The FPL Northwest Florida Symposium, a signature event that strengthens collaboration across Northwest Florida communities to drive community and economic opportunity, is scheduled for Feb. 28 – March 1, 2023, at the Sandestin Golf & Beach Resort in Miramar Beach, Florida.
This year’s theme, Let’s Get Real!, will focus on looking ahead to the REAL-life challenges that need REAL solutions across the region, so we keep moving Northwest Florida forward.
Registration for this event is open now, with an early bird registration discount available through Friday, Jan. 20. Visit FPLSymposium.com to register and learn more about the symposium.
Previously known as the Gulf Power Economic Symposium, the day-and-a-half event provides a unique opportunity to bring hundreds of community leaders together from across the Panhandle to hear thought-provoking speakers who will spark dynamic conversations about the future of our region and local communities. This year’s top supporting sponsors include Signature Sustaining sponsor Hancock Whitney, Platinum sponsor Jay Odom Group and Emerald sponsor The Legendary Family of Companies; along with Gold sponsors Cox Communications, Florida Blue, and Power South; Silver sponsors LandrumHR, Liberty Partners, Melvin Engineering, Enterprise Florida, site selector sponsor Florida’s Great Northwest and media sponsor Localiq; and Bronze sponsors St. Joe Company, SmartBank, DefenseWerx, TechFarms Capital, Florida SBDC and Beggs & Lane.
Among the lineup of national speakers is one of the world’s foremost experts on global geo-political risk and geo-economics, Afshin Molavi, who stands at the intersection of the most vital issues shaping the future of our world today: the rise of emerging markets, global political and economic turmoil, and U.S. foreign, security and economic policy. Molavi delivers a fascinating in-depth forecast of the key global issues impacting organizations today and shaping the future of business, including those in Northwest Florida.
Lital Marom is an innovation strategist and speaker, who helps brands and audiences understand how to use emerging technologies and new business models to future-proof their business. With an emphasis on digital transformation, building innovation cultures, and integrating the platform business model (AKA digital ecosystems), she helps empower teams to understand the application of artificial intelligence, machine learning, and blockchain as well as the business potential of the Metaverse for their business.
Don Yeager is an award-winning keynote speaker, business leadership coach, 11-time New York Times best-selling author, and longtime Associate Editor for Sports Illustrated. Yeager, who fashioned a career as one of America’s most proactive thought leaders and sought-after speakers will talk about Leadership in the REAL World.
Eric Silagy, chairman, president and CEO of FPL, a subsidiary of NextEra Energy, Inc., and the largest vertically integrated rate-regulated electric utility in the U.S., will talk about FPL’s role in NextEra Energy’s bold Real Zero plan to lead the decarbonization of America, and how Northwest Florida plays a part in this plan.
Attendees will have an opportunity to:
• Get to know J.T. Young, FPL’s new Northwest Florida vice president and general manager, who will kick off the Symposium and serve as emcee;
• Join panel discussions including Recruiting and retaining talent in Northwest Florida.
• Get a Florida Legislative Update, from Darrick McGhee, an active registered lobbyist, currently serving as Chief Operating Officer for Johnson & Blanton, LLC., with two decades of experience in state government and politics;
• Hear a Northwest Florida Economic Update from Dr. Jerry Parrish, an economist who is currently working on economic development and workforce issues in Florida, and a Faculty Adjunct in the Masters of Applied Economics Program at Florida State University. Parrish also serves as the Chair of the Council of Economic Advisers at the University of West Florida Haas Center.
For more information and to register, please visit FPL Northwest Florida Economic Symposium.
– Visit Panama City Beach invites visitors and residents to celebrate Mardi Gras “Real.Fun.Beach” style at the annual Panama City Beach Mardi Gras and Music Festival, taking place February 3-4, 2023 at Pier Park. Combining the excitement of an authentic Mardi Gras celebration with spectacular views of sugar-white sand beaches and emerald-green waters, the fun-filled festival offers entertainment for the whole family.
“The annual Mardi Gras and Music Festival in Panama City Beach is one of our most festive and exciting events,” says Visit Panama City Beach President and CEO Dan Rowe. “Each year, we look forward to welcoming locals and visitors for an unforgettable Mardi Gras celebration just steps away from our beautiful beaches.”
