Wednesday, February 24, 2016

President's Message: Setting the Tone for Destin’s Economy & Business Environment

This is my first message of 2016.  I hope you are as busy as we are at the Chamber.  I have to thank my team that works with me in the office every day.  They are working harder than they ever have to keep up with all that’s happening.  Their efforts will ensure you’re receiving maximum benefits from the work your Chamber is doing.

I’d also like to thank the 2016 Board.  They’ve really supported our ideas and thoughts and direction for our 50th year.  I hope you’ll be a part of all we are doing to celebrate this impressive milestone.  Mark your calendar for the 50th Anniversary Celebration Party on Sept. 15, at the Henderson.  It’s sure to be the party of the half-century!

Rather than bring you all the information I can about our upcoming events, I’m going to go a different direction this time.  (You can find all the event information you need at  I want to tell you about some things we do that you usually don’t hear about.  But these are just as important because it helps us set a tone for the economy, the business environment, and overall quality of place we enjoy in Destin and Florida.

We’ve been busy in the government affairs arena the first seven weeks of the year.  So far, we’ve passed a resolution supporting the Okaloosa County TDD in its efforts to bring most of its marketing in-house.  We feel this will give us more local control and oversight on the marketing and advertising strategies for our tourism marketing.  We’ll continue to work with the TDD on these efforts.

We’ve also worked with Representative Matt Gaetz, providing him input on his bill that would permit the use of 10% of TDD bed tax dollars to be used for law enforcement.  Rep. Gaetz was very cooperative with the Chamber Board in working through our concerns for uses of that money.  While we, as a Chamber Board, are still not convinced this is the best use of the TDD money, because the use of the funds is optional, we felt it was the right direction.  We have other ideas on how to fund the need for increased law enforcement, but we are only in preliminary discussions with those ideas.

The Board has again passed a resolution supporting $250 million for marketing dollars for Enterprise Florida, the state’s economic development agency.  Many states across the nation are spending hundreds of millions of dollars pushing their message to lure and attract new businesses to their states.  We feel Florida needs to do the same.  Florida has led the nation in private sector job creation the last several months.  We need to continue that.  We need high-skill, high-wage jobs in the state and in Okaloosa and Walton counties to support the projected growth expected by 2030.  Did you know projections show that Florida’s population will balloon by 6 million people by 2030?  We need employment opportunities for them.  Visit for more information.

In late 2015, the Chamber Board passed a resolution supporting the elimination of the business rent tax.  Florida is the only state in the country that still charges sales tax on commercial leases.  We joined the Florida Chamber of Commerce and a coalition of 28 other chambers in the state to work toward reducing this tax.  Thanks again to Rep. Gaetz, it appears that a permanent cut of 1% in the tax will come this year, with an optional 1% cut for the following year.  We’ll continue to monitor this issue and work to reduce, or even eliminate, this tax.

As you can see, the Board has been working diligently to make Destin and Florida a better place to do business.  After all, our mission statement is ‘Advocating for Businesses, Strengthening our Community.’  We’ll continue to work for you!

With wishes for continued success, and until next time,

Shane A. Moody, CCE, FCCP

Destin Chamber President and CEO

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

February 2016 Business Briefs / Member News Part 4

United Way Announces Result of 2015 Campaign
United Way of Okaloosa Walton CountyBetty Brassell, with First City Bank and the 2015 Campaign Chair, along with the Board of Directors for the United Way of Okaloosa Walton County, announced that $1,311,359.39 was raised for Okaloosa and Walton counties due to the generosity of businesses, organizations and individuals that made the campaign a great success. This year’s result is a 7% increase over the 2014 campaign, which is truly a testament to the caring nature of the community even when times are challenging. 

Webelos Scouts Donate Winter Coats to CIC Kids
Children In CrisisMembers of the Webelos Scouts presented a donation of two large bags containing 25 winter coats for the children living at the Children In Crisis (CIC) Children’s Neighborhood.  Webelos Scouts Joshua Rogers, Pack 519, and Jacob Berggren, Pack 522, headed up the campaign. Seen here, Ken Hair, CIC president and CEO, accepts the donation. 

