Destin, Fla. - Seven years after Deepwater Horizon, counties impacted by the oil spill joined together to work on a strategic plan to move forward, thanks to the RESTORE Act and Triumph funds.
"Tonight, I think, is really to continue building out the blueprint of Northwest Florida, of what we can do when we think and work regionally," said Mel Ponder, Florida House Representative.
"The key issues was, pulling our cities, our school boards, our county commissioners, our state officials all under one umbrella, so, that we could actually have a strategic plan and advance great projects and great vision for our communities," explained Bill Williams, RESTORE coordinator.
The RESTORE Act was created to help the Gulf of Mexico's environment and economy recover from the Deepwater Horizon oil disaster. Along with Triumph funds, which were recently allocated to this region, the community stands to benefit on many levels from projects that will stem from working together regionally.
"Get involved. Understand that these opportunities can transform the Panhandle, but, we have to do it together. That was the primary purpose of the meeting, getting our elected officials in our community to stay on course, look at all the different funding streams and collaborate," Williams told us.
The goal of this interactive planning workshop was to identify opportunities for regional collaboration efforts.
"This has been a long haul since 2010. We need all these people to keep their hands on the steering wheel. We need strategy. We need to have our actual plans," said Williams.
"When you have a group like this, a collaborative group like this, key people in their communities, wise people that have been here and knows their cities and counties really well, and you put them in one room, you can talk some strategic insight," said Ponder.
Following the community suggestion forum, the county representatives voted on which items to move forward with as "potential projects." The standing room only group also received a Triumph fund update and how this new source of revenue stands to impact Northwest Florida.
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