On Wednesday, July 19th Walton County Commission Chairwoman Cecilia Jones hosted the second Business and Community Leader Round Table. The meeting was held in the conference room of the Visit South Walton TDC Visitor Center located on US Highway 331 in Santa Rosa Beach. Chairman Jones explained to those attending the goal of the meeting was to solicit ideas and update the public on efforts in Walton County to create a “Strategic Plan” that would utilize the many “POTS” of Federal and State money available through the RESTORE act passed by congress in 2012 after the BP oil spill. The meeting was the second in an ongoing effort to include the Public in the strategic planning process Ms. Jones called “a once in a lifetime opportunity”. A minimum $36 Million is available for qualifying projects.
Walton County Restore Act Coordinator, Billy Williams discussed the various sources of potential resources available through the Gulf Coast Restoration Trust Fund and how important working it will be to work on a regional basis with other impacted counties. “Sometimes”, he said, “we are our own worst enemies by not working together.” He also explained that “a strong strategic plan should be developed first” and individual projects then slotted into the overall plan. Williams believes this strategic approach would “leverage” the various POTS of money and also give each individual project a better chance at funding approval.
Austin Mount, Executive Director of the West Florida Regional Planning Council spoke on how the WFRPC can work with Walton County on a comprehensive economic development plan called Northwest Florida Forward. The plan focuses on the 5 key areas of development; Talent, Business Vitality, Infrastructure, Entrepreneurship & Innovation and Quality of Place. These five areas are designed to be a strong roadmap for Walton County to develop and implement a workable strategic plan.
Monthly meetings are planned throughout Walton County to keep the public informed. For more information on future meetings contact the Walton County public information officer by emailing: SveLouis@co.walton.fl.us
We look forward to your attendance at this meeting.