Exciting Future of the 331 Corridor

According to Dispatches from DeFuniak, the Walton County Commission has partnered with the city councils of DeFuniak Springs and Freeport to create a plan for the installation of water and sewer lines along Hwy. U.S. 331 South. This would be a huge step forward in the development of the area between both municipalities and the unincorporated areas of the county.

This project, along with the soon to be completed widening of U.S. Hwy. 331, would have an enormous effect on Walton County for many years to come. The infrastructure project would encourage new manufacturing and retail companies to locate to this area.  The commercial development would also enhance the creation of new residential subdivisions.

The plan hopes to have funding from the area’s share of the settlement from the Deepwater-Horizon oil spill.  State Senator George Gainer and two other senators sponsored a bill to ensure that NW Florida would receive its fair share of the BP funds. This unique bill specifies that the money can only be used on infrastructure and education projects. Walton County, DeFuniak Springs and Freeport could receive up to $30 million to fund this very valuable project. We look forward to the long-term growth and prosperity that this plan would bring to the area for future generations!

Florida’s Economic Outlook is Bright for Entrepreneurs and Small Business

According to Florida’s Bottom Line, Florida’s economy had a solid year of growth in 2016. The Small Business & Entrepreneurship Council ranked Florida 5th in the “Small Business Policy Index 2016”. This means that Florida has some of the most policy-friendly measures for entrepreneurs and small business.  Some of the policy measures include a large range of tax, regulatory and government spending, and performance measurements. These serve to impact the overall economy of the individual states.

Florida’s Bottom Line also refers to an article from the SunSentinel that says Florida’s economy has grown beyond trade and tourism. It’s four large industry categories include: trade,transportation and utilities; professional and business services; education and health care; and the hospitality and leisure sector. These have accounted for 80% of jobs created since Feb. 2010.

Another Florida accolade cited in the magazine says that Florida ranks 2nd as the Best State for Business according to Chief Executive Magazine, May 2016. Five hundred and thirteen CEOs ranked states that they were familiar with on workforce quality, living environment (which includes cost of living, the education system and local and state attitudes toward business) and the friendliness of the state’s tax and regulatory measures.

Other highlights noted in Florida’s Bottom Line help support the statement that 2016 was a great year for the business climate of Florida. 2017 looks bright for the business owners of Florida!

Avoiding Excess Tax! On the Sale of Your Business

Small business optimism is at a record high after the recent elections. Owners see opportunity for growth, and reduction in taxes and regulations. See the complete article HERE. It should also be a great time to sell your business. But if you are looking to sell your business, you need to be planning your “Exit Strategy” now.

Most small business owners run their business for years with one thought in mind, “Minimize my taxes and provide the most money to me”. Tending to keep whatever type of entity they started with (Corporation, S Corporation, LLC or Sole Proprietorship), they keep taking every advantage to shelter income from taxes, because they know how to do it for the type of entity they have.

After several years, they decide it is time to sell. If they have not spent time with their professional advisors (CPA, Attorney, Financial Advisor, and Business Intermediary), other than at the end of the year for tax purposes, they may be shocked to learn that there is a big tax liability due.

Exit planning should be done five years before the sale of a company. This rarely happens, but if you take one thing away from this blog, “START doing it Now” if you think you might sell in the next five years.

I want to briefly discuss two items that can cause an unnecessarily large tax bill on the sale of a business. The first deals with tax on the type of company entity. Most small businesses under $5 Million in value will be sold as an “Asset Sale”. There are many reasons for this, mostly dealing with the financial and legal liabilities of a sale of the “Stock or Shares” of the company. If your C Corporation is sold in an asset sale, the tax you pay may be twice what it would be on the sale of an S Corporation or other pass through entity like an LLC. You can, during the exit planning phase, elect to treat your Corporation as a Subchapter S. Here is the kicker, it must be done five years before the sale of your company.  Another area to watch is “Recapture”. When you use accelerated depreciation to minimize taxable income, you may have a big tax bill upon the sale of your company. This can be minimized, but the planning must start long before the sale happens.

At Emerald Coast Business Intermediaries, we believe in working with professional advisors in a team approach to business transfer. You, as a business owner, should also. After all, when you sell a business, it is not only the price, but how much you get to keep.

