City Budget: It’s Jobs

by Jeremy Morrison–

Along with every other elected official on Earth, Pensacola Mayor Ashton Hayward has vowed to focus on the economy. To this end, he intends to create an Office of Opportunities and Sustainability — led by a Chief of Economic Opportunities and Sustainability — to coordinate the city’s efforts towards brightening the economic landscape.

According to Travis Peterson, Hayward’s Public Information Officer, the top job has yet to be filled and staffing within Economic Opportunities office is also still being worked out.

In his State of the City address, Mayor Hayward said this Chief — a cabinet-level position — will be responsible for implementing his economic policies. The newly created department will oversee the
city’s Housing, Inspections and Planning departments.

Peterson said the three city departments would remain independent, but would be better coordinated in their efforts to ensure Pensacola was an inviting locale for a flourishing economy. He estimated it might take two to three years for the kinks to be ironed out of the newly structured governmental departments; once it clicks, the Mayor’s team believes the change will better enable Pensacola to foster the community they envision.

“It’s economic opportunity with a focus on sustainable industry, sustainable jobs and sustainable community,” Peterson said.

In addition to his proposal to create a new cabinet position and corresponding office, the Mayor also sees courting new business and investing in capital improvement projects as a way to improve the area’s economy.

Hayward argues that entities such as the Maritime Park — scheduled to open by the 2012 baseball season — will energize an already awakening downtown. He longs for a fisheries outfit to take shape on the downtown waterfront.

Peterson estimates the fisheries project would create between 50 and 75 jobs from the get-go, and grow from there. He talked about a spin-off effect, which would see local fishing and seafood industries benefit.

“The economic impact from that is significant,” Peterson said.

The Mayor also hopes that the Community Redevelopment Agency Board, which is comprised of the Pensacola City Council, will approve soon an agreement with Hixardt Technologies that will let that Pensacola-based company expand its location, which is one block east of City Hall, and create 100 new jobs.

Other new businesses moving to the city may be announced soon as the Mayor has worked continued to make phone calls, visits to corporate headquarters and meet with company officials. Gov. Rick Scott has personally committed to Mayor Hayward to help land new employers for the area.