Triumph and RESTORE in 2017
At least on paper, this year turned out to be a lucrative year for Gulf County.
Let’s emphasize: on paper.
An old adage holds that economic development does not happen overnight and the aftermath of the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill is only the latest exhibit.
Years after the RESTORE Act was approved by Congress, more than a year after the first year’s installment was in the bank, in a year that Triumph Gulf Coast, Inc., became fully operational, not a dime of green has actually showed up in the county.
Again, it all looks so very good on paper.
In total, between RESTORE and Triumph Gulf Coast, the county stands to receive in the neighborhood of $90 million, at minimum, over the next 15 years, its share of BP fine reparations.
A very fine neighborhood, intended to be one that brings “transformative” change in economic development, the environment, the development of a workforce.
The mere idea has spurred a host of proposals, from the cities, the school district and the Board of County Commissioners, to bring about that transformative change.
And more than three years after first priming the local pump with public meetings and formation of a citizens committee to begin the consideration of those potential projects, some, at least on paper, seem close.
Beach restoration money is earmarked, according to public pronouncements, but the final application is likely to be tweaked as the actual scope of the project is unknown.
Applications are various stages of process for everything from a floating dry dock at the Port of Port St. Joe to a learning center at the Gulf/Franklin campus of Gulf Coast State College.
Sewer improvements for both cities, a welding program at Wewahitchka Jr./Sr. High School, extension of sewer on the south end of the county, applications, or notation on the county’s implementation plan, promote each, among others.
The hope is that in 2018 those dreams, those visions, come into focus through the funding that has been promised and dangled as a Christmas ornament.
Instead of another 365 frustrating days in which all the talk of promise is just that: talk.