business that would further people in their lives and professional careers.” The family took note of progress being

made by the college toward bringing about a program for leadership training and found that it was the “perfect fit.” Today, the third floor of the Raider Central Building on the Niceville campus of NWFSC is named the Costa Leadership Institute. Its offerings are paid for with interest generated by an endowment established by the Costa family. “The Costa Leadership Institute is a little bit different because the courses there are not credit courses,” Costa said. “We offer professional continuing education — programs that help people who are with companies or anyone who wants to improve his professional skills.” The leadership institute’s classes are open to students enrolled in for-credit classes at NWFSC, college employees and the general public. Costa said that the institute offers instruction on subjects, including professional writing, public speaking, photography and Microsoft Excel. “They complement what students and employees are doing already,” Costa said. “The classes are well-suited for people who have already selected a profession and want to enhance their business and professional skills.” “The Leadership Institute is the No. ı spot we go to host any of our trainings,” said Bill Allison, NWFSC’s director of strategic workforce solutions. He noted, for example, that the Costa Leadership Institute made possible the delivery of Disney corporation customerservice training to 100 students last November. In addition, Allison manages beneath his umbrella activities conducted at the college related to the Leadership Okaloosa program, which involves chambers of commerce throughout Okaloosa County. The Costa Leadership Institute provided scholarship support to the nine-month program, which enhances participants’ networking and leadership skills, offers 25 hours of leadership development training and also provides tours of Okaloosa County. The class meets once a month from


PHOTOS BY CHASE YAKABOSKI

September to May. Participants receive classroom training and interact with key community leaders throughout the process. A highlight of the program is a two-day trip to Tallahassee for the Legislative Day meetings. And, all participants take part in a group project with a focus on city and county government.  Allison anticipates that going forward, the Costa Leadership Institute will offer quarterly leadership training opportunities that will be free and open to the public. “We want to offer high-level transferable leadership skills that would benefit any industry,” Allison said. He has in mind, subject to Costa family approval, three topics: effective communication in the workplace; ethics; and intergenerational communication. “We’re seeing intergenerational issues at all levels of leadership,” Allison said. “I’m a great example. I am a millennial with staff members who are boomers and everything in between. “That’s a situation that presents both challenges and opportunities.

“The leadership institute exists to create prosperity among businesses in Okaloosa County, and that’s exactly what I aim to do. The support of the Costa family is vital to that effort.” The Costa Leadership Institute, by providing customized training for businesses, strengthens the connection between Northwest Florida State College and the business community, said Cristie Kedroski, the college’s vice president of college advancement. “Northwest Florida State College has always been a great partner with the business community and with the community as a whole,” Costa said. “We recently hosted a large breakfast there for the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, an event that brought together businesses and the school system. (NWFSC president) Dr. Devin Stevenson has done a good job letting employers know that the college wants to work with them.” Costa finds that NWFSC is a “pillar of the community in the ways it gives back. It is helping our area become more relevant. We see people coming

into the area to go to the Mattie Kelly Arts Center for a concert, show or play. And, lifelong learning is critical on the leadership institute side, as well.” Costa encourages people he meets to visit the “world-class facilities at our college.” “People don’t realize what a nice gym we have here in Niceville,” Costa said. “And, the administration has made a lot of positive changes to increase participation there by students.” He anticipates that on-campus housing is not far off for NWFSC, and he would like to see the college do more to promote and host youth athletic programs. Meanwhile, he and his family will continue to offer tuition scholarships to their employees who wish to attend NWFSC. And, Costa is always in hiring mode. “Automation may help us with a few aspects of the business, but right now, there are not enough young people available to fill entry-level jobs,” he said in February. You see ‘Now Hiring’ signs everywhere. The unemployment rate is as low as it’s been in 50 years.” 850 Business Magazine

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ReliantSouth: A Commercial Contractor You Can Trust

