Bay County Economic Development Alliance Executive Director Neal Wade speaks at the Investors Luncheon at the Wyndham Bay Point Resort on Tuesday.
Heather Leiphart | The News Herald
PANAMA CITY BEACH — Bay County Economic Development Alliance Executive Director Neal Wade worked out an equation to enhance prosperity and create 1,300 jobs in the region, he said during the EDA “Shared Opportunities” Investors Luncheon at the Wyndham Bay Point Resort on Tuesday.
Wade outlined the plan to show how he planned to bring high-tech industry to the area.
Beautiful beaches are an asset, but so are empty buildings, said Wade, who emphasized empty space should not be seen as a hindrance.
“That gives us opportunities to bring good projects in and fill up those buildings with good jobs,” Wade said.
In the past two months, the EDA brought in GDP Pathology, an independent laboratory that processes and diagnoses patient tissue samples; ITT Exelis officially opened its full-service mine defense production facility near the airport; and iSirona, an integrated medical solutions company, opened a new office along Beach Drive.
“There are key assets that support our product: the airport, the port (Port Panama City) and rail capacity,” Wade said from the podium. “The airport sites, VentureCrossings, the port’s industrial park serve as a foundation for our manufacturing economic engine.”
The EDA luncheon featured the Bay Strings Trio, who serenaded both business leaders and political players under the soft light of the Wyndam ballroom.
Even with the relaxed mood, Wade continued to hammer away at his number one goal.
“The goal is to win that first major aerospace project at the airport,” Wade said. “Then we will begin to see the dominos fall.”
Wade talked of cooperation among communities in the Panhandle and across state lines. He also talked of a major manufacturing site along the Interstate 10 corridor.
Wade emphasized creating jobs that ensured “careers” for the children and future citizens of Bay County.
The luncheon stressed the partnership between the EDA, the state and Enterprise Florida.
Griff Salmon, executive vice president of Enterprise Florida, talked about marketing the region and of the cooperation between entities to bring business to the Bay County area. Salmon said regarding Enterprise Florida.
EDA project manager Jennifer Conoley tossed aside any superstition that 2013 would be an unlucky year.
“In January we’ll start with the current administration or a new administration and that will really set the course for the next four years and that is what we keep hearing businesses tell us,” Conoley said. “They want to know what the next four years is going to look like. I think ’13 is going to be phenomenal for Bay County.”
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