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Tuesday July 29th 2014

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The Buzz 8/16/12

Pensacola Connection to Paul Ryan Congressman Paul Ryan and Pensacola Blue Wahoo owner Quint Studer are friends. They both are from Janesville, Wisconsin. Ryan’s children attend the same school as Studer’s grandchildren. Ryan’s sister-in-law helped Studer with his first book, “Hardwiring Excellence.”

On August 11, Studer watched his friend be introduced as the vice president nominee for Republican hopeful Mitt Romney.

“Paul is an excellent choice,” said Studer in phone interview. “He has had to get votes from Democrats and Republicans to keep his district. Paul is a very, very smart man who can take complex issues and make them actionable items.”

Ryan, age 42, is serving his seventh term and currently chairs the House Budget Committee. Wisconsin’s 1st congressional district is a blue-collar district with a mix of manufacturing and agriculture. It is a Democrat stronghold that voted to recall Republican Gov. Scott Walker, according to Studer. Ryan has consistently beaten his Democratic challengers, receiving 68 percent of the vote in 2010.

Studer believes that it’s no accident that Romney chose as running mate someone from Janesville. “The town is about as middle class as you can get,” said Studer. “The area has suffered from the recession which forced the closure of several plants.”

The Wahoo owner said the Ryan fits in well with all sorts of people and is an effective campaigner. “Paul mingles and mixes well,” he said. “He has no perception that he is better than anyone else. Ha has spoken his mind and hasn’t done things simply to get re-elected.”

Grappling with Gun Violence After a rough July in Pensacola, the city council listened to a debriefing from Police Chief Chip Simmons at its August 9 meeting.

“Specifically, we have had four shootings in a three-day period,” he told them.

Pensacola, as well as Escambia County, has seen a burst of gun play recently. Simmons relayed details of a recent drive-by and told the council that the police department had beefed up its presence on the street.

“This time we used everyone, because we wanted to stop it and move forward,” he said. “We cannot have them shooting up our neighborhoods.”

The chief also explained that the police department had joined forces with the Escambia County Sheriff’s Office and state and federal agencies in an attempt to curb violent crime. The effort had been announced a few days prior.

“Guns are just everywhere,” State Attorney Bill Eddins said when announcing the joint effort. “It’s just unbelievable to me the amount of guns that are around.”

In addition to the Pensacola and Escambia agencies, the Florida Department of Law Enforcement and the FBI will be focusing on the region. The police department will be devoting two officers to the newly formed task force, while the sheriff’s office will provide three. The agencies will be working together to share information and complement each other’s efforts.

After announcing the joint effort, Eddins noted that the presence of guns has increased.

“People that have no record tell you they have a gun on them for protection, which is a sad, sad commentary on the society in which we live,” he said.

Chief Simmons told the Pensacola City Council that the state and federal agencies readily signed on. They were aware the area has an issue.

“I won’t say we strong armed them,” Simmons said.

Councilman John Jerralds told his fellow council members that they might soon need to consider increasing the number of police the city employs.

“Unless the criminals move to another city, we’re on the verge of expanding our force to protect our city,” Jerralds said.

The Island Revenue Review Blue Angels weekend on Pensacola Beach has traditionally played an important role in the economic vitality of our region. Presentations at the Santa Rosa Island Authority board meeting Aug. 8 laid out the impact this year’s event had.

Rod Lewis, director of the Haas Center for Business Research and Economic Development, gave a presentation on the economic impact of the Blue Angels Air Show this year.

Employees at the Haas Center surveyed 672 people during the Blue Angels Air Show in July to gather these results. According to Lewis, 40 percent of those surveyed were from out of town, and if asked if they would ever consider returning, 92 percent said that they would.

Lewis also said that Blue Angels weekend is a very “deep South event,” with 65 percent of people surveyed being from Florida. The rest tended to be from nearby states, including Alabama and Louisiana.

While Fourth of July weekend racked up slightly higher traffic patterns over any other weekend in the summer, Blue Angel weekend came in a close second. The total car count for the weekend of the air show was significantly higher than the Haas Center had originally projected—by nearly 1,400.

Lewis also gave many statistics on visitor spending calculations from the Blue Angels weekend, which totaled $2.1 million in spending. Net new spending came to be $1.7 million for the weekend.

In total, Lewis estimated that the Blue Angels Air Show had a $2.4 million economic impact in Escambia County.

E.W. Bullock, a local advertising and public relations firm, gave a report and update on bed tax revenue, or the surcharge added to short-term hotel accommodations. In May, bed tax revenue exceeded $700,000, and totaled $1.6 million in June; this was an increase of 12.8% since the last fiscal year.

Earned media, publicity gained through efforts besides advertising, was also discussed. Pensacola Beach had a total of more than $900,000 in earned media since May.

The report detailed how the Blue Angels Air Show had the biggest earned media impact on revenue. In total, 45 news articles were written about the Blue Angels weekend, including stories on CNN.com and the Huffington Post. This earned media garnered more than $185,000 in revenue.