The latest Triumph Gulf Coast board meeting was hosted in Pensacola at the Escambia County Commission chambers. There were a number of items related to Escambia County that were discussed during the meeting.
First, Triumph staff gave an update on the negotiations with the Escambia County School District on the workforce development project approved at the previous Triumph meeting. Staff indicated that the negotiations are ongoing but one sticking point is the claw back provision that is necessary in all Triumph requests. The hope is that the school district and Triumph staff will be able to work out the details and have a proposal for approval at the next Triumph board meeting. The Escambia County School District workforce development project focuses on key industries such as aviation repair, cybersecurity and manufacturing.
The Triumph board also had in-depth discussions about two project areas: the oyster industry and sports facilities. There are number of submitted projects in each of these areas and the board felt that they need additional input from experts to help analyze these proposals. To help study these proposals, the board voted to form an oyster industry subcommittee and a sports facility subcommittee to bring in subject matter experts and have them provide presentations to the subcommittees. The subcommittees will then provide recommendations to the full board on how to proceed. Board members Jason Shoaf and Stephen Riggs will serve on the oyster industry subcommittee and board members Benjamin Lee and Allan Sense will serve on the sports facility subcommittee and Triumph board chairman Don Gaetz will serve on both subcommittees.
Finally, the board discussed the Pensacola Airport’s Maintenance, Repair and Overhaul (MRO) project. This project would expand on the recently opened ST-Aerospace hangar at the Pensacola Airport which will bring 400 jobs to Pensacola. The expanded proposal would create a campus facility at the airport and bring another 1,400 jobs to our community. Chairman Gaetz stated that this project might be the “white whale” that the board has been looking for in terms of bring quality jobs. Dr. Rick Harper explained the potential benefits of the approving the project with the quality, high-paying jobs that would come with the project. The project also fits with the Escambia County School District’s workforce development proposal’s focus on aviation maintenance.
Both Harper and Gaetz did state that there are significant issues with the funding request associated with the current proposal. Board member Stan Connally followed up on Gaetz’s comments asking how quickly the issues with the proposal could be worked out and be ready for board review. Harper replied that a number of the issues have been worked out and that it should be within months. Connally stated that he was ready to see have this project in front of the board sooner than later because of the great potential that the project provides. Chair Gaetz then followed up that all parties will need to work together to close the current funding gaps.