Get Your Phone Fit for Summer

Is your phone fit for summer?  Concerts are back on at Pier Park, it’s bike riding weather at Conservation Park and the beach is calling our name, so who wants to be carrying their charger with them everywhere?

All this talk about getting bikini ready and what not I figured I would get my phone ready for the beach too.  So I headed over to Sunjammers Watersports, where we filmed the last episode of The Beach Show and plundered through their phone accessories.

When the weather gets warm like this again, I want to be OUTSIDE!  Only problem, is being in sales and marketing, I am constantly on my phone…emailing, texting, facebooking and because of that, my phone is always DYING!

So last time I was in Sunjammers I happened to mention this to owner Brad Stephens and he showed me this nifty little thing called a Mophie Juice Pack, and I fell in love.

Alright, so I did not fall in love all it once, but this is what I liked about it:

Mophie Juice Pack Perks

 

(cool stuff that matters to girls)

1. It is multi-functional,  it has a protective case to combat the constant drops and dark recesses of my purse AND it has a battery pack

so your phone stays charged.

2. It is easier to clean that my OtterBox, which seems to attract make-up.

3. Oddly enough, the extra weight from the battery pack, makes me more aware of it and I swear I don’t drop it as much.

4. And my favorite…it is actually EASY to take on and off, so no breaking your nails or looking for a sharp object to pry it open like the Life Case.

 

So after Brad hooked me up with the Mophie Case I needed, with pink on it of course, I remembered my tendency to drop my phone in bodies of water…and the washing machine etc.  Like you haven’t put your Iphone on the spin cycle?

So after my love affair with the Mophie Juice Pack simmered down, I found one of those cool AquaPac covers that keep your phone, tablet, you name it, dry and sand free.  So now I am all set for the sunshine and my phone is beach ready!

What about you?  Do you have any cool phone accessories good for summertime activities?  If you do, please SHARE with your fellow PCB Daily friends, we want to hear about it!

 

 

 

Weekend Events – not just for weekends in the winter!

Have you seen any snow yet? Any ice not in your drink? Not here on Panama City Beach!  Nothing to do here but decide how to fit in all the unusual events we have coming up – WITH your beachwalks! What a great time to be on the beach.  Art, shows, free stuff, and – well you have to be pretty smart to be here, but folks every year enjoy Education Encore right at the foot of the bridge.
Continue reading “Weekend Events – not just for weekends in the winter!”

3G Launched in Panama City Beach

photo3About 20 minutes I received a voicemail from Cebo, “Dude, tell me if you see 3G on your iPhone, I just noticed it on mine.”  Before I called him back, I quickly turned off Wi-Fi and low and behold there it was, like a huge un-meltable ice cream sunday on a hot sunny day.  3G, right here in Panama City Beach.

Every since I purchased this lovely magical device known by millions I had been craving 3G, even before having a taste of what it was like.  Last month our family vacation yielded first-hand experience of what 3G was like as we traveled through larger metropolitan areas on our way to rural Illinois.  Our time spent in St. Louis was accompanied by lightening fast surfing on our iPhones (yes, my wife has one too) making Facebook updates and Tweets breezily and fast.  And, yes I said breezily.

In my haste to know just when we would receive this savior of a data connection, I did every search I could muster and was able to uncover a press release from AT&T that announced 3G would be expanded or added in 5 markets in Florida during 2009 and one of them was the Panama City area.  As of last week, each of the areas that were to receive coverage or expanded coverage had seen so, so I knew Panama City would be next.  But, no one at AT&T would confirm this for me.  So, I waited.

Of course, I wanted the full story of what was happening to my iPhone.  “Not good, actually, you’re area does not have 3G as of right now,” said Judith, an AT&T call center representative.  I called to see how much AT&T knew about this ghost upgrade.  “Actually, I have 3G, it says so on my phone right now,” his immediate response was a puzzled, “uh, you do?”  I grinned, of course.  My wife was making fun of me, because the discovery of this actually brought a tear to my eye.  Not a big one, but a tear nonetheless.

The AT&T rep had no record of our area having 3G, but was able to confirm with a supervisor that this area was probably sharing a “partner” tower array.  I have 3G on the west end, Cebo has it on the east end, good enough for me.

photo21So, what does this mean for Too Creative, and more importantly Panama City Beach? This means that our mobile surfing pleasure is actually pleasurable with download speeds of up to 1.7 mbs and upload speeds of up to 700 kbs, per Judith, our friend at the AT&T call center.  The Edge network yielded a measly, puney and very dissapointing 27 kbs up and down.  However, I did a speed test just a second ago that brought a swift 2.3 mbs download and a very satisfying 228 kbs upload.  Mobile video uploads, here we come.  You can sure bet that you’ll see more TwitVid’s from us in the near future.

