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All-Business Snub: Flagler County Can’t Fill Its Own Economic Development Council Seats

| October 4, 2011

Looking for fill. (© FlaglerLive)

Flagler County’s business community is paying back the county commission with a snub.

In mid-August the Flagler County Commission euthanized Enterprise Flagler in a public (and publicly discourteous) way to the all-volunteer members of the economic development agency even as its president proposed an alternative to the way it had been operating.

Enterprise Flagler was, until Sept. 30, the public-private agency, funded mostly by the county and Palm Coast, responsible for nurturing and recruiting new jobs to the area. Its board was a mixture of government heads and local CEOs, with Florida Hospital Flagler’s David Ottati, whose hospital has created the largest number of private-sector jobs in the area in the past several years, as its president. A split majority of commissioners told Ottati that his services were no longer needed, that the county would replace Enterprise Flagler with an economic development council of its own. The new council had many similarities to the revamped version of Enterprise Flagler Ottati was proposing. But the commission wasn’t interested.

In an embarrassing and telling first act to the county’s version of economic development, the council’s eight seats have gone begging for applicants, and returned with few takers. The application window was scheduled to close Friday.

“I hope that it doesn’t mean that there is an overwhelming sit-out by the business community. I hope it’s just a matter of lack of communication or people don’t know about it,” Barbara Revels, the county commissioner most supportive of Enterprise Flagler and the putative chairwoman of the new council, said.

But the Flagler County Chamber of Commerce had spread the word to its membership about the council, and Revels herself had announced at Enterprise Flagler’s last meeting that applicants were welcome. The county had also advertised the positions in the News-Journal. And articles had run in local media about it. There was no lack of information.

Revels attributed the tepid response to “maybe distrust or loss of faith or loss of energy, I don’t know. I don’t want to believe that but I do know that after what occurred with Enterprise Flagler, there was some very, very upset business owners in this community that have logged in lots of billable hours to an organization for free, in addition to paying to be a member, and they were basically told they had no value, so I suspect that some of the lack of applications would be from those people who feel like they won’t be appreciated for their contribution.”

County Administrator Craig Coffey told county commissioners in a meeting Monday that they may need to extend the application deadline. Commissioners jumped on that proposal and extend the deadline at least a week, then asked the administrator again to advertise the non-paying positions, which were, in fact, advertised in the News-Journal previously.

On Tuesday, the administration emailed to news agencies a want-ad in the form of a news release: “A crucial part of Flagler County’s new plan for economic development is an eight member board of volunteers to guide a staff of professionals working on economic development in the county,” it read. The county, it went on, is looking for individuals with backgrounds in finance, agriculture, marketing, real estate and high tech.

The three individuals who’ve applied so far: Mark Langello, the Bunnell Developer who owns Atlantis, the commercial development on U.S. 1; Joseph Marotti, a consultant retired from various managerial positions elsewhere; and Rick Frasier, president of the Center for Business Excellence. The administration received a fourth application today, from Michael Beebe, a member of the Palm Coast Planning Board and the head of Beebe Associates in Palm Coast.

Art Barr, a former leading member of Enterprise Flagler–and a critic of the county’s handling of the dissolution of the agency–was nevertheless surprised by the low number of applicants. “I know of five or six people that are planning to” apply, he said. “I know one or two who are getting some references to reinforce their applications.” Barr, a developer, is not among them, he said.

“I’m a private side kind of guy and I look forward to the opportunity of standing on this side of the gate or the fence and representing the business community,” Barr said. “I’ll certainly be active but in a sense to make sure that the government does its job. They’ve raise the expectation that they can do the job better than the private sector. Now, put up or shut up.”

Alan Peterson, chairman of the county commission, was among the supporters of Enterprise Flagler’s dissolution. He concedes that the summer’s developments may be contributing to disaffection in the business community, but was bothered by the lack of broader response. “Obviously some people that had bee involved don’t want to get involved in the new organization,” Peterson said, “but I’d hoped, and the commission had hoped, that there were people out there who wanted to get involved.”