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hen businesses have commercial construction needs, they often rely on the construction professionals at ReliantSouth Construction Group. A full-service, commercial general contractor/construction management firm, ReliantSouth has offices in Panama City and Miramar Beach. Led by professional engineer Richard Dodd, ReliantSouth has successfully completed numerous projects throughout Northwest Florida and the entire Southeast. Starting his construction career 37 years ago in Northwest Florida, Dodd has been leading successful and award-winning construction companies for 30 years. “Our mission is actually quite simple,” Dodd said. “We provide solutions and value to our clients in a collaborative fashion.” By offering comprehensive

construction solutions, Team ReliantSouth’s diverse portfolio includes retail, restaurants, offices, banks, schools, industrial, entertainment venues, and governmental projects. ReliantSouth is blessed with a rich legacy and is comprised of seasoned and integrity-filled construction professionals who have worked as a team for years. “My partners and I, as well as our entire team, are incredibly passionate about our clients’ needs and striving to make our community stronger,” Dodd said. ReliantSouth’s success is driven by their passion for customer service and these standard principles: Client Focus: We will deliver value and solutions to our clients by providing exceptional quality, attention to detail, and extraordinary service. These

will be our trademarks as we build mutually beneficial relationships in a collaborative nature. People Focus: By emphasizing teamwork throughout the process, we will band together in the pursuit of excellence. We will strive for continuous improvement by investing in others and ourselves as we work toward achieving success in all facets of our lives and on every individual project. Christian Focus: Our faith serves as our anchor. Consequently, we will operate our business and maintain relationships with both honesty and integrity while embracing our civic and Christian responsibility. Whether a client needs a general contractor, a design builder, or a construction manager, ReliantSouth has the expertise to make a dream become reality.

RELIANTSOUTH 230 W. 5th St., Panama City | (850) 215-5540 495 Grand Blvd., Miramar Beach | (850) 269-6842 | ReliantSouth.com 60

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PROMOTION

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P RO M OT I O N

DEAL ESTATE Just Listed

A Unique Investment Opportunity in Panama City THE COMCAST BUILDING IS AN INVESTMENT OPPORTUNITY with tremendous upside potential. Offered at 8.45% cap rate based on 2019 net operating income of +/- $396,300. The tenant is responsible for paying all operating expenses associated with the property. This ideal location is near the markets of Panama City Beach and Panama City.

Listed Price: $4,689,000 Address: 4001 W. 23rd St., Panama City Square Footage: 27,300 Year Built: 2009

PHOTOS COURTESY OF COLLIS THOMPSON

Features: This 27,300-squarefoot center offers frontage on 23rd Street, ample parking and additional storage in the rear of the property. Appeal: Ideal location near the new flyover providing easy access to both the Panama City Beach and Panama City market — and 1 mile from FSU Panama City campus and Gulf State Community College. Contact information: Jason Smoker, Managing Broker Counts Real Estate Group, Inc. Office: (850) 249-1414 Mobile: (850) 866-3848 Smoker@CountsRealEstate.com CountsEmeraldCoast.com 21901 Panama City Beach Parkway, Panama City Beach 850 Business Magazine

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P RO M OT I O N

DEAL ESTATE Just Listed

Opportunity Available for Shalimar Investment or Redevelopment STRATEGICALLY LOCATED IN A NORTHWEST FLORIDA corridor that services a booming tourism industry and a sprawling military influence, this multitenant complex offers opportunities for existing cash flow as well as long-term redevelopment possibilities. Potential rent increases and/or future development provides for a unique opportunity on a sound investment.

Listed Price: $2,790,000 Address: 1270 Eglin Parkway, Shalimar Square Footage: 23,336 Year Built: 1940 â&#x20AC;&#x201C; Effective 1975 Remodeled 1997

Appeal: Investment or potential owner-occupied facility with redevelopment possibilities. First time on the market since 1997. Redevelopment could include hotels, retail or new office space including medical facilities. The outlook for the region is continued stability, and this investment, in its current configuration, should provide consistent growth moving forward in this market. Contact information: David Valletto, SIOR Beck Partners CRE, LLC Senior Vice President (850) 982-7352 dvalletto@teambeck.com 62

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PHOTOS COURTESY OF BECK PARTNERS

Features: Multi-tenant office/ retail complex with lease terms allowing for rent growth. The property consists of 23,336 square feet with multiple tenants and an upside for potential rent increases on existing tenants which improve the NOI. 2.37+/acres located at the north end of Shalimar and entry to Eglin Air Force Base.


