Officials from Santa Rosa County are crafting a strategy to encourage and manage retail development. Shannon Ogletree, the Director of Economic Development for Santa Rosa County says because the county is growing so fast, officials want to produce guidelines so retail development is planned and not haphazard. Ogletree, along with County Commissioner Jayer Williamson and Milton City Manager Brian Watkins recently attended an international retail convention in Las Vegas to begin the process of forming a retail strategy for Santa Rosa County.
A county retail strategy is different from a county's zoning rules. While a zoning board approves the location where a store or restaurant can be built, a retail strategy outlines what types of stores or restaurants the county would like to see built. Ogletree says he believes the county has never done this type of planning before and it will help keep Santa Rosa residents, and their dollars, close to home.
Looking ahead, Shannon Ogletree says he and county officials would like to see ten new restaurants in both the route 90 and 98 corridors, as well as a couple of new grocery stores. He says going to conventions like the one in Las Vegas, being in front of the retailers and developers, and showing them the county wants them here goes a long way.
For right now, Ogletree says the trip out west is already paying off. One representative from a retail developer has since visited and toured the county, looking at both commercial and residential properties. Ogletree would not reveal who the person represented.