Development or Destruction?

It's a massive development worth around $700 million, so how much of a difference can that make to this area?

Jerry Cawthon, a Keaton Beach business owner, said, "Our county has been declared by the governor of the state of Florida as one of critical economic concern. There's just not enough money here."

The Magnolia Bay Marina and Resort proposed for Taylor County is a 600-acre development never before seen on Taylor County's coast. With it comes never before seen revenue from a substantial number of temporary and permanent jobs, and recurring local tax revenue annually.

Trey Howard, an attorney and local representative for Magnolia Bay, said, "You add the $700 million, you put the millage rate on it, it increases the amount of money in Taylor County."

Lee Bennett, a Keaton Beach resident, added, "It's a very environmental friendly business/corporation that can come in here and create a large tax base for our county, improve our facilities that we have here."

The 1,400 resort condominiums and hotels, shops, restaurants, boat ramps and marinas are expected to attract vacationers and keep residents local.

Trey added, "You have a guy who comes, he'll spend the night in a motel, he's going to eat, he's going to buy gas in Perry. He's going to use all of our services. He'll go by the bait shop to go fishing; local shops. People are going to use local businesses when they come to this development down at Magnolia Bay."

Ronnie Nichols, a Keaton Beach resident, said, "There's no telling how much money I spend a month going out from this beach here to have something to do. If there was something here other than the fishing, a grocery store, shops, especially for my wife, there would be a lot of money spent right here that's going to different counties."

Local officials and residents anticipate revenue from the Magnolia Bay project will be able to provide many of the services that are currently not affordable in Taylor County.

Jerry added, "Emergency services, the fire departments, the medical services, paved roads."

County officials say they don't know exactly how much money the $700 million project will bring in, but the Taylor County Development Authority says it will most definitely have a positive effect.

The Development Authority will vote next week whether to pay for an independent economic impact analysis of the project.


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