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November 2018 

From the Director's Desk

By Nathan Sparks, CEcD
      A lot can happen in two months. Indeed, the 60 days since my last "Director's Desk" piece was written have resulted in a true rollercoaster of emotions. We experienced considerable heartbreak and deep empathy as we witnessed the devastating effects of Hurricane Michael to our east, and just a few weeks later we felt exhilaration and sincere appreciation as we celebrated the resounding approval of Okaloosa's Half Cent Surtax (paving the way for much needed infrastructure and public safety projects) and Amendment 9 (permanently protecting our state waters from oil drilling / exploration).   Of course, we also felt frustration as - once again - certain Florida counties have become the laughingstock of the nation as they struggle to properly count and certify voter ballots. Those of you who are sports fans will understand my reference here - "You had one job."
     With all that being said, the one sentiment I would now like to focus on is certainly "season appropriate" and that is gratitude.   Perhaps like many of you, I feel tremendous gratitude to live and work in a patriotic and caring community - a community that rises to help its neighboring counties in their time of unprecedented need and a community where "God" and "Country" still mean something. I'm especially grateful to live in a community where we all proudly stand for the National Anthem, where we passionately support the causes we care about, where we cheer on our favorite sports teams with all the fervor we can muster, a community where we innovate and create, and a community where we take every opportunity to thank our men and women in uniform for the sacrifices they make.
      I feel both honor and gratitude to work for the EDC - an organization dedicated to the economic betterment of our community - and I'm especially grateful for the dedicated individuals who lead us. Individuals like our new FY 2019 EDC Chairman Glenn Scharf, our new TeCMEN Chairman Paul Jernigan and our new DSI Chairman Bob Marinan - first class people who truly care about their community and its success. They are supported by equally dedicated volunteer leaders, public officials and private business people - along with a top notch EDC staff that lightens my load day in and day out. I thank you all for your dedication to our community and wish each and every one of you a Happy Thanksgiving and a joyous holiday season to come!
Defense Support Initiatives, DSI

By Bob Marinan, Chairman
     Who is Bob Marinan? Fair question to ask. I am the new DSI Chairman for Fiscal Year 2019. I am a retired AF officer who in fact, was stationed here at Eglin AFB in the late 1980's in the test squadron so I am acutely aware of the Eglin Test & Training facilities and its importance to our military mission. After my AF retirement I had a successful 18-year career with the Boeing Company retiring this past July; so I have been around the defense business for all of my adult life. I appreciate the faith the EDC has entrusted in me and now look forward to this upcoming year as your DSI Chairman.
     As I begin my tour as the new Chairman of the DSI it is with heartfelt thanks to the DSI committee for all their hard work and successful efforts over the last few months but new challenges now await our efforts. Special thanks go to last year's Chairmen, Dr. John Wilcox and Mr. Pete Gandy.
     One of our recent successes was the passing of Amendment 9 which restricts new oil drilling in state waters east of the Military Mission Line (MML) and thereby contributing to the protection of the Eglin Gulf Test & Training Ranges (EGTTR) which is so economically important to our tri-county area. The DSI conducted an advocacy campaign that reached 26 Civic entities and 12 different media outlets across the state with our support for the passing of this Amendment. However, this is just one hurdle in our efforts to protect the Eglin Gulf Test & Training Range as we continue to support the necessary upgrades that will be required to successfully conduct future testing and training of programs now being developed at Eglin AFB.
     The impacts of Hurricane Michael to our area are still being felt and will remain so for the near future. With the major damage suffered at Tyndall AFB, the Air Force has been working to reestablish the Tyndall mission at other AF locations. One decision that has been made will put the 43rd Fighter Squadron of F-22's and supporting T-38's at Eglin AFB, scheduled to arrive before the end of November 2018, to continue the training of F-22 pilots. While Eglin AFB has the capacity to support this squadron and associated maintenance teams, the local area, in conjunction with the 96TW at Eglin, is working tirelessly to figure out how to provide necessary housing for several hundred families and to understand the impacts to our local schools in accommodating the influx of "new" students. This will be no small endeavor for our community but one I know will be accepted and handled accordingly. 

Technology Coast Manufacturing and Engineering Network; TeCMEN

By Paul Jernigan, Chairman

     Several years ago my best friend and I had season tickets to the Auburn Football games. Prior to one of the games there was an unbelievable rain storm. You are probably familiar with how football fields are crowned in the middle. Well, it rained so much that you could hardly see the middle of the field which means along the edges the water was knee deep. In our effort to stay as dry as possible we left our seats and were standing at one of the spiral ramps overlooking the student section. These kids were crazy! Every time there was lightning or thunder they cheered. At some point a student decided to go onto the field and the students really cheered as he sloshed all over the place. Then there was security sloshing around trying to catch him. It was truly entertaining! When they finally caught him the students booed. I commented; I wonder what they will do with him? This kid standing next to me said they had a jail under the stands. I told this kid, you have to be kidding, there is no jail here. He said, yes there is, I have been in it! The things we experience in life!
     Experience; after accepting the position as Chair of TeCMEN for the 2018-2019 year I found that several things were expected of me. The key word here is "after" and one of those things was I would attend the EDC Business Leadership Council and write an article for the Newsletter. There is probably more, but they are bringing me along slowly. I am not complaining and sort of knew about at least some of the requirements. I mean I actually read the newsletter every month.
     As you know, we didn't have a meeting in October due to the Hurricane. We did have the privilege of meeting at the Emerald Coast Science Center in November and what a resource we have to allow our students to experience current and future technology and thinking. Diane Fraser, Executive Director, and her staff were quite the hosts and I can say the atmosphere brought out the best in the attendees as we talked about our growing businesses and the skills needed for the future. If you missed it please don't hesitate to get with Diane for a tour and bring the kids!
     Suffice it to say the experiences TeCMEN has allowed all of us is truly rewarding and we are truly blessed to be a part of it. As the Boeing representative it has been my privilege to work with all of you in the many ways that TeCMEN benefits us. The experience over the years has been rewarding and certainly a pleasure. I look forward to the adventure. Finally I will say that TeCMEN doesn't have a jail, at least I hope not, but if like the Auburn student who ended up in jail, hopefully they will let me out by the end of my term!

