With the title of this column, I don’t mean victory. Well, not directly. It is a victory for Northwest Florida that we have hundreds of millions of dollars coming to us in BP fine money. What I really mean is that Triumph is one of the hot buzz words around here right now.
That’s because of Triumph Gulf Coast, the “board” that will determine what projects deserve funding from this fine money dedicated to the eight disproportionately affected counties of the BP oil spill in 2010.
The Destin Chamber has formed a Triumph task force to monitor the progression of projects and provide input on where we think the money should be spent. Goal number one for us is to look for projects that create jobs and help diversify our economy. If we can’t find those kinds of projects that have a direct impact on Destin (we know of a couple of them that do directly benefit us, and we are in the process of working those now), we’ll look for regional partnerships and projects that would have the most indirect impact for us.
What I mean by that is this. If we can land a new company in the nearby surrounding area that creates 100+ jobs that are high-skill, high-wage, we would support that effort because it generates income for local residents. Those residents in turn could buy houses, shop in our stores, eat in our restaurants, involve themselves in our schools and education system, volunteer in the community, etc. It’s community development in its truest sense.
We aren’t sure how much of the Triumph funding will be used for infrastructure or transportation improvements. I certainly believe that we could support the right projects, if they present themselves. But we would want to ensure that any transportation or infrastructure projects help us with job creation and diversification of the economy.
We will closely monitor Triumph Gulf Coast. We’ll do what we can to ensure that we find and support projects that improve our economic vitality and quality of life and quality of place. We will continue to pursue and do what our board of directors feels is best for the entire community of Destin. After all, it’s how we advocate for business and strengthen our community.
With wishes for continued success, and until next month,
Shane A. Moody, CCE, FCCP
President & CEO
Destin Chamber of Commerce