Poll: Voters want jobs at OLF-8

Escambia votes overwhelmingly want  high-paying jobs at Outlying Landing Filed (OLF-8), the 500-plus acre site next to Navy Federal’s campus in Beulah, according to recent poll conducted by the Listener Group for Inweekly.

During the Community Maritime Park debate 15 years ago, Quint Studer complained that Save Our City, a political action committee that opposed the project, WCOA’s Luke McCoy and others kept claiming that the majority of Pensacola didn’t want the stadium in downtown Pensacola.  Polls and the voters felt differently. Since then, Quint and Rishy Studer have funded the Quality of Life survey to measure what people really think about issues.

We’ve been told by the daily newspaper that Beulah residents should decide the future of OLF-8. We’ve been told as many as 80% oppose a commerce park at the site. Inweekly wanted to find out what people really feel about the site – not only in Beulah but all of the county.  The poll revealed 62.1% favor companies providing high-paying jobs over retail and housing.

For this poll, we defined high-paying as $48,000 and above. The county’s definition is $55K-$60K so we gave DPZ Codesign, the company developing a master plan for OLF-8, a break by wanting to see if a lower annual wage would dampen a support for the commerce park. It didn’t.

Commissioner Jeff Bergosh represents District 1, where OLF-8 is located. He has repeatedly said the residents of Beulah don’t want more housing built in their area. Bergosh has continually advocated for high-paying jobs at the site. According to the poll, he knows what his constituents.

DPZ Codesign partner Maura Khoury told with the commissioners at the board’s meeting in December that participants at the October charrettes that she had a different reaction. She said, “Initially there was some objection to housing but by the end of the charrette when we had explained what could come out of this and the benefits of providing some housing on the site, there was overwhelming support for it.”

We don’t how many people participated in the charrettes. DPZ’s presentation didn’t give those numbers. Only 271 people voted on the four plans, and we don’t how many of those voters were Beulah residents. However, we do know that only 20% of District 1 wants OLF-8 used for housing and retail. Nearby District 5 only has 19.3% that favor more housing and retail.

In the 2020 GOP primary, Bergosh faced three challengers. One opponent, Commissioner Underhill’s aide Jonathan Owens, came out strong against developing a commerce park at OLF-8. In a chamber questionnaire, Owens wrote, “OLF 8 should never be considered as a true commercial or industrial park.” Bergosh won the primary with 39% of the vote, while Owens came in third with 23%.  Owens’ vote percentage nearly matches the poll results those in District 1 that want more retail and housing.

High-paying jobs, particularly in light manufacturing and information technology, have great support across all five districts.

 

Should the majority of the OLF 8 land, by Navy Federal, be used for more housing and retail shops; or companies that offer high-paying jobs?

Responses: 628 Total Percentage
For housing and retail 116 18.5%
Fo companies that offer high-paying jobs 390 62.1%
Undecided 122 19.4%
District 1 District 2 District 3 District 4 District 5
Responses 115 111 129 154 119
For housing and retail 20.0% 14.4% 22.5% 16.2% 19.3%
For companies that offer high-paying jobs 66.1% 64.0% 62.0% 62.3% 56.3%
Undecided 13.9% 21.6% 15.5% 21.4% 24.4%

Should Escambia County do more to support high-wage, light manufacturing and Information technology jobs, at OLF 8?

Responses: 628 Total Percentage
Yes 426 67.8%
No 113 18.0%
Undecided 89 14.2%
District 1 District 2 District 3 District 4 District 5
Responses 115 111 129 154 119
Yes 67.0% 73.9% 66.7% 70.1% 61.3%
No 20.0% 13.5% 20.2% 13.6% 23.5%
Undecided 13.0% 12.6% 13.2% 16.2% 15.1%

 

METHODOLOGY:

Escambia County likely voters with a voting score of 90% for the general election cycles. New voters were also called. The voters called were those only with landlines and were called using an Interactive Voice Response (IVR) system and were called during the hours of 1PM to 8PM from January 28-30, 2021. The Margin of Error for this study is +/- 4.5% with a confidence level of 95%.

 

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6 thoughts on “Poll: Voters want jobs at OLF-8

  1. Ceceilia,
    The context is job creation at OLF-8 is the main goal of the master plan. The two most recommended plans, Village and Market, propose 13.4% and 17% of OLF-8 for the commerce park.

    We’re trying to get a head count of how many people attended the charrettes. How many participated in the ones you attended? Thank you, Rick

  2. Those of us who studied the research and participated in the DPZ charrettes were educated regarding the reasons that new companies are drawn to sites with planned home centers and amenities. So, I am wondering about the context of the question, “Do you want more jobs?”

  3. I think I may have gotten one of these calls that my system sussed as spam. You can hardly call this a poll with less than a thousand participants.

  4. Rick, have you seen the graphic that DPZ did that compares the OLF site in scale with downtown Pensacola?

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