Emerald Coast Museums, Wildlife & Cultural Arts Centers

The Emerald Coast provides a wide variety of cultural arts and entertainment that is enjoyed by all ages. The area has an abundance of museums, wildlife centers and art & theater avenues. In addition to the various centers, you will find some type of cultural event happening during most weekends throughout the year!

Air Force Armament Museum : The museum at Eglin Air Force Base has early aviation armaments from WWI to today’s high tech aircraft. There are collections of weaponry and cockpit simulators.
100 Museum Drive, Eglin Air Force Base

Baker Block Museum : Journey through the past to gain an understanding of the life, heritage and history of our local region. Learn about lumbering, farming, land development, naval stores, local military patriots and more.
Corner of Hwy 189 & State Rd. 4, Baker, FL 32526

Cultural Arts Alliance of Walton County: Several events including 30A Songwriters Festival, ArtsQuest, South Walton Fashion Week and more are presented throughout the year at different venues in Walton County, FL.

Destin History & Fishing Museum : The exhibits include a 1925 fishing boat, a collection of antique rods and reels, and vintage photographs of boat captains and their boats that present the history and journey of Destin from a small fishing village to a major tourist attraction.
108 Stahlman Avenue, off Hwy. 98 by the Destin Bridge

Emerald Coast Wildlife Refuge Zoological Park : ECWRZoo serves as a sanctuary and lifelong home for native wildlife and exotic animals that have been abandoned or abused. The zoo is home to over 130 animals of 35 different species, including tigers, lemurs, and endangered species from six continents.
5262 Deer Springs Drive, Crestview, FL (8 mi. E. of Crestview on Hwy. 90)

Emerald Coast Science Center : The facility has 4 exhibit rooms and 2 classrooms on 2 acres. New robotics exhibits were installed in 2014 and 2015. In 2017, a new exhibit featuring our local Emerald Coast ecosystems will be installed and a renovated reptiles and amphibians exhibit will be installed.
31 SW Memorial Parkway Fort Walton Beach, FL 32548

Gulfarium Marine Adventure Park : This is one of the world’s oldest marine animal parks celebrating 61 years. Enjoy dolphins, stingrays, reptiles, seals, gators, penguins, otters and the lovable sea lions. There are dolphin and sea lion shows, encounter experiences and indoor aquarium exhibits.
1010 Miracle Strip Parkway SE, Fort Walton Beach

Heritage Park & Cultural Center : This park includes the Indian Temple Mound Museum, Camp Walton Schoolhouse Museum, Garnier Post Office Museum, Fort Walton Temple Mound and the Civil War Exhibit Building.
107 Miracle Strip Pkwy. SW, Fort Walton Beach, FL

Mattie Kelly Arts Center (at NW Florida State College): All of the 1,650 seats in the main theater at the Mattie Kelly Arts Center at NW Florida State College are no more than 90 feet from the stage! Artists from theater, dance, music and comedy present top entertainment for the area.
100 College Blvd., Niceville, FL

Mattie Kelly Arts Foundation : All areas of art outreach are provided through educational programs, workshops, camps and live performances.
The Mattie Kelly Cultural Arts Village, 4323 Commons Dr. W, Destin, FL

For more museums in the Panhandle go to:


An Airport Gem in Defuniak Springs

Visitors traveling to Walton County by way of general aviation can find that Defuniak Springs Airport offers the same airport services and amenities as Destin Executive Airport. The airport is located just 30 minutes north of the 331 bridge. It is situated along Hwy. 90 East and is three miles from the I-10 and Hwy. 331 exit.

The airport handles most twin engine aircraft up to a light twin jet. The 9/27 runway is 4,146 ft. and is equipped with a RNAV GPS instrument approach and an Automated Weather Observation System. Ryan Adams, the Airport Director, is overseeing plans to expand the 9/27 runway to 5,000 feet.  This will allow the airport to handle small to medium sized business executive jets and charter operations as well.

Construction will begin in 2019 on a new state-of-the-art multi-use airport and terminal facility.  This will be “the lynchpin” of economic development throughout Walton County; from the airport to the beaches. There is a 300 acre industrial park within the airport complex with parcels that are project-ready with runway access and located minutes away from I-10. “We envision the development of the terminal to include conference rooms, and office and retail space. The design is for business people to make their industrial home right here at the airport or along 331, and their vacation home in South Walton”, Adams says.

