CRESTVIEW — The city of Crestview has been named as one of six communities that received a $40,000 grant for economic development.
The grant was administered by the state’s Department of Economic Opportunity (DEO) and comes with the support and guidance of the DEO.
“The grant is to help us create the economic development strategy,” said City Senior Planner Trae Duley. “The DEO created a curriculum on things to do to reach out to businesses and site selectors.”
The city was in the process of looking at other grants when they were notified of the DEO grant.
“The farther we got into it, we realized it is absolutely something that could help the city out,” Duley said of the grant.
Duley said the grant ties perfectly into the strategic planning that was done by city staff at the end of May.
“One of the things they highlighted that was going to be part of the process was asset mapping,” Duley said. “We’ve already kind of done that with our SWOT analysis. We’ve already got some of the work done that says here’s what we want. Now, we’ll get a little more fine-tuned on that and we’ll get a little more technical.”
The city will look at individual projects they want to accomplish, but because it is early in the process Duley wasn’t sure where the main focus would be.
“There are still some steps we have to do,” Duley said. “We’re anticipating in next week or so that the DEO will get more specific in terms of here’s step 1. We don’t know what that is yet. We do know that it is possible for this to be a multi-year effort. After we get through this piece of the puzzle, there will be following pieces that will come down the road.”
Duley believes the grant will help attract businesses to the Crestview area.
“The first thing a site selector is going to do is call the state and say ‘Who’s been doing their job? Who’s been doing what they’re supposed to do?’” Duley said. “The state is going to say ‘Here’s our list of communities we think are following the process and doing it like they’re supposed to. These are the competitive Florida communities.’ We’re getting on that list.”
Duley attended a DEO conference in Tallahassee on Monday. The amount of resources and contacts the DEO presented exceeded his expectations and made him excited about their partnership.
“The DEO office will be a very vital part of moving us forward,” Duley said. “Being partnered with them, the world will open up. There’s a tremendous number of options available just waiting to be tapped.”
Duley said it’s important to remember that changes won’t come overnight.
“They’re probably going to ask us what we see and then they’ll follow through with ‘Your community wants to do these things. Let’s see what you’re capable of getting done.' Then we’ll find a way forward to make that happen.” Duley said. “I don’t expect it’ll be easy or painless, but we’ve started.”