Bay County Chamber of Commerce

Bay County Chamber of Commerce

235 West 5th Street

Panama City, FL 32401


Phone: 850.785.5206

Fax: 850.763.6229





Governmental Affairs Update
June 7, 2012


Downtown Revitalization Presentation


The City of Panama City and the Downtown Improvement Board are holding a workshop to discuss the revitalization of the downtown area.  There will be a special presentation by the Executive Director of the Delray Beach Downtown Development Agency.  Plan to attend this workshop/presentation, become "a part of the solution".


This event is Monday, June 11th, 5:30 p.m. at the Martin Theatre.  If you are planning to attend, please RSVP to: or would like more information, call the DIB at 785-2554.



Fishing Regulations Continue to Change-Get Involved, Voice Your Opinion


If you fish for any federally regulated salt water fish, you are a stakeholder in helping to "fix" the mandated rules facing the fishing industry.  Red Snapper season opened June 1st and runs through July 10th at midnight.  Amberjack season closed June 1st, but will reopen August 1st.  Gag Grouper will open July 1st and will stay open until October 31st.  Now, there is a new closure for Gray Triggerfish.  The season on the Triggerfish will close June 11th until further notice. If you would like more information on all the regulations, go to  Or if you have comments on the fishery issue, you may contact Dr. Roy Crabtree at  Dr. Crabtree had the final say on Triggerfish.


The June Gulf COuncil Meeting will be held at the Hilton Westshore Hotel in Tampa.  The session begins June 18th and ends June 21st.  Catch shares will be a major issue at the meeting.  If you would like more information or have comments you would like expressed, you may contact Bob Gill, Chairman, at



Governor Rick Scott Solicits Input from Business Community


Governor Scott has been thanking the business community in Florida for playing an important role in helping our state economy prosper. With the help of the businesses the state is rising to the challenge and heading in the right direction.


The Governor invites you to contact his office directly at 850-488-5603 to give him your ideas on how we can make Florida the best state for business. He asks for your help in the following areas:

Let every non-Florida business owner know what a great state Florida is to build a company.

Let him know if there are companies he should contact to expand to Florida.

Are there any regulations you think should be reviewed.

How can we improve state government?

How can businesses grow and prosper in Florida?


"I believe elected officials have a moral responsibility to create an environment where businesses can flourish so Floridians can get jobs," says Governor Scott.



Chamber Board Asks U.S. Congress to Deliver


In letters to leadership of both houses of Congress, the Chamber Board of Directors has asked that they make a concentrated effort to deliver the final transportation bill – with RESTORE Act- to the President to sign into law as soon as possible.  The Restore Act would restore 80% of the penalties paid by BP back to the communities along the GulfCoast.



Southerland Stands Up For Fisheries


Representative Steve Southerland introduced and was able to get passed an amendment to the FY 2013 Commerce, Justice and Science Appropriations Act that will help in stopping the expansion of "catch shares."   For more information you may contact Jonathan Hayes in Rep. Southerland's local office.



Regulatory Reforms Will Help Businesses Grow


The Governmental Affairs Committee, over the last few years, has been increasingly concerned with the regulatory permitting process.

Governor Rick Scott signed into law, on May 4, HB 503, which was introduced by Rep. Jimmy Patronis.


This environmental legislation includes real regulatory reform and streamlining the permitting process to help businesses, both small and large, grow. Just some of the key points in this legislation allows for more expedited permitting, eliminates many costly duplicate regulations, allow for agencies to act on environmental permits faster, reduces permit decisions by 30 days and expands the use of general permits.


For more information and the full extent of this legislation you may go to then on click on bills, or e-mail Rep. Patronis at



TDC Visitor Experience Task Force


The Bay County Tourist Development Council (TDC) held a Visitor Experience Task Force meeting chaired by Mayor Gayle Oberst on May 16, 2012.The purpose of the task force is to explore, discuss and make recommendations on strategies to enhance the visitor experience. To ensure the discussions were productive and were reflective of a cross-section of the community, participants were assigned to group tables. Each table was asked to identify issues, and then possible solutions for those issues, to help enhance the visitor experience. A report on the results of this meeting will be presented sometime in late June.



