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Study finds Santa Rosa County needs more space for businesses

Study finds Santa Rosa County needs more space for businesses

If Santa Rosa wants to bring in more businesses, the county is going to need to find the space. That is the finding of a recent study conducted by Garner Economics LLC, a firm hired by the county to help with their strategic plan.

The firm surveyed random people and spoke with business owners both in and outside the county. They asked what are the advantages and disadvantages of the area. The result was most think Santa Rosa County is a great place to be because of its school system, workforce, and military presence. However, people said if the county wants to be competitive, there needs to be more options for businesses in order to create jobs.

For example, the building formerly occupied by Cape Horn Boats on Industrial Boulevard is currently the only available building in the whole county for a manufacturing business.

"I can go back three weeks and say I've had a client in every week," Shannon Ogletree, director of economic development said. "They're looking at the same building because that's the only building we have."

While that is a good problem to have, it is a problem. Ogletree said based on the survey's findings, the county lacks space for businesses. He said the need is not only for manufacturing sites but also just smaller offices.

"Things where high tech firms want to be located at," Ogletree said. "So there's collab space, there's working space where all the companies can get together collaborate and brainstorm."

Donna Tucker is the CEO for Santa Rosa County Chamber of Commerce. She said in her experience the available space often has not met the needs of the business owners.

"There's probably two to three different businesses, a little bit, not mom and pop, but larger businesses that are looking for locations and that's what we keep running into," Tucker said.

She said Santa Rosa has a lot to offer, especially their waterfronts.

"Us being the Tourist Information Center, we get a lot of phone calls about that," Tucker said. "We get a lot of phone calls about bed and breakfast. We get a lot of phone calls about waterfront restaurants and marinas."

Ogletree said those are the things they want to see in the county. He said when people who live in the county also work in the county, money stays in the county and improvements can be made.

Garner Economics LLC will present to the county their recommendations on April 9.

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