State leaders visit Calhoun County to discuss economic development
Florida Dept. of Economic Opportunity Director and Florida Secretary of State in attendance

CALHOUN COUNTY, FL – More than 50 individuals, including Florida Dept. of Economic Opportunity (DEO) Executive Director Cissy Proctor and Florida Secretary of State Ken Detzner, gathered in the Calhoun County Extension Building Thursday, May 10th to discuss local economic development challenges.  The meeting was part of Governor Rick Scott’s “12 County Initiative,” which targets 12 specific counties that have not had the economic growth most of Florida has welcomed over the past several years.  Since 2010, nearly 1.3 million new jobs have been created in the state, however, job opportunities in Calhoun County have actually decreased.  While the issue is very personal to local leaders, unfortunately, the challenge is not unique to Calhoun County.  

Calhoun County was the second of the 12 counties to host a roundtable discussion.  The goal of the three-hour meeting was for the more than 20 state agency representatives in attendance to actually visit the community, listen to the needs personally, and help brainstorm solutions.

Discussion focused on lack of infrastructure conducive to economic growth, development of a viable and sustainable workforce, need for workforce housing, as well as many other economic and social issues.  State agency contacts left the meeting with a better understanding of local challenges, pledging to be available and helpful in working towards solutions.

In addition to agency representatives, Lance Watson with US Sen. Marco Rubio’s office, Melissa Durham on behalf of Sen. Bill Montford, and Amanda Daughtry on behalf of Rep. Halsey Beshears participated.   

Local stakeholders in attendance were Clerk of Court Carla Hand, Property Appraiser Carla Peacock, Supervisor of Elections Sharon Chason, Tax Collector Becky Smith, Sheriff Glenn Kimbrel, Blountstown Police Chief Mark Mallory, Calhoun County Commissioners Danny Ray Wise, Gene Bailey, and Darrell McDougald, School Superintendent Ralph Yoder and Board Chair Danny Ryals, Blountstown Mayor Tony Shoemake, Blountstown City Manager Traci Hall, Altha Town Council member Lee Alday, Calhoun Liberty Hospital CEO Chuck Durant, Rachel Bryant and Marissa Barfield with the Florida Dept. of Health/Calhoun County, County Planner Frank Snowden, County Grants Coordinator Chelsea Snowden, Road Superintendent Cliff Edenfield, County Director of Operations Joe Wood, Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Kristy Terry, Al Bryant with Barkman Apiaries, Lisa Alderman with Calhoun County Senior Citizens, Patrick Bell, Justin Ford and Brandon Purvis with Dewberry, CareerSource Chipola Executive Director Richard Williams, and Roy Baker with Opportunity Florida.

Other counties designated in the initiative are Citrus, Gadsden, Glades, Hendry, Hernando, Highland, Indian River, Marion, Putnam, Sumpter, and Taylor.

Once all counties have conducted a stakeholder roundtable, county-specific action plans will be developed by DEO and presented to each county.