Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Reflecting on Accomplishments of 2013

The mission of the Destin Area Chamber of Commerce is to create a dynamic alliance of the business community and government through member-driven initiatives and services that enable responsible growth and economic prosperity. We also provide businesses with networking, marketing, and educational opportunities.  Through your efforts and dedication, we have met and continue to meet our mission.  I’d like to highlight just some of the programs, projects and activities that the Destin Area Chamber, through its Board of Directors and its members, have been involved in during the last 12 months.

During the Board of Directors' Strategic Planning Retreat for 2013, we set the following goals: 
  • to continue to support enhanced code and zoning enforcement within the City of Destin, 
  • to define and implement economic development initiatives, 
  • to be an advocate for tax incentives for job development, 
  • to be a voice for Norriego Point
  • to encourage expansion along the Harbor Boardwalk, 
  • to improve our community by picking our causes and taking a stance, 
  • to implement a citywide milestone marker program, 
  • to educate new and non-members, and 
  • to enhance our Ambassador program.  
Those were our goals, and with a lot of help from our members and wise direction from our Board of Directors, we exceeded our own expectations. 

Here's a list of the fun things we did that increased the networking opportunities for our members:   
  • 4th annual Bayou, Bay & Back 1 Mile, 5K Run/Walk,10K & 1/2 Marathon
  • Blessing of the Marketplace; Golf & Dine golf tournament at Indian Bayou, 
  • Paddle at the Porch paddleboard race at the Back Porch; 
  • Puttoberfest miniature golf tournament at Golf Garden; 
  • reception at Indian Bayou to honor our past chairmen;
  • 12 Business & Networking Luncheons with programs, including a non-profit appreciation expo, BusinessPalooza!, Football Tailgate & Celebrity Board Waiter Luncheon, and Bowling for Business at Hurricane Lanes; 
  • 11 Business After-Hours; and 
  • approximately a bazillion ribbon cuttings to welcome our new members.  
We played hard, but we worked hard, too.

On a more powerful side, our Board of Directors took action on the following items: 
  • prioritized RESTORE ACT funds recommendations, 
  • sent a letter of support for medical trauma centers,
  • sent a letter of support for Mid-Bay Bridge Authority to remain local and independent, 
  • met with Director Bill Wilson and Executive Director Jesse Panuccio of Florida's Department of Economic Opportunity (DEO) to bring their attention to our area,  
  • had multiple meetings with the Tourist Development Council and the Economic Development Council of Okaloosa County, 
  • supported six-laning Emerald Coast Parkway (Highway 98) from Tang-O-Mar Drive in Walton County to Airport Road in Okaloosa County (support has most recently been suspended until some issues are clarified),  
  • met with the City of Destin multiple times working towards implementation of the Mile Marker Program,  
  • encouraged our members to landscape, landscape, landscape  to improve our community, 
  • encouraged our members to decorate for the TDC's advertising campaign Very Emerald Christmas, 
  • had meetings with the City of Destin about a possible Adopt-A-Median with City for Christmas decorations, 
  • wrote a letter of support for the Marler Street traffic signal, 
  • gave support to the city's proposed cross-town connector, 
  • voted to support a pedestrian/community friendly Harbor Blvd., 
  • voted to support the opportunity to reroute or disallow through trucks in Destin, 
  • advocated to add additional parking in the Harbor District (i.e. one way N/S connectors & use excess for parking), 
  • made a soft request for City to get a legal opinion to annex the unincorporated areas of Destin,  
  • supported the Destin City Council’s motion for staff to write a date specific ordinance for the extension of development orders, 
  • recreated the Citizens for Good Leadership political action committee to educate and endorse candidates and promote other community issues, 
  • requested the Okaloosa County Sheriff's Office and the City of Destin run some public service announcements regarding safety in the pedestrian crosswalks on Harbor Blvd.,
  • supported encouraging the city to explore creating public parking solutions to the open air seating requirements, 
  • supported regulating helicopter and other vending over the water, 
  • met with the Sheriff's Office regarding petty crimes along the Boardwalk, and 
  • met with the City advocating the Chamber's stance against gambling being allowed in our area when/if it becomes legalized. 
A Chamber Chairman doesn’t do this alone.  I would like to specifically thank our Past-Chairman Bill Lindsley, Chairman-Elect Amy Perry, Treasurer Shaun Eubanks, our Board of Directors, my special appointees to the board Charles Morgan and Jami Jones, and certainly our CEO Shane Moody and his marvelous staff - Elizabeth Spies, Suzy Nicholson Hunt, Jen Skillman, and Dena Critch. 

What a wonderful honor to have been allowed to serve as the 2013 Chairman of the Destin Area Chamber of Commerce.  It is a gift I will treasure forever.

Mary Anne Windes
2013 Destin Area Chamber Chairman
Real Estate Professionals of Destin, Inc.
Destin Fishing Fleet Marina

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