Greater Pensacola Chamber votes to create Economic Development spinoff

During a special meeting yesterday at Gulf Power Company’s Addison Auditorium, the Greater Pensacola Chamber’s Board of Directors voted to establish a separate economic development (ED) agency that could continue to work with regional government partners to create jobs and help bring economic prosperity to the region.

A formal proposal was made to the Board in February by Chamber President Jerry Maygarden to create a new, indepenendent 501(c) entity similar to Visit Pensacola. Two other suggested options for the future of the region’s ED activities were transitioning the Chamber’s Economic Development Department to the Pensacola-Escambia County Promotion & Development Commission (PEDC) or leaving the five-member department inside the Chamber as it is now.

“The Chamber’s mission is to support, represent and promote our local business community while also enhancing successful partnerships that are vital to the quality growth of the Greater Pensacola Region,” said Maygarden. “I am confident that this transition will allow us to continually find ways to advance our economic strategy and help strengthen the Chamber’s commitment of bringing economic prosperity to our community.”

The new economic development agency would be subject to the Sunshine Law if it receives significant government funding. The agency will also be set up to receive funding from the Pensacola Chamber Foundation, the 501(c)(3) nonprofit arm of the Chamber. With tourism and economic development separate from the chamber of commerce, it can now look at re-privatizing its operations and focus more on community building, public advocacy and membership support.

“The goal of this new independent agency is to assist sustainable private-sector growth and regional economic development alongside the Chamber to meet the current and emerging needs of the Northwest Florida economy,” said Gary Huston, Chairman of the Chamber’s Board of Directors. “The Chamber remains dedicated to ensuring that it is taking the lead in developing a prosperous and thriving community that can successfully compete in today’s global marketplace.”