Before authorizing the mayor to execute a $2 million Economic Development Transportation Project Fund Agreement between the city of Pensacola and the Florida Department of Transportation Monday, City Council Vice President Jewell Canada-Wynn had a question: was it “free money.”
“Now, here’s the catch,” said City Attorney Jim Messer, before explaining that the $2 million worth of state funds hinged on the city’s ability to bring in 100 jobs.
The state money is for infrastructure improvements at the Port of Pensacola.
“Well, then the question is, ‘jeepers, what happens if we don’t create 100 jobs?’” Messer posed, explaining that the money is tied to the jobs, but that there is a two-year window in which to create such jobs.
The attorney also relayed a message from Mayor Ashton Hayward, stressing that “he not only expects, but needs the full support of this council, as well as the chamber” in order to successfully pull the effort off.
Canada-Wynn pressed a bit harder, wondering where the jobs might originate.
“It’s just a little fuzzy here,” she said.
City Administrator Bill Reynolds said no further information could be provided because of the “nebulas territory of economic development.”
“Where are they coming from? I can’t answer that,” he said. “We are in the cloud of the nebulas right now.”
The city council—noting the importance of economic development efforts—agreed to support the move.
“Everything in life is a risk,” said Councilwoman Sherri Myers, “but I think this is something we can pull off.”