The Triumph Gulf Coast Board of Directors held their March meeting in Milton and moved towards awarding their first grant. Program administrator Cori Henderson stated during her report that she and Triumph economic advisor Dr. Rick Harper have either met or held calls with submitters from all eight of the disaffected counties.
In his report, Harper stated that they have received some completed full applications but had expected mote at this point. Harper reported that the had received five completed applications, four of which were workforce development projects. Harper did state that the four workforce development projects needed “maturing” before they would be ready for board approval. The fifth full proposal, a $10 million request from the Port of Panama City was thoroughly explained by Dr. Harper. You can see the full application for the Port of Panama City project here.
After thoroughly explaining the project and the economic development impact and benefits, Dr. Harper requested that board allow staff to begin negotiations with the Port of Panama City on the $10 million grant request. Harper said that the port may need to make some changes to their application that would include a better benefit to cost ratio before approving the funds. Board Stan Connally made the motion to begin negotiations with the port. Connally also stated that he liked the amount of outside funds being brought to the project and felt staff could improve the benefit to cost ratio in their negotiations. Board members Allan Bense, Pam Dana, Benjamin Lee and Stephen Riggs all spoke in favor of the port.
The board approved staff to begin negotiations with the Port of Panama City for a grant of up to $10 million. Connally’s motion stated the desire to have the contract ready at the next board meeting for full approval. Dr. Pam Dana was appointed as the board member to serve as board liaison as the contract and term sheet are being developed.
Cori Henderson requested that the boar allow staff to make tweaks to the pre-application to make it less rigorous. Henderson stated that they were finding that applicants were finishing about half of the full application just during the pre-application phase. Staff would not change the pre-application for presenters that have already begun the pre-application process but will be used going forward.
Staff also asked for approval to contract with an expert in the education performance field to assist with the workforce development projects. This person would work on projects on a case-by-case basis and not be a full-time employee. Staff estimated that the case-by-case need would only cost $1,500-$2,500 per project.
During the public comment portion of the meeting, Assistant City Administrator Keith Wilkins announced that the city had submitted the full application for the expansion of the Pensacola Airport Maintenance, Repair and Overhaul (MRO) project and the city had received a $35 million commitment from a private company as a part of their effort.