Economic Development

 

West Florida Regional Planning Council (WFRPC) is the designated regional planning agency for the West Florida region, located in the western panhandle of Florida. In this capacity, WFRPC strives to foster a proactive regional planning process that will help create jobs, support a stable and diversified regional economy, and improve living conditions and prosperity for residents throughout the region.

In 1995, the WFRPC region was designated an Economic Development District (EDD) by the U.S. Department of Commerce Economic Development Administration. Developing a Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy (CEDS) is a prerequisite for most Economic Development Administration (EDA) planning programs. The key to a good CEDS is an ongoing, participatory planning process that includes input from a steering committee and where possible, the committee should represent the major interests of the community.

The CEDS is designed to guide economic growth by fostering a more stable and diversified economy, assist in the creation of jobs and improve the living conditions in the seven county region. In addition, it provides a mechanism for coordinating the efforts of individuals, organizations, local governments, and private industry concerned with economic development. The CEDS also provides a framework for improving regional development partnerships, while the EDD designation provides extra funding for implementing the goals and objectives outlined in the CEDS.

The primary functions of the EDD include, but are not limited to, the preparation and maintenance of a CEDS, to assist in the implementation strategies identified in the CEDS and provide technical assistance to Economic Development Organizations throughout the region. In the WFRPC region, there is also a continuous effort to work with economic boundaries that reflect economic realities rather than static political boundaries.

VISION STATEMENT

The vision for 2015 is to grow a vibrant and sustainable economy for all seven counties in the West Florida Regional Planning Council's territory that creates nationally and globally competitive advantages for the development of key industry clusters, increases the income and prosperity of workers and families, ensures healthy communities and a vibrant quality of life, and preserves the natural beauty and resources of the region.

The vision grows a sustainable economy throughout West Florida that embraces the rural, suburban and urban components of the region. The strategy includes:

  • Diversifying the West Florida economy, ensuring strength in multiple industry clusters, as well as strengthening world trade markets.
  • Lessening the burden of government by focusing on business development that complements West Florida's existing infrastructure, matches Florida's competitive strengths, and minimizes the reliance on incentives for business development.
  • Establishing and strengthening international trade, including the import and export of goods and services as well as reverse foreign direct investment in the region.
  • Integrating education, workforce, infrastructure, quality of life, and smart growth as integral elements to diversify Florida's economy.
  • Focusing on quality development through embracing an environment that:

               o Fosters the development of globally competitive businesses.
               o Provides, through the development of high wage/high skill jobs in knowledge-based industries, annual;
                  increases in the per capita income of the region.
              o Discourages off-shoring by encouraging the local development of high-margin businesses.
              o Corrects the region's existing two-tiered or barbell economy through a focus on job creation in the $30,000 to
                 $80,000 annual income range.
              o Understands that rural projects are different in magnitude than urban/suburban projects.

The strategy incorporates a holistic approach to economic development. It incorporates the basic economic development principals of product development, retention and expansion of existing industry, attraction, and new business development or entrepreneurship, as well as adding an international trade component.