He added: “If new people and new ideas and people with experience don’t come forward, it will have diminished in my mind what the majority of the commission wanted to accomplish with the new committee.”

Interested individuals are asked to complete the following application (also available below). The application and supplemental information can be sent via email, fax or regular mail to Christie Mayer at ( or call (386) 313-4094.

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12 Responses for “All-Business Snub: Flagler County Can’t Fill Its Own Economic Development Council Seats”

  1. SAW says:

    Seems that the private sector wants to run the show the county should definitely let them do so as long as they use their own money, not ours.

  2. says:

    over a million dollars in around 10 years, i would bet that they all ate well at their meetings. a banker, a lawyer and a ceo, what a waset of taxpayer’s money. what was accomplished? still unemployment at 14 %


  3. Charles Ericksen, Jr says:

    I believe that Mr. Barr has it correct. For years, Government has had all the answers. The voters have elected “officials”, who have little knowledge of a very competitive, specialized business – economic development. They have formed numerous committees, and held many expensive meetings, with no results, other than action items, that good businesses already have in place like… Customer service. the tracking of results and efforts.etc. Governments( mostly Palm Coast) have turned down suggestions, that would have worked, claiming they had no knowledge of what was happening, even when they held positions on the Board of Directors at Enterprise Flagler. Government doesn’t even know, what they are looking for. Take a look at the juvenile application, they have put forth. Do they even suggest that “prior economic development is a plus”? Successful businesses are results oriented. They make changes, PRIOR to problems occuring,… they anticipate , ….they act quickly. Governments operate just the opposite. They wait for problems to occur, then they wait longer to take action. They take a first action , almost one year after the problem was identified, without input from those affected, and then they try to pass a correction (like animal refuge regulations), still without input, and wonder what went wrong. And these are the same people, who will write the help wanted ad, and interview candidates?? They have though made one good decision so far. They have retained, Mr. Rawls as a transition resource. He has all the basic skills, to advise, and guide us, until an experienced individual is hired. He was, although never acknowledged or credited with, , doing what he needed to do to attract and get possible corporations into Flagler County. Our problem is, can we , with our national reputation, and ordinances get someone to come here.? Our confusion and non-business friendly reputation is out there. Just wait and see what the asking price for a starting salary and benefits is..well above the salary we put in the ad. I am aware of numerous individuals out in the community, that could help, but will they apply? No, not after the calamity that has gone on, in the past 2-4 years. Government had tried to blame business and has gotten great public buy in, over the past few years for the depression going on today, but it is business that will solve it, if left alone. Get Government out of the economic development business. That’s why we don’t call it economic development government.

  4. Ella says:

    Which Palm Coast City Council Member kept saying we don’t need to reinvent the wheel? Hmmmm…. That $400,000 should have gone to shore up Enterprise Flagler and given them the support they needed to be successful. Now what is left? No one even wants to get involved.

  5. tulip says:

    Here is an opportunity for experienced people in the business world in various capacities to apply for these positions and come together and use their knowledge to solve some of our problems.

    I have read and heard many complaints over the last couple of years that these resources should be used, as they would apply their knowledge from different perspectives with no political or self serving agenda.

    Now that the opportunity is here, where are all the applicants? From what I read here, they are letting themselves be influenced by the certain groups, instead of having the determination to apply their talents and knowledge to help the very county they live in.

    This is new Economic Development board being formed–there is a lot of knowledge and resources out there waiting to be used. Fill out an applicationnand let’s try another direction, instead of stagnating and complaining about the way we’re going now.

  6. palmcoaster says:

    Who would like to serve on a Board with the same professionals and guidelines as Enterprise Flagler had, but just a different name? Too much baggage to endure?

  7. tulip says:

    It is my understanding that the people who would serve on this board are ordinary residents with various types of business experience, with the exception of Mr. Rawls who will only be on the board for a short length of time.

    As far as guidelines, it would seem to me that the new group would follow some guidelines, but also may think up new ones or tweak the old ones.

