Millions for industrial parks on Santa Rosa’s legislative wish list

  • September 15, 2015
  • /   Louis Cooper
  • /   community-dashboard

When state Rep. Doug Broxson convenes the Santa Rosa County Legislative Delegation public hearing next week, he’ll hear requests for millions of dollars from the County Commission for two economic development projects.

He says he support those projects.

The delegation meeting is set for 5:30 p.m., Tuesday, Sept. 22, at the Santa Rosa County Administrative Office Complex, 6495 U.S. 90 in Milton (behind McDonald’s). The meeting will include Broxson, Sen. Greg Evers and Rep. Mike Hill, all Republicans.

The meeting is intended to allow local governments, interest groups and citizens to present their legislative wishes for the 2016 session.

Among its legislative wishes, Santa Rosa County is asking for $8.8 million to begin work on infrastructure at Whiting Aviation Park, a 269-acre industrial park with access to a 6,000-foot airstrip at Whiting Field Naval Air Station. The park is intended to attract aerospace and related companies.

“With runway access, monitored airspace, (Visual Flight Rules) flight conditions over 300 days each year, and an available workforce of the second highest concentration of military retirees in the nation, the future of Whiting Aviation Park offers a unique opportunity for aviation-related companies,” according to the county’s legislative priority list.

The construction of industrial parks brings new businesses and jobs into a community and helps stimulate the local economy and improve the overall quality of life.

Want to go?

— What: Santa Rosa County Legislative Delegation public hearing

— When: 5:30 p.m., Tuesday, Sept. 22.

— Where: Santa Rosa County Administrative Office Complex, 6495 U.S. 90, Milton (behind McDonald’s).

Details: To request an appearance form to be placed on the agenda or submit handouts, individuals should contact Rep. Doug Broxson’s office at (850) 916-5436 or send an e-mail to no later than 5 p.m., Friday, Sept. 18.

While the Legislature supported the Whiting project this year, Gov. Rick Scott vetoed it.

“We worked really hard on the Whiting Field project, and were very disappointed that the governor vetoed it,” Broxson said. “It seemed to us to fit his criteria – that it create jobs. “

New to the county’s legislative priority list is $3.7 million for the Northwest Florida Industrial Park @ I-10. That’s a 200-acre park just south of Interstate 10 on State Road 87 in East Milton. The county wants the money to put in infrastructure and build a “spec” building to lure new businesses.

“As many companies visiting our county are asking to see existing buildings instead of green space, an onsite spec building would be a game-changing marketing tool,” according to the priorities list. “This asset would set the park apart from our competitors and draw more site selectors and companies to our area for that vital first look.

“Based on project leads, developing the park could have a tremendous impact on the county and Northwest Florida. One project alone could bring 417 jobs, with annual impact of $40.2 million.”

Broxson supports that allocation as well.

“It will help to build our economy,” he said. “They (the county commissioners) know they’re going to have to put in some matching funds to make it happen.  They’re going to have some money through the BP dollars. That’s what we need to use those dollars for, to build the economy.”

Broxson hopes to find a way for these projects to make it past the governor’s veto pen in 2016.

“He had – what – 50 pages of vetoes, which is unprecedented. Some of those vetoes were on things he had put in his budget the year before,” Broxson said. “We’re trying to figure out where the governor is on these issues.”

Other items on the county’s legislative priorities list include $23.65 million to re-nourish Navarre Beach, $19 million to construct a new Navarre Beach Waste Water Treatment Facility and $12 million to help fund a new Santa Rosa County judicial facility, among others.

Broxson said anyone with a concern or proposal for the Legislature is welcome at the meeting.

“This is not a time for us to lead. It’s a time for us to listen,” he said. “We’re going to go there with an open mind to listen to the county and the other people who will have issues. Let’s see what they have to say. We’re just going to be a listening post.”