Business and community leaders kick off Six Pillars effort

Published: Thursday, February 28, 2013 at 11:53 AM.

OKALOOSA ISLAND — Okaloosa County business and community leaders are coming together to formulate a strategic path designed to bring more jobs and growth.

The chambers of commerce in Destin, Fort Walton Beach, Niceville/Valparaiso and Crestview are partnering with the Okaloosa County Economic Development Council to get the county designated a Six Pillars community.

The EDC hosted a symposium Wednesday morning at the Ramada Plaza Beach Resort dedicated to the Six Pillars initiative. More than 150 people attended.

“It wasn’t intended to impress upon each community that this is the Six Pillars — you will do it this way, you will make sure you address every single one of these issues regardless of if they are relevant to your community or not,” said Bentina Terry, vice president of external affairs at Gulf Power, who was the keynote speaker. “It’s not run out of Tallahassee. It’s run here and it’s the things that are important to you. It’s the area you want to see, the places you want to go, and it just provides a framework for how you might be able to get there.”

The Six Pillars initiative was developed by the Florida Chamber Foundation as a way for each county, region or statewide organization to increase and diversify their economic development. The initiative requires each community create a specific strategic plan to chart out its growth and develop ways to get there.

“All of this is stuff we kind of already do as part of our everyday business, but moving this community forward as a Six Pillars community is a part of our everyday business,” Terry said. “We look at objectives and goals. We set a plan to get there. We check our progress along the way. We set up committees to make sure that we’re getting where we are, and you’re constantly checking to see if you’re getting there and you should constantly be moving the goal post if we’re getting there too soon.

“It’s really just the framework so we can all have the same conversation in the same context,” Terry added.

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