Gulf Power wants to start program to attract businesses

gulf power attract businesses infrastructure
NICK TOMECEK / Northwest Florida Daily News
Published: Friday, March 22, 2013 at 10:59 AM.

FORT WALTON BEACH — Gulf Power plans to launch a new initiative next month to make Northwest Florida more aggressive in attracting businesses to the region.

Hundreds of acres are waiting to be developed by companies looking to open, move or expand in industrial parks and other locations.

Stan Connally, president and CEO of Gulf Power, said his company plans to oversee a site certification program in which it would partner with economic development organizations and local governments to partially develop some of the vacant sites to make it easier for businesses to locate there.

Called site certification, the process would involve clearing the land, installing some utilities and transportation infrastructure, and start the permitting process for future development. After the work is completed, the sites would be added to a national registry of properties ready for development.

"Businesses want to know they can go somewhere and get going quickly," Connally told the Northwest Florida editorial board earlier this week. "That the permitting is not going to be a problem, the land is not going to be an issue, that they know ahead of time that all that stuff is set up for them. It just gets you in the game quicker and gives you some edge.

"As you look at the states that we compete with in the South, namely Mississippi, Alabama and Georgia, all three of those states today have site certification programs and Florida does not," he added.

Gulf Power plans to launch its initiative April 10 at an event attended by city, county, chamber and economic development officials from around the region. It will be the first site certification initiative in the state.

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