In conjunction with the Krewe of Dominique Youx’s great Mardi Gras at the Beach parade, the two-day festival features a jam-packed schedule of entertainment for all ages, including live music, a kids fun zone and festival village, a 5k run, fireworks and more. Enjoy this year’s music headliner, Sawyer Brown, as well as other notable acts like Waylon Thibodeaux, dubbed “Louisiana’s Rockin’ Fiddler,” The Frontmen and Chubby Carrier & The Bayou Swamp Band at the Celebration Stage in Pier Park.
To see a full schedule of events, please visit: https://www.visitpanamacitybeach.com/mardi-gras/. For images of this event, visit: https://bit.ly/3VZjJQz.
Dateline, Sunday, March 1st, 2020, Aaron Bessant Park, Panama City Beach, Florida. The annual Emerald Coast Boat and Lifestyle Show had just concluded a weekend with beautiful weather, record-setting attendance, and dealers reporting yet another year of tremendous sales, welcoming new members to their boating families.
Then, less than two weeks later, the world changed, as did boating. Already going through a historic popularity boom on the Emerald Coast, boating saw demand skyrocket as families took to more outdoor activities. This brought additional challenges as manufacturers battled production shutdowns and supply chain issues resulting in an inventory shortage.
But like a ﬁsherman getting back at it after a tough trip, today is like a new day on the water for boating and the Emerald Coast Boat and Lifestyle Show, which returns to its picturesque home venue adjacent to Pier Park on March 3-5, 2023 in Panama City Beach.
The continued growth of new homes and waterfront developments throughout Bay County and the 30A Corridor continues to drive demand for not only boats but also products and services that encompass the ‘Coastal Lifestyle.’
“Even in the past few years when we couldn’t have the show because our dealer and lifestyle partners didn’t have the necessary inventory, we knew once that challenge was resolved, we’d be able to bring the show back,” said Chris Miller of Wheels Up Events which hosts the event.
“This show helped us expand our business from having just one location in Orange Beach to adding a new store in Panama City Beach,” said Chris Bazor of Grander Marine, who also recently opened a third store in Port St. Joe. “So having it back in 2023 will be very impactful once again for our business locally.”
Chuck O’Neill of Legendary Marine of Panama City Beach knows his dealership has always attracted lots of attention at the show in years past. Their very prominent display is ﬁlled with a wide variety of boat models and manufacturers appealing to most anyone in the market for a boat.
O’Neill expects the show in March to be much like past shows. “The demand is certainly here in this market. The show has always allowed us to showcase our boats, connect with new customers or see old friends. The time is right for this show to return!”
In addition to hundreds of boats, the Emerald Coast Boat and Lifestyle Show lives up to its billing with an ever-expanding line-up of products for anyone who loves living or visiting the Emerald Coast. Street-legal golf carts, paddle boards, electric bikes, personal watercraft, ﬁshing tackle and seminars, outdoor furniture, along with service providers for everything from boat maintenance to installing your new dock, will be at Aaron Bessant Park the ﬁrst weekend in March.
For a complete list of exhibitors, more information and to purchase tickets online, visit EmeraldCoastBoatShow.com
Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Beach Properties of Florida is pleased to announce that Vice President of Broker Operations Jennifer Ledesma will serve as the president of the Central Panhandle Association of REALTORS® (CPAR) for the new term. Ledesma was sworn-in to the 2023 Board of Directors during a ceremony on December 14th.
CPAR is a member-based association that serves around 2,300 REALTOR® Members and 250 Power Partners in five counties: Bay, Calhoun, Washington, Holmes, and Jackson. The CPAR Board of Directors and its Committees research and formulate policy on all areas affecting the business, professional practices, and public policy of the Association. The new term will begin January 1st, 2023.
“We are honored to have Jennifer represent our profession in this integral position for CPAR,” said Jimmy Burgess, Chief Executive Officer for Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Beach Properties of Florida. “Jennifer has been a longstanding leader in both our community and agency, and her expertise and professionalism will allow her to shine in this new role.”
An experienced sales professional, Ledesma has been a licensed realtor since 1997 and a broker since 2000. She has served on multiple committees with the association over the years, including Career Development Chairman, Communications Committee, Professional Standards, and the Grievance Committee. She was a director for the association in 2001/2002 and again in 2006/2007 when she was chosen to go through the Bay County Chamber of Commerce Leadership Bay program.
“I am excited and privileged to work with our local and state association of REALTORS® to promote private property rights and home ownership,” said Ledesma. “As our market continues to expand and evolve, staying on top of current trends and changes is key to making informed decisions for both our profession and the public.”
