Dear Editor,

This is only my opinion and not intended to express the views of the entire board)

As our board works its way through getting the application process completed and we begin hearing about potential projects, we are getting a better feel for how this money will play a role in the future of north Florida. We have researched program administrators, economic advisors and best practices for ensuring the success of this program.

Our plan is to accept “pre applications” from any interested person or entity. This will help weed out projects that are not in line with our goals (economic diversity, having a generational impact, and sustainability). Once these are screened and returned, it would be wise of the applicants to work with their local county commissions to receive their approval. I personally would like us to share our economic advisor’s analysis of each project with the county commissions to help them in their decision of whether they support the project. Equipped with good applications, a thorough economic analysis and local government’s input, we will be able to make well informed decisions on each project.

Our hope is that we will be able to see some immediate impacts to our region and as the years pass, we expect to see true transformational impacts to our local and regional economy. Some of the most promising projects to date I’ve seen are ones where school boards in Franklin and Wakulla counties have proposed creating new programs that potentially allow a ninth-grader to start on a technical career path and possibly graduate high school with a technical degree or certificate. This type of program is sorely needed in today’s work force; one that creates a culture that rewards students ambition/hard work and provides a path to employment right out of school without having to go into debt or spend time/money on a university if that isn’t what is needed. It also shows companies that are considering relocating to our region that we have the educational infrastructure in place to create a workforce pipeline.

Of course, this is only one example of how Triumph Gulf Coast can help our area. Providing critical infrastructure improvements can also lure good jobs and industries as well. North Florida has unlimited potential and plenty of brilliant minds that are at work today trying to put these funds to good use.

Jason Shoaf

Port St. Joe