By Nathan Sparks, CEcD
Executive Director of One Okaloosa EDC
As I reflect on the past couple of months here at One Okaloosa EDC, the old Willie Nelson standard “On the Road Again” comes to mind. Spring is always a busy season for our external marketing efforts, and this spring has certainly been no different in that regard. A prospecting trip to California at the end of March was followed by a trip to Atlanta in April for MRO Americas. Organized by Aviation Week magazine, MRO Americas is three day expo focused on the aviation maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO) subsector. This year’s event welcomed 15,750 attendees from all 50 states and 89 countries. In addition, there were more than 2,100 display booths to visit! As is typically the case when we attend a trade show, One Okaloosa utilizes a third party consultant to set meetings and ensure that our time on the ground is maximized. In the end, we had substantive discussions with nine prospective companies during the event – and one of those has already reciprocated with a visit to Okaloosa County!
Before hunkering down to host our own annual trade expo - TeCMEN Industry Day - on May 17, we found ourselves back on the road in early May – this time for the SelectUSA Investment Summit in Washington D.C. This event is designed as a “springboard” for foreign companies seeking to open new facilities in the U.S., with states and communities like ours eager to showcase our value proposition. This was One Okaloosa’s first time participating in SelectUSA, and we had a number of great meetings with companies from Denmark, Switzerland, Ireland, Japan, India and the Czech Republic. While the majority of the companies we met with were early stage and just beginning to evaluate the possibility of a U.S. expansion, we see a real opportunity to position ourselves as a trusted advisor – hopefully leading to future favorable outcomes for our community.
Lastly, I would like to offer a sincere thank you to all who supported our 6th annual TeCMEN Industry Day, whether it be as one of our 11 planning committee members, 17 sponsors, 26 speakers, 50 exhibitors or 350+ attendees. Most of all, I would like to thank my “small but mighty” team here at One Okaloosa who once again rose to the occasion and did the work of a much larger organization. This year’s iteration of TID was record setting in many ways, and without dedicated individuals like Kay Rasmussen, Linda Sumblin, Martin Pringle, Monica Earley and John Ferrandini, none of it would have been possible.