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.

The 5 C’s of Business Loans, Part 1

If you are planning to start or expand a business and need to seek a business loan through an approved lender, there are five factors that banks analyze and are important to determine whether to approve your small business loan application.  They are called the 5 C’s, and if you have them, chances are better that lenders will give you a great loan at a great interest rate:

1. Capital

Also referred to in the industry as equity injection, capital is your skin in the game in the lending transaction. No bank will fund your business at 100 percent of your total cash needs. Let’s say this again slowly, with feeling, and reiterate on print in bold type and larger font: No bank will fund your business at 100 percent of your total cash needs. If you’re creating a new business, typically the bank will require you to contribute 75 percent.  If you’re acquiring an existing business, expect your contribution to be at least 50 percent.

Capital is a deal-breaker for banks. Most advisors will tell you not to proceed with preparing a loan application if you cannot provide the required contribution.

If you don’t have the capital, your goal becomes to figure out how to raise it: find a business partner, use a rollover of an eligible retirement account, or cash out an investment. Note that you may not use borrowed money as an equity injection. Don’t, for example, go looking for a home equity line of credit as your capital investment. If a bank discovers that your capital contribution is subject to debt service, they will deny your loan.

2. Credit

Credit comprises your personal credit score, your credit history and an analysis of your credit utilization. A new trend in lending is that banks may also utilize the FICO Small Business Scoring Service (SBSS) to assess your credit risk. If you can’t meet the minimum scores (which vary among lenders), you’ll need to step back and take the time to improve your credit score and your credit presence.

It’s better to do your homework up front. You can receive one free credit report per year from each of the big three reporters – TransUnion, Equifax and Experian. Check each for accuracy and consistency, and take care of any issues that might be a red flag for the bank.

Recreation Options on the Emerald Coast

Recreation Options on the Emerald Coast

Since the Emerald Coast area stretches about 100 miles along the coast, the options for fun are endless.

What a great opportunity to make the most of your retirement! The beaches along the Emerald Coast provide opportunities for water sports, snorkeling, boating, fishing, swimming, along with being ideal for those who just want to stroll along the sand looking for seashells. Also, if you enjoy beach combing to hunt for treasures, you have plenty of shoreline to explore!

If golf is your sport of choice, retiring to the Emerald Coast is a GREAT plan! There are some amazing courses here.  In fact, the area is packed with over 20 golf courses, ranging from exclusive clubs to public courses.

Where else can you be by the water and hear, THEN see, fighter jets soar by?

Where else can you be by the water and hear, THEN see, fighter jets soar by?

And if you’re an art lover, there is a lot to enjoy along the Emerald Coast.  You can experience live performances at the Emerald Coast Theatre, the Northwest Florida Ballet,  and peruse through numerous art  galleries featured in each coastal town.

Into food? In the fall there are several major seafood celebrations in Destin, Pensacola, and Panama City Beach. There’s also the Great Southern Gumbo Cook-off in January at Sandestin Golf and Beach Resort in South Walton. the Taste of the Race event in February,  and the Annual St. George Island Charity Chili Cook-off & Auction in March on St. George Island.  You can find a food event every month to attend through the Panhandle!

Retiring to the Emerald Coast

Retiring to the Emerald Coast

Are you ready to retire to the Emerald Coast of Florida? Find out what makes this area ideal for your golden years.

The Emerald Coast – The Best Place to Retire in Florida

From the gorgeous white-sand beaches, to the limitless activities, and amazing weather year-round, the Emerald Coast is the popular retirement spot that retires rave about. Communities like Fort Walton Beach, Panama City, Pensacola, Destin, and Crestview will provide you with affordable real estate, an active lifestyle, and even some business opportunities.

The Emerald Coast of Florida with its crystal clear water and sugary white sand.

The Emerald Coast of Florida with its crystal clear water and sugary white sand.

Retiring to the Emerald Coast

Whether you want a bigger city with more of a suburban feel or a small community, the Emerald Coast offers it all. Larger cities like Panama City or Destin give more of an urban feel, while Rosemary Beach or Okaloosa Island give more of a small community atmosphere. No matter where you want to retire to on the Emerald Coast, the real estate market is good.

Emerald Coast Real Estate Market

There are many choices when it comes to real estate in the area. Beachfront condos, homes in a new development, in town, or along the coastal route—what option sounds ideal to you? If you want a retirement community, the Emerald Coast has a few of those options as well. While real estate close to the water will go for more, typically homes in the Emerald Coast area are pretty affordable.

Currently, the national average cost for a home is $169,000, but in Florida, the average is lower at just $152,300.  Narrowing down a few of the cities here you might want to retire to, Panama City’s home prices are averaging $95,100 and Crestview is at $131,400—well below the national average. If you want to retire affordably, there are plenty of areas in the Emerald Coast that will allow you to stay within your budget.

Coming up in next:  Recreation Options and Business Opportunities for Retirees in the Emerald Coast.