City Continues Steps in the Green Direction

If you had not known already, back in March the City of Panama City started a cooking oil recycling program as a part of its Green Initiative.

Basically, the programs works like this: anyone can stop by one of 9 Green Recycling Stations, look for the hard-to-miss neon green shelves, pick up an empty container from the top shelf and fill it with your used “Plant Based Cooking Oil”. All you have to do then is just bring the container back with your used oil and place it on the bottom shelf. You may also bring your used oil in the original container. The oil is collected by the city, which is then converted into Bio-Diesel Fuel and used in city vehicles reducing the city’s expense for diesel fuel. Already, Panama City has produced hundreds of gallons of bio-diesel fuel. This program benefits everyone by providing an easy way to dispose of used oil while keeping cooking oil out of sewer systems. And the bio-diesel fuel is much better for the environment as it significantly reduces engine exhaust emissions.

After seeing this program in action, my immediate reaction was, “what is the beach doing to conserve energy and move in the green direction?”

As of today, Panama City Beach has but two recycling drop off sites for the entire city; one at Pete Edwards field and another on the West End on San Vincent Street, both of which are surprisingly secluded. Such was the case with Panama City, although they have more recycle stations, but local businesses helped out, allowing the city to use their space for pickup and drop offs.

With as many restaurants as there are on Panama City Beach, having a system like this could greatly benefit the city. In fact, as city budget talks continue, having a bio-diesel fuel program could reduce some expenses at little cost.

If Panama City Beach increases the number of recycle drop offs, say by two, put them in less obscure places and provide incentives like a cooking oil recycling program, people would be more inclined to participate. I know I would.

Panama City Beach can become a much greener place, all that’s needed is a little initiative.

If you are interested in taking your used cooking oil, Panama City dropoff/pickup locations are:

Behind the Old Bay County Library next to City Hall.
Texaco Station Jenks & 23rd St Intersection
Texaco Station Harrison Ave & Hwy 231 Intersection
Texaco Station at the Curve on Thomas Dr. PC Beach
Texaco Station at 1138 Beck Ave in St. Andrews
College Texaco Station on 15th St near G.C.C.C
Bay County Health Department on 11th Street
Rege Helletts Auto Body 2014 W.23rd St
Panama Generator & Alternator on 11th St

Gov Crist Here, Comments on Airport, No Education Cuts, and Offshore Oil Drilling

Dancing on the animated floor projection, Governor Charlie Crist made an appearance at the Panama City Beach’s Chamber of Commerce last Tuesday to attend a “round-table” meeting with 10 of the leaders of the Panama City Beach community.  Among many topics, the dynamics involved with education funding, offshore drilling, and the new Panama City-Bay County Airport were discussed.

A restricted schedule kept the questions to a minimum, but 5 were able to address the Governor including Anthony DuBose on the lending industry, Al McCambry on private vs public education funding, Dan Rowe on offshore drilling, Tom Morgan about the new airport, and Gary Walsingham regarding college funding.  The answers varied and actually resulted in around 50 minutes of video footage.

Starting off discussing the housing market, Governor Crist talked about the current 10% annual cap on property taxes for 2nd homes and businesses and the possiblity of that being cut in half, should the people of Florida vote on it on the November 2010 ballot.  The Florida legislature just passed this to be on the ballot.  In addition, there will also be a 25% reduction in property taxes to first-time homebuyers.

Governor Crist also commented on state-wide education in that when he first came into office, Education Weekly ranked Florida education 31st out of 50 in the United States.  Last year, the state of Florida was ranked 14th and this year Florida ranked 10, marking a clear improvement, Crist said.  The Governor humbly credited his predecessor Gov Jeb Bush for setting in play most of what led to the increase in quality education in Florida.

Regarding offshore drilling, Governor Crist voiced his opinion in support of drilling citing that if “it’s safe enough, far enough and clean enough,” then he thinks we should do it.  He discussed a new technology that was presented to him three weeks ago that placed a mushroom-shaped dome on the ocean floor that housed all the oil extraction equipment so that no surface equipment would be needed any longer.  He said that this could be the future of drilling and could lead to less environmental risk.  “I believe the founders of our country signed the Declaration of Independence, not the Declaration of Dependence,” said Crist, describing how we need to alleviate our dependence on foreign oil.

