News of economic growth in the small town of DeFuniak Springs has residents excited for the future. Seven new businesses are expected in the area, bringing a wave of new jobs.
DeFuniak Springs officials have aggressively pushed for growth within the city. The City Council and Gulf Power have released incentives for new businesses.
From the council halting impact fees, to gulf power offering cash incentives for re-occupying empty buildings, it's clear that growth is a top priority for the city, and business owners like the result.
"For two years, this plaza sat with just three businesses. In just 90 days, the entire plaza is [now] completely rented," said owner of Penny's Tropical Tanning, Penny Keeton.
Keeton celebrated her grand opening today. Hers is one of several businesses in the Walton Commons shopping center now open for business, and there's more on the horizon.
"I think it's going to be great. It's going to draw a lot more customers into this area and into this parking lot. It's going to be good for all businesses here," said Keeton.
Hibbett Sports, Taco Bell and Tractor Supply Company are three new businesses moving in. This is something DeFuniak Springs Councilman Mac Work says will almost certainly bring new jobs to this area.
"We have a dying community and we have to do something to revive it. We've gone out and aggressively recruited businesses and now we've got seven moving to this town," said Work.
Work has been called a champion for economic development in the city. He feels his and the City Council's effort to bring growth to DeFuniak Springs is paying off in the amount of new jobs that will soon be brought to the area.
"There's probably 100 to 150 [jobs to be added]," said Work.
Single mom, Suzanne Sanderson, says it's been hard to find work here in the past and new businesses can only mean good things for job seekers.
"We really need jobs out here. There are a lot of people out of work and maybe bringing better business and more work will help expand DeFuniak Springs," said Sanderson
According to Councilman Work, the local branch of Professional Products is expanding will also be adding 30 new jobs.