‘There are some who want to dwell on what could have been, or how fast they believe progress should be made, but we are in the business of looking forward’, Paul Goulding recently told the Vernon, Florida City Council, ‘and our effort will be to show the business community, investors and potential residents that the future of Vernon, Florida is indeed very bright’.
In a meeting of the Vernon City Council on Monday, November 13, 2017, Commissioners voted unanimously to hire Chipley, Florida public relations firm The Goulding Agency to help educate the public and the business sector about the opportunities afforded by the City, including the four-laning of State Highway 79 through the city.
‘The demolition of some of the historic structures along Highway 79 in downtown Vernon has been the source of bitterness for some longtime residents of the area’, stated Goulding, Vice President of The Goulding Agency, ‘and understandably so’.
‘Nobody likes change, and, much like the demolition of the former Washington County Courthouse, sentiments run strong when dealing with history. We were fortunate to work closely with the Vernon Historical Society in May, 2009, when they decided to turn the bittersweet demolition of the historic Vernon Bridge into a celebration of the progress the City would eventually see’.
‘Without looking far, many opportunities are apparent to a prospective business interested in the Vernon area- with proximity to the Northwest Florida Beaches International Airport, available water and sewer, two sources of internet connectivity and the soon-to-be-available fast transit to points north and south via the four-lane- to name just a few of the low-hanging fruit’.
‘In addition, when the four-lane is complete, there will be significant costs to a developer on Highway 79 to tie an access driveway into the new state highway’, said Goulding, ‘but if that property is purchased now, the construction of the curb-and-gutter and apron will potentially be done along with the highway construction, saving money, time and energy’.
Providing public relations, media production and social media efforts for other Northwest Florida entities over the past decade as diverse as Family Dollar in Marianna, WestPoint Home in Chipley, Early Learning Coalition of Northwest Florida, Florida Panhandle Technical College in Chipley and the tourism industry in Jackson County, Florida, the firm has become adept at identifying the positives, capitalizing on opportunity and producing compelling content illustrating these highlights of an area or a business.
‘We will be retooling the City website and their social media, and we will also bring to bear a very large audience of our own media outlets’, said Goulding. ‘With over 40,000 unique viewers on Facebook alone, we can disseminate information quickly and effectively, and we enjoy a cooperative partnership with regional media outlets, making the task of telling this story for Vernon a relatively easy one’.
The firm was recently involved in the use of unmanned aerial vehicles, more commonly referred to as ‘drones’, in conjunction with Florida Panhandle Technical College, to photograph and video what is commonly called ‘the Highway 79 Project in Bonifay, Holmes County and Washington County, just north of Vernon.
‘This technology is being acknowledged by the business community as a source for many jobs in the near future’, says Goulding, ‘and it has been reported that Florida Governor Rick Scott will be visiting the drone program at Florida Panhandle Technical College this week. You don’t get a much better endorsement than that’.
‘We plan to use this same technology to produce photo and video presentations to illustrate and promote the positives of the Vernon corridor to prospective businesses’, said Goulding, ‘and we have no doubt that this effort will succeed in getting the word out that Vernon has a bright future’.
The firm recently released a short, upbeat ‘teaser’ aerial video clip of this highlight of the Vernon area, and the response has been commensurately energetic, and may be viewed below.
‘The business potential of the four-laning of Highway 79 is just one part of the story’, said Goulding, ‘and with a new Recreation Director for the City soon to start, the sports programs of Vernon will be revitalized- something many have wanted for some time’.
‘There is no lack of good news or uplifting information, and, unless you are simply determined to be negative, there are good things happening in Vernon and the region, all about which the world needs to know. In addition, there will be a consolidation of information from the City, eliminating other potential problematic issues’.
Citing recent instances when Vernon Council discussions or decisions were inaccurately reported, and facts omitted or confused, the Vernon Council agreed unanimously that there was a need for a consolidated source for information to accurately serve the City in the form of public relations news releases, eliminating innuendo and media inaccuracies.
Recently there were questions raised about the timing of completion for the Highway 79 four-lane project through Vernon, and Florida State Senator George Gainer fielded the question, explaining that the work was on target as contracted, despite appearances.
‘We are excited to have The Goulding Agency on board’, said Vernon Mayor Tina Sloan, ‘and we look forward to shining a big spotlight on the positive future we enjoy here’. ‘I’m ready to get started’, echoed Vernon Council Chairperson Gary Owens.