P RO M OT I O N

DEAL ESTATE Just Listed

Charming Estate on Lake Bradford Hits Market OVERLOOKING LAKE BRADFORD, this estate-style home is perfect for anyone looking for lots of room in a quiet waterfront retreat. Located just five minutes from the airport and 10 minutes from the capitol, this home features three master suites among its five bedrooms, two of which include private outdoor access. View the lake from a 30-foot, floor-to-ceiling window or take to the water from your dock equipped with an electric boat lift.

Listed Price: $175/sq ft // Square Footage: 4,298 // Bedrooms: 5 // Bathrooms: 5 // Features: Lake-accessible dock features an electric boat lift. Home features a pair of two-car garages and two fireplaces, plus numerous Red Baron built-in antiques and stained glass. Kitchen and two bathrooms have recently been remodeled. // Appeal: Relax in front of your 30-foot, floor-to-ceiling glass window that overlooks Lake Bradford. Located just 5 minutes from Tallahassee International Airport and 10 minutes from downtown Tallahassee. // Contact Information: For sale by owner: (850) 766-2201. No brokers please. 850 Business Magazine

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BUSINESS NEWS

SOUNDBYTES

CAPITAL

LOCAL HAPPENINGS

» Moore Bass Consulting announced its newest shareholders: Richard Darabi, PE, Ben Hood, PE, Ken Powell, CBC, and Roger Wynn, PE. Darabi is a civil engineer and Tallahassee native, who joined Moore Bass Consulting in 2014. Hood is a civil engineer with 20 years of design experience with Moore Bass. Powell, a certified building contractor, brings more than 15 years of experience in land development to Moore Bass. Wynn, a civil engineer and Tallahassee native, has 25 years of experience and 17 years of service with Moore Bass. » Stearns Weaver Miller announced the formalization of a government and administrative legal practice area and group. Comprised nearly 30 attorneys and professionals, the multidisciplinary group facilitates statewide cross-practice communication, collaboration and shared resources.

» The Tallahassee-Leon County Office of Economic Vitality (OEV) announced the closure of its COVID-19 Economic Disaster Relief (CEDR) Grant Program after assisting 487 businesses with over 4,400 employees. The effort quickly exhausted its $1 million allocation by injecting that money into the Tallahassee-Leon County economy. » CAMPUS USA Credit Union

announced the promotion of Alex Gonzalez to Service Center Manager and Kristi Holland to Service Specialist. Gonzalez will be serving as the manager of the Governor’s Crossing Service

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Center location. Holland will oversee all product and service enhancements, member service excellence and operations at the Killearn Service Center location.

» Tallahassee Community College donated medical equipment to Capital Regional Medical Center. CRMC received more than 2,000 medical items. The medical items included surgical and face masks, disposable lab coats, shoe covers, surgical gowns and gloves.

LOCAL HONORS

» Gigi Rollini in the Stearns Weaver Miller Tallahassee office was selected as the 2020 honoree for Tallahassee ROLLINI Community College’s Women’s History Month celebration. » Micah Mitchell, a student at Tallahassee Community College, was named MITCHELL president of the Florida College System Student Government Association. Mitchell will represent nearly 800,000 students in the Florida College System. » Aegis Business Technologies announced that CRN, a brand of The Channel Company, has named Aegis to its 2020 Managed Service Provider (MSP) 500 list in the Pioneer 250 category. This elite list identifies North American solution providers that deliver operational efficiencies, IT system improvements and

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a higher rate of return on investments for their customers.

» Tallahassee Community College has been recognized for having the best Twitter account in the country. The National Council for Marketing & Public Relations (NCMPR) announced that the college was “Best in the Nation,” earning a Gold award. » First Commerce Credit Union

distributed more than $4,000 among more than 150 team members to spend with local businesses. The $25 deposits made to team members’ accounts were used to purchase goods, services and gift cards from local businesses and organizations. Team members could also choose to donate to an individual in need or a local organization that serves vulnerable or at-risk people.

