An announcement in the Crestview Area Chamber of Commerce’s Focus newsletter for the Hacker’s Holiday tournament might have gone unnoticed if one resident hadn’t brought the matter to the news media.
The event is May 25 at Blackstone Golf Course in Mossy Head. Kim Sulipeck, a Foxwood Country Club golfer, expressed concern for the Hub City business advocate’s decision to schedule a fundraiser — which reportedly nets approximately $6,000 annually — outside Okaloosa County, let alone Crestview.
Though she says she doesn’t represent the Crestview golf course, she has been vocal in her message. She contended the booking counters the chamber’s mission statement to help Crestview area businesses; it gives the city a “black eye,” she said in a recent report. (See “City’s ‘black eye’ is ‘much ado about nothing,’” March 23 News Bulletin.)
County Commissioner Wayne Harris, the chamber’s executive director, told the News Bulletin that the criticism was “much ado about nothing.”
The mission statement, as the chamber stated to us directly, reads as follows: “We are the premier business advocate in the Crestview are(a) community, providing membership services and proactive leadership to promote responsible economic development, business success, and a high quality of life.”
Harris indicated that the “Crestview area community” reference leaves room for interpretation.
Further, Foxwood has hosted 13 tournaments in the past 13 years, so it’s “unreasonable and unfair to expect all golf outings to be held at only one member golf course,” Harris said.
But what if that one member golf course is the lone Crestview, nay, Okaloosa member golf course? That seems to be the case.
Pensacola and Alabama businesses may have joined the chamber, but does that mean that, say, Rock Creek golf course in Fairhope, Ala., should be the next consideration, if it were a member? That’s nearly two hours away.
Businesses outside Crestview, Okaloosa County and even Florida state lines may join the chamber to appear in the members directory and enjoy numerous networking opportunities, but facts are facts. When people shop locally — within Crestview city limits — the city prospers. Dollars stay local, which benefits the community’s nonprofits and infrastructure, creates jobs and improves quality of life.
All things being equal, is it demonstrably beneficial for the Crestview chamber — regardless of the mission statement’s supposed elasticity — to support any business outside Crestview, let alone Okaloosa County?
Does the gain really outweigh the symbolic risk — especially when business flowing into Walton County might not be reciprocated?
B.J. Thomhave, Foxwood’s office manager, takes it all in stride. He has mixed emotions about the Walton County arrangement, but “it’s a free country” and it’s the chamber’s decision to make, he told reporter Matthew Brown.
It’s a free country, all right, in the land of opportunity. But doing business in Crestview and living here are not free.
That’s why the chamber should stick with Foxwood, even if it is the only member golf course in Crestview.
Alternatively, program something different from a golf tournament to help other Crestview businesses.
Contact News Bulletin Editor Thomas Boni at 682-6524 or email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @cnbeditor.