Jeremy's Notebook

$hovel Ready

May 8, 2013

christian wagleyThe Escambia County RESTORE Act Advisory Committee heard from the Greater Pensacola Area Chamber of Commerce this week and got a feel for the organization’s preferences for spending Clean Water Act fines resulting from the 2010 oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.

Chamber CEO Jim Hizer listed two “game-changers” he said the area needed to focus on in an effort accomplish economic development goals. He suggested concentrating on workforce development and “shovel-ready sites.”

“If we want to be competitive, if we want to take our community up another notch, in terms of economic development, we have no choice,” Hizer said.

The chamber executive told the RESTORE committee that Florida lagged behind nearby states in both of these areas. Particularly, in shovel-ready sites for industrial parks.

“Developing shovel-ready sites is a huge step in the right direction,” Hizer said.

Citing the chamber’s Vision 2015 study, Hizer said between 500 and 600 acres of shovel-ready sites would be needed to properly court the hoped-for Airbus subcontractor market; he estimated the cost of such an undertaking at between $40 and $60 million.

RESTORE committee member Christian Wagley raised concerns about using public money to incentivize private development. Hizer said the chamber felt that such arrangements worked better if businesses received incentives on the “backend,” after fulfilling the commitment to the community —usually in the form of jobs.

“But in the case of creating a shovel-ready site, with infrastructure, that’s entirely an up-front subsidy, is it not?” Wagley asked.

“No question,” Hizer said.

“And you’re talking about tens of millions of dollars,” Wagley continued. “Far more than a company probably gets in terms of a direct subsidy for creating a certain number of jobs, at a certain income level.”

“No question,” Hizer told him. “But the reality is, we won’t be competitive if we don’t do these things up front.”

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  • Back it up May 11, 2013 at 4:36 pm

    This is not going to turn out well

  • Jessica Bell May 9, 2013 at 5:13 pm

    Thank you, Christian! I hope your vision for the future of our county is embraced by the decision-makers.

  • L.Laird May 9, 2013 at 11:05 am

    RESTORE committee member Christian Wagley: THANK YOU… for looking for our environment, and all of the citizens of Escambia County.. “BEWARE” The Dark Side crowd will want to reward fellow political supporters, using the GOB-Chamber Of Cash Reward to those who follow in goose step with the god father and our crazy uncle…

  • Ames May 9, 2013 at 8:25 am

    My comment has been in moderation for 9 hours 25 minutes.

  • Eric2 May 9, 2013 at 8:11 am

    I think Hizer is alluding to the Beulah Sector Plan, which requires a new exit off the interstate.

  • helpmehere May 9, 2013 at 7:26 am

    smells like a good old boy bonanza to me

  • Ames May 8, 2013 at 10:57 pm

    Oh yeah, let’s keep following that shadow. The Chamber has such a long standing performance record that we can thank for the booming local economy and above average wages, and by all means lets not overlook how they led the charge to eliminate blight-there is now none to be found! And we are poised to now greet employers with what the best of them demand-a functional, efficient mass transit system, top rated schools, low crime rates, walking communities and favorable health statistics. Snark!
    We all know what the Chamber does, they obtain taxpayer dollars to fund they own jobs.

  • EPenn May 8, 2013 at 4:27 pm

    Shovel ready like the tech park downtown, but on a larger potentially empty scale.