Bender discusses his year as BCC chairman [podcast]

Moving the Fall Blue Angel Airshow to Pensacola Beach

“We were heading into Veteran’s Day, the 75th anniversary of Blues. Everything that the team had been through, from either being on the base during the terrorist attack, Captain Kinsella, retiring in a few weeks. And plus what it meant for the beach and the businesses out there. And so we did what we had to do, but I think it’s the relationship that we already had in place with Captain Kinsella and other members on base that allowed us to do it.”


“We were somewhat in a rut. We had some direction from the board. They liked the commerce side, but the residents and other interests wanted the more residential and town center. And we had just put out the hybrid plan, and we were working with the consultants on that.

I remember the night before the meeting was up till 10 o’clock and the first thing the next morning, trying to pull it together to present it. But I was really looking at what our next steps were. So I was looking down the line because as part of our MOU with Navy Federal, they agreed to pay for the consultants and the plan, but they had to approve it.

“My focus was to make sure that we had green lights down the line. Then I brought in PEDC, the chair was Lewis Bear, and made sure that it still met their desires and what they were trying to accomplish with bringing commerce, jobs, and everything into Escambia County. And we all felt that it was a good plan.

“It gave them some flexibility, gave the citizens of Beulah, and I think Escambia County, a potentially great town center.”