Business Assistance

By Caroline McCoy, CEcD

     The EDC continues to move forward with our 21 active projects. The various prospecting trips that the region has attended over the last 12 months have brought locally generated projects to an all-time high of 80%. This means that our community is not waiting for opportunities to fall in our lap from a Google search or the State. We are making the rounds internationally as proud Northwest Floridians sharing why businesses should consider the beautiful Emerald Coast. Also, local partners here serving our existing industry are connecting us to growing companies. Just today we received two new leads, one from a banker and one from a public official. These two companies are in two very different industries that are looking to either open up a new facility or to expand their existing facility to meet their growth needs.   Also, we've had 2 site visits from an out-of-town company in less than 60 days. We continue to see a trend in requests for large, cleared greenfield sites over 200 acres and existing buildings larger than 50,000 SF with an open concept feel.
     Our local businesses have an opportunity to grow their export sales through overseas international trade shows. Eligible small and medium-sized manufacturers and professional services providers can apply for a Target Sector Trade Show Grant from Enterprise Florida to help offset trade show booth costs at trade shows that Enterprise Florida participates in, as well as other approved trade shows and exhibitions in target sectors. Target Sector Trade Show Grants provide reimbursable grants for eligible companies in one of Enterprise Florida's target sectors to participate in a qualified trade show or exhibition anywhere in the world. Two reimbursement options are available for eligible companies. Option A: Companies with 500 employees or less may qualify for reimbursement of 75% of trade show booth costs up to $7,500 OR Option B: Companies with fewer than 100 employees AND participating in events within select target markets (Africa; Asia; Australia / New Zealand; Mexico, or Middle East) may qualify for reimbursement of 100% of trade show booth costs up to $10,000. Learn more about this program and other opportunities here.
Members in the News

Okaloosa County celebrated their new Crestview courthouse ribbon cutting on November 16.  Okaloosa County was established in 1915. The first County Commission met in the temporary county seat of Milligan until a special election was held in 1917 and Crestview was chosen as the new permanent seat.  In addition to its courtrooms and offices, the new courthouse, 68,000 square feet, will host the commission's regular north-county meetings on the first Tuesday of each month.

Local business, Dynamic Software Solutions, has outgrown its office space twice in four years. Richard Pruitt, the Vice President and Chief Technology Officer of Dynamic Software Solutions (DS2), currently located in Niceville, announced that facility build out has begun on its recently purchased property at in Valparaiso. Mr. Pruitt said that DS2 had outgrown their second office spaces in Merchants Walk within 4 years and wanted staff expansion closer to Eglin AFB. The new spaces will include 4,500 square feet for offices and development labs. There is also a plan for adding an additional 500 square feet of specialty development R&D space in first quarter of 2019.

Intuitive Research and Technology Corporation hosted a Ribbon Cutting Ceremony and Open House on October 16th to celebrate the grand opening of its new Florida facility in Fort Walton Beach. INTUITIVE  supplies a wide range of services including programmatic support; systems, electrical, mechanical, industrial and computer engineering; product development, production systems support, rapid prototyping, and technology management solutions to the Department of Defense, government agencies, and commercial companies.

The Northwest Florida State College welding program received Gold Status, the highest honor awarded by the Central Gulf Industrial Alliance. CGIA evaluates the program's curriculum, training standards, safety standards and facilities. NWF welding was one of only two welding programs to receive this distinction!

Thank You New EDC Investors
EDC Executive Committee Members and Staff

Glenn Scharf, Chairman; Katie Sharon, Vice Chairman; Ashley Rogers, Treasurer; Lee Lewis, Secretary; Ron Whitfield, Member-at-Large; Kim Wintner, Past Chairman

Ex Officios
County Commissioner: Trey Goodwin
Educational Partners: Dr. Devin Stephenson, Dr. Melinda Bowers, Mrs. Mary Beth Jackson
Utility Partners: Steve Rhodes, Gordon King, Bernard Johnson

Nathan Sparks CEcD, Executive Director
Kay Rasmussen CEcD, Associate Director / DSI Manager
Caroline McCoy CEcD, Director Business Expansion
Kathy Barber, Administrative Assistant
Sal Nodjomian, TCPI Consultant
Linda Sumblin, TeCMEN Manager
Roxanna Reece, Accounting
The EDC is a 501(c)(6) not-for-profit organization.