OKALOOSA COUNTY, Fla. (WEAR) —
Okaloosa County leaders just sealed the deal on a piece of property they hope will pay big dividends in the future. They believe the 1,500 acres will play a big part in the balancing act of the local economy.
The county's economy revolves around one of two things - tourism and the military base, but they hope the land will be used to attract heavy industry and more jobs.
East of Crestview - Highway 90 on one side and Interstate 10 on another - sits what was a pine tree farm. Now, it's what the Okaloosa County commission wants to make the third piece of the economic pie for the county.
"Our tourism industry is strong. Our military industry is strong, but those are subject to oil spills, for example, with our tourism industry," explained Commissioner Nathan Boyles. "We are subject to sequester when it comes to our military component to our economy, and so having an additional component to our economy helps you weather those types of stones and keep your economy strong for the duration."
Boyles and the rest of the county commission voted unanimously to swap another vacant land for this land. They hope a major manufacturer will morph the land into an industrial engine for the county.
"Having this option is certainly no guarantee that we will be able to land one of those big job creators. However, one of these positions up exceptionally well," Boyles said.
Boyles hopes it could create a thousand jobs and bring thousands of more people into the area.
Julia Phillips has owned Coney Island Hot Dogs for 15 years. She said the proposal sounds good to small business owners.
"The business has been down here on Main Street this year for 70 years," Phillips said. "Then they have to get out and about and shop and eat. So, hopefully, I'd benefit from that increase in population. For my business and for all of the other businesses around here in Crestview."
Boyles said that's more reason to add a bypass around the city.
"That opportunity also creates additional challenges for us," Boyles said. "If we develop out on that site that will be another reason to complete the bypass site around the city of Crestview. To be able to move that traffic."