2023 State of the County Address
View the recap video online
Santa Rosa County came out of the COVID-19 pandemic stronger than ever and we’re continuing our efforts to reach our potential. Santa Rosa County is growing and recognize the tremendous growth we’ve experienced over the last year alone. More people than ever are moving to Santa Rosa County due to our low cost of living, low crime rate, our great schools, and our abundant recreational opportunities, from our beaches to our woodlands.
The Local Option Sales Tax (LOST) was put in place to help alleviate infrastructure constraints that developed over several decades and have been amplified by our continued growth. Over the last year, funding from LOST has been leveraged with numerous grant opportunities. From major drainage improvements on East Bay Boulevard to a complete remodel of Swenson Park and the construction of the Pace Pea Ridge Connector. We’re making much-needed improvements to our parks, infrastructure, and overall public safety in every part of the county.
To accompany this exponential population growth, our economic development office has been working tirelessly to bring more industry and high-paying jobs to our residents.
In July, Leonardo broke ground on a new facility at Whiting Aviation Park, in Milton, where they will perform maintenance and overhaul on the Navy’s new training helicopter, the TH-73 Thrasher.
The Buffalo Rock Company recently purchased 47 acres at the Northwest Florida Industrial Park @ I-10 for a new distribution facility. The project is expected to bring as many as 400 new jobs to the area.
We all recognize the incredible impact tourism has on our local economy, generating over $6.3 million this year. The average visitor spent just over $1,000 on accommodations, attractions, food, and retail in Santa Rosa County, and we’ve seen a year-over-year increase in overnight visitors by 13%. Tourism is becoming more than just a season in our community; it’s injecting vital funds into local businesses and our communities throughout the year.
We're lucky that we weren't impacted by a major disaster this year. We are prepared, ready to respond, and primed for recovery should we be impacted in the future.
With public safety in mind, our animal services department has focused on keeping our residents and visitors safe through their efforts in animal control. We’ve also prioritized the safety of our community’s most vulnerable animals by providing free spay and neutering for stray cats/kittens, offering reduced-cost microchip clinics to ensure our furry friends are reunited with their families, and partnering with local and national organizations to provide budget-friendly adoption fees and pet supplies.
Our commitment to serving our community goes even further. We pride ourselves on giving back to our neighbors. In December 2022, our public safety department partnered with local agencies to provide over 10,000 pounds of food so that our neighbors and their families could enjoy a holiday meal without the stress of figuring out where it would come from. Our library system collected over 600 food items and saved residents almost $600 in late fees with their “Cancel Your Fees with Kindness” food drive.
Our environmental department held several waste amnesty days in the south end and at the Central Landfill, to keep our environment clean of dangerous material without having to pay. This resulted in the proper disposal of almost 70,000 pounds of tires.
Here in Santa Rosa County, we’re on a mission to serve our community, we don’t just say, we live it every day and we are committed to excellence.
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Serving our community, committed to excellence.