Fall 2015 E-News

Young Entrepreneurs Academy Looking for Mentors



The Santa Rosa County School District would like to extend an invitation to you to be a mentor to entrepreneurially-minded students participating in Pace High School's Young Entrepreneurs Academy, or YEA!

YEA!, launched in 2004 at the University of Rochester with the support of a grant from the Kauffman Foundation, focuses on a broad definition of entrepreneurship - the transformation of an idea into an enterprise that creates value. YEA! teaches middle and high school students not only the importance and purpose of social and business entrepreneurship, but also the process by which one establishes a business enterprise or social movement.

YEA! offers students the opportunity to learn these principles through a year-long project-based, hands-on entrepreneurial education. Students are taught to write business plans, prepare and pitch their ideas to investors, obtain financial backing, register their businesses and social organizations, develop marketing plans and materials, prepare for trade shows, and sell their products and services.

We invite you to support the students' experience by becoming a YEA! Business Mentor. As a business mentor, you'll have the opportunity to provide coaching, guidance, and direction to a business enterprise by helping the students develop and complete their business plan.

This mentoring experience, conducted at Pace High School, will have a significant impact on the students' ability to launch and run their own real, albeit modest, business or non-profit organizations.

YEA! Business Mentors commit to seven classroom visits, taking place October through December and continued out-of-class support through email and phone through early February when students present to the investor panel. You'll have the opportunity to assist your student group in the process of developing and writing a business plan and creating an investor presentation used to request funding. We also encourage you to share your business experience with the groups over the course of your meetings. Previous students have indicated that hearing first-hand accounts from members of the business community make a significant impact on what they are learning.

As we plan for the academic year of the Young Entrepreneurs Academy, we anticipate needing mentors to work with students. The YEA! instructor will be providing instruction and guidance each class period before YEA! Business Mentors arrive to work with their individual student groups.

For more information on how to become involved with YEA!, please contact Charlin Knight, Director of Workforce Education for Santa Rosa School District, at (850) 983-5058.

Secretary of Commerce Tours Santa Rosa County


On Sept. 9, Secretary of Commerce and Enterprise Florida CEO, Bill Johnson, made a visit to Santa Rosa County to see firsthand the great companies and land availability we have here. He visited the recently certified Northwest Florida Industrial Park @ I10 site and the Santa Rosa Industrial Park East (Jeff Ates Road). From there Mr. Johnson took a tour of the Navy Federal location in the Santa Rosa Industrial Park. He also visited the recently expanded Gulf Cable and TPR, Inc. At the end of the day Mr. Johnson addressed local business leaders at a reception held at the new Goldring Gulf Distributing facility.


Santa Rosa County Recognized for Site Certification


Site Certification

At this year's Gulf Power Symposium, Santa Rosa County was recognized for receiving site certification on two county owned properties. Later, at the Oct. 22 Santa Rosa County Board of Commissioners meeting, the Santa Rosa EDO staff were recognized for their outstanding work in completing the application process.

Florida First Sites was developed by Gulf Power Company in partnership with McCallum Sweeney Consulting, a nationally recognized site selection firm. It is the first regional site certification program in Florida to develop project-ready industrial sites and parks. Each site undergoes a rigorous screening process developed by McCallum Sweeney Consulting, offering an objective, third party analysis to ensure the sites are ready for development.

The program was launched in 2013 by Gulf Power Company, an investor-owned utility company spanning Northwest Florida. Since its inception, nine sites have been approved for site certification. Of those nine sites, three are located in Santa Rosa County - more than any other county. Santa Rosa County's first site was certified in Dec. 2014, the second site to be certified followed shortly.

There has since been an increase in activity on these sites than has been seen in the last several year. Since certification, there have been more than a dozen visits to various sites in Santa Rosa County.

Florida First Sties allows the region to be a more competitive player in industrial site locations. This program ensures that pre-work has been completed, taking the majority of the risk out of the site selection, development and construction process.


