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July 2019

From the Director's Desk

By Nathan Sparks, CEcD
      Over the years, many of you have no doubt had the pleasure of working with Caroline McCoy, the EDC's Director of Business Expansion. A dedicated EDC team member for the past 12 years, Caroline has announced that she will be leaving us at the end of August for an exciting professional growth opportunity with Bit-Wizards, a rapidly growing technology enterprise, and one of our valued EDC investors.
     To say that this news was bittersweet for those of us here at the EDC would be a severe understatement. Caroline has been such a valued contributor during her time with us, and her obvious passion for assisting businesses looking to grow has been a driving force in numerous EDC successes for more than a decade now. Likewise, her impeccable event planning skills - including her incredible attention to detail - have been on regular display with EDC Business Leadership Council meetings, Roundtable breakfasts and, in recent years, our TeCMEN Industry Day. I have come to appreciate that Caroline's "sixth sense" for sniffing out potential event planning pitfalls before they truly become an issue is a rare gift, and one that we have been so fortunate to benefit from.
     Many of you also know that as talented as Caroline is as a professional, she is an even better person. As a working mother of two beautiful girls, a loving wife and a dedicated daughter, sister and friend, she is an expert in balancing numerous work/life obligations and commitments - while also keeping in mind that the most important job that any parent has is raise up the next generation. Remarkably, Caroline has also found time to serve as a mentor to a High School student and to serve on the Fort Walton Beach Medical Center Women's Advisory Council.
     I've had the distinct pleasure of working with Caroline for the past six years - approximately half of her tenure with the EDC. Funny enough, my first day on the job was her 30th birthday, and I quickly discovered that the EDC was blessed with some incredibly dedicated personnel who were ready and willing to work long hours knowing that our small team and big mission often require it.
     While it is certainly difficult to contemplate the EDC's future without Caroline's positivity and passion for our work, Caroline is leaving us better off - just as I know I am and I suspect many of you are for having known her. We wish her well in her new chapter at Bit-Wizards, and are glad that she will be close at hand, still connected to the future of our great community.   

Defense Support Initiatives, DSI

By Bob Marinan, Chairman
     We are half way through the calendar year and our challenges continue to grow and require our attention. The permanent establishment of the Military Mission Line (MML) remains one of our top priorities since it is only guaranteed until 2021. In support, we sent a letter to the Speaker of the House requesting their support for a permanent moratorium on the proposed new offshore drilling being proposed and it remains a top priority of Congressman Gaetz. On a separate topic, we also issued a letter of support for the Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) being conducted to determine the permanent beddown of the F-22 Training Squadron whether it be here or to Langley AFB in Virginia. We also sent a congratulatory letter to Representative Ponder on his appointment to serve on the Florida Defense Support Task Force which is vitally important to our local area.
     Regarding our local military health benefits, the Defense Health Agency is now responsible for all service military hospitals and consolidations are promised. We await what that will mean locally for our service folks, our retirees, and our local medical community but we are certain changes are forthcoming.
     The new AFMC Commander and someone very familiar to most of us locally, General Arnie Bunch, has issued a memo to his command to identify challenges and opportunities associated to meeting the mission needs for the future. His focus is to ensure AFMC has the best structure, resources, and culture to support the National Defense Strategy. The DSI believes this study is important enough to submit a letter to the team and the Commander outlining our local contributions both from a military and industry perspective and are developing a DSI working team to address the issue. The AF team is expected to be at Eglin AFB in late July or early August and the belief is this team will wrap up their visits and inputs sometime after Labor Day.
     Finally, there have been numerous change of command ceremonies in our local area this summer to include new leadership at AFSOC, 96TW, 33rd Wing, 53rd Wing and 7th Special Forces. Be sure to take opportunities offered to meet our new leadership and their teams when you can.
Technology Coast Manufacturing and Engineering Network; TeCMEN

