Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Plan for region unveiled

NICEVILLE, Fla. — Northwest Florida as a region must commit to economic diversification if it wants the $1.2 billion in BP money to create the change its business leaders envision. That was the message from Jon Roberts for more than 100 people who showed up at Northwest Florida State College Monday for a preview of the "blueprint" for successful regional diversification drawn up by TIP Strategies, where Roberts is a managing director. The plan is called Northwest Florida Forward. One key will be training a workforce capable of stepping in to fill positions as new industry locates in the area, he said. Another involves taking advantage of existing regional "industry clusters" such as aerospace and defense, financial services and advanced manufacturing. It will also mean addressing infrastructure needs, developing "entrepreneurial hubs" and building "vibrant downtown areas," a news release circulated by the group said. "We designed this regional strategy to be a framework for prioritizing projects so everyone in Northwest Florida benefits," said Rick Byars, the chairman of the board of Florida's Great Northwest. "This plan underscores the importance of a regional approach to build a diverse and vibrant regional economy now and for generations to come." (Source: Northwest Florida Daily News, 02/27/17)