Saturday, March 12, 2011

Delegation going to New York to spread ‘story of Panama City'

CHRIS SEGAL / News Herald Writer

PANAMA CITY — Three local leaders will travel to New York City to meet with members of the national media and site consultants to clear up misconceptions about the condition of local beaches and to promote economic development.

Panama City Mayor Scott Clemons will be accompanied by Janet Watermeier, executive director of the Bay County Economic Development Alliance, and Neil Wade from the St. Joe Co. to meet with six different media outlets.

“We will be talking about the story of Panama City,” Clemons said. “We will have a national audience as well as meeting with a group of site consultants.”

The public relations company for the St. Joe Co. helped arrange the media tour. The bill for the trip will be picked up by the EDA, which is a public/private partnership aimed at recruiting target industries to Bay County.

One of the stories the mayor wants to share with the national media is that although there were economic impacts felt locally by the Deepwater Horizon Oil gusher, there was no oil that washed up on local beaches and that the beaches are open for business.

Talking points for the trio include the focus of the St. Joe Co. on recruiting and working with aerospace and defense companies to relocate to the West Bay sector, a new focus on economic development driven by newly elected Gov. Rick Scott, the Northwest Florida Beaches International Airport and the Port of Panama City.

The Panama City representatives have appointments with Commercial Property Executive magazine, Fox Business, Reuters, Bloomberg News and the Christian Science Monitor.

Watermeier, who recently returned from a trip to Atlanta to meet with site consultants, said that project activity is starting to pick up. EDA officials are also looking into planning trips to Chicago and possibly the West Coast as part of a larger marketing initiative to promote Panama City and Bay County as a good place to run a business.

“We have enough economic assets that it’s not just tourism. We are a good business location,” Watermeier said. “I’m looking forward to talking to people and getting our story out.”

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