Governor Crist commented on the airport saying that the timing couldn’t be better to help push this part of Florida into prosperous economic times.  Enterprise Florida, a new initiative to grow industry in the State of Florida has the potential to spread its influence further into the Bay County area, and Crist said that is largely due to the economic opportunities the new airport will make possible.  There lies huge opportunity in the aerospace, bio-engineering, cargo, and more.  Crist, excited about the opportunity, “This is so much the right thing to do.”

Crist also cited that there was an increase in education funding to the tune of $2.1 billion which will lead to about $43 million in increased funding for community colleges and $100 million in increased funding for university-level colleges.

In attendance:

  • Beth Oltman, President/CEO of the Panama City Beach Chamber
  • Anthony DuBose, President of Coastal community Insurance and PCB Chamber
  • Mayor Gayle Oberst of Panama City Beach
  • Philip Griffitts Jr., Owner of Sugar Sands Inn and Suites
  • Paul Wohlford, VP Sales and Marketing of the Resort Collection of Panama City Beach
  • Marty McDaniel, President of Oaseas Resorts, Chairman of the Bay County TDC
  • Dan Rowe, President of the Panama City Beach Convention and Visitors Bureau
  • Jessica Pfefferkorn, Commanding Officer, Naval Support Activity Panama City
  • Robert Carroll, Vice President, McNeil Carroll Engineering
  • Al McCambry, General Manager of Knology
  • Karen Blackerby, Vice President of Magnum Capital
  • Jack Bishop, Restaurant Owner
  • Steve Counts, President of Counts Real Estate Group
  • Gary Walsingham, CEO Walsingham Investment/Ripley’s Beleive It or Not
  • Elizabeth Walters, Attorney/Partner of Burke Blue Hutchison Walters & Smith
  • Edy Rivard, Gulf Coast Medical
  • Tom Morgan, St. Joe

Bay County Set to Boom – Interview with Dr. Ed Wright

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"The nature of our area will change forever, and in a great way."

Dr. Ed Wright, former Dean of FSU-PC and current stand-in director of the Bay County Economic Development Alliance was gracious enough to start our series of Leader Profile interviews that will showcase the local talent that our area possesses.  Dr. Wright shares with us his former role as Dean, his current role as EDA Director, and what we may see in the future of Bay County.

Koertge:  You are the former dean of FSU-PC,  how long were you the dean?
Wright
:  Almost seven years.

Koertge: Did you move to Panama City for that specifically?
Wright
: I did.  I was serving as the Dean of Humanities and Social Sciences at Colorado State University when The Florida State University position was advertised.  My wife and I had long connections with Panama City, had come here to the beach many times, plus my wife had family just outside New Orleans, so it was close.  In addition, I had done a lot of work with Gulf Coast Community College.  I was happy where I was, very successful and doing well, but when I told my wife about the position, she said four words to me – ‘get your typewriter out.’  This was the only time I applied for a job in several years and low and behold, we ended up coming.

Koertge:  So, tell us about the timing of your move.
Wright
:  It was just the right time for me, and it was time for real growth at FSU-PC.  FSU had been fairly unresponsive prior to my coming to the needs of the community and the community was getting a little restless about it.  That was communicated to me pretty quickly.  When the dean before me, Larry Bland, who was the founding dean – great guy, had been here for years –  retired, they put together a commission of city and university people to talk about the future of the campus.  This group came up with a plan or rather an inventory of needs.  Part of my role in the beginning was to respond to that inventory of needs.  Of the many things we did, we brought in daytime programs, as well as other educational programs to help broaden our teaching capability.   However, one of the most important programs we brought on was the engineering program. The initiative was to create a real full time or day time campus.

After about 6 years in the seat, we decided it was time to retire.  It was time to spend time with family and my mother, and also we timed it because the new buildings coming along. We figured with the new buildings and a great enthusiasm and buoying up of support –  what a great time for a new Dean to be here and benefit from that very important time.  And, now they are online, and what a great thing that is.  I walked through them the other day, and they are very nicely done.

Koertge: If you could name one, what would you say was the highlight of your career at FSU-PC?
Wright: One highlight of my career is crystal clear to me, and it is a story that I’ve told hundreds of times.  This story captures the mission of a regional campus, it captures Panama City, and it captures what FSU Panama City has become.  The first graduate of the Electrical Engineering program was a young woman.  The commencement was always the highlight for many of us because you get to see all these people that have worked so hard come to the conclusion of their educational career with high hope for what the future will bring them.  Many of them, for a long time were non-traditional students achieving their goals and making a difference in their life and in their future.   So, here’s a gal who was a single mom with three kids, living at home with her parents, working as much as she could – the day she walked across that stage, her life changed forever.  Now she’s working a great job, has been there for years, and has been able to offer her kids a life they never could have had before.  And, importantly, the life of the community changed forever because her role in It will be different, her contribution to It will be different.  That’s really what this is all about.

