ED battle is over

The battle of the Economic Development plans is over. Councilman Sam Hall made a motion today at the PEDC meeting for the body to let both the Escambia County Commission and the Pensacola City Council the PEDC’s preference for the plan proposed by the Pensacola Bay Area Chamber of Commerce. The motion passed 8-0, with Comm. Gene Valentino abstaining.

The Chamber plan establishes new economic development organization, Greater Pensacola Partnership. The Chamber will have a separate board and executive director. It will be a subsidiary of that GPP.

In making his motion, Hall pointed out that the PEDC meeting had been going for about 52 minutes and “we are not moving the ball forward at all.” He stated that he was excited about the Chamber plan when Mort O’Sullivan first presented it. Hall said that he sought out from Comm. Valentino specifics on his proposal and never got it. He left the joint city-county meeting in which Valentino made his presentation and was just as puzzled.

Hall said that he like the Chamber plan because it was ready to go. He looked at Comm. Valentino and said, “I am confident that you know what your plan is, but I’m confident that anybody else does.”

Hall suggested that the Chamber be given two years to implement its new plan and see what happens.

Mort O’Sullivan made motion that the board inform the BOCC and Council of its willingness to be the public body that approves and vets the incentive funds. That motion passed 7-1. Rhette Anderson voted No. Valentino abstained.

Mort O’Sullivan made one more motion that the PEDC suggest to the BOCC and Council that the two governmental boards considered using the incremental increases in utility franchise fees to found the incentives. It was passed 8-0. Valentino abstained.

Although it seemed to take awhile for Comm. Valentino to realize that his PEDA plan had been rejected, the meeting ended on a positive note. The Commissioner had some concerns about how PEDC might have to be restructure to accommodate its new enhanced role. However, it did become clear that PEDC will not drive the economic development effort, just be the watchdog over the incentive pool of $4-$6 million.