Enterprise Flagler co-chair David Ottati recalled a conversation he had with a woman. She told Ottati her husband lost his jobs many months ago, and she no longer had health insurance.
“I’ve heard this story many times,” Ottati said. “I think it’s important that … we unite together to be able to address this.”
Ottati said Enterprise Flagler’s efforts have helped the county add about 1,200 jobs and retain an additional 1,465 over the past several years.
In the end, Ottati said, “We should not expect miracles to occur. Whatever we put in, we get out. We need to have a united approach. We need to have our government and private sector working together.”
FLAGLER COUNTY CHAMBER & AFFILIATES
Lea Stokes, chairwoman for the chamber, said to start her presentation: “We think it’s rather ironic that the meeting is being held in the Emergency Operations Center because our economy is and has been for some time in the state of an emergency.
After the presentation, Garry Lubi, executive vice chair, said if the municipalities can come to an agreement, Flagler County will develop a reputation for being serious about economic development.
FLAGLER COUNTY SCHOOL BOARD
Superintendent Janet Valentine said the community has A-rated schools and suggested schools are a key component for attracting residents and businesses.
She added: “I think it’s one of the things that, as the county and cities think about marketing and branding, that we make sure the school district is part of that branding.”
Palm Coast Mayor Jon Netts led the presentation for the city. The ultimate goal of the city is to focus on its neighborhoods, develop a “vibrant” Town Center and make the city attractive and competitive. He also suggested there are partnership opportunities within the county.
During the public comment, City Council member Frank Meeker said he supports a countywide economic development plan. Meeker said he likes the idea of a summit; however, he recommended the government officials look into funding their efforts through cutting their own budgets before imposing a new tax.
“I can’t just throw money at something without knowing what I’m throwing money at,” Meeker said.
Flagler County Board of County Commissioners Chairman Alan Peterson led the presentation for the county and said a common fund makes most sense and should be handled similarly to how the Environmentally Sensitive Lands and Tourist Development Council funds are handled.
“We think a common pool is the most efficient use of limited resources,” Peterson said.
After the meeting, County Administrator Craig Coffey said: “It’s a start. It looks like the road to get together may be longer (than expected). We’ll see what the future brings.”
Bruce Campbell, acting city manager, said Flagler Beach doesn’t support additional or new taxes. If funding is unavoidable, it should be by referendum.
Campbell said economic development at the beach would focus on neighborhood improvements, continuing to provide quality city services, maintaining today’s investments, and marketing itself for large dollars.
Campbell called Flagler Beach the “recreation destination of the county both today and tomorrow.”
Added Campbell: “A brand is not something that can be purchased … rather, it’s crafted over time through … a strategic understanding of what the community is and what it needs to become over time.”
Vice Mayor Jenny Crain-Brady said Bunnell supports the levy of a half-cent sales tax, stating it’s the only fair way to fund economic development.
Crain-Brady said Bunnell is currently working on an economic development plan, and a countywide economic development organization should accomplish three things: marketing, recruitment and workforce development.
“We are one community and one county,” Crain-Brady said. “When the county wins, we all win. Whatever the structure may be, I am requesting that we all have an equal share at the table.”