» The Office of Communications and Marketing at Tallahassee Community College (TCC) won multiple awards at the 2020 American Advertising Federation (AAF) Tallahassee awards. The TCC C&M staff received the “In House Team of the Year” trophy as well as awards for an integrated marketing campaign and for signage and way-finding projects. The team received a silver ADDY award for the integrated advertising campaign “TCC2WORK.” The marketing team also received a silver ADDY in the Out-of-Home Multiple Installations category for the college’s “New Signage and Wayfinding for TCC.” » Both Benjamin H. Pingree, director of TallahasseeLeon County Planning, Land Management and Community Enhancement (PLACE), and Cristina Paredes, director of Tallahassee-Leon County Office of Economic Vitality (OEV), recently earned the designation of Certified Economic Developer (CEcD), a national recognition that denotes a mastery of skills in economic development, professional attainment and a commitment to personal and professional growth.

NEW & NOTABLE

» MidSouth Bank, an independent community bank committed to serving local communities, has opened its first Tallahassee location in Midtown. With the new opening, MidSouth Bank also announced the appointment of Chris Edwards as market president. » MetroNet is bringing the power of ultra-fast 100% fiber optics to Tallahassee. The rapidly growing company announced the start of construction of a fiber network in Tallahassee communities. MetroNet provides fiber optic communication services, including high-speed fiber internet, full-featured fiber phone and fiber IPTV with a wide variety of programming. » Leon County broke ground on $3 million of improvements to the county’s Apalachee Regional Park. The project plan includes a state-of-the-art multipurpose facility with restrooms, multiuse stage, sidewalks, wildlife viewing areas, native species landscaping and a permanent finish line structure. » Capital Regional Cardiology Associates welcomes cardiologist Kevin Neil Holder, M.D. Holder has practiced cardiology since 2011 in Oregon, Washington and Florida. He is board-certified and completed his residency at Tulane University School of Medicine and his fellowship at Oregon Health and Sciences University. He received his medical degree from the East Carolina University Brody School of Medicine in Greenville, North Carolina. » Timothy Luong, D.D.S., Sara Siddiqui, D.M.D., and team have opened Bradfordville Dental Care, a new full-service, state-ofthe-art family dental practice. » Domi Station has partnered with Tresta, a leading virtual phone system provider that will contribute to the entrepreneurial ecosystem by serving as a business communication resource for the business incubator and its program participants.


EMERALD COAST

LOCAL HAPPENINGS

» Pensacola State College has appointed Jill Hubbs to serve as interim general manager of WSRE and executive director of the WSRE-TV Foundation. She joined the PBS member station in 1996 and has served as director of Educational Services and Outreach. She is replacing Bob Culkeen, who joined WSRE in 2016 and has been named president and chief executive officer of WTCI in Chattanooga, Tennessee. » Given a shortage in face shields for health care workers battling COVID-19, the University of West Florida responded by asking one of the university’s direct support organizations to manufacture, manage and distribute 3D-printed full face shield supplies at its Sea3D Additive Manufacturing Laboratory in downtown Pensacola. The full-face shields are being made available free of charge to recipients.

PHOTOS PROVIDED BY INDIVIDUALS

» Progress Bank Okaloosa and Walton counties market president Dewayne Youngblood announced that Clayton Hicks has joined the bank as a commercial lender. Hicks is a graduate of Excelsior College in Albany, New York. Along with several years of experience in commercial lending, Hicks has held management roles in areas including health care, sales and real estate. » Destin Commons has announced the addition of Elizabeth Eulberg as marketing and sponsorship EULBERG coordinator. Eulberg joins the Destin Commons marketing team with five years of experience in the marketing and communications field. Most recently, Eulberg worked at Fort Walton Beach Medical Center as the marketing and H2U (Health to You) coordinator. » ProHealth welcomed Amanda Claver as district manager overseeing its Milton, Crestview,

Fort Walton Beach and Pensacola offices. With 15 years of managerial experience, including six years CLAVER with the company, Claver is assuming a new position with the 35-year-old health company. She will be responsible HOWARD for assigning, managing and directing all work performed at branch offices. ProHealth also announced that Ashley Howard has been named office manager at the Pensacola office at Summit Boulevard. Howard has four years of experience with the company.

economic development project manager at Gulf Power, and prior to that, worked at the local level with the Bay Economic Development Alliance in Panama City, Florida.