“I am so excited to have Jennifer Ledesma move into the CPAR President for 2023! As the 2022 CPAR outgoing President and a licensed Broker Associate with Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Beach Properties of Florida in the Pier Park office, it is my honor to step down and turn the reins over to such an experienced leader,” added Susan West, a Broker Associate at the agency’s Panama City Beach headquarters. “I look forward to working with Jennifer, and helping her with her initiatives, goals, and of course helping to build another home for Habitat for Humanity!”
Established in 2007 to be a premier real estate company dedicated to extraordinary customer service, Beach Properties of Florida became an affiliate of Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices network in 2016 and wholly owned by HomeServices of America in 2022. Since that time, it has earned a host of honors, including being recognized for six consecutive years as members of the Berkshire Elite Circle, a prestigious designation given to the Top 50 companies in the Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices network.
Gulf Coast State College is hosting Free Application Week December 5-9, 2022, for local high school seniors planning to attend GCSC.
Students who would like more information or assistance with their GCSC application are encouraged to contact their school’s Navigator. GCSC Navigators are individuals who work within local schools to help students prepare for their college careers, as well as explore career interests and offer advice to those planning to transfer from Gulf Coast to a four-year university.
Students are also encouraged to meet with a Navigator for GCSC academic advising and to learn of financial assistance options for college, such as the FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) and GCSC Foundation scholarships.
Homeschooled students, and students attending schools without a Navigator, can also submit their application free of charge by contacting GCSC’s Enrollment Services Office at (850) 769-1551 ext. 2936 or [email protected]
Panama City Beach is ready to once again welcome winter residents to the destination’s 27-miles of beautiful beaches, with an exciting calendar of social events set to kick off in early 2023.
“We are thrilled to welcome many first-time and returning visitors to our destination for another memorable winter season,” says Visit Panama City Beach President and CEO Dan Rowe. “Each year, we look forward to hosting entertaining events throughout the season for our winter residents, who have become a treasured part of the Panama City Beach community.”
Among the not-to-be-missed events are the annual Homecoming Dance and Social at Laketown Wharf on Friday, January 20, and the Winter Resident Senior Prom on Friday, February 10 at Edgewater Beach and Golf Resort. One of the biggest events of the season, the Winter Resident Senior Prom features a new theme each year and includes the naming of winter resident prom king and queen. Wrapping up all winter resident activities is the Winter Resident Grand Finale, taking place on Friday, February 24 at Edgewater Beach and Golf Resort. The farewell and appreciation event is a special annual celebration for those who choose Panama City Beach as their home away from home.
Panama City Beach’s Winter Resident Appreciation Days are the perfect time to learn more about the destination’s seasonal activities while mingling with friends both old and new. Winter Resident Appreciation Days also include ticket sales for the Homecoming Dance and Social on January 13, Senior Prom ticket sales on February 8, and Grand Finale ticket sales on February 22. On these dates from 8:00 a.m.- 11:00 a.m., visitors are encouraged to stop by Laketown Wharf to purchase event tickets and celebrate over complimentary coffee, donuts and giveaways.
For winter residents looking for a challenge, the Panama City Beach Mystery Challenge offers the opportunity to win prizes that include rounds of golf, entertainment tickets, special event opportunities and a chance to taste cuisine from the destination’s finest eateries.
For more information on winter resident events, discounts and deals taking place in Panama City Beach, visit https://www.visitpanamacitybeach.com/events/winter-residents/. Tickets to all events can be purchased at the Winter Resident Appreciation Days at Laketown Wharf.
For general images of Panama City Beach, visit: https://bit.ly/3ExUVts.
Retina Specialty Institute is pleased to welcome our newest retina specialist, Dr. Ahmet Ozkok to our practice beginning January 2023.
Dr. Ahmet Ozkok is a board-certified and fellowship-trained ophthalmologist who specializes in treating diseases of the retina, including Age-Related Macular Degeneration (AMD) and Diabetic Retinopathy. Additional surgical specialties include Retinal Detachment, Vitrectomy, Eye Trauma, and Epiretinal Membranes.
Dr. Ozkok completed his medical degree, clinical internship and ophthalmology residency at Cerrahpasa Faculty of Medicine, Istanbul University, Turkey. Once he relocated to the United States, he completed a retina & glaucoma observership at Tufts University, followed by his medical & surgical retina fellowship training at the University of Louisville, School of Medicine. After completing fellowship training, Dr. Ozkok practiced as a vitreoretinal surgeon in Rockford, Illinois for more than 7 years and had a faculty position at the University of Illinois, School of Medicine, participating in medical student and residency training.
