Nearly 100 Okaloosa County residents showed up for the Six Pillars strategic plan discussion held last week at Destin United Methodist Church’s Life Center.



The goal of Thursday’s meeting was to create the building blocks necessary to grow and sustain Okaloosa County with the help of both public entities and the private sector within the county. The Destin Area Chamber of Commerce, Crestview Area Chamber of Commerce, Greater Fort Walton Beach Chamber of Commerce and the Niceville-Valparaiso Chamber of Commerce and the Economic Development Council of Okaloosa County have joined forces with the goal of drafting the first county-wide strategic plan.



"We're trying to figure out ways to diversify and better the county," said Shane Moody, president and CEO of the Destin Area Chamber of Commerce. "The four chambers are coming together today for the first time to create this plan."



Leading the Six Pillars discussion was Collaborative Labs at St. Petersburg College. The meeting began early, at about 8 a.m., with an overview of the Six Pillars and what they mean for life in Okaloosa County.



The Six Pillars were written out on whiteboards at the front of the room: talent supply and education, innovation and economic development, infrastructure and growth leadership, business climate and competitiveness, civic and governance systems and quality of life and quality of places.



Throughout the day's activities, guests were asked to write what they believe would better Okaloosa County in the near future and also a 20-year-vision that included monitoring the amount of energy and water the county uses, increasing health care options and motivating students through education.



After the whiteboards were covered with writing, the group split up into six groups — representing the Six Pillars — for a discussion focused toward one of the six pillars.



Kevin Bowyer, of Warren Averett O'Sullivan told The Log that he was floating between the six groups all day.



"So far, from what we've seen, we're please with the progress," Bowyer said.



Coming together once again, the six groups shared their solutions for Okaloosa County. With the schools in Okaloosa County being A+ and Blue Ribbon Schools, promoting education and work programs for residents and children took top priority among most of the groups.



Focusing largely on education, health, quality of life and local economy, the first draft of the Six Pillars strategic plan will streamline business in the county and statewide.



Hoping to have a "plan in hand," soon, the Six Pillars strategic plan will likely be delivered by Collaborative Labs sometime this week, according to Moody.



For more information on the Six Pillars and updates on the strategic plan, please visit destinchamber.com.