Defuniak Springs Airport has some of the best gas prices in the Southeast, attracting aviators from Texas to South Florida. Hangar space ranges between 1,000 SF to 5,000 SF and leases start at under $300 per month. Defuniak Springs Airport is definitely worth a look for South Walton residents and vacationing travelers.

Information for this blog came from southwalton.life/defuniak-springs-airport/

Florida’s Transportation Impacts its Economy

According to the Florida Department of Transportation, Florida is the 3rd most populous state in the U.S. and has the 19th largest economy in the world!  Billions of dollars have been invested into Florida’s transportation system and the preservation of Florida’s pavement, bridges and maintenance exceed standards.

With a population of 20 million residents and more than 106 million annual tourists, Florida has worked to improve the safety and security of its residents and tourists.  Highway fatalities were down 26% (a 5 year rolling average) between the years of 2009-2013.

Improving the mobility of people and freight is vital to Florida’s economy. The reliability remains steady at 80% which is solid since Florida moves over 743M tons of freight per year (more than doubling by 2045).

The state’s transportation decisions have placed an emphasis on improving the quality of life.  Air quality is much improved since 2002. VOCs, Nitrous Oxides and Particulate Matters have been reduced.

Visit us in Florida and make us your permanent place to live and do business.

Fast Facts for FL transportation: Florida has 122,392 highway miles, 20 commercial airports, 2 spaceports, 31 urban transit systems, 15 seaports and 3,842 railway miles.

http://www.fdot.gov/planning/fastfacts.pdf  (6/7/16) was referenced for this article.

Accolades for the Emerald Coast

Over the last several years, millions of people have enjoyed the beauty and relaxing activities of the Emerald Coast. The area continues to receive numerous accolades each year. Among the many recent accolades delivered are:

* June 2016 Niceville tops list of places to live in Florida”Orlando Sentinel reporting from  SmartTravel.Tips

* June 2016 – #2 Most Popular Summer Vacation Rental Spot in the US – DestinTripAdvisor.com

* 2016 “10 Best East Coast Beaches”: #1 – Gulf Islands National Seashore – Pensacola  USA Today’s Readers’ Choice

* 2016 “Top 10 Beaches” – # 6 Grayton Beach State ParkForbes (Dr. Beach.org)

* 2016 #5 “America’s Favorite Towns” Santa Rosa BeachOne of “America’s Best Little Beaches” & 2015 One of “America’s Best Towns for the Holidays”Travel + Leisure                  

* “Best Beaches in the South” for 14 years straightSouthern Living

* Jan. 2016 “One of 10 Affordable Down-South Destinations to Escape Winter’s Chill”Santa Rosa Beach TripAdvisor

* 2015 “The Happiest City in Florida”Ft. Walton BeachMSN.com

* 2015 Fodor’s Go ListFlorida Panhandle

* 2015 One of the Top Destinations on the Rise – DestinTravelers’ Choice TripAdvisor

* 2015 Voted “Number 1 Most Popular Labor Day Destination”DestinTripAdvisor Vacation Rentals

* 2015 “Best Family Beach”SeasideTravel Channel


Florida Offers a Great Business Climate

Florida is internationally known for its fantastic weather, beautiful beaches and diverse recreational activities.  The Florida Emerald Coast is also a great location to own your own business.  Florida has worked hard to have a welcoming business climate.  The state of Florida has NO personal income tax in addition to other tax incentives such as NO corporate income tax on limited partnerships and subchapter S- corporations.

The state of Florida’s infrastructure ranks 2nd in the United States.  The Florida Panhandle is blessed to have 3 commercial airports: the Destin-Ft. Walton Airport, the Northwest Florida Airport and the Pensacola International Airport.  The area also has numerous private airports and military airports located at Tyndall Air Force Base, Pensacola Naval Air Station, and Eglin Air Force Base, which is the largest air base in the country.  The Panhandle contains the East-West interstate, I-10, which intersects with I-65, I-75 and I-95 to provide transportation to all regions of the country.  US Hwy. 90 and the CSX Rail Transportation System, that runs parallel to Hwy. 90, are also excellent pieces of the infrastructure.  The Emerald Coast of Florida also has 2 deep water ports, the Pensacola Port and the Panama City Port.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics ranks Florida’s workforce as the 4th largest in the nation.  Florida provides a great pool of talent due in part to the 12 universities and numerous colleges and technical institutions that provide customized training programs. All residents live within 50 miles of a school of higher learning.

