Part one of an economic development workshop this morning between Santa Rosa County commissioners and TEAM Santa Rosa felt more like a trial, and the defense called plenty of character witnesses to testify on its behalf.
The morning session of the workshop lasted more than 3 hours as TEAM Santa Rosa Chairman Dave Hoxeng called business leaders up to the podium one by one.
John Hutchinson with Gulf Power said the county needed to determine the best organization model for economic development, set performance measures for the organization and work as a region to attract industries.
“The team model has worked very well because of the public private relationship,” he said, because it allowed all players to have input. “I encourage you to set forth a score card of measures so you can look objectively to see where we need to improve.”
Measurements could be the number of jobs created, new tax revenue generated, number of site visits and prospects, according to Hutchinson. He said providing that information annually would promote confidence among investors and the public.
Don Kirkman, president of Florida’s Great Northwest, emphasized that recruiting new industries was only one portion of good economic development. He said the county needed a trained-work force, available building space and intimate knowledge of the community.
“You have to have all the pieces in place before a company comes knocking on the door,” he said. “We have a great working relationship with TEAM and I’ve been impressed with the knowledge of the staff.”
TEAM Executive Director Cindy Anderson is the chairwoman of Florida’s Great Northwest marketing committee, which Kirkman said was a crucial part of the organization.
Commissioner Bob Cole asked Kirkman how the county and TEAM could work with other municipalities and counties toward a common goal.
“It comes down to communication and trust,” Kirkman said.
For more on this story, see the Oct. 13 issue of Navarre Press or subscribe online.