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Bay County’s economic development professionals working to diversify our economies

BAY COUNTY, Florida (WJHG / WECP) – Tourism plays a major role in Bay County’s economy, grossing millions of dollars each year. While tourism is important, some big names say they want to diversify our economy.

“To be successful, we need to diversify our economies and that is our job as economic development professionals,” said Becca Hardin, president of the Bay Economic Development Alliance.

At the Bay County Chamber of Commerce meeting on Friday, professionals said the county was busy.

“Now that some of the COVID restrictions are being relaxed, we are seeing many companies ready to make plans for growth, and luckily we are the recipient of some of that activity,” Hardin said.

Much of this activity is focused on job creation at Northwest Florida Beaches International Airport.

“As we look to the future, remember this is the three-legged chair for passengers, business and education,” said ECP managing director Parker McClellan.

Project Goodwrench wants to get into education.

“We want to move the AMP portion of Haney Technical AMP to the airport so that the new companies we are attracting can work there,” said McClellan.

Employees, as we are told, are needed in aviation and sales, two important, diverse target markets.

“We have maintenance, repair and overhaul companies that are building hangars at our airport and want to create good jobs for aircraft mechanics,” said Hardin.

As the number of passengers coming via ECP hits sky-high records, more jobs will be needed.

“We have an expansion project for the terminal. We’re in the design phase right now, ”said McClellan.

Designs that aim to pave the way to a more diverse future.

McClellan said they hope to announce more projects in the near future that will bring more jobs and passengers to our community. Hardin said they have about 25 active projects, with seven going “hot”. She hopes to announce three major projects by the end of the year.

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