BAY COUNTY, Fla. (WMBB) – Bay Economic Development Alliance hopes to see more interest from international businesses in 2022.

Bay EDA leaders discussed those opportunities and highlighted their successes this year during their year-end meeting Wednesday.

They said they are optimistic about diversifying the economy over the next 10 years.

“We haven’t seen activity like this in a long time,” EDA President Becca Hardin said.

Hardin said the past few years have been unusual: Hurricane Michael and the pandemic have made marketing to foreign businesses more complicated, but not impossible.

“People are ready to make growth decisions and implement strategic plans and Bay County is in a perfect location to receive these companies,” she said.

Of the 25 prospective businesses Hardin is recruiting, she said they have nailed down Suzuki and Air Temp Mexico. They have started a total of eight projects in 2021, with 10 in the past seven years.

“They’re all advanced manufacturing-related,” Hardin said. “Our goal with bringing these projects to town is to help diversify our economy and bring in different types of projects who will be able to employ different types of skill sets.”

Hardin said one of her biggest goals for the upcoming year is to have more international companies know where Bay County is on a map and possibly move their business down here.

The EDA is the first in Florida to receive its Foreign Direct Investment Certification.

“It proves that our community leadership knows how to deal with international companies,” Hardin said.

She expressed this momentum is necessary for the new year.

The EDA’s work has resulted in creating 2,000 new jobs in the last seven years. The EDA is hoping to announce two more projects before going into the new year.