Foy Shaw — a community leader with great vision, patience and eternal optimism — started his moving and storage business in 1956, and over the years added more than just jobs to the Crestview community.
He was a force and an inspiration most worthy of the programs that live on in his name, including the annual scholarship through the Crestview Area Chamber of Commerce, an organization he loved and nurtured.
Foy always said we should welcome some changes and others not so much. The long-awaited resolution to the fiscal cliff turned out to be pretty close to the worst-case scenario. The impact of tax increases has become a painful reality for an overwhelming majority of our citizens.
So much for the song-and-dance routine about taxing “millionaires and billionaires.”
The boys and girls in Washington have targeted the average citizen — as they always have — when they want more money. The average citizen will have less cash for the foreseeable future.
The average citizen — unlike the federal government — has to balance his budget and can’t keep borrowing more and more money.
In many U.S. communities, jobs are likely to shrink. Okaloosa County is in better shape than most to weather this economic drought. Our traditional tourism and defense industries will not wither overnight, and continued good stewardship of these economic sectors will minimize downturns.
Further, if the mid-county /I-10 corridor can continue to grow, it will have a strong positive effect on the entire region. The Panhandle counties as a whole have experienced some tough times, but if we bind together as a team, we have an opportunity to defy the odds and create hundreds of high-quality jobs close to home.
Fundamentals for this cheery outlook are in place. The crown jewel of the “new growth” for Okaloosa is the centrally and strategically located Bob Sikes Airport. It is a rare commodity, located as it is in a bona fide industrial park. This has great inherent value for the region’s economy over the next couple of decades.
I’ve been around long enough to see a number of economic downturns, and I have noticed that there seems to be two types of responses from communities.
One is “Woe is me” and the other is “I’ll bet we can!”
Wringing hands and wailing loudly for help tends to produce, well, chapped hands and a sore throat. However, taking a positive attitude, assessing the opportunities rationally, and putting a thoughtful plan into action usually leads to good results.
All four local chambers of commerce, your county, your cities and your friends and neighbors have a history of making the best darn lemonade out of the worst lemons. This is our time to shine once again.
Chamber leaders, in sync with county and city agencies, have been looking ahead and putting economic fuel into the vehicles that will get us where we need to go. One of those items is the long-overdue connector highway from U.S. Highway 90 to the Bob Sikes Airport. This project finally has gained some attention in the mid-county and south county areas.
Together, we can make this a reality and the U.S. 90 connector, now known officially as Foy Shaw Boulevard, will be the catalyst for a new era of prosperity for all of Okaloosa County.
Anyone who knew Foy knows exactly what he would be doing today: leading the change, just as his namesake boulevard will do as soon as state and federal leaders finally break the 18-year-old logjam.
Dennis M. Mitchell lives in Laurel Hill and is the Crestview Area Chamber of Commerce’s president-elect.