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With or Without Palm Coast, County Would Lead New Economic Development Council

| July 29, 2011

Economic development plans haven't fared well in Flagler. County government is hoping its latest proposal will face a happier fate. (With apologies to Goya.)

Enterprise Flagler, the public-private economic development partnership, may want to find a sunset to clip-clop toward. Palm Coast is losing interest in carrying 40 percent of the agency’s $240,000 annual cost. The county is losing interest in waiting on Palm Coast to state clearly what county-wide initiative the city would support. The public never had much interest in a half-dozen economic development summits originally intended to craft a unified approach to get Flagler out of its unemployment funk. The last two such summits have been cancelled, with no word on the next. And a series of proposals have foundered, leaving the entire process crying for a breakthrough.

An alternative that looks to break the logjam and move past two obstacles–Enterprise Flagler’s perceived liabilities and cities competing interests–is emerging.

The alternative is simpler, more sharply defined and less politically divisive than previous proposals. It recognizes that it is nevertheless likely to elicit resistance from Palm Coast–and plans for that contingency, suggesting that the county is now ready to move ahead whether or not Palm Coast goes along. That assertiveness on the county’s part is new, but also untested, and the plan is rife with funding and organizational vulnerabilities.

On Thursday, County Administrator Craig Coffey floated the county’s proposal: a new, nine-member Economic Development Council modeled after the Tourist Development Council in structure, administration and transparency, though not in funding. Enterprise Flagler and the new “Coalition of Cities” led by Bunnell City Manager Armando Martinez would be made redundant, and presumably eliminated.

David Ottati is not married to Enterprise Flagler. (© FlaglerLive)

David Ottati, president of Enterprise Flagler–whose own proposal to restructure Enterprise Flagler triggered a firestorm–said he was supportive of the new plan, even if it meant the demise of Enterprise Flagler, but with a couple of caveats: “For me,” Ottati said Friday afternoon, “I look at it from a business perspective, not a personal perspective, and from a business perspective, whatever can create unity, whatever can create a stronger sense of being able to get the job done and bringing jobs, that’s what I support. And if this plan helps bring people together in an economically tough environment, then I would obviously support that. But Enterprise Flagler would have to examine and vote on the process, so it’s not just me.”

Who Leads, Who Serves, Who Pays

The new Economic Development Council would be led and chaired by the county. Palm Coast, Flagler Beach and Bunnell would each have a representative–either one of their commission or council members or an appointee. The county would appoint five additional members from the private sector. Each would represent an industry targeted for local development, such as manufacturing, high tech, finance or marketing.

The Flagler County Chamber of Commerce would provide the administrative staff, on a contractual basis, the way it does the Tourist Development Council staff. Doug Baxter, the chamber president, would be the agency’s nominal head. A vice president of economic development would be the hands-on economic development CEO (just as Peggy Heiser is the hands-on force behind the tourist council). At its lowest level of funding, the agency would also have an economic coordinator and a sales and marketing manager, and devote $70,000 to marketing and $240,000 to its three or four salaries.

Coffey is proposing three options to fund the Economic Development Council, the lowest starting at $410,000. That’s almost double the current budget of Enterprise Flagler. At that level of funding, each city in Flagler County would contribute $1 for each resident. That means Palm Coast would contribute roughly $75,000, Flagler Beach would contribute $5,000, and Bunnell a little over $3,000.

The private sector would contribute $50,000 through memberships similar to those that give Enterprise Flagler’s private-sector members a place at the table. But the plan is not clear regarding what a contributing company might get in exchange, since there would be no place at the table for it–and the county is presumably not going to “sell” its five appointments to industry, but gear them toward specified business categories and goals. The county would carry the lion share of the funding, or close to $300,000. More, should Palm Coast decide not to join in. (Coffey said that Palm Coast City Manager Jim Landon, following a meeting this morning, was more receptive to the structure of the organization than to its funding assumptions.)