LOCAL HONORS

» Legendary Marine hosted an Orvis 50/50 On the Water Film Tour and Fly-Fishing Expo. The event featured fly-fishing films focused on women and highlighting anglers and fisheries from around the world. A total of $10,000 was raised through silent and live auctions. Proceeds went to the Emerald Coast Autism Center, a local 501(c)(3) dedicated to educating and improving the lives of young children with autism in Okaloosa and Walton counties in Florida.

» CoStar Group,

Inc., a leader in data and analytics in the commercial real estate industry, recently McVOY announced its 2019 Power Broker Award recipients, recognizing professionals and firms who closed the highest transaction volume in commercial real estate deals and leads in their respective markets. In the Pensacola market, Beck Partners sales associate Thomas McVoy has been recognized as one the most active local dealmakers in industrial leasing.

» Florida’s Great Northwest (FGNW) announced that Jennifer Conoley has been selected CONOLEY as the organization’s new president and CEO. FGNW, a regional economic development organization representing 12 counties across Northwest Florida, embarked on a national executive search at the end of 2019 for a qualified professional to facilitate and oversee business development, marketing, advocacy efforts and regional collaboration for the organization. Conoley has over a decade of experience of practicing economic development across the region. For the past seven years, she has served as senior

» Newman-Dailey Resort Properties has recognized real estate agents Diane Green and Shannyn GREEN Stevenson as the Top Producers of the Year for 2019 in the Real Estate Division. Stevenson was recognized as STEVENSON the top sales agent, and Green was the top listing agent for 2019.

» Two St. Joe Hospitalitymanaged properties — The Pearl Hotel and WaterColor Inn — have again earned a Four-Star designation from Forbes Travel Guide, considered to be the gold standard in luxury travel. » Pedego 30A earned Dealer of the Year for 2019 among 140 Pedego retailers nationwide. Pedego Electric Bikes, the top electric bike brand in the United States, presented the top sales and service award at its annual meeting in Newport Beach, California. NEW & NOTABLE

» Grand Boulevard announced the following new store openings: Lululemon, Kittenish, Southern Tide and Black Bear Bread Co. » Dunavant Enterprises and the Premier Property Group, project

listing agent, held a groundbreaking ceremony for Parkside, the latest expansion of the award-winning Henderson Beach Resort.

BAY

LOCAL HAPPENINGS

» SmartBank announced that Jeremy Bennett has joined its team in Panama City as vice president/relationship manager. Bennett has more than 10 years of banking experience with Vision Bank/Centennial Bank, where he served as vice president of commercial lending. His areas of expertise include managing commercial loan portfolios, construction lending, project analysis and appraisal reviews. » Triumph Gulf Coast took steps to create a $1 million fasttrack job training program for infrastructure workers in response to the coronavirus pandemic. The board met by phone and voted to direct Triumph staff to work with CareerSource Florida to develop a program for jobs in the construction industry in Northwest Florida. NEW & NOTABLE

» The St. Joe Company announced plans to build and operate an indoor shooting range called the Powder Room Shooting Range and Training Center in Panama City Beach. The indoor facility is currently under construction near the intersection of Panama City Beach Parkway and Griffin Boulevard at Beach Commerce Park.

I-10

LOCAL HONORS

» The local chapter of Delta Kappa Gamma, a professional society for women educators, distributes financial assistance to deserving Franklin County student teachers each year. This year’s grant-in-aid scholarships were awarded to Melody Hatfield and Kate Ward. Hatfield has been working with elementary school students at Franklin County School, and Ward has worked at the ABC School with sixth graders. — COMPILED BY REBECCA PADGETT

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The Last Word

AWAITING WHAT’S NEXT Is it time that we strived to make less more? My dad, who grew up in a tiny farming community in South Dakota

where his father was the first person in town to own a motor car, was fond of quoting Charles H. Duell, who, as commissioner of the U.S. Patent Office in 1889, predicted that his place of work would soon close because “everything that can be invented has been invented.”