By Paul Jernigan, Chairman

     Pro-Active or Re-Active, which are you? We had three persons representing three companies at TeCMEN in our July meeting imploring us to be Pro-Active when it comes to being ADA compliant. The Department of Justice (DOJ) published the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) Standards for Accessible Design in September 2010. These standards state that all electronic and information technology must be accessible to people with disabilities. Don't ask me to explain the details but you can, and I would encourage you to, talk to Bit Wizards, Saltmarsh or Omnicommander to protect your websites from the unscrupulous lawyers (none of these lawyers are members of TeCMEN I am sure) that were described at the meeting today. What a wakeup call for all of us!
     Pro-Active is defined as: serving to prepare for, intervene in, or control an expected occurrence or situation, especially a negative or difficult one; anticipatory. Reactive is defined as: tending to act in a reverse direction or manner, especially so as to return to a prior condition. Sorry for the analogy but it's like pulling cigarettes out of a package where the surgeon general says that they have been known to cause cancer and puffing away saying "it will never happen to me" as you hear about others with cancer!
     Albert Einstein stated "The formulation of a problem is far more essential than its solution, which may be merely a matter of mathematical or experimental skill". I didn't even know this was a problem until the subject came up in the meeting. Sometimes the Problem is to know there is a Problem and as Albert said, and we experienced today, we have persons that can help with the solution!
     After hearing about ADA compliance and the pitfalls of not being compliant I went back to work and the first person I talked to was our Information Technology person to find that we were compliant. I feel better now and hopefully you did the same and got the same result. If you are not Pro-Active you will be Re-Active by definition when you lose the potential of many dollars. If you are not compliant or don't know call one of our colleagues and find out!
     I look forward to seeing you at the TeCMEN Industry Day. Thank you for those that have a booth and are attending. For those of you that have not signed up be pro-active, get a booth and be there as being a part of TID will help you and your business to grow and make great connections for future business.
Business  Expansion Assistance

By Caroline McCoy, CEcD

     The EDC's project traffic has continued to grow and we currently have 26 active projects. The EDC of Okaloosa County and the region have expanded the marketing efforts and the results of those efforts are evident in the amount of quality leads we have responded to. The solid increase in project opportunities is a result from the emphasis on marketing the area and promoting our assets/products (buildings/sites, workforce, and business climate).
     The attached chart reflects the EDC's responses to RFPs from Site Selectors, State and Regional Economic Development Organizations and other Partners. As you can see, we are already at the same point as we were at the end of 2018 and we are barely past the halfway point of the calendar year. At this rate, we may double the responses to RFPs before the end of 2019. What this chart doesn't reflect are local opportunities for job growth and physical expansion. Existing industry support and expansion still remains a major focus of the community's expansion efforts.
     There continues to be an obvious need for large, cleared, and undeveloped sites earmarked for commercial development, industrial projects or other construction projects. As I mentioned in the last newsletter, Okaloosa County has several large and cleared sites ready for immediate development. In fact, our most recent response included a Florida First Site, a certified and ready for business parcel in the Okaloosa County Industrial Air Park. The due diligence completed for the certification process allowed us to submit a response with professional drawings and cost estimates within a matter of days!
Members in the News

GrowFL, Florida's leading organization in support of second-stage growth companies, has announced the first round of the 2019 Florida Companies to Watch finalists. The award honors 50 select second-stage companies from throughout the state.  Congratulations to Precision Management, Inc. for being selected as a Florida Companies To Watch!

Welcome Hailey

Please join us in welcoming Hailey Medeiros to the EDC team!  Hailey joins the EDC as our new Administrative Assistant.  We are excited to have Hailey on board and we know you will enjoy working with her.

EDC Blog

If you would like more insight, visit the EDC's blog written by Kelly Murphy-Redd, CEcD.  You'll find topics such as Incubators and Accelerators, Retiring Military, Talent Attraction, Hypersonic Weapons, and more!

Click here to read the EDC Blog
EDC Executive Committee Members and Staff

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

Ex Officios
County Commissioner: Trey Goodwin
Educational Partners: Dr. Devin Stephenson, Dr. Melinda Bowers, Mr. Marcus Chambers
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
Hailey Medeiros, Administrative Assistant
Linda Sumblin, TeCMEN Manager
Sal Nodjomian, TCPI Consultant
Roxanna Reece, Accounting
The EDC is a 501(c)(6) not-for-profit organization.