Reserving Funding

The county has just a third of that money in its budget for economic development, but County Commission Chairman Alan Peterson, who just this week insisted on not “stockpiling” reserves, said he’d be willing to use the county’s reserves to commit to three years of funding for economic development at that level. That means nearly $1 million out of reserves over the next three years, and more if Palm Coast doesn’t join.

Coffey is also proposing two other options: $2 per resident for the cities, and overall funding of $600,000. That’s likely a political non-starter this year. His “optimal” option would budget $1.3 a year million for economic development, including $200,000 to market Flagler County. That level of funding would require a tax and has little appeal: Palm Coast and Flagler Beach have already ruled out tax increases for economic development. The first proposal is the focus at the moment.

Meetings of the economic council would be open and, Coffey said, televised, the way TDC meetings are. Transparency–a recurring problem for Enterprise Flagler–would be a priority, except to protect the confidentiality of prospecting companies.

The county’s plan presents nothing substantially new so much as it recasts the issue from the county’s perspective as a county plan. It discards the accumulated bad vibe–perceived or justified–of Enterprise Flagler while attempting to more strongly define the direction and oversight of the council. The plan also challenges Palm Coast to sit at the table or go its own way. Palm Coast may not need an invitation to do the latter: in all but official terms, it already has gone its own way.

“This is a simple, very straight-forward approach,” Coffey said Friday. “The devil is mostly in the details.”

Transparency, But Not Just Yet

The county commission has not discussed the plan. Coffey met individually with county commissioners to go over the plan and get a sense of their support. So officially, this was not an official county plan yet, since the commission has not endorsed it. Coffey said that will take place soon.

County and city managers routinely meet individually with their commissioners. They’re not allowed–they’re not supposed–to use those meetings as a way of circumventing the state’s strict open-meeting law: they’re not allowed to poll commissioners or council members to find out where each stands and act on those findings, outside of meetings. Commissioners Barbara Revels and Peterson defended the approach, saying they had no knowledge of what their fellow-commissioners thought about the plan, and that Coffey wanted to know where the chamber of commerce board stood on the proposal, and whether the chamber would be willing to take on the administrative duties, before moving further.

It’s still not clear why the proposal wasn’t presented to the commission as a whole, in an open forum, giving the public–the overwhelming majority of those who’d be affected by the plan–a look at what was being presented privately to municipal and business leaders. Peterson wanted to ensure that the plan didn’t look like a mandate from the county before it got some “buy-in” from others. And Coffey immediately provided his presentation on request.

“It is better that this be a consensus of everybody involved as opposed to being something that is unilaterally decided by the board of county commissioners,” Peterson said. “It gives everybody a chance to make suggestions, give proposals, and might be discussed at the next economic summit meeting.”

Shopping for Buy-In

Craig Coffey. (© FlaglerLive)

Coffey presented the plan to the chamber Thursday, and had presented it previously to Enterprise Flagler President David Ottati as well as the city managers in the county. Coffey said Bunnell’s Armando Martinez was ready to propose that Bunnell include its financial share in the city’s budget for next year.

Jane Mealy, the Flagler Beach city commissioner, presented the plan to her commission late Thursday night. Flagler Beach City Manager spoke favorably of the plan being modeled after the tourist council, as well as its funding mechanism.

“Sure we can afford it,” Campbell said. “Is it more than we’ve given to Enterprise Flagler? Yes, but this is a very, very important topic. We’ve got to get jobs in Flagler County. It’s kind of a budget catch-22. We’re in the midst of budget throes right now, one of the biggest challenges we have is property values have declined again, but without jobs, one thing we can be sure of again is that property values aren’t going to climb very fast.”

Coffey said the executive board of the chamber was behind the plan, but that the chamber’s larger board had more questions.

“At this point the chamber hasn’t made any decisions,” Lea Stokes, who chairs the Flagler County Chamber of Commerce and Affiliates, said Friday. “The plan is based on a model that’s been successful for tourism, but we all need to recognize that tourism and economic development are two different animals, for lack of a better term.” Those differences have yet to be defined, Stokes said, but she said the chamber was open to studying any proposal or involvement that would improve the business climate. (It was Stokes’s prodding last January that led the county to initiate its economic development summits.)

