• Chairman’s Message: Is It Time For A Regional Focus?

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    May 03, 2017
    Lockwood Wernet - Destin Water Users, Inc.John Donne wrote: “No man is an island, entire of itself…” Meaning that human beings do not thrive when isolated from others.  You may ask what in the heck does that have to do with the Chamber of Commerce?  I think it has a lot to do with the Chamber, and it represents a paradigm shift that we need to embrace.
    When you look at Northwest Florida, you realize that we, the communities of Northwest Florida, are spread out and separated by large expanses of undeveloped land and diverse interests of concern.  It takes substantial time to travel between our major metropolitan areas, and these metropolitan areas are isolated from each other in many respects.  As a result of these physical barriers, the different communities in Northwest Florida developed independently from each other.
    I don’t think it is a bad thing that our communities developed independently, and I would go even further to say that it was beneficial because that allowed the communities to focus on the issues and concerns specific to their area.  However, I think it is time to begin focusing regionally on issues and concerns.
    This position was well stated by Destin Chamber President and CEO Shane Moody in his last message when he said, “If we can’t find those kinds of projects that have a direct impact on Destin, we’ll look for regional partnerships and projects that would have the most indirect impact for us.”
    This is a philosophy that we must embrace as we look to the future because we cannot survive as isolated communities.  We recently saw the benefit of this concept when the Destin and Fort Walton Beach Chambers came together to express our concerns about proposed legislation to appropriate the Triumph funds, because we spoke with one regional voice.
    When we look at projects in the future, we must think regionally.  We need to ask ourselves how road infrastructure projects interconnect our communities.  Will that employment center diversify our economy and create new high paying jobs?  How is this improving education to train up our workforce for the new economy?  Does this improve health care in our area?   These questions need to be at the forefront of our thoughts and we need to ask how we can collaborate to make this happen.  
    As we look to our future, we cannot survive as isolated island communities; we must look to promote what is good for our region. 
    Lockwood Wernet
    2017 Destin Chamber Chairman
    Destin Water Users, Inc.

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