Whether it's along the Beaches of South Walton or North of Choctawhatchee Bay,
"The real estate is here," said Steve Jaeger, executive director of the Walton County Economic Development Alliance. "Our goal is to spread the wealth throughout the entire county."
There are no shortage of visible signs pointing to Walton County's growth either, as both residential and commercial projects can be seen dotting the landscape of CR 30A and filling the drawers of county planners.
Cash is king
A total of 605 single family home permits were issued between the months of March and August, according to numbers from the county. There are also quite a few larger commercial projects on the books as well, ranging from a Donut Hole restaurant and a brewery to a retail center and apartment complexes.
Local Realtor John Paul Somers says
"Finally, since the peak in 2005, development concepts are being introduced and should begin releasing new opportunities to our marketplace," he told The Sun in an email. "
For Somers, broker at Somers & Company, the next step in the recovery process involves new development, both residential and commercial, especially as more lending capital becomes available from banks and private equity.
Although cash is still king when it comes to purchasing property, "attractive mortgage rates are making the borrowers more apt to invest in our market with the anticipation of further upside in property values," Somers wrote. "I suspect 2014 will usher in further optimism."
As the head of the Walton County Tourist Development Council, Jim Bagby knows what makes
According to Bagby, a combination of a recovering economy and "desirable" beaches play a key role.
With an office based in
"We kind of have a buying and building frenzy going on down here," she said. "Vacant lots are selling, homes are selling, and I'm getting letters in the mail from Realtors saying they need inventory."
Meadows said the growth can be seen based purely by the number of construction vehicles on area roadways, as well as by the number of families that are now calling
"It's becoming a 12 month out of the year kind of place," she said. "Which presents its own problems, but that's why I'm here to help figure those things out."
With development buzzing along the Beaches of South Walton, Jaeger told The Sun it is extremely important for
"My goal is to try and diversify our economy," he said.
Especially in the northern portion, Jaeger sees
With airline manufacturer Airbus opening up shop in
"They have a bunch of companies from around the world that supply parts to them," he said. "Those suppliers want to come to the
Part of attracting companies in these specific fields is having a trained workforce to fill the available jobs. Jaeger says this is one area where
"We have a limited time opportunity to implement aviation-related education," he said. "We need the ability to train our young people quickly and competently on the type of work they will be doing."
"We must create opportunity for those who are not college bound," he added.
Jaeger said other opportunities in
Work is currently under way on the segment from the north side of the bridge to State Road 20. Plans and $47.6 million in funding are also in place to expand U.S. 331 from SR20 to I-10 just south of DeFuniak Springs.
Jaeger said the "modern highway" would be a huge advantage for
With untapped potential abounding, Jaeger said representatives from Bay, Escambia, Okaloosa,
"We are putting together an aerospace forum," he said. "We want local leaders to go to