For those of you who do not know Jason Koertge, he is the creator of PCBDaily.com and one of the areas most innovative business leaders. What you may not know about Jason is that he is not a native of Panama City Beach which provides him a unique perspective on our great city as both an outsider and one who has studied the beach’s in and outs in order to tell it’s story through PCBDaily.
We sat down with Jason and asked him about his optimistic views about Panama City Beach.
1. How has Panama City Beach changed since you’ve become a resident?
When I first moved here in 2001, I barely knew Panama City Beach existed. Still in college, and only coming to “the beach” on weekends, I had no idea of the economic potential or what the pending real estate boom was about to do to the area.
Three years later, I graduated into the biggest real estate boom this country has ever seen. I promptly got my real estate license (along with thousands of others) and dove right in.
Since I’ve been here, I’ve seen property values quadruple, then double back down. I’ve seen the beach vacant, lined with cranes (wish I had been an amateur photographer then), and shadowed by condo resorts all in a few years time. But, more importantly, I’ve seen this beach go from barely a spot on the map to being a true nation-wide vacation destination that appeals to all those who love visiting the beach.
2. What type of growth do you expect to see in the near future?
Hmm, interesting question. Let me get out my crystal ball. Lol. Seriously, it’s hard to say what we’ll see in terms of growth in the future for Panama City Beach. But one thing is for sure, if everything happens according to plan, we’ll see enormous growth in our tourism foot traffic, significant decreases in our real estate inventory, the emergence of additional industries other than tourism, increased population growth and a broader width of development that will stretch from the beach up Highway 79, including commercial AND residential. If all of that happens, I think we’ll all be better for it – unless you are an anti-growth, anti-progress fundamentalist, in which case, this will all be your worst nightmare.
3. With the new airport to open in weeks, what do you believe will be SW’s biggest impact on the area?
The phrase has actually been coined, “The Southwest Effect” – it even has it’s own Wikipedia page. It reads: “The Southwest Effect is the increase in airline travel originating from a community after service to and from that community is inaugurated by Southwest Airlines or another airline that improves service or lowers cost.” Put simply, Southwest Airlines brings more people, more people means more money is coming in, more money means more prosperity, growth, advancement, etc. So, everything that I see happening in the growth of our area in the future, I firmly believe will be the direct result of four things:
The new airport that will open May 23,
The increase in bed tax collection dollars that gave us more money to market,
The wooing of Southwest Airlines to come to our new airport and,
The strategic decision to allow Southwest to use that increase in bed tax money for their marketing of our area.
Based on Southwest coming here, we stand to see the greatest economic impact our area has ever seen, perhaps greater than many other areas have ever historically seen as well.
4. How will that effect PCB’s image?
Panama City Beach has already begun the transformation from spring break hotspot to family friendly fun. Years ago when the topic of Spring Break was raging, spring break opposition claimed we weren’t doing enough to get rid of the drunk kids that trash our beaches. While I could barely stand to be on the beach when they were here, I appreciated the money they brought to our area, but at the same time advocated that we needed to start weening ourselves away from their money. I always understood, however, that this was something that would take years. We had to slowly decrease our dependence on them and slowly increase our catering to the more adult crowds during that time. It’s working, but the transition is not complete.
With the growth that we’ll see in the future, our image in Panama City Beach will be changed. We wont’ be a “Destin”, we’ll still be Panama City Beach. But, what embodies Panama City Beach will be different. We’ll have a large full time population, a growing tourist population and we’ll have a stable economy year round. People will come here for work, and ironically return with their family to show them the beauty and fun that can be experienced here. We’ll have sophistication and technological advancements we cannot even fathom right now. Panama City Beach will still have some of it’s cherished relics, but it will be all new.
5. Give us your vision of PCB 10 years from now
In ten years, I think we’ll see a lot of new development up Highway 79. There will be commercial development that lines the highway with residential behind. You’ll have a huge spur in residential development all along Highway 388 and north further up Highway 79. We will see more development along Back Beach Road, starting from Highway 79 and moving west (and east where available). We’ll see real estate inventory decrease and new developments spur, slowly as demand requires.
I think we’ll see some big businesses relocate here as well. As a kid growing up in Plano Texas, I witnessed large corporations like Frito Lay and Dr. Pepper relocate just a few miles away in a commercial area. Why? because it was accessible and the land was cheap. Companies will have huge incentive to relocate here because getting here will no longer be costly and time consuming and land is relatively cheap. Plus, who wouldn’t want to live close to the world’s most beautiful beaches. It’s the best of everything.
…we totally agree.