The chamber and Enterprise Flagler boards will be meeting jointly on Aug. 4 at 4 p.m. to discuss the plan and its implications.

Garry Lubi, the Prosperity Bank vice president and an executive board member of the chamber who’s been heavily involved in economic development efforts and in Enterprise Flagler, gave his guarded endorsement to the proposal as a concept and vision, which he said aligned with the chamber’s mission, but that other components–roles and responsibilities of those involved, for example, had to align as well.

And Enterprise Flagler? “That’s still to be decided,” Lubi said. “It’s unfortunate because Enterprise Flagler has actually done a lot of good things, the staff there has worked extremely hard, and sometimes unfairly does not get the credit that it deserves.”

Don’t Call It Coffey’s Plan

Peterson said Enterprise Flagler could carry on, but without funding from the county, since that would be diverted to the new council. Without funding from the county, however, Enterprise Flagler is not going to survive. Coffey, who has often felt protective of Enterprise Flagler–his association with Greg Rawls, the Enterprise Flagler director, goes back to their days in DeSoto County–now says the agency “can transition out.”

Coffey was reluctant to take credit for the plan. “I just cobbled this plan together from all the input I received, all I heard at the summit, all I heard from commissioners,” he said, “I’m not comfortable taking credit for all the good work other people have done. I just stole their work,” including elements from the Ottati plan that, two months ago, triggered a firestorm of criticism for seeming secretive and exclusive of smaller cities. Ottati quickly amended the plan, but Bunnell and Flagler Beach had bolted to create their Coalition of Cities anyway.

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18 Responses for “With or Without Palm Coast, County Would Lead New Economic Development Council”

  1. lawabidingcitizen says:

    Let the Chamber of Commerce do what they’ve always done and leave the taxpayers out of it. Changing the name of the organization is no different than rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic. The ship is going down — there is no way to affect economic development by spending more of our money on salaries and expensive presentations.

    BTW – Does anyone know how much profit there has been for Palm Coast taxpayers from the post cards they sent at a cost of, IIRC, 75-100 thousand. Did we even recoup our outlay? What a joke.

  2. palmcoaster says:

    Excellent LAC!
    Are they delusional again by even considering Coffey’s plan of giving the Chamber elite $70,000 for marketing and $240,000 for salaries, for useless economic development the way this Chamber just helped the past blunders to materialize, so far? Can they see that this FCOC is the number one outsourcing entity of work and jobs out of our county and the state? What a way to propose further misuse of our hard earned tax dollars. These proposals on ED go from bad to worst! These county commissioners need to just keep Coffey out of any more economic development research…enough waste already. Awful suggestion. Let each city address its own, will do a much better job! County needs to seat his IT well paid official Carl Laundrie to do that work along with a group of retired volunteer professionals that if invited will be honored to help and reward them when goal achieved. What about the commissioners themselves seat along with the group and help, (so they can justify their over $40,000 a year pay) as well. I understand that Peterson is a business man and the others can contribute with what they may. Just seat down at the phones and computers and start targeting out of state small businesses and entice them to move to our local paradise. I said it before and say it again. Once contacts made mail them all the outsource, web site, cd’s and printed media that county has already available, no need to create and outsource any more and from then on, see what are the results. Give it a try is free and may work. It worked for us 20 years ago and many more like us. Friends invited us and we were not even handed or mailed any web site, cd or colorful media. Came, saw Palm Coast and this county, fell in love with this place, opened shop and employed local workers. Still in business in spite of this economy. We sure help each other among business colleagues and our community organizations and that is what makes our success. Maybe government, FCOC, EF should copy this example, help by sponsoring all the small local businesses not the developers only, other than bringing in a consultant from “tiquerari” and pay him a fortune to tell us to do what he, really not being from right here knows jack about!

  3. Liana G says:

    My guess is this new Economic Development Council is just a rebranding of Enterprise Flagler, and the $70,000 in marketing is to change out the old stationary and stuff, and the $240,000 is to pay the salaries of Greg Rawls and other close friends they want to retain. Same but Different. New and Improved?
    One would think the Chamber of Commerce serves the same purpose.