Koertge: What is the Bay County Economic Development Alliance?
Wright:  the EDA is a public/private partnership consisting of county municipalities in partnership with private companies such as St. Joe, Gulf Power and various others that contribute or have an interest in the economic development of our area.  The whole purpose of the EDA is to attract new businesses and employment opportunities and help existing industries to expand and bring new business. The board is a volunteer board led by Lisa Walters, a partner in Burke and Blue. She’s a great gal, works so hard.

Koertge:  What roles does the Economic Development Alliance play in the community?
Wright
:  The whole purpose of the EDA is to develop proposals, to target businesses that could benefit from it, provide industry related information to businesses, participate in marketing events (sometimes jointly with the Great Northwest), working with companies that may want to relocate here to perform site location studies among other things, and to structure and develop packages of incentives that are provided based on certain qualifications of the businesses.  The EDA’s job is to market the region and work with those that would like to develop as potential employers in our area.  Nextel and Oceaneering coming to Bay County are some examples of past EDA efforts.

Koertge:  What is your role as the temporary director of the EDA?
Wright:  Well, first, try to keep the place running (laugh).  I came down the week before Ted [Clem] left and received lots of briefings about the current goings-on in our program.  2008 closed out with 11 active projects in the works and I’m also involved in facilitating the building of new relationships.  I’ve worked with three inquires in the two weeks I’ve been here from companies interested in our area or in the Southeast that may develop into fruitful relationships – we are in the business of developing proposals catering to these types of solicitations.

In addition, equally important, and maybe even more important, rather, is the search for a new executive director.  We’ve got to develop a process to bring about that search and to find the right kind of person for this position.

Koertge:  People, locals and tourist alike, tend to overlook Port Panama City, what do you see on the horizon as far as economic development with regards to the port?
Wright:  Certainly, I think, Wayne Stubbs has done a terrific job as the director of the Port; he has certainly expanded their capability.  They have some land constraint issues, but that is alleviated by their having an industrial area right up 231 that is directly connected by rail that is actually being developed – that’s a really important site for future development.  I think that we’ll see some activity that will make that land more interesting to a potential business that may come here in the near future.

There is a lot of potential, and we are going to try and accelerate that process so some of the ground work is complete for that future potential business.  Then of course, there is the distance from the Yucatan.  You know, this port is closer to the Yucatan than Miami, because from the Yucatan, you have to go around Cuba to get to Miami.  Not to mention the progress with the new Panama Canal and the possible future activity that could open our area up to with the capability to accommodate much larger ships.

Koertge:  Can you speak into those things unique to our area that are setting the stage for Bay County to explode?
Wright:  The industrial park around the airport and the developable property within the fence, about 400 to 500 acres, in terms of aviation related business is a huge advantage that our area will have.  In the future, we will have tremendous opportunity that may be difficult to foresee at this time.  For example, with the airbus A380 project, if the timeline of the new airport were more further along, we would have very likely been the site instead of Mobile.  So, there are lots of things that could happen that are related to access to an airstrip or runway that this site certainly affords.

And of course, the whole commerce park outside the fence has the potential for logistics and cargo-related types of businesses, and its a great opportunity for businesses to build what they want as opposed to trying to retrofit something that is already there.  Something else that is sometimes overlooked is the growing number of defense contractors that support the Navy base, Air Force research lab, and the Civil Engineering center at Tyndall.  We’ll see that number grow.

The Navy base has become, really, a hub for a lot of different technologies.  In fact, one of the things I tried to do after I retired but was still doing some work here was to get the new airport to be a test bed for new technologies.  It is a great place and opportunity because you can bring a new system in, plug it in and see how it works.

Finally, where in the southeast can you land a large cargo aircraft with relative ease, and with ease, I don’t mean in regards to the length of the runway, but in regards to the amount of airspace.  This airport will have lots of available airspace, timewise, with regards to cargo operations.  Now, nothing is happening in this specific arena, so I don’t want to mislead anybody, but I’ve always believed that we have the opportunity when the economic base is sufficient to talk about a regional cargo kind of location.  We will have lots of space to develop the kinds of distribution centers that you would need and plenty of space in terms of airspace and times that you can have access to the airspace.

And I still believe that if Airbus will manage to become profitable in their manufacture of their huge cargo carrier, the A380, then FedEx and UPS may pick up a dozen a piece.  Where are you going to fly that huge plane into?  Currently there is only one airport in Florida that can handle a plane of that size in terms of runway length and turning radius capabilities – Miami.  As I understand, our airport should be able to handle something like this, however, they may have to do some modifications to accommodate turn radiuses and taxiway requirements, but again, we’re dealing with a clean slate.  These are some of the kinds of things that we will have to offer.

