The last days of summer are upon us. Tourists are going back home, no doubt with a little sand in their shoes and envy in their hearts for those of us that get to live here all year. I have met so many people vacationing here and most, not all but most, tell me of their plans to get down here full-time. Sure some are planning to move here after they retire, but the majority plan/need to work, which highlights the need for economic diversity. Understand that your Chamber always welcomes and wants to hear your ideas regarding this matter. Understand too that we are doing what we can with what we have right now to help our area become more diversified.
How? Currently the emphasis is on getting EDATE passed. EDATE, the Economic Development Ad Valorem Tax Exemption, is important because it will allow Okaloosa County Commissioners and the Destin City Council to grant exemptions for new AND expanding business that relocate to or expand in our area IF certain requirements are met. Helping to entice businesses to come here or expand here, employing locals, to me is a giant step in the right direction. So please, vote in favor of EDATE when you vote this August. I have it on very good authority that you can only vote once - but once should be enough if EVERYONE does it!
What else? Paddleat the Porch was a success. We had just over 100 participants paddling in the one, three, and six mile races. I would love to tell you I won, or even participated, in one of those races, but I did not.
Instead I roamed around talking with our sponsors (thank you, Thank You, THANK YOU), observers, and the participants. The Back Porch, our location sponsor, was the perfect location for the event this year (as it was for the previous two years). Your Board was represented there, as were the Chamber's Ambassadors. While it is obvious and goes without saying, I am going to say it again and again, we absolutely could not have put on this event without the help of the VOLUNTEERS. The Chamber staff, Suzy, Elizabeth, Dena, and our new membership consultant Jacqui were their usual organized, enthusiastic, efficient, happy selves. Shane had fun, and yes, he was there from beginning to end - in the sun mostly, so if you see him, you may want to douse him with some cold water because he may still be a little warm. Oh no, have I started something?
If you missed Paddle at the Porch, please join us for Bourbon on the Bay on Nov. 13. On second thought, even if you came to Paddle at the Porch, come join us again - there really is no limit to the number of events you can attend, really. Some new drinks will be offered. It should be a fun event once again . . . but we need YOU to make it a success. YOU make this Chamber the success that it is, we want to hear from YOU and see YOU at our events.
Next time I will tell you about the TCPI, Tri-County Partnership Initiative, and the good things coming out of it. Since it is still in its infancy, I will wait just a bit longer so I can give it the props it no doubt will deserve. Also, coming up (does this sound like a commercial or what?), traffic news - what will the Council decide to do about that traffic issue near Marler street? I have learned that so much goes into the decision to put in a fully signalized traffic light versus a signalized cross-walk. No matter the decision, know that your Chamber supports getting pedestrians across Highway 98 safely. We will leave it to the experts to make the decision as to how that can be done.
As always, thank you for reading, thank you for being a member and the secret word is "EDATE." If you see me or any other Board member, staff, or yes, even Shane, say it and we will know you read this BLOG!!
Best to YOU and YOURS,
2014 Destin Area Chamber Chairman
Pleat, Perry & Ritchie, P.A.