The County of Okaloosa is a fairly small region in Florida and compared to major metropolitan hubs like Jacksonville and Orlando, Okaloosa has never been known for its groundbreaking economic developments — until now.
In an exciting new development, the Okaloosa Industrial Air Park has become the first industrial park in Okaloosa County to be certified through Gulf Power’s Florida First Sites program. The program, according to local news station WTVY News, was created back in 2013 to encourage smaller communities to bring in more businesses and industries, thereby increasing the number of local jobs and providing space for new businesses to grow.
Six out of 14 separate industrial sites throughout Florida that have since aimed to increase local industries and be certified through the program are currently certified. WTVY News explained that the program has allowed private landowners to file a petition for certification, and a third-party consulting firm (working for Gulf Power) provides an in-depth analysis of the properties included in each petition, detailing how each property can be improved in order to increase jobs and revenue.
The Okaloosa Industrial Air Park is particularly important to the county; although the 134.7 acre space is owned by the Board of County Commissioners, it sits adjacent to the Bob Sikes General Aviation Airport, thereby making the space invaluable to businesses that work in tandem with the aviation industry.
The process of building up the Okaloosa Industrial Air Park wasn’t easy, as the NWF Daily News has noted; the Florida real estate market is notorious for being unpredictable, and competition for industrial space in this state is very high.
Nevertheless, the development of industrial parks, similar to the one in Okaloosa, provide more local revenue and economic support than most people realize — and not just through the construction of necessary physical structures, like factories and cooling towers, but also through continuous economic growth.
When small businesses have the space to expand and when there are ample opportunities to conduct business transactions with other local companies, the overall economic impact is significant on small communities, like those in Okaloosa County.