  4. real people says:

    It worked for us 20 years ago and many more like us. Friends invited us and we were not even handed or mailed any web site, cd or colorful media. Came, saw Palm Coast and this county, fell in love with this place, opened shop and employed local workers. Still in business in spite of this economy.


    Eighteen years later I am here and I am the reason of at least 20 small businesses started in Flagler county, not to mention near 4 houses where sold to friends I invited this year alone pulling them away from Vero beach Ect.. I went as far as Sweden, Dubai, Canada and Poland not to mention NY, CT, CA, Ect.. every business meeting or seminar I attended turned to advertisement for Flagler county.
    The second issue, do you have an idea what kind of high caliber retiree we have in Flagler county? we have the best leaders you can ask for, from CEO’s to the most decorated engineers to fine US army commanders, open the door for them to volunteer and get the hell out their way I am very sure they would love to do it , we don’t need to spend ton of money for amateurs, stop thinking big putting all your eggs in one basket like what you did in the past using our tax dollar as an insensitive for big corporations and where are they now? Where are their promises?. For God and the USA sake go back to the basic stop biting more than you can chew, start with small businesses and the big ones will follow automatically the way America started and was built.

  5. Joe says:

    Have to agree whole heartedly LAC, changing the name and shuffeling around the players is flim flam Coffey’s way to be smarter than the average bear again. I hope the citizens of this county see through this charade!

  6. Justice for All says:

    What return on investment have the taxpayers realized from previous “economic development” efforts such as Palm Coast Data, Micro Hose and others? Who is keeping track of how well those companies perform and why isn’t this information made available to the public? Why do we read about Micro Hose’s demise in the paper?

    The residents are the community’s best resource, but local government appears not to be interested in tapping into the talent pool. Cases in point – Redistricting, forced annexations, Enterprise Flagler.

  7. palmcoaster says:

    A while ago I posted the following link and I was not even looking, when I found it: .
    I strongly suggested our officials to have one of our retired German residents from our German local community,
    to write a letter following our government guidelines in German translated to English inviting them to visit our County and cities and settle their Audi plant here. I know Germans love Florida an its tropical climate. Not that Audi reps won’t speak English…just to make it all more welcoming bit of chatting in their own tong .Offer them a couple of days of free stay at the local Hilton with meals in company of our officials and take them around a free round of our golf courses, show them our tennis courses, our Palm Coast Marina (not ours yet, but hope so in the future) our bike paths and walkways and our beautiful beaches and inlets and they would love it, as we did. Have one of our German retired professionals speaking their native language among the chaperones all the time. I know we have the land to offer them to set a plant here….and plenty of it! Do not pull up the old BS that is not place to offer them.We also have plenty of workers to join after some retraining. Look all the experts now available from Nasa and unemployed! Bring them here and lay out the red carpet to Audi in our Flagler County playground. We even have a small airport to their disposition and Daytona Beach international 30 miles south. Plenty of cheap land and housing for them to take advantage of…and no state income tax.
    Like the above opportunity probably many more out there. Our retired professionals would do an outstanding job if invited at locating more. But also will take the shine out of FCOC and EF and all their supporting groupie elite, that only want to preserve the status quo to keep bleeding the tax payers in favor of their privileged positions compensations and VIP cards and freebies and some of their relatives as well, with projects to favor just themselves and not our unemployed and existing small businesses. Same old same old. Change is what we need and NOW.

  8. palmcoaster says:

    More free useless presentations.
    Holland always ready to give our $$ away as comes ease being other peoples monies. Heiser is the elite that receives high compensation in Flagler and resides in and spends in Volusia. Probably that is the reason also why all their media created for that goal is outsource to Volusia creating jobs and wealth there. Heiser is given about $670,000/year plus budget to “promote tourism” .Sure, no figures mentioned in this reporting and while ignoring it, is lauded as great initiative! What a joke.
    Also among the sport events to be funded did not mention the Palm Coast Half Marathon that Holland refused to fund!.
    This article should have been titled instead Flagler Tourism costly dead end.