    I see this as a chance to let many of our intelligent and experienced citizens have a say and accomplish things in the county they live in,

  8. hahintelligentcitizens says:

    HAH. Intelligent citizens.

    You know, having lived here for almost 9 years now, I can promise you that intelligence is not a prominent trait among the people in this city. You can tell by the driving! Hah. Just kidding.

    But seriously? I’ve seen so many stories over the last couple of years involving these councils, board members, groups, affiliates, BLAH BLAH BLAH. They slap a professional-sounding name on a group of people and it automatically gives you the impression they can DO things, are INTELLIGENT, and wouldn’t have been “brought together” unless it was for a PURPOSE of some kind.

    The whole purpose behind all these stunts is simple: They are great at wasting time and money. I can definitely find more money, but time is definitely the one thing they are not making any more of. The low number of applications is the truth of the situation. People are sick of having their time wasted. What good is this council going to do? It’s nearly identitical to the last council idea with one exception: The County Commission has their hands in it. If they knew what they were doing at all, would the unemployment be so high? Would they have spent the last half of the decade trying to find ways to improve the economy? The county commission rejected warehouse/union jobs a few years back from a company looking to build. Where did they go? Ft. Lauderdale. Palm Coast Data has been the only economic consistency for the past few years. Where are they going? Out of business. The company has lost the NRA (one of the big money makers for the company) and HUNDREDS of publications. Clients aren’t signing back up with PCD for many reasons, but the most prominent is how OUTDATED the company is, in terms of technology and business sense.

    The same goes for this town. Outdated practices, Outdated thinking, and Outdated resources.

    Good Luck council! You’ll surely need! The circus can only let down the audience for so long, and I’m sick of the clowns running the show.

  9. Justice for All says:

    Frankly, I’m glad that the private sector no longer has its hands on my wallet. Those of us who brought our money with us are quite happy here. We don’t need jobs, we eat in the local restaurants, buy in the local stores, pay our taxes and keep up our property. Don’t drop kick us to the curb…….

  10. Bob E. says:

    hahintelligentcitizen, if you think those applying are unintelligent and you have such a wealth of it, apply. They can use someone with your intellect. By the way isn’t one of PCD’s biggest issues the online publication of magazines making the need for mailing obsolete? By the way, you missed the great City of Palm Coast decision not to solicit Walmart Distribution when they were looking for a place to build a distribution center and the city said there were too many elderly residents who traveled on U.S. 1 (yep not a typo) and it could produce congestion and accidents for these older drivers (their words not mine).

  11. Time to wake up an smell the Coffee/Coffey says:

    The Commissioners are the problem. These are the same commissioners that allowed this game to go on and on costing us millions of dollars and now they want to change the name and they want to be in charge to resume with the same GREG RAULS leading the pack. Isn’t Greg Rauls a buddy of our County Administrator, Craig Coffey from DeSoto County? Let’s hold hands…………………..

    Everything they get into turns into a complicated mess, that costs us lots of money with little to no results. The spending must be controlled, and this is not a board that minds spending our tax dollars. Agenda, agenda, agenda…. I understand why there is a lack of support and involvement. Save our tax dollars and dissolve this scam! These are the same commissioners that allowed this game to go on and on costing us millions of dollars, and now they want to change the name and they want to be in charge to resume with the same GREG RAULS leading the pack. Isn’t Greg Rauls a buddy of our County Administrator, Craig Coffey from DeSoto County? Let’s hold hands…………………..

  12. palmcoaster says:

    Bunnell City Manager Martinez (former Bunnell police chief) is being criticized and opposed because he brings, as was reported, a friend from Miami with intentions to advise him for the Bunnell police Chief seat….? But these comicommisioners allow Coffey to hire his friend again, that was unceremoniously fired from Enterprise after the dissolution took place given our, “the people” uproar do, to useless ideas, projects and waste? Not these elected one’s allow that, but further more double to 400,000 that ED budget now. Easy to hand out to the elite our hard, to come by, tax dollars.

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