Koertge:  What sort of regional impact does the new airport potentially have?
Wright:  Oh, its huge.  And we haven’t even begun to talk about the impact it will have on The Beach, if you will, the destination of Pensacola to “the bend”.  And the way it potentially changes this tourism market in terns of access, if we get a low cost carrier.  We’ll get people coming out of larger cities that have never heard of our area before and the potential to bring international travelers.  This will change the nature of this destination forever, in a great way.

Ideas for the New Panama City Beach Web Site

The new web site for Panama City Beach should be pretty sweet.  Ok, now that I’ve secured my insecurity regarding my terminal uncoolness, lets get right down to it.

Participants heralded from all walks of the hospitality and tourism industry in PCB.  The audience was spotted with community leaders such as Jack Bishop and Buddy Wilkes and the little guys such as individual condo owners, and was chaired by Jennifer Barbee from JBInc.

The idea behind the meeting was to brainstorm with the local tourism industry on what they liked and disliked about the current web site and what their expecations were with the new web site.

Some of the ideas were:

  • Come up with a categorization process or criteria for events posted on the events calendar.  CJ Ryan had mentioned that there is a distinct difference between events and specials and that should be discerned on the calender.  There was actually a lot of discussion about the calender.  I agree with CJ, and disagree at the same time.  I think there should be a discernment between events and specials (meaning 2 for 1 drinks and where ever), but I don’t see any reason why they should not be on the same calendar.  I think anything dated should be in the same place so the user doesn’t have to look in multiple places to see what is happening on what date.
  • One of the participants suggested having a Craig’s List of sorts for PCB where travelers could post their needs and resorts could respond.  I don’t see how this would work, logistically.
  • Using Niche content – users would arrive at the site and gently be asked a series of questions so the site could get a feel for who they are.  After a few questions, the user would be directed to a series of custom pages that would be populated based on the answers to their questions.  I’ve seen this before and it is a very powerful way of guiding the user to the parts of the web site that would best convert the user into money.  These processes usually include pretty detailed site flow traffic.  This would enable us to tweak all the varying elements of the site to make the presentation more effective.  We need to be moving in this direction.
  • Part of the previous section includes feeding the user accommodations options based on their input.  Other suggestions included a way for people to search by varying criteria such as “indoor pool”, or “pet friendly”, etc.
  • There was discussion about offering package deals
  • The audience talked about having an online booking engine.  There are good arguments for and against this as it effects the varying aspects of the local tourism industry in myriad ways.  Jennifer ultimately said that having a booking engine on the actual destination site historically hasn’t been real effective but was willing to explore that option further.
  • It was discussed to tailor the events calendar based on user input – again, going back to the Niche content.
  • Discussed was user-derived content such as photos, e cards and video.  This could possibly include a user generated content community.  Another local site has done this and the execution was done very well.  I think this is a necessity as we move forward.  We need to seriously consider having a user community where people can create profiles, chat in forums, IM each other, and post pictures and video.  It wouldn’t be very difficult to implement a verification, screening, or moderation process to ensure that less favorable or unsuitable material wouldn’t make it live.  People are dying to post their videos and picture of the beach in a place that others that share their same passion can view them.  The trick is marketing the whoopsidoodle out of it and consistency.
  • Of course, the whole site would need to be set up with RSS, with feeds specific to all the varying categories of  content, maybe even custom feeds generated on the fly based on user input (is that possible?  surely some genius can figure that out).
  • Online chat was suggested where visitors could chat with a live person about the area.
  • Video based promotion and a web cam.  The TDC/CVB currently has a web cam but is cannot be viewed from the visitpanamacitybeach.com web site, it goes through WeatherBug, or something like that.  Also talked about was “man-on-the-street” video covering happenings in Panama City Beach.  This is great, but one has to be careful to not make it TOO “man-on-the-street”.  The News Herald is guilty of often posting videos that are so terrible that you can’t hardly tell what they are saying.  Sorry NH, but you’ve got to buy a better video camera, a microphone, and some skills!  I still love you guys though.
  • Capability for the vendors to login and manipulate their information on the site, i.e. pictures, copy, specials, etc.
  • Continue meeting in workshops to keep up with industry needs.

All in all, there were some great ideas and a good platform has been made for a great web site.  Jenn Barbee is sharp and I’m excited to see what we get.

Download her presentation (3.9mb)