Bay County Economic Development professionals working towards diversifying our economy

Published: Sep. 3, 2021 at 8:15 PM CDT
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BAY COUNTY, Fla. (WJHG/WECP) - Tourism plays a major role in Bay County’s economy, bringing in millions of dollars each year. While tourism is important, some notable names say they want to diversify our economy.

“For us to be successful, we need to diversify our economy and that’s our job as economic development professionals,” Bay Economic development Alliance President Becca Hardin said.

At the Bay County Chamber Of Commerce First Friday meeting, the professionals said there’s a lot of activity going on around the county.

“Now that some of the COVID restrictions are being relaxed, we’re seeing a lot of companies ready to make growth plans and thankfully we’re the recipient of some of this activity,” said Hardin.

A lot of this activity focuses on creating new jobs at Northwest Florida Beaches International Airport.

“As we look to the future, remember that’s the three-legged stool of passengers, business and education,” ECP Executive Director Parker McClellan said.

Project Goodwrench looks to soar into the education field.

“We’d like to move the Haney Technical AMP portion up to the airport so that those new companies that we’re attracting will have employees right there,” said McClellan.

Employees we’re told would be needed in aviation and distribution, two key diverse target markets.

“We’ve got maintenance repair and overhaul companies looking to build hangars at our airport and create good aviation mechanic jobs,” said Hardin.

As the number of passengers coming through ECP reaches sky-high records, more jobs will be needed.

“The terminal we have an expansion project. We’re in the design phase right now,” said McClellan.

Designs that are hoped to pave the way to a more diverse future.

McClellan said they hope to announce more projects in the near future that will bring more jobs and passengers into our community. Hardin said they have about 25 active projects, seven are getting “hot.” She hopes to announce three major projects before the end of the year.

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