Magic of Love Recaptured at LuLu’s
LuLu'sIt was a romantic Valentine’s Day indeed. LuLu’s in Destin held its first Tropical Re-Union Wedding Vow Renewal Ceremony. With ordained minister Hurricane Jane presiding, an impressive 150 couples gathered on LuLu’s sandy beach overlooking the Choctawhatchee Bay for a memorable wedding vow renewal ceremony. The complimentary happening also included a champagne toast, flowers, cake, and a commemorative wedding renewal certificate. 

The Arc Receives $1,5000 Donation
The Arc of the Emerald Coast - Okaloosa County Sheriff's OfficeA special check presentation was made during the Greater Fort Walton Beach Chamber First Friday Coffee on Feb. 5, 2016.  Okaloosa County Sheriff Larry Ashley, along with Capt. Gay, presented a donation in the amount of $1,500 to The Arc of the Emerald Coast from the First Judicial Circuit Law Enforcement Association.  Donna Tashik, director of community development for The Arc, graciously accepted on behalf of the agency.  Donations such as this will assist with operations of the agency, which provides services to children and adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities in Okaloosa, Santa Rosa, and Walton counties. 

Century 21 Fine Homes & Estates Blue Marlin raises $4,000 for Easter Seals 
Century 21 Fine Homes & Estates Blue MarlinCentury 21 Fine Homes & Estates Blue Marlin proudly announces that the Affiliation Celebration held on Feb. 3, raised a total of $4,000 for Goodwill Easter Seals, a community-based health agency dedicated to helping children and adults with disabilities attain greater independence. Having recently affiliated with Century 21 Real Estate LLC, the Century 21 Fine Homes & Estates Blue Marlin team celebrated with a tri-ribbon cutting with the Destin Chamber of Commerce, Greater Fort Walton Area Chamber of Commerce, and Walton Area Chamber of Commerce. More than 300 friends, family, and business associates attended the community event at Regatta Bay Golf & Yacht Club. Following the ribbon cutting, guests enjoyed dinner and dancing to live music by Jones & Company and a silent auction.  Co-Brokers and Co-Owners Jonathan Hughes and Jerry Sullivan are seen here with Goodwill of the Easter Seals of the Gulf Coast’s Bill Dillman.
Citizen Scientist Water Quality Monitoring Volunteers Needed
The Choctawhatchee Basin Alliance is looking for multiple citizen scientist water quality monitoring volunteers to take over monthly water quality samplings on various water bodies throughout the Choctawhatchee Bay and River watershed. For details,
36th Emerald Coast HOG Toy Run Helps Kids
The Emerald Coast Harley Owners Group Chapter #3605  closed out the year by donating more than $13,000 to help the abused children served by the Emerald Coast Children’s Advocacy Center (ECCAC) and the at-risk abused and neglected children living at the Children in Crisis (CIC) Neighborhood. Seen here, Vito Tomasello, director of the Emerald Coast Harley Owners Group Chapter, and the membership presented the donation to Ken Hair, CIC, and Julie Hurst, ECCAC.

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

February 2016 Business Briefs / Member News Part 3

Newman-Dailey Real Estate Sales Recognizes Green & Kirkwood
Newman-Dailey Resort Properties - Diane GreenDiane Green has been named Newman-Dailey Resort Properties Real Estate Division’s Top Producer for 2015. Green was both the top listing agent and top sales agent and is the first female in Newman-Dailey’s Real Estate Sales Division to achieve Top Producer of the Year. Green’s success is directly attributed to her 35 years of experience coupled with her industry certifications, including Graduate of the Realtor Institute (GRI), Certified Residential Specialist (CRS), Seniors Real Estate Specialist (SRES) as well as short sale and REO (bank-owned properties) certification. She also holds Broker’s licenses in both Florida and Georgia. 

Newman-Dailey Resort Properties - Colin KirkwoodGreen was also named top listing agent for the fourth quarter 2015, and Colin Kirkwood was recognized as the top sales agent. As the top sales agent for the fourth quarter, Kirkwood’s attention to detail and one-on-one attention created many satisfied clients. He knows what it takes to succeed in the toughest of markets. 

