On Tuesday, commissioners will vote to approve a joint venture with the Economic Development Alliance to purchase a series of parcels totaling 251 acres on U.S. Highway 331 for $2.3 million. The area is located about three miles south of Interstate 10 and will be used for a commercial and industrial park.
DeFUNIAK SPRINGS — An economic boom could be around the corner for the Walton County seat.
On Tuesday, commissioners will vote on a joint venture with the Economic Development Alliance to purchase a series of parcels totaling 251 acres on U.S. Highway 331 for $2.3 million, said EDA Director Bill Imfeld.
The area is located about 3 miles south of Interstate 10 and would be used for a commercial and industrial park, similar to what's seen in Mossy Head.
"We think this is an ideal location," said Imfeld, who added that a handful of companies are already interested in joining the park if it's built. "We're doing a broad spectrum of opportunities and trying to get good paying and highly professional jobs in there."
If approved, the EDA will use the money to purchase the property. The group plans to then spend about $500,000 on infrastructures leading to the interior parcels of the park.
Funding for water and sewer is also already squared away with a $1.7 million grant from Triumph Gulf Coast and a $3 million grant from the RESTORE Act, Imfeld added.
"It's going to present a lot of opportunity for visibility as people travel along 331 (and) want to bring their companies there, or maybe even expand existing companies in the county," he said.
According to Imfeld, the same item was brought up during a commission meeting Oct. 8. Commissioners decided to delay their decision until another property appraisal was done. The second appraisal mirrored the first at $2.3 million, he added.
For Imfeld, the park was more than just a way to bring jobs to the area. He said it was a step toward creating a county not reliant on tourism.
"It helps the diversification," he said. "Back when we had the oil spill, we took the huge hit because everything was focused on tourism. This gives us an opportunity to broaden the horizon. ... We think it's a great thing for stabilizing the county should there ever be another event along the coastline that interrupts the tourist rate."
If commissioners decided to embark on the joint venture, the park should start taking shape over the next couple years, Imfeld added.
"By the end of 2020, those parcels on 331 should be shovel ready," he said. "So, we'll be ready to entertain offers from a variety of companies to come on in and lets get some business going."