BAY COUNTY, Fla. (WMBB) — Bay County Economic Development Alliance leaders are celebrating a ‘banner year’.

They highlighted their successes during Wednesday’s annual investors’ meeting.

The Bay County Economic Development Alliance has been working very hard over the past year, signing five new business deals for the region.

“Hundreds of new jobs coming to the area, millions and millions of dollars in investment and really life changes projects for our area,” Bay EDA President Becca Hardin said.

The five businesses have made for a ‘banner year’ for economic development, but 2023 could be even more successful.

“We’re continually filling our pipeline right now working between 20 and 25 projects I would say, 6 or 7 of those are what we classify as ‘hot’ which means that the company has come to visit our community,” Hardin said.

One of the five companies welcomed to the area this year, Southern Sky Aviation, broke ground Wednesday. The fixed-based operator will maintain private planes, provide flying lessons, and offer aircraft rentals.

Former EDA chairman Will Cramer said the airport property has a lot of potential for further development, but the committee wants to cast a wide net regarding future endeavors.

“We’re missing a lot, so we’re focusing on aviation because we’ve got the airport, we’ve got the property there,” Cramer said. “We’re focusing on marine because we’ve got some existing business there that we can expand with, but we’ll talk to anybody. Anybody who wants to bring good high-paying jobs that fit within our community.”

Southern Sky Aviation opened its gates at the airport on Wednesday, and the new FedEx ground facility will be next to open this fall.