Bay County sees banner year for economic growth

BAY COUNTY, Fla. (WMBB) — Panama City and Bay County are open for business.

The Bay County Economic Development Alliance updates a number of on-going projects during its monthly meeting. Panama City officials also gave an update on their projects.

Panama City City Manager, Mark McQueen, is looking to the future for the development of Panama City.

“I know this, if you always do what you’ve always done you’ll always get what you’ve always got and what we want is a fundamentally different city,” McQueen said.

While McQueen recognizes the devastation that came with Hurricane Michael, the silver lining is the disaster funding that will help transform the community.

More apartments and housing will come to north Panama City.

“It’s sort of the uncharted territory of the city and so we have a number of communities that are being built, apartment complexes, workforce housing as well as new single family residences that are going in there,” McQueen said.

Additionally, a $20 million renovation of the Martin Theatre is on the books.

“It’ll be and incredible asset for the city in general but certainly downtown as we continue to revitalize the arts,” McQueen said.

Not to mention, the new business liaison program will make it easier for entrepreneurs to open their own businesses.

“Let’s help them work through all of the wickets that are bureaucratic in nature and very difficult for each individual investor to have to figure out on their own,” McQueen said.

It’s not just more homes and business that are contributing to the growth of our area. The Bay Economic Development Alliance is working on several projects that could bring hundreds of jobs and put Bay County on the world map.

“We’re seeing prospect visits like we’ve never seen before and we’re going to make more announcements this is our time,” said EDA Director, Becca Hardin.

Hardin is currently working on 15 projects. Some look increasingly promising.

“Five of those are pretty hot which means that we’ve had the CEO and executive team visit our community at least once and we’re in the process of negotiating the final deal,” Hardin said.

Those companies could create hundreds of new jobs and millions in local investments.

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