He has authored more than 29 research articles appearing in peer-review journals and is involved in multiple research projects related to the treatment of Macular Degeneration, retinal vascular diseases, and other retinal disease.
Retina Specialty Institute is home to some of Alabama, Florida, and Mississippi’s most experienced and trusted retina specialists. Our practice has multiple locations throughout the Gulf Coast to offer you the convenience of seeing a retina specialist close to home.
Dr. Ozkok will join Dr. Maggie Shuler in our Panama City, Panama City Beach, and Ft. Walton Beach locations. To schedule an appointment, call 850-476-6759. Dr. Ozkok and ALL of our doctors are committed to giving you the best care you deserve!
The Gulf Coast State College Foundation will open its 2023-2024 scholarship application cycle to students attending or planning to attend Gulf Coast State College beginning December 1, 2022.
Applicants must be accepted into Gulf Coast State College, have an active GCSC student ID number and GCSC email before attempting to start the application process. GCSC students can find the scholarship application link inside their myGCSC portal.
The Foundation has over 750 scholarship opportunities available and is planning to spend over $1 million to help support Gulf Coast State College students next year. Foundation scholarships offer recipients a chance to discount the cost of tuition and fees. In most cases that discount is approximately 50%.
For more information on how to apply go to gcscfoundation.org/scholarships/ The deadline to apply is March 15, 2023.
For additional information or questions, please contact Dunkin McLane at 872.3810 or [email protected]
Sports Destination Management, the leading publication with the largest circulation of sports event planners and tournament directors in the sports tourism market, has announced the 2022 Champions of Economic Impact in Sports Tourism. This year’s winners are responsible for contributing a more-than-welcome boost of over $2.42 billion to the national economy over the past year.
Among the winners were four events produced in cooperation with Visit Panama City Beach, including 2022 Grand Slam World Series of Baseball, United States Fastpitch Association (USFA World Series), 2021 Visit Panama City Beach IRONMAN Florida and Ripken Select Tournaments. These four events brought in athletes from all over the world and resulted in a total economic impact of over $80 million to the destination. The winning events also resulted in Panama City Beach being the most awarded destination in the country.
“We are honored to receive this incredible recognition from Sports Destination Management, showcasing our long standing events with Grand Slam Tournaments and USFA,” said Dan Rowe, Visit Panama City Beach president and CEO. “The CVB is also proud to host a new event with Cal Ripken Select Tournaments and continue our magnificent partnership with IRONMAN Group. Sports tourism is a huge part of our destination, and we’re grateful for the opportunity to host events and showcase Panama City Beach as a year-round destination for athletes and their families.”
All winners of awards have been recognized in a special feature published in the November/December 2022 issue of Sports Destination Management. The entire article with full details on the winners listed below can also be found online.
Duplin Winery, the South’s largest winery, is nearing completion of its much-anticipated Panama City Beach, Fla. location. It’s being built on the former Hombre Golf Club off Panama City Beach Parkway, just minutes from the beach.
The Fussell family, which started Duplin Winery in Rose Hill, N.C. nearly 50 years ago, expect a Spring 2023 opening.
“Duplin has always been more than a winery. It is an extension of my family, a gathering place. When you walk through those doors, you’re family. We really mean that,” said co-owner Jonathan Fussell, who, along with his brother Dave Fussell Jr., is deeply involved in Duplin’s day-to-day operations.
The $15 million, 38,000-square-foot complex will feature a rustic, Southern charm feel with gorgeous porches and other inviting outdoor spaces. Five tasting bars, a retail market stocked with wines, gifts and more, a wine slushie bar, a fresh fudge bar and a bottle-your-own-wine experience will all be available inside for guests to enjoy.
There will also be a 13,000-square-foot pavilion where musicians can entertain guests who are sipping Duplin’s award-winning, cool, sweet and easy wines. The large space can also be used as the perfect setting for weddings.
“We are so thankful and blessed to be opening in beautiful Panama City Beach. We look forward to sharing the wines we love, welcoming more people into our Duplin family and bringing new jobs to the area,” Jonathan Fussell said.
The new Panama City Beach location will generate more than 60 new jobs. The team is actively hosting job interviews and accepting resumes at [email protected]