Walton County Community Forum Held in Mossy Head

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September 27, 2017
On Wednesday, September 20th, approximately 50 residents and guests were in attendance when Walton County held their Community Forum: Where Residents and Business Work Together, at the Mossy Head Community Center.  The forums are hosted by Walton County BCC Chairwoman Cecilia Jones and RESTORE Act Coordinator Billy Williams.
This forum covered topics including an update from Walton County District 3 Commissioner Melanie Nipper regarding a potential project that will assist Veterans and create targeted workforce housing and infrastructure improvements, an update from Walton County Economic Development Alliance (WCEDA) Executive Director Bill Imfeld, and presentations from IFAS Extension Agent Jill Breslawski and Statecraft President Amber Davis Williams.
Following a meeting introduction from Chairwoman Jones, Commissioner Nipper gave an overview of a potential project that she is working on that could see the installation of water in sewer between DeFuniak Springs and Mossy Head.  She discussed the importance of the infrastructure improvements for the economic future of the area. 
Additionally, Nipper discussed that she is in the early stages of a project that aims to create a public/private partnership for the development of workforce housing and a business center that could be placed on approximately 140 acres of County owned land located in the area of the District 3 Commission office at 6570 US Highway 90 West.
While the project is still very early in the process, discussion ensued about the importance of available affordable workforce housing in the Mossy Head area to the potential economic growth of the area.  As a follow-up to the discussion, a presentation was given by WCEDA Executive Director Bill Imfeld about the current state of the Mossy Head Industrial Park (MHIP). 
Imfeld discussed the current businesses that exist in the Industrial Park and presented information that there the park currently has 80 acres of buildable property still in inventory.  Imfeld also discussed the Walton County Wastewater Treatment Facility that is located in the park, and its future role in the potential water and sewer installation project that could occur in the area.
Imfeld also told the audience that he is currently working on several leads with different businesses that have shown interest in potentially locating business in the MHIP.  He presented information on the importance potential businesses place on water and sewer availability, broadband internet services and available affordable housing when determining on whether or not to place a business in a particular area.
Following the presentation from Nipper and Imfeld, Walton County IFAS Extension Agent Breslawski provided information on the programs that exist for local farmers from Fresh from Florida as well as local Northwest Florida Panhandle programs.  Both programs aim to assist farmers with the promotion and marketing of their agricultural based products through the use of available marketing materials and advertising campaigns. 
Breslawski also discussed the process for local farmers and growers to obtain a growers permit that allows them to sell their products at local farmers markets.  In addition, the information provided to the IFAS Extension Office allow them to provided information regarding where certain products can be obtained locally.
Dovetailing into Breslawski’s presentation, Statecraft President, Amber Davis Williams, provided the group with information about a current project that is in the works for the old Owl’s Head area located approximately six miles north of the city of Freeport on US Hwy 331.
Visions for the project would include the development of an Educational Center, residential neighborhood, community gardens, large scale farming and agricultural opportunities and agricultural storefronts.
Williams discussed the projects potential Farm to Table opportunities that would allow the products that are farmed and grown in the north end of the county to be sold and consumed by the business and industry located in the south end of the county, thus providing an interconnected supply chain within Walton County.
Following the completion of the planned programming, the floor was opened to those in attendance for discussion on any of the topics discussed, as well as to garner their ideas other future opportunities that would help facilitate the future growth opportunities and success of Walton County.
The next Community Forum: Where Residents and Business Work Together will be held on Tuesday, October 3rd from 4:00pm – 6:00pm at Great Smile & Orthodontics, 6757 U.S. Hwy 98 S Suite 202 in Santa Rosa Beach. 
The meeting will include a presentation from guest speaker, Cissy Proctor, Executive Director of the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity, discussion on the current economic climate and opportunities that exist in Walton Count and a stakeholder panel with District 5 Commissioner Tony Anderson, Sheriff Michael Adkinson, local Realtor Liz McMaster and Walton County Small Business Association President Bonnie McQuiston.