ECP Master Plan


On May 24, 2012 the Northwest Florida Beaches International Airport held a Master Plan Study, Technical Advisory Committee meeting. Chamber staff participated in this first of a series of meetings scheduled to allow for this committees input into the airports master plan relating to future development of the airport.  



Larry Carroll Appointed to Represent BayCounty Chamber


The Board of Directors of the Bay County Chamber appointed Larry Carroll, Vice Chairman of the Board to represent the Chamber on the newly formed Bay District Schools, Local Capital Improvement (LCI) committee. This committee is responsible for overseeing funds generated from the capital outlay millage portion of the property taxes levied by the School Board.





Transportation Head Visits Port



On April 9th the Port hosted a number of senior officials from the Florida Department of Transportation, led by Secretary Ananth Prasad. Those included in the tour/briefing of the Port were District 3 Secretary Tommy Barfield, Chief of Staff Francis Gibbs, Florida Transportation Commissioner Jay Trumbull, Rep. Marti Coley, Panama City Mayor Greg Brudnicki and City Commissioners Mike Nichols and Kenneth Brown.

The Port tour along with tours of Berg Pipe and Oceaneering's facility were important and timely, as the Governor and Secretary have made investments in strategic port projects a priority. They are zeroed in on supporting port projects that expand trade and attract manufacturing.


Senator Nelson on RESTORE



Senator Bill Nelson met with the Chamber Board and the Governmental Affairs Committee for a roundtable on April 11th.  Senator Nelson gave an update of the RESTORE ACT, which is officially called the Resources and Ecosystem Sustainability, Tourist Opportunities and Revived Economy of the Gulf Coast Act of 2011.   The U.S. Senate has passed this legislation with bi-partisan support.

The RESTORE ACT, Senate version, gives a large percentage of BP Oil Spill fines to the states affected, with the lion's share of Florida's allotment going to the 8 counties in the panhandle most impacted.  Congressman Southerland is of the opinion that RESTORE will pass the House but with some compromised changes.


Governor Scott on Budget and Economy


Gov Scott.jpg

Governor Scott met with Bay County and PCB Chamber boards and other business leaders for a roundtable on April 17th.  The Governor requested this meeting so that he could address any specific issues we might be concerned about.  The Governor was most receptive to questions and discussed in detail his philosophy for growing business in Florida.   His view on capital is a "return on investment"; he supports helping businesses grow our economy if they show a plan that will produce something in return for Florida taxpayers.  Gov. Scott feels that the ports in Florida are one of our biggest opportunities.



Super Tuesday Municipal Elections


Congratulations to all those candidates that were elected or re-elected.  The voter turnout was very good, particularly on the Beach.  Panama City Beach Mayor Gayle Oberst was reelected to another term, along with Councilman Rick Russell. The new Councilman is Keith Curry.  Callaway elected a new mayor, with a win for Bob Thompson.  Two new Callaway commissioners were elected: David Otano won for the Ward 3 seat and for Ward 4. Ralph Hollister defeated 16-year veteran Mike Jones.  This election is just the beginning of the election cycle. Primary elections are August 14th with the general election on November 6th.  If you have not registered to vote, you still have plenty of time.  Visit 



Southerland Appointed to Highway Bill Conference Committee



Representative Steve Southerland, II announced today that Speaker Boehner has appointed him to the conference committee tasked with ironing out differences between the House and Senate on the 2012 Surface Transportation Extension Act.


"I am honored to serve on the conference committee tasked with shaping federal transportation spending for the remainder of the year while advancing key priorities for North and Northwest Florida, including the RESTORE Act and continued construction of the Keystone XL pipeline.  I look forward to working with my fellow conferees to meet America's transportation and infrastructure needs, restore Gulf Coast communities that were hardest hit by the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, and expedite the permitting process for the job-creating Keystone pipeline."




If you have any additional questions, feel free to contact one of our staff members.




The mission of the Bay County Chamber of Commerce is to create superior value for all chamber members large and small, cultivate economic and personal development, promote and protect a competitive system of business, be a community leader while embracing Bay County’s opportunities and challenges.


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