Economic development firm promotes local job creation

Published: Aug. 29, 2022 at 9:39 PM CDT
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BAY COUNTY, Fla. (WJHG/WECP) - Promoting retail and commercial businesses to come to Bay County is a work in progress.

However, economic development firm NextSight is helping speed up the process.

“Besides the grocery store chain, we’ve got mini restaurants and we still got other things on the horizon that are coming in not only from an economic standpoint, but also from a housing standpoint,” said Callaway City Manager Ed Cook.

NextSight has been in Bay County since around 2018. The firm performs a market analysis on specific areas and then tracks people’s shopping habits.

“They have a whole myriad of ways with how they go about tracking people,” Cook said. “They use Bluetooth off of people’s phones and stuff like that.”

A number of cities in Bay County are working with NextSight.

“The City of Panama City, unincorporated Bay County and Bay County government cities are a few,” Bay County Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Carol Roberts said. “Callaway and Lynn Haven have also joined.”

It’s all in an effort to promote visibility and to bring competitive businesses to the area. For example, an Aldi store just opened its doors last week in Lynn Haven. NextSight played a big role in that brand-name company coming to the city. There are other sectors NextSight specializes in, too.

“Now as far as the hotels go, a lot of the hotel businesses looking to come into this area is basically because of the rebuild from Tyndall,” Cook said.

Officials said the “Base of the Future” is attracting both people and businesses to Bay County. Taxpayers pay for NextSight to come to the area. Cook said it’s around $7,000 in the City of Callaway this year.

NextSight officials were unable to do an interview on Monday.

Bay County has a number of deals in the works with NextSight. Cook said they can’t give out an exact number due to non-disclosure agreements.

“The end goal is to grow the community not only for shopping experiences and dining experiences, but to create jobs at all levels,” Roberts said.