Washington County Economic Development Symposium held

Published: Thursday, August 22, 2013 at 07:01 PM.

Heather Squires, manager of competition strategies for Enterprise Florida, discussed the organizations responsibilities for marketing the state to potential industries. “When a lead comes to the state, it is our job to match the community with the business’ needs,” she said.

Enterprise Florida has an entire section dedicated to military and defense contractors, which are an important part of the state’s economy, Squires said.

“Ultimately, it comes back to that local level,” she said. “You have to have the support at the local level and know what you are going to work on.”

Bay County’s Neal Wade summed up economic development as “recruitment, sustaining and expanding existing base, tourism, retail and entrepreneurship.”

“I would rather have 10 businesses with five employees than one business with 50 employees,” Wade said.  “One of the first things you need to do is stop going to Dothan or Panama City to shop. Spend that money here in town with a local business.”

Wade said growing the businesses already in place is a key element of economic development that is often overlooked.

“Economic development is the process of creating wealth and increasing the tax base,” Wade said. “If you can grow jobs, then you increase your tax base and everyone benefits.”

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