More than 4,000 new jobs and a $160 million boost to Northwest Florida’s economy. State officials say that’s the potential impact of Vision Airlines’ decision to establish its hub at Northwest Florida Regional Airport.
Florida Governor Rick Scott, Senator Dan Gaetz and Representative Matt Gaetz joined city and county elected officials Tuesday in Destin as the company formally announced expansion plans. Beginning March 25, the Atlanta-based airline will offer non-stop flights to 17 new markets at fares as low as $49.
Governor Scott said Vision’s commitment is a sign the state is “ripe” for success. “What’s exciting about Florida right now is that people want to come and help make sure that we turn this state around,” he said.
At a roundtable discussion held before the Vision Airlines announcement, the governor told local business leaders he is selling the Sunshine State to companies in the U.S. and abroad. David Meers, Vision’s Chief Operating Officer for commercial operations, said the election of Governor Scott sealed the deal to bring the airline to the Destin/Fort Walton Beach area.
Governor Scott said putting Floridians to work is the first step toward solving other problems. “You can’t fix anything if we don’t create jobs,” he told the business group, “…we have to make this the job state… make sure this is the number one state for doing business
Senator Gaetz (R-Niceville) brought a familiar theme closer to home. “Florida is open for business and Northwest Florida particularly is an area that wants growth, wants jobs, and is willing to reach out,” he said. Gaetz cited economists’ projections of thousands of jobs and millions of dollars resulting from Vision’s announcement.
For Peter Bos, a developer who has spent three decades drawing visitors to the area, the combination of new jobs and low-cost flights bringing tourists to the Panhandle is a dream come true. “This area has been so underserved by air,” said Bos. “It is the best of the best that we could have.”