Pensacola, Florida
Friday October 19th 2018


Outtakes—Missed Maritime Layup

Pensacola Mayor Ashton Hayward has repeatedly said he will travel anywhere to bring business to Pensacola. He has visited Europe, Southeast Asia, New York City, Las Vegas, Miami and other places recruiting corporations to invest and create jobs in our community.

The energy and time Hayward has placed on economic development has been unprecedented. He told the media that his goal was to make the rest of the state and country aware that Pensacola was open for business.

During his re-election campaign, Inweekly interviewed the mayor about what he wanted to see happen if he won a second term.

Hayward said, “I want to see obviously more jobs come to our area and that we are the place to bring your business, either in the city or county. And we drive everything financially, legally, culturally, educationally, militarily and healthcare wise so that we are the place to be.”

Because of his pro-business mantra and his willingness to travel the globe to “sell” Pensacola,  the public was stunned when Hayward failed to land a $20-million development from a couple whose offices are literally within two blocks of Pensacola City Hall.

Most people expected Mayor Hayward to work as vigorously to land the UWF Center for Entrepreneurship at the Community Maritime Park as he did for Marine Fisheries Hatchery & Enhancement Center at Bruce Beach, VT-MAE at the Pensacola International Airport, and DeepFlex at the Port of Pensacola.

After all, Quint and Rishy Studer have a proven track record when it comes to their projects in Pensacola. Since 2010, the Studers have invested $100 million in Pensacola. Ten years ago, they agreed to lease the maritime stadium for their independent, Single A baseball team and to build a $12 million office building at the maritime park.  Instead, they purchased the Cincinnati Reds’ Double-A team, executing one for the most complicated deals in Minor League history, and built a $16-million office building.

Mayor Hayward had a couple with the financial resources to build at the maritime park. They had always delivered high-quality developments. Why didn’t Mayor Hayward immediately begin working with the Studers to make their dream a reality?

The mayor should have begun the lease negotiations nine months ago and then guided the project through the CMPA board and city council.  Had Hayward and his team gotten involved earlier, we wouldn’t have the disaster that occurred last week.

Any strong mayor would have jumped on this $20-investment in his downtown. Why didn’t Mayor Hayward?