Speed to Market: County Permitting Process for Commercial and Industrial Development


Compliance with zoning and building codes is fundamental to doing business in all Florida communities and Santa Rosa County has gone to great lengths to ensure the review time for these projects is as short as possible by adopting a project management approach. We view our role in the development process as more than simply regulators; we are also a key part of the development team tasked with providing comprehensive information on the front end, timely reviews during the permitting process, and careful but prompt inspections during construction.

The commercial and industrial project management process begins with a pre-application meeting. These meetings are free of charge and bring together as many permitting interests as possible, including county engineering, building, and planning reviewers as well as utility, fire, and state representatives as the situation warrants. Pre-application meetings are followed up with a letter to the applicant summarizing information shared in the meeting.

The next step in the process is submittal of site plans and building plans, which can be submitted and reviewed concurrently. The typical review time is 10 days, but may be longer for larger buildings or shorter for resubmittals.

Some locations require a change in zoning designation before work can begin. In those cases, the time frame from submittal to decision is two to three months for a straight rezoning or three to six months if state review is required. This process can run concurrent with site and building plan review.

Site development can begin as soon as the site plan is approved and vertical construction can commence upon issuance of building permits. When appropriate, the county will issue a foundation-only permit to enable an early start on construction.

When a development is ready for inspection, next-day inspections are the norm. Evening and weekend inspections can be scheduled for a fee. Many of the county's building inspectors are multi-certified, allowing for increased inspection efficiency.

To ensure that this process goes smoothly for the applicant, the county appoints a project manager who is tasked with following each project from start to finish, helping the applicant to anticipate next steps and overcome permitting and inspections obstacles along the way.

The county's development services team endeavors to continually improve this process for the benefit of our applicants and as such provides multiples opportunities for feedback including an introductory letter from the public services director inviting direct communication, to customer feedback surveys for each employee, and sending out a survey upon completion of site plan review and again at the end of each project.

While our role and responsibility to the community is to ensure that adopted regulations are followed, we are committed to doing that in a way that enables new business to be up and running as quickly as possible.


Tourism in Santa Rosa County

In the past two months, we've engaged in some very positive networking opportunities. From the Florida Governor's Conference on Tourism in Tampa to the Florida Association of Destination Marketing Organizations, or FADMO, conference in Key West, these events were phenomenal learning experiences as well.

We heard from Salim Ismail, a sought-after speaker, strategist and entrepreneur based in Silicon Valley on the importance of new technologies and their impact on a variety of industries. We also heard from Will Seccombe and many others with VISIT FLORIDA on the future of marketing in the state of Florida and their 20/20 plan. The FADMO event, specifically, was wonderful in that it allowed us to network with our neighboring partners, to build those relationships as well as build off of each other's trade information.

BTWThe Santa Rosa County Visitor Information Center has been designated an official Florida Certified Tourism Information Center by VISIT FLORIDA. As part of a new initiative for VISIT FLORIDA, the Certified Tourism Information Centers Program brings VISIT FLORIDA recognition to visitor services facilities around the state, providing these facilities and their staff with benefits that enable successful promotion of travel to and throughout Florida. We are very pleased to have been awarded this certification for Santa Rosa County's Visitor Information Center. This allows us many opportunities and further strengthens our partnership with VISIT FLORIDA.

The shoulder season or fall/spring time frame for tourism in Santa Rosa County has seen a positive increase in occupancy for the months of September and October. Country on the Sound that took place on Navarre Beach Sept. 25 and 26 went off smoothly and helped boost the kick-off weekend to our Beaches to Woodlands Tour. Next year's Country on the Sound will take place Nov. 4 and 5 and we are going to start marketing the event in the upcoming year. Navarre Beach also saw an increase in sea turtle hatchlings this year and we are continuing to market our turtle friendly beaches with educational events and literature.

Nav VICThe Beaches to Woodlands Tour has been another great success with over 40 events this year and has drawn in visitors from our neighboring states, as well as increasing the rate of early arriving winter guests to our county. The Santa Rosa County Tourist Development Office is gearing up for our snowbird season, where we will be welcoming visitors from Canada, the Midwest and Northeast to our beautiful Florida winter weather; perfect for exploring everything Santa Rosa County has to offer.