Northwest Florida - Brimming with Possibilities
Florida's Northwest grows new business on solid military, aviation and tourism roots
Holmes & Washington Counties
New Hospital Coming Soon
Holmes County officials are celebrating construction startup of a new hospital. The $17-million, 20-bed replacement for the existing Doctors Memorial Hospital at Bonifay is slated for completion in early 2008.
In Washington County, Sunny Hills, a 17,000-acre master-planned community dating back to the 1990s, is beginning to realize a major uptick in sales and home site development, says manager Jane Huth. TIP Landholding LLC of Orlando recently purchased 3,785 acres (7,161 lots) with plans for residential development. With a population estimated around 2,000 residents, but an original design encompassing 70,000, Sunny Hills has room to grow.
Gulf and Franklin counties will be jointly served by Sacred Heart Health System’s new, $30-million, 25-bed hospital at Port St. Joe slated for completion in 2009 on a site donated by The St. Joe Company.
With some 800,000 acres of land at its disposal, most of which is located in northwest Florida, The St. Joe Company is moving ahead with several projects in Gulf County, including WindMark Beach resort, improvements to the Port St. Joe marina and bayfront park and creation of a Port St. Joe town center.
A stopping point for seagoing vessels since 1703, Port St. Joe also will soon have a new deepwater port.
Fort Walton Beach/ Okaloosa County
Okaloosa is home to Eglin Air Force Base, so it’s no surprise that some 300 aviation/aerospace businesses and military-related contractors have facilities here. Among recent developments, Dayton, Ohio-based MTC Technologies purchased two major homegrown aerospace companies, and L-3 Communications, New York, bought Crestview Aerospace in 2006. All told, the military presence in Okaloosa accounts for a $4-billion economic impact and thousands of jobs.
In 2006, military and local economic development players teamed up to design, build and market the 98-acre Emerald Coast Technology and Research Campus.
Taking advantage of customer proximity
Segers Aerospace Corporation has moved its headquarters and several operational divisions to Crestview, in part because of proximity to key customers. Segers overhauls turbine engines, making Okaloosa County “the strategically right place to be for support of C-130s and the Navy’s P-3 transport plane,’’ says CEO Howard Hadley. Plus, says Hadley, it’s “industrial friendly.” When the relocation is fully completed by summer 2008, Segers employment is expected to increase by 70 to 100 workers.
Meanwhile, Okaloosa County’s “other self’’ — its tourism industry — charms visitors with white sands, blue-green waters and resort affluence. Developer Peter Bos and his firm Legendary Inc. have completed construction of the
13-story Emerald Grande condominium, centerpiece for HarborWalk downtown redevelopment.