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May 2024 Update from One Okaloosa EDC

By Nathan Sparks, CEcD
Executive Director of One Okaloosa EDC

Many of you reading this had the pleasure of knowing Dr. David Goetsch, Emeritus Vice President, Northwest Florida State College, noted author of more than 70 books and proud United States Marine Corps veteran. Among his many accomplishments (and I do mean many), Dr. Goetsch co-founded both One Okaloosa EDC and the Technology Coast Manufacturing & Engineering Network (TeCMEN) in the late 80s. He served as Chairman of the EDC twice and was selected as the State of Florida’s “Economic Development Volunteer of the Year” three times (1992, 1997 & 2007), later receiving “Honorary Lifetime Member” status from the EDC.

Sadly, Dr. Goetsch passed away on May 2 following a long illness. “Remarkable” is a word that is often used when reflecting on the life and impact of a gifted leader. In Dr. Goetsch’s case, the word remarkable almost doesn’t do him justice. The holder of multiple degrees, Dr. Goetsch was a very well-educated man. But it was how he used his extensive knowledge and training that proved his true worth. From forever shaping the lives of countless students who were fortunate to have him as an instructor (a role that he relished, and one that routinely saw him recognized at the state and national levels), to the many local organizations that he supported and guided, his impact is nothing short of monumental. 

I remember my first lunch meeting with Dr. Goetsch in July 2013. I had just joined the EDC and sought out Dr. Goetsch for his guidance. Having done my research, I knew that he was savvy and knowledgeable on the many facets of economic development - but within a few minutes of meeting him I could also tell how much he truly cared about our organization, Okaloosa County and its communities. From that day forward, I knew that whenever I needed some guidance or level-setting perspective (or an expert speaker or panel moderator) Dave was there for me. Like so many of you, I will miss him dearly.

Speaking of Dr. Goetsch, the 7th annual TeCMEN Industry Day that many of you attended on May 15 would have certainly made him proud. We appreciate all who supported the event, whether it be as one of our 14 planning committee members, 17 sponsors, 22 speakers, panelists, moderators and workshop leaders, 50 exhibitors or 370+ attendees. Most of all, I would like to thank my One Okaloosa teammates who once again rose to the occasion. This year’s event would have been possible without dedicated individuals like Kay Rasmussen, Linda Sumblin, Cole Randall, Chrystal Moore-Lewis and Monica Earley.

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