Bay County EDA Increases Jobs Goal

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BAY COUNTY - Bay County's Economic Development Alliance leaders easily surpassed their goal of attracting 1300 new jobs in 2013. This year they're shooting for another 2,000 jobs.

The EDA is pursuing an aggressive strategy to reach that goal.

Another busy day for Port Panama City crews handling cargo containers from all over the world. The port is home to several large international companies, like Oceaneering international and Berg Steel Pipe.

The port also handle a number of commodities like wood pellets, molasses, copper and paper products, but port officials want to add on to the current tenants.

"We're going to be targeting in the next year companies that might utilize the port with a manufacturing facility here in Bay County. For instance, we handle a lot of imported copper," said Wayne Stubbs of the Panama City Port Authority.

The port's expansion plans fall in line with the Bay County Economic Development Alliance's goal of creating 2,000 new jobs. It's a big step up from the 2013 goal of 1300 jobs.

"We expect it to begin picking up in the first quarter and we want to have a very robust, aggressive year in 2014," said Neal Wade of the Bay County EDA.

EDA officials are targeting businesses that will create manufacturing, logistics, aerospace, and technology jobs, like the 300-positions iSirona announced in November.

Wade says he plans on utilizing Bay County's tourism industry to appeal to prospective businesses.

"That actually helps us attract workers. It actually helps us get the attention of companies. So we're going to play off of that," said Wade.

The EDA is already working to land several prospective companies that will help meet the new jobs goal.