Development and expansion take center stage at Bay County Chamber’s “First Friday”

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PANAMA CITY, Fla. (WMBB) – Local business leaders got a look this morning at some of the possible new industries heading to the area.

The Bay County Economic Development Alliance talked about business recruitment at Friday’s Bay County Chamber of Commerce’s “First Friday” meeting.

Bay County EDA President Becca Hardin is actively recruiting 25 different businesses to locate in the local community.

“We do expect to hopefully be able to announce three new company projects coming to Bay County before the end of the year,” Hardin said. “Now that some of the COVID-19 restrictions are being relaxed, we are seeing a lot of companies ready to make growth plans and thankfully we are the recipients of some of this activity.”

Hardin said seven of the prospects are considered “hot” and would create nearly 1,400 new jobs.

The EDA has been targeting the aerospace and distribution industries.

Business leaders are selling the assets of Northwest Florida Beaches International Airport to aviation companies.

The airport provides access to a 10,000-foot runway, room to grow, and good airline service.

“We’re developing our land for maintenance, repair, and overhaul,” said ECP Executive Director Parker McClellan. “It is for the maintenance of jets and airplanes whether it’s smaller general aviation up to the commercial airliners that fly in and out of our airport every day. What we are trying to do is make sure that we have the platform that gives Becca and her team the tools for development”

Hardin said most of the new manufacturing jobs are high-paying jobs.

“If we are successful in bringing new companies to Bay County and helping our existing companies grow, then the people that live in Bay County will have good jobs so that they can buy homes, and cars and take their families to dinner and have a really great quality of life,” said Hardin.

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