  9. palmcoaster says:

    My error. Presentation was not free charges about $15 or more p/p.

  10. Nick D says:

    Alright lawabidingcitizen & palmcoaster – I agree and disagree with both.

    We (as a community) need economic development. However, the question is what we should do to achieve it. Now anyone can see from posts I have made in the past on other issues; I have never supported Enterprise Flagler’s existence and I have questioned the philosophy and structure of the Flagler County Chamber of Commerce.

    When it comes to Enterprise Flagler I have serious concerns when it comes to the lack of transparency as they deal with our tax dollars. Don’t tell me I can’t know what they are doing, who they are talking to, or what they are spending my money on. In my opinion Enterprise Flagler should be done away with and from the looks of things that is exactly what is happening. They have lost the trust of the public in which they claim to be supporting and that alone should be enough to close it down.

    As for the Flagler County Chamber of Commerce I also have several concerns. When I first moved here I was a little shocked that the chamber here was not more directly involved in economic development. To me that is commerce 101; development of the economy as a whole. I can honestly say that the chamber has fallen short in the past when it comes to economic development. A chamber of commerce’s first priority should be the support of its members. The second priority of a chamber of commerce should be the general welfare of the business community and environment overall (for both members and non-members); thus economic development. Now when I look at the Flagler Chamber I can clearly see that it is not structured in a way that encourages economic development and growth. For example; why is the Flagler Chamber involved in publishing? In my opinion the only reason the Flagler Chamber got involved in publishing in the first place was because they saw dollar signs when the economy was at its peak. Now it’s nothing more then a waste of cash that could be spent on things like, well, economic development and advocating for a better business environment county wide. After the first county wide economic development summit I asked Dough Baxter; “why doesn’t the chamber have an economic development division” and his response was; “well if you have not noticed we are not like other chambers.” To me this is where I think the problem is. Take St. Johns County Chamber of Commerce for example. They currently have and Economic Development Council and have been heavily involved in bring new businesses to their area. They just recently announced the creation of 190 jobs in their county. That’s 190 jobs we did not get here in Flagler.

    I’m 100% supportive of the Flagler Chamber stepping up to the economic development plate. They should have done it a long time ago to be honest. However, the worst thing the Flagler Chamber can do is keep the same players that will be coming out of Enterprise Flagler. Should they keep the same players I can almost guarantee the public will lose faith and trust in the chamber and ultimately they will lose members; their driving force of income.

    In my opinion Lea Stokes (Flagler Chamber Board Chairwoman) has taken the economic bull by the horns and curved the Flagler Chamber toward a path of success. I can only hope that the next Flagler Chamber Board Chairperson is as strong and willing to take up the well lit torch that Ms. Stokes has created.

    At this point I would give the Flagler Chamber the opportunity to do what Chambers of Commerce were designed to do; promote its members and advocate on be half of the business community as a whole though economic development. However, should they fail…we all know I have no problem calling them out on the carpet.

  11. lawabidingcitizen says:

    Well Nick, I don’t know about Palmcoaster, but imagine my delight that you agree with me even a teensy little bit. However, you seem to have a problem differentiating between the public and private sector.

    The CoC is an organization supported by its members, to my knowledge, it takes no public money, so in fact, you and I and others who are not dues paying members, have no say on what they do or how they spend their members’ money.

    Enterprise Flagler like the dozens of other money grubbers out there trolling for tax dollars, are very much our business and we shouldn’t allow our public servants to spend a single cent on their questionable agendas.

    We can agree to disagree that there is anything we can do to entice business/industry to our little paradise and also agree to disagree whether it is, in fact, disirable to do so. We can make our neighborhoods safe, clean and well maintained, provide good fire, police and sanitation services, keep out parks and beaches welcoming, send well educated graduates into the work force from our schools and then make it easy for people who want to spend their own money bringing their businesses to town.

