Coastal Vision 3000 Closing Its Doors

By: Meagan O'Halloran Email
By: Meagan O'Halloran Email

It was billed as an organization that could take Northwest Florida is the next level.
But after just 2-years in business, Coastal Vision 3000 is out of business, for the time being.
Some are accusing the organization of not following through on the original mission.
"Coastal vision was created for community leaders to work together with the integrity of one heartbeat to share our proud history and our future." That is a direct quote from Chairman Buddy Runnels on the Coastal Vision 3000 website.
But the future of Coastal Vision looks uncertain.
The private non-profit consortium was established with a mission to unify and promote the panhandle from Pensacola to Carrabelle as a destination for business and tourism.
Over 50-businesses, civic groups and government agencies across 227-miles of beaches joined the alliance.
The group set 9 goals for itself.
One of those was to attract a low-cost are carrier to the region.
That goal was accomplished in October, when Southwest Airlines announced it would service the new airport in Bay County, beginning in May.
Then last week, Coastal Vision 3000 announced it will move into an 'inactive' stage, after just 2-years in existence.
The organization's leaders gave 2-reasons.
One...a lack of funding.
Sonny Mares is with the Executive Director of the Walton County Tourist Development Council and says,
"I saw that there were organizations who decided not to pay their membership dues and felt it (Coastal Vision 3000) would be difficult for the organization to continue.”
And two, Coastal Vision believes they have accomplished what they set out to do.
Dawn Moliterno is President of the Walton County Area Chamber of Commerce and says the organization did what they intended to do.
"They were successful at bringing in Southwest. Southwest ultimately chose where they wanted to go but Coastal Vision’s role was to provide regional data and they did that” explains Moliterno.
The organization also came up with a regional marketing campaign called "The Beach".
It spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on ads.
But the slogan never caught-on.
Some members believe Coastal Vision 3000’s real mission was not to unify, but to actually boost some communities over others.
Critics point to the St. Joe Company's major holdings in Bay County, and the $26 million dollar incentive package it gave to Southwest as evidence.
Other members say that's just not the case.
"There were certainly market factors that strengthened the Bay County airport over anyone else. And that market factor was very likely St. Joe company supporting that airport but it was not our stance” Mares says.
Moliterno agrees.
"I can tell you in my experience I’ve never seen them be impartial, or choose a particular county or area over another"
And to those who say the organization did not accomplish all 9-goals?
Mares summed it all up.
"The major mission was accomplished. Why put money into the organization when you've done what you really set out to do?"
The Walton Area Chamber of Commerce is serving as the custodial agent of Coastal Vision 3000 during this period of inactivity.


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