By Nathan Sparks, CEcD
Executive Director of One Okaloosa EDC
What a month it has been for economic development in Okaloosa County! First, on June 21, Boeing held a ribbon cutting for its new 20,000 SF F-18/A landing gear maintenance and repair facility in the Fort Walton Beach Commerce and Technology Park. For those keeping track, this is Boeing’s third facility in Okaloosa County, and our workforce’s continued ability to meet the exacting standards of a company like Boeing are particularly noteworthy. Not surprisingly, many current Boeing employees once served our nation in uniform. Now, these great Americans are continuing their service by supplying today’s warfighters with leading products and technology.
Not even a month later – on July 13 – there was a clear buzz in the air as local leaders and media partners gathered at Northwest Florida State College for a special economic development announcement hosted by One Okaloosa EDC. It was soon revealed that Central Moloney, Inc., of Pine Bluff, Arkansas has committed to become the first tenant at the 10,500 acre Shoal River Ranch Gigasite, investing $50M in constructing a 302,000 SF state-of-the-art pad mounted electrical transformer manufacturing facility that is expected to create 350 new jobs in our community.
Central Moloney’s President & CEO Chris Hart joined me in sharing this exciting news with those on hand. Chris is a great guy that we first got introduced to back in early 2021 through our partners at Florida’s Great Northwest. While we lost out to our friends in Bay County for Central Moloney’s initial pole-mounted transformer project in late 2021, Chris told us then that he was very interested in Shoal River for “another project,” and that we shouldn’t be surprised when he reaches out to move that opportunity forward. Suffice it to say, Chris proved to be a man of his word and called us back.
As I shared with those who were on hand for the July 13 press conference, this monumental economic development win was only made possible because of the hard work and tireless dedication of so many individuals and organizations that we at One Okaloosa are fortunate to call partners. In particular, the Okaloosa County Board of County Commissioners, Florida’s Great Northwest, Triumph Gulf Coast, Florida Commerce, CareerSource Okaloosa Walton, Northwest Florida State College, Okaloosa Technical College and Okaloosa Schools CTE all played major roles in getting this one across that finish line. To each of them, we offer a sincere and heartfelt “thank you,” and to Chris Hart and Central Moloney, Inc. we offer an enthusiastic “Welcome Home!”