    The very worst thing we’ve done over the past ten years is bring all the ambience of the Long Island Expressway and New Jersey Turnpike with their noise, traffic and crime to Flagler Co. by giving concesssions to big box stores and national franchise restaurants with their enormous advertising budgets and with them the demise of small local businesses. Remember the big stores don’t spend their profits here and their employees don’t necessarily live locally.

    Thanks guys. You killed what was good about this area and made it into the very thing most of us came here to get away from.

  12. Derrick says:

    @Nick D: Just an FYI, The Chamber has been in the publishing biz for roughly 25 years, that’s how long the Flagler Chamber phone book has been around, not exactly a new endeavor and certainly not as a result of a down economy, from my general research on the ‘internets’ they are not the only chamber in the U.S. to print publications, others publish phone books, relocation guides, visitor guides and maps. It just so happens to explain how the TDC works under the Chamber umbrella and how a similar structure would work with an economic development team. This county should no longer be a bedroom community!

  13. palmcoaster says:

    Derrick to start with, the article does not deserve your F…word descriptive! As is very informative.
    The 4% hospitality tax bed that TDC is improperly granted in a good portion and at times in a very bias and conflicting basis. Favors like I exampled above and just one of many cases a former then seating TDC Board Member owner of Thunder Gulch/ Black Cloud Saloon on Rte 1 Mr Seibel few years ago to the tune of $68,000 for a bikers weekend event inside his campground, but just denied a requested 10,000, even a partial of that, for a physical fitness event, the Half Marathon in Palm Coast for January 2012.
    If you add to biased TDC, the broken and outsourcing umbrella of the Flagler Chamber of Commerce proposed $70,000 for publishing plus 240,000 in salaries you have created the largest cow to be further milked for the mirage sake of Flagler Mirage Economic Development.
    Let the FCOC spend and waste their businesses membership on whatever elite ones the want and away from our taxes as their record performance is pathetic. Is all about Who is Who and Who gets What. Including accommodating some of their own relatives on the administration and make sure they remain there. Is not about helping the local existing businesses members or help to create jobs.
    Leave our taxes of the FCOC funding. Enough we been funding FE even lately for a central Florida hose manufacturing that had to be kicked off the airport location, for not paying rent? We don’t need your suggestion for Economic Development Derrick. Go and get your second membership subscription to the local Chamber if you want to best help them and do not get so mad, as their blunders are written here and leave our taxes for better use. Your named Ms Lea Stokes is no more than the cover page of the real insiders working the strings. Better get a reality check on our taxes and the Chamber connection.

  14. Derrick says:

    @Palmcoaster: Your entire diatribe is full of half truths or just outright misinformation.

    Republicans should be creaming themselves at the thought of a private entity taking over economic development, don’t you guys think the private sector can do better than the clunky, over-bloated and inefficient government?

  15. mare says:

    The more economically develop the more it’s gonna cost the tax payer…development needs services and services cost money. I believe we need to encourage small businesses, locally grown food, and keep our county green.

  16. palmcoaster says:

    Derrick.. You are saying that Reps will be creaming about the thought (of you miss understanding my suggestion) of a private entity to be proposed for Economic Development, while at the same time you are pushing for just that. My hard earned dollars as Coffey to to the tune of 70,000 for publishing and 242,000 for salaries proposed to be handed out to the Flagler County Chamber of Outsourcing, “private entity” to do just that.!
    Go to the TDC meetings minutes and find out for yourself about also the $670,000 plus handed to the hybrid position staff working for both TDC and FCCOC Pegy Heiser, yearly budget, while she lives and spend in Volusia…that is enough of tax payers 4% hospitality bed tax.. Man, are you protecting your own insiders eggs nest? Or you are just one of those late arrivals that know jack about what took or takes place around here?
    Go also and look at the way that this Chamber in not distant past cheered and pushed for this City to approve a developer Centex, ill plan that made us loose 300 hundreds plus jobs with the Palm Harbor Resort, former Sheraton ITT hotel and our local gathering place for this community. That pathetic unnecessary demolition full of failed promises in exchange for some condos building, seating vacant most of them now! I still have the Palm Harbor Resort lying T-Shirt handed by the Chamber on the phony plans presentation meeting to the residents. I would like to rub it in your face that half thruth of mine. That was the past Economic Development pushed for this Flagler County Chamber of Outsourcing, the loss of over 300 jobs. County Manager Coffey and “his happy let him do whatever with our taxes” commissioners need to be reminded again? Holland, Hanns,Revels know about it, as were here. Peterson and McLaughlin I think arrived here, after that one, the Chamber and local officials biggest blunder. Go research it before you accuse me of half way truths, diatribe and missinformation.
    How 300 hotel jobs were lost!
    I hope enough diatribe for you above, Derrick.

