EDC’s public-private partnership lures and retains jobs

Published: Friday, January 11, 2013 at 03:23 PM.

As a private entity, the EDC has no regulatory authority, but works with partners, such as the city and county, to find ways of reducing or eliminating impediments to business development or relocation, Rasmussen said,.

“If we can see an area that can be improved upon for the greater good, we’re going to reach out to that entity,” Rasmussen said. “But we are not the policy makers. We are a partner. One key point is we don’t do anything alone. It’s all about partnerships.”

The council lists manufacturing, information technology, professional business services and medical health sciences as the primary targeted high-growth, high-wage industries it seeks to attract to Okaloosa County, including Crestview and its Enterprise Zone.

“Crestview can support, successfully, all of these targeted industries,” Rasmussen said.

The Enterprise Zone, the only one in the county, encompasses a corridor including a portion of Crestview, U.S. Highway 90 and the airport. It offers special incentives, tax reductions and employee training opportunities for business that locate within the zone or hire employees who live in it.

The EDC has 20 active projects, including four in the Crestview area that together could provide nearly 1,500 new jobs. State confidentiality laws precluded Rasmussen from discussing the companies’ identities.

While the military and defense sector is the region’s “number one economic engine,” it is followed by tourism, which took a hit from the April 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill. The incident underscored the need to diversify the local economy, Rasmussen said.

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