www.SoWalScene.com – South Walton's Newest Information Source

As it turns out, someone else is doing something in South Walton similar to what I’m doing in Panama City Beach – blogging about what is going on!

Jill Gaupin launched SoWalScene.com in January and has been keeping the content updated daily.  The site has grown quickly and is being recognized as being THE site to go to if you are wanting info on what is happening in her area.

Some of her latest posts are:

Cultural Arts Association’s August Workshops

Find Your Happy Place in a Yoga or Meditation Class around town

Weekend Live Music Roundup

Be sure to check out her site often!

Officials Want New Airport to be "aerotropolis"

As reported by emeraldcoast.com:

Panama City-Bay County International Airport officials want the new $330 million facility to be an “aerotropolis” that draws international flights and business to West Bay.

To meet that goal, airport leaders are in discussions with several international carriers and have hired John Kasarda, a scholar, author and the man who coined the term “aerotropolis.”

Airport Executive Director Randy Curtis said airport officials are in talks with several airlines in Canada and England. He described the discussions as ongoing but declined to name the airlines.

Bill Cramer, the vice chairman of the Airport Authority, confirmed the discussions but also declined to name names.

“They’re not willing to go on the record,” Cramer said of the airlines.

However, he added the airport’s new hire will be instrumental in bringing in those international flights and other businesses.

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Did the Summer White Sale Hurt Local Businesses?

There was a “letter to the editor” published in the News Herald on July 18th from Reggie Lancaster talking about how the Summer White Sale didn’t help local tourism, but actually hurt the existing businesses.


Few people have more of an appreciation of what our Tourist Development Council members do than I. I spent 11 years on the board and chaired it for four years and have fond memories of serving with some great people. I would like to offer some constructive criticism to the advertising agency and the board in regards to the current advertising effort referred to as the Summer White Sale.

Although well intentioned, I don’t believe the advertising campaign produced the desired results. Instead of enticing new guests to come to Panama City Beach, it largely accomplished offering reduced rates and incentives to guests who already had reservations or at least plans to come here. Consequently, while everything else in the country was going up in price, we were reducing already stressed profit margins in the accommodation industry.

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Tapestry Park Cinema Brings Movies to Life in Panama City Beach

Bring your lawn chairs, picnic baskets and blankets and get ready for the second installment of Tapestry Park Cinema. Tapestry Park will continue hosting a free movie night on Friday, July 25th. The event will run once a month through September. Each month, a well known film will be shown on a giant 16-foot screen in Savannah Park. Tapestry Park Cinema will also be offering a cash-only concession stand.

“We received numerous compliments following the first movie night at Tapestry Park and everyone is so excited for this event to continue,” said Mark Tanney, the developer of Tapestry Park. “We have had such an outpouring of support from the community and hope others will come join us for the next movie; who doesn’t love surfing penguins!”

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Bay County Skate Park on Panama City Beach – Video!

A needed and overdue skate park is being built on Panama City Beach and is set to open in the next two weeks.

Brian Kehl, local developer and restaurant owner had a vision and wanted a place for not only him and his 7 year old, but a place for local talent to skate ramp.

Growing up, Brian had a 9 foot vert ramp in his back yard that him and his brother Corey would skate after school and on weekends. With the only place to skate ramp around here being in Lynn Haven at Renegade Sports Center, Brian wanted something that was not only closer, but a place that would be taken more seriously as a skate park.

Click the more link for the video.

Continue reading “Bay County Skate Park on Panama City Beach – Video!”

Dr. Ed Wright, WestBayFlorida Blog – Last Post

Dr. Ed Wright, former Dean of FSU-PC and authority on the whole West Bay area, including economic development and the airport relocation, has posted his last post and article on his WestBayFlorida Blog.

I could summarize, but I could never duplicate the effect of the writing itself. Below is the last post, and below is his last article, The Future – It’s More Than Building a New Airport.

Ed, you’ll be sorely missed in our area and online.

I quote in its entirety:

I owe you all an apology for being AWOL for so long.

It’s not that there wasn’t any news – there certainly was. I had expected to take a short hiatus over Christmas and New Years and to think about a new direction for the newsletter focusing on the broader issues of economic development and the need to build a regional identity and marketing approach now that airport construction has gotten underway.

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The Future: It's More Than Building a New Airport

Again, I quote in its entirety, from Ed Wright:

As construction of the new airport proceeds on schedule, it is clear that we need to get busy putting all the other pieces of this jigsaw puzzle together. Approval of the airport relocation was key to approaching the vision for the West Bay Sector Plan and to realize its many different benefits to the region.

The following are thoughts about just some of the things that need to be underway:

The preservation of West Bay, by setting aside nearly 40,000 acres of conservation land, established a remarkable and unparallel public-private partnership and opportunity.

  • Currently the leading edge of this conservation effort is the planned Audubon Nature Center. The communities of Bay and Walton Counties and businesses and residents need to get behind the Audubon Society’s efforts to make this world-class Nature Center a reality. It has enormous potential for education, reputation, conservation, tourism, and (yes) economic development as well.

A coordinated growth and land use plan for development that involves the counties adjacent to Bay County and contiguous to the West Bay Sector Plan is needed.

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Jerry Ray Discusses New Airport on HomeAwayPodcast.com

Jerry Ray, the Senior Vice President for Strategic Alliances for the St. Joe Company, was interviewed this week on the HomeAwayPodcast site. The topic of discussion was the new airport and what it is going to do for our area.

Jerry starts by giving an account of the history of St. Joe and where it all began. He continues by giving the history of the airport relocation project, how it all started and discusses the process it has gone through thus far.

You can listen to it by downloading it, or listen to it online.

Letter from Delta – "sharp economic downturn"

Last week as I was on vacation, Delta sent a letter to frequent flyers, warning that we will see a “sharp economic downturn because of skyrocketing oil and fuel prices.”

The rest of the email reads:

Our country is facing a possible sharp economic downturn because of skyrocketing oil and fuel prices, but by pulling together, we can all do something to help now.

For airlines, ultra-expensive fuel means thousands of lost jobs and severe reductions in air service to both large and small communities. To the broader economy, oil prices mean slower activity and widespread economic pain. This pain can be alleviated, and that is why we are taking the extraordinary step of writing this joint letter to our customers.

Click the more link to read the rest of the letter.

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High Fuel Prices + Major Airlines + Weak Economy = Catastrophe

I came across this paper talking about the effects of record high fuel prices could have on the US Airline industry.

The title actually reads: Record-high Fuel Prices +Major U.S. Airlines + Weakened U.S. Economy = A Catastrophe. I shortened it to save space.

The paper talks about an top energy analyst at Goldman Sachs is predicting that we’ll see oil at $200 a barrel within 24 months. With the price of oil twice what it was just a year ago and 4 times as much as it was in 2000, the price of oil rising is certain to have significant effects on the United States Airline industry.

In 2000, the cost of fuel was around 15% of the average airline total operating cost. Today, it is around 40% of the average airline total operating cost. This is greater than the cost of labor or the cost of plane leases.

Click the more link for a link to the entire paper.

Continue reading “High Fuel Prices + Major Airlines + Weak Economy = Catastrophe”