There was a sense of optimism in the air Friday morning as business leaders and state officials gathered at the "Friday at the beach" Panama City Beach Chamber of Commerce meeting.
State Representative Marti Coley and State Representative Jimmy Patronis tackled the current conditions in the gulf, while attempting to reassure local business owners that marketing plans are underway to combat the negative imagery the panhandle has attracted since the oil explosion April 20th.
Under that plan, grants to market and advertise may soon become available to local communities and businesses. The grants will target millions of dollars to counties that have been declared under a state of emergency and will include print, online, and even the social marketing sector.
One man asked Coley whether or not Florida leaders were still on board for offshore drilling along Florida coastlines...and it appears many have had a change of heart.
"House Speaker-designate Dean Cannon issued statements that it was completely off the table,” said State Rep. Marti Coley, (R) District 7.
"There hasn't been a single drop of oil in Florida,” said State Rep. Jimmy Patronis, District (6) “I really don't anticipate it to happen, you know, that's a little bit of a leap of faith, but I feel confident…”
"We're doing the best we can and the plan is working," said Lt. Steve Caskey, U.S. Coast Guard. "Things are going well here in Florida."
While the threat of oil remains far away from the Florida Coastline, both Patronis and Coley stressed the main objective now is to spread the message that the panhandle is unscathed.