If you desire to own a business on the Emerald Coast, Florida will provide you with a business friendly government that works on legislative, fiscal and marketplace initiatives.  They offer a competitive cost of doing business, a pro-business tax structure, expedited permitting and many additional resources. Come to the beautiful area that continues to climb in tourism every year!

Some of the information for this article was drawn from Enterprise Florida, Inc.

Another successful business sale!

Another successful business sale!

Emerald Coast Business Brokers recently closed on another business! Sell and Buy a Business in Destin

Here is our business intermediary, with the sellers and new owners exchanging keys. Following a proven process was instrumental in preparing this business to a successful close after bringing it just 9 months to market. We wish everyone all the best!

Do you want to know if it’s the right time for you to sell your business? Or are you looking for the opportunity to buy an existing business in Destin, Fort Walton Beach, or the surrounding Emerald Coast area?  Call us and our team of experienced brokers can help you facilitate all negotiations, disclosures, due diligence, and closing details.

The 5 C’s of Business Loans, Part 2

3. Capital

Capacity or cash flow represents your ability to generate income that will pay your debts. If you’re starting a new business, the bank assesses your global cash flow – your current personal income as well as your projected income from the business. If you’re acquiring an existing company, the lender wants to see that the last three years of business tax returns reflect positive cash flow and profit.

The bank won’t give you money if it sees no evidence that you can repay it. Your capacity is an important part of the evaluation process for the loan. If you don’t have sufficient capacity, you can consider bringing on a partner to add cash flow to the scenario.

4. Character

Character isn’t a question of your personal charm – it’s your business character the bank will assess. What’s your experience in business in general, and in the industry in which your new business will operate? Have you managed profits and losses successfully in your previous business or for an employer? Have you worked your way up through an industry and gained experience in multiple aspects of its operations?

Your loan application should draw from the same work you do when preparing your business plan – detailing your experience and the skills necessary to run your business.

The bank does care about some aspects of your personal history as well. Would-be borrowers are often surprised to learn that they must provide information on any current criminal charges they are subject to, any recent arrests on charges, any convictions or guilty pleas in their history, if they are at least a 50 percent owner in the applicant business, and whether they are delinquent on child support.

5. Collateral

Entrepreneurs should also be aware of a bank’s stance on collateral. Most banks expect its loans to be fully secured, but will not generally decline a loan based on inadequate collateral, assuming the borrower satisfies the other standards for capital, credit, capacity and character. However, if you have what a lending institution terms “worthwhile assets,” then the lending bank will require they be used as security for the loan.

In particular, if you own a home with a value of greater than 20 percent equity, the bank will take a lien against your home as security for the business loan, whereas if you don’t own a home and meet all other loan criteria, the bank will likely approve your loan unsecured. It can be unpleasant for entrepreneurs with a more solid financial base to discover that they are required to take on more risk than some of their peers.

It can particularly put business partners into conflict with one another if one has a qualifying equity stake in a home and the other does not, since the home-owning partner will be required to assume this risk to proceed with the loan application.

What are non-negotiable qualifications to obtain a business loan? Banks are currently looking for personal credit ratings in the high 600s and up. Recent bankruptcies, or no evidence of cash flow, are also general deal-breakers.

Entrepreneurs should remember every bank or lender interprets regulations a little differently. Entrepreneurs turned down by one lender should, if they have a strong business case, keep searching.

As always, consult a financial professional before entering into the application process. Experts can save you time and frustration by helping you understand (and, if necessary, improve) your position. Have your accounting in order, and then make sure you’re aligning yourself with the right partners who want to help you succeed, and aren’t in a trap of unfavorable loans with interest rates that can cripple business right out of the gate.

The 5 C’s aren’t just barriers to overcome to fund your dream – they are the path to bankability. When the 5 C’s align for the bank, there’s a much better chance they’ll align for the success of your business as well.  If you have your 5 C’s lined up, ask about our Loans 4 Biz program. Emerald Coast Business Intermediaries partners with over 65 lenders in helping to buy good businesses.