Panama City International Airport has triggered one of the nation’s top Economic Growth Potentials. The door has been opened and a number of folks from around the Globe is finding the Panhandle of Florida. What does this mean? Our area is not a secret anymore. READ ON!!!!
Panama City Metro Ranked #1 for Economic Growth Potential
Business Facilities Magazine Article from the July / August 2010 issue
We recognize that growth potential is not determined by size; in fact, there are a number of “overgrown” metropolises in the U.S. that rapidly are being outpaced by mid-sized contenders. Also, some of the most dramatic growth possibilities can be found in smaller communities. So we’ve divided our Top 10 Metros for Economic Growth Potential ranking into two sub-categories, giving large cities and their smaller brethren a chance to shine side by side.
In the small population sub-category, Panama City, FL remains front and center on our growth radar. As we detailed in our June cover feature [Editor’s Location Picks], it would be hard to find a better example of the seemingly overnight transformation of a region than the current activity on the Florida panhandle.
One of the nation’s largest economic development initiatives is taking shape amidst the piney trees and pristine beaches in Northwest Florida near Panama City. What makes the 75,000-acre West Bay development unique is not just a huge public-private effort that is spearheaded by the area’s largest property owner, The St. Joe Co. and has brought together state, regional and local agencies: West Bay is the only economic development project in the nation that comes with its own brand-new international airport.
The $318-million Northwest Florida Beaches International Airport began operations with the first landing by Southwest Airlines on May 23 after a ribbon-cutting ceremony attended by Gov. Charlie Crist. It is the first greenfield commercial service airport to be built in the U.S. in more than 15 years, replacing the existing Panama City-Bay County International Airport. The new airport boasts a 10,000-foot runway built on approximately 1,300 acres of a 4,000- acre site in the West Bay development. The land for the airport was donated by St. Joe Co. The 125,000-square-foot passenger terminal at NW Beaches features seven gates, two restaurants, two retail shops and six car-rental counters. Southwest Airlines and Delta Air Lines will offer daily service to Atlanta, Memphis, Orlando, Cincinnati, Houston, Baltimore and Nashville.
The West Bay Sector Plan initially calls for a business center and a regional employment center, divided into more than two dozen parcels ranging from 7 to 44 acres each. The business and retail sites are surrounded by more than 40,000 acres that have been set aside by the developers for environmental preservation. St. Joe’s new headquarters will be located within Phase I of the West Bay Sector Plan development near the entrance of the new international airport. The new offices will provide the company with a location central to its numerous residential communities and commercial properties under development.