Bolduc Joins Sacred Heart Medical Group
Sacred Heart - Stephen BolducSacred Heart Medical Group recently welcomed Board-certified pediatrician Stephen Bolduc, M.D., M.S., FAAP, to its regional network of physicians. Bolduc cares for children from birth through age 18 and has medical interests in asthma, special-needs children, and sports medicine. He is an advocate for breast-feeding and pre-natal health. Bolduc has more than 30 years of experience in private pediatric practice and comes to Miramar Beach from Newport News, Va. Most of that time was spent with the Children’s Hospital of the King’s Daughters in Norfolk. In addition he served as an Associate Clinical Professor at the Eastern Virginia Medical School. Throughout his career, Bolduc has served as chairman of pediatrics at Riverside Regional Medical Center and at Mary Immaculate Hospital. He also served in the U.S. Air Force and was stationed at Langley Air Force Base in Hampton, Va. 

Osaka Japanese Hibachi Steakhouse & Sushi Bar Hosts Month of Giving 
Osaka Japanese Hibachi Steakhouse & Sushi Bar invites the community to enjoy a Month of Giving. For four weeks, beginning Feb. 15, every Monday through Thursday, 20% of proceeds from lunch and dinner will benefit a different local charity. Patrons must mention that week's charity for proceeds to benefit.
Feb. 15 - 18 - Mattie Kelly Arts Foundation
Feb. 22 - 25 - Alaqua Animal Refuge
Feb. 29 - March 3 - Emerald Coast Children's Advocacy Center
March 7 - 10 - Sinfonia Gulf Coast 

Warren Averett Encourages Innovation Through “Think Tank” Competition
Warren Averett, LLC, encourages innovation as a key to providing exceptional value and focused solutions to its clients. As a way to support entrepreneurship and reward forward-thinking employees, Warren Averett introduced an internal Think Tank competition, and the winners were chosen and announced on Jan. 26. Think Tank is a take-off of the popular NBC television series, Shark Tank. Warren Averett employees were given the opportunity to develop unique and impactful ideas. Their ideas were vetted, and the best ideas were presented to the “sharks.” 

Supervisor Kevin Wang and Associate Stephen Perkins from Fort Walton Beach won the Most Impactful award, splitting the $10,000 prize. The team created a web-based platform which works in conjunction with several of the Firm’s software systems to provide a better user experience. The platform will make a significant impact by allowing the Firm to use the full potential of these programs and provide a better client experience. 

Wiebe Offers Botox & Facial Fillers at Smileology at Santa Rosa Beach Dental 
Dr. Amber Wiebe, a national instructor for the AAFE and one of the top injectors in the area, is now offering Botox and facial fillers atSmileology in Bluewater Bay every Friday. Wiebe is uniquely trained in facial volume loss specifically lower, middle, and upper facial volume loss as well as wrinkles. She also has technique sensitive training in prevention and treatment of neck and facial aging. Wiebe is an instructor with the most cutting edge association, which gathers the newest techniques including the latest and newest revolutionary filler on the market - Voluma by Allergan and Restylane Lyft by Galderma. Appointments can be made by calling Smileology at (850) 267-0777.

Cook joins World Impact Real Estate
World Impact Real Estate - Shannon CookShannon Cook is a realtor with World Impact Real Estate. She has more than 15 years of sales and customer service experience. Prior to becoming a realtor, Cook had a 10+ year career working in field of human resources and technical recruiting. She led the recruiting efforts for some of the nation’s leading manufacturing firms, such as Panasonic, General Electric, Eaton, and Harley Davidson, to name a few. You may reach cook at (360) 480-7125.

Employees Recognized for Milestone Anniversaries for Years of Service
The Arc of the Emerald Coast, formerly known as Horizons of Okaloosa County, wishes to congratulate and recognize four outstanding dedicated employees for their milestone anniversaries for years of service with the agency. 

Sheila Brown - Foster Home Operator
15 Years of Service

Elizabeth Garcia - Food Coordinator
15 Years of Service

Heath Bechtel - Senior Accountant 
5 Years of Service
Regina Tarver - Supported Living Tech - Fort Walton Beach
5 Years of Service