It’s a good time to be an economic development specialist looking to work in Northwest Florida.

It’s a good time to be an economic development specialist looking to work in Northwest Florida.

Economic development organizations in Okaloosa, Walton and Santa Rosa counties are searching for new leadership. Okaloosa and Santa Rosa counties are still accepting applications for their open positions, while the application period in Walton County closed recently.

For information on the qualifications for the executive director's position with the Okaloosa County Economic Development Council, click here.

For information on the qualifications for the director's position of the Santa Rosa County economic development department, click here.

Although all three counties are looking for economic development directors at one time, Greg Britton, chairman of the Okaloosa County EDC’s search committee, said the economies of the three counties are different enough that there should not be a lot of overlap with the searches.

“For what we’re searching for, it’s a different type of person because we have so much manufacturing and military,” said Britton, general manager of Fort Walton Machining. “We have tourism here, but we also have a pretty good manufacturing base. We’re going to be looking for somebody who has those qualifications, that’s worked with the Department of Defense before, has some military base experience.

“I’d like to see somebody that’s seasoned, that has a CEcD (economic development certification), an advanced degree,” he added. “We’d like to see somebody that has 10 years of full-time professional economic development experience or very close to that.”

The EDC began advertising for a new executive director Feb. 11 on the websites of the Florida Economic Development Council and the International Economic Development Council. The deadline to apply is March 15.

Resumes, supporting documents and references can be emailed to Britton anticipates phone interviews with select candidates to begin the week of April 1. Final on-site interviews likely will take place about two weeks later, and the announcement of a new director could be about May 1.

“I think Larry (Sassano, former longtime EDC president) did a great job when he was in there (and those are going to be) tough shoes to fill,” Britton said. “If we do our due diligence right as the search committee, we’ll find the right person.”

The deadline to apply for Santa Rosa County’s director of economic development is March 1. As of the end of last week, about 40 people had applied and another 10 to 15 are expected by time the application period closes, County Administrator Hunter Walker said.

Santa Rosa County has contracted with the search firm KiJobGrowth to oversee the search for a permanent director of the county’s economic development department, which was created last year. Resumes, supporting documents and references can be sent to

The timeline to interview applicants has not been finalized, but Walker said he hopes to have someone onboard in the May to June time frame.

“It’s very important,” Walker said. “This will be our first economic development director that’s worked directly for the county. It’s going to be a director-level position and one that can take us into the future.”

The application period for the executive director’s position at the Walton County Economic Alliance recently concluded with more than 40 people applying, said Louis Svehla, the county’s public information officer.

The applications are being reviewed to make sure everyone meets the county’s qualifications. A committee made up of some county commissioners and representatives from the county’s Human Resources Department will narrow the candidate pool to who they want to interview by phone. The committee will then recommend which of those candidates should receive on-site interviews with the County Commission.

Svehla said someone could be hired in the next 60 days.

Contact Daily News Business Editor Dusty Ricketts at 850-315-4448 or Follow him on Twitter @DustyRnwfdn.