  17. Nick D says:

    I think we need to clear up some more misinformation.

    @ lawabidingcitizen – I am well aware of the difference between the public and private sectors having worked in both. And in no way in my comment did I say it was a good idea for our tax dollars to be given to a private company for the purpose of creating economic development. And I agree 100% that the chamber should not receive tax dollars. But one of the primary functions of any chamber of commerce should be the advocating for an environment that brings businesses and jobs to the area. However, reading your comments I am left with the understanding that economic development (on the business end) is not something you want and I respect that. As long as you can understand and respect that at 30 years old and working as hard as I have in school to achieve two bachelors, several federal and state certifications, as well as my military service, I can not sit by and be unemployed for two more years; something has to change. However, I understand that you want your little sliver of paradise as well as I do. But I’m not able to have that if I can not find work to support myself and my family. Just so you understand; I’m not scared of hard work or work that is (in some peoples eyes) beneath someone that has the schooling and background I have. I have even applied at gas stations and have been laughed at and told to my face; “you are overqualified.” I have also applied for jobs out of the county and received two offers but when the pay check would be less the my gas to get there and back; I had to say no. The only option I am left with is to move and that I can not afford at the present time. Now when other like me do just that; how much tax revenue will the county and city’s have to keep these great firefighters, police officers, and schools? Will you and the rest that are left be willing to foot the bills to keep them at their current levels when they are severing a dwindling population?

    @ Derrick – As far as the Flagler Chamber being directly involved in publishing; they only started ‘in-house’ publishing its own phonebook in 2008. They may have had maps, visitor guides, relocation guides, but they did not publish them; they out sourced it (hopefully) to members. Take a look at writers; they may write and put together the information but they are not the ‘publisher’ of the final product. Bottom line here is the Chamber’s Phonebook may have been around for 25 years but the chamber did not actually publish the book until 2008.

    Now when it comes to the TDC it’s my understanding that the TDC is only housed in the Flagler Chamber building and they pay the chamber rent to do so. The people working for the TDC are not employees of the Flagler Chamber (that I’m away of). The TDC is funded by the bed tax which is collected by the Florida Department of Revenue and the giving back to Flagler County Board of Commissioners on a monthly bases. So, I guess in some aspects some of you are right; the chamber does receive our tax dollars; in the way of rent. But correct me if I’m wrong here; The Center for Business Excellence also pays rent to be in that building. But in my opinion what better place for these two entities to be; the chamber has information about companies (that may be hiring) in the area and thing for tourist to do while they are here visiting.

    May I suggest something to a few of you? Try and get your facts from the source and not solely from online media sources like and With nothing but respect for both Toby and Pierre (and writers they feature); they all have their own person slant on the articles they write. Just remember…reiterating a comment made by someone else does not make that comment a “fact”…it merely shows that you are a follower of words and lack the desire to seek out the truth and stand as an individual.

  18. lawabidingcitizen says:

    Nick, I wish you could get a job and a well paying one that is personally rewarding as well. The chances of that happening in the area either in the past, present and/or future is dim no matter how much is spent on wishful thinking/whistling-past-the-grave-yard “economic development.”

    I wish it were otherwise because we need hard working people like yourself who have educated themselves and want to contribute in every community across the fruited plain.

    I wish I had a business. I’d hire you in a minute.

    Have you tried the SBA (Small Business Administration) — you might qualify for a loan to start your own small business. It is, afterall, the American way. There’s always room for a good idea.

    The very best of luck to you.

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