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Cassidy notes that Banerjee and Duflo contend that governments, instead of chasing a mirage, “should concentrate on specific measures with proven benefits, such as helping the poorest members of society get access to health care, education and social advancement.” Adds Cassidy, Banerjee and Duflo “think policies that slow G.D.P. growth may prove to be beneficial, especially if the result is that the fruits of growth are shared more widely.” The laureates otherwise serve up one more indictment of trickle-down economics, maintaining that, as Cassidy summarizes, “the misguided pursuit of economic growth since the ReaganThatcher revolution has contributed to a rise in inequality, mortality rates and political polarization. When the benefits of growth are mainly captured by an elite, social disaster can result.” As the pandemic made clear. Recent years have seen economic developers in the 850 region, historically dominated by a services economy, pursue with some success manufacturing businesses, especially in the aerospace sector. But the services industry, with all of its attendant issues, is growing across the United States. According to economist Dietrich Vollrath, services accounted for 40 percent of U.S. GDP in 1950 and now account for 70 percent as our economy has matured. For New York Times columnist Ross Douthat, that maturity equates to stagnation. We have plateaued as once the Roman Empire did. Americans, Douthat finds, are “aging, comfortable and stuck.

… We await some saving innovation or revelation, growing old unhappily together in the light of tiny screens.” We were bored before we were isolated. Vast wealth is sitting on the sidelines pending the arrival of an exciting investment opportunity. At times, impatience leads to the willing suspension of disbelief and to fools rushing in. So it is, Douthat notes, that well-heeled folks spent upward of $4,000 for a ticket to a Caribbean concert for influencers and the mega-rich — the Fyre Festival — that never materialized as promoted. (But still the people came.) Investors were duped by the prospect of a device capable of detecting diseases by analyzing a drop of blood. Never happened. Likewise, publicly traded Uber, hailed as a transformative disrupter, has been unable to make a profit. Sure, our capitalistic society relies on profit-making and investment in the means of production and service delivery. But, for the sake of the planet and ourselves, we are going to need to pump the brakes on consumptionism, discover ways to make less more and come together, especially now. Take good care,

STEVE BORNHOFT, EDITOR, 850 MAGAZINE sbornhoft@rowlandpublishing.com

PHOTO BY SAIGE ROBERTS

Duell was not a prescient man. Some 65 years later, Ernest Hemingway won the Nobel Prize for Literature. Unwilling to fly to Stockholm to receive the award — he had developed a fear of flying due to two nearly fatal plane crashes — he had John C. Cabot, then the U.S. ambassador to Sweden, deliver his acceptance address of just 304 words. About the true writer, Hemingway wrote in the address, “He should always try for something that has never been done or that others have tried and failed. Then sometimes, with great luck, he will succeed. “How simple the writing of literature would be if it were only necessary to write in another way what has been well written. It is because we have had such great writers in the past that a writer is driven far out past where he can go, out to where no one can help him.” While stopping short of suggesting that all great literature that could be written had been written, Hemingway spoke to how an accumulation of fine works had made it difficult to achieve originality. I reflected on Duell’s legacy and Hemingway’s remarks recently while increasingly encountering writings that suggest that perpetual economic growth may be neither possible nor desirable — and this was before the virus exploded. Abhijit Banerjee and Esther Duflo are professors at M.I.T. and winners of the 2019 Nobel Prize in Economics. They refer to the notion of everlasting economic expansion as a “growth mirage.” John Cassidy wrote about their book, Good Economics for Hard Times, in The New Yorker in February.


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850 Business Magazine Summer 2020  

Northwest Florida's premier business magazine informs decision-makers with insightful features and comprehensive articles on business trends...

850 Business Magazine Summer 2020  

Northwest Florida's premier business magazine informs decision-makers with insightful features and comprehensive articles on business trends...

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