Business owners and Okaloosa County residents are invited to join the discussion as chamber of commerce and economic development representatives from throughout Okaloosa County craft the first county-wide strategic plan.

"We hope that when the day is over we'll have a good view of what folks in this community envision for prosperity," said Destin Area Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Shane Moody.

Moody, along with chamber executives from the Crestview Area Chamber of Commerce, the Niceville Valparaiso Chamber of Commerce, Greater Fort Walton Beach Chamber of Commerce and the Economic Development Council of Okaloosa County will be in Destin Thursday to examine ways to grow, diversify and sustain the economy of Okaloosa County through a public-private partnership.

The strategic plan will be developed "from the bottom up," Moody said, using the Six Pillars of Florida's Future Economy, which is the first-ever strategic plan for the state.

Established by the Florida Chamber of Commerce Foundation, the Six Pillars process "set forth a direction and collaboration for economic development for our state that has never existed before."

"There is definitely a level of excitement," Moody told The Log. "It's huge for the five main business and economic development groups to come together."

As the President and CEO of the Niceville Valparaiso Chamber of Commerce, Tricia Brunson says that Okaloosa County is one of the fastest growing areas in the nation and there is plenty to offer besides the natural beauty and tremendous quality of life.

"The Six Pillars Program offers the perfect blueprint for members from all areas of Okaloosa County to provide input that will be compiled in an attractive and compelling presentation to bring a wide variety of business interests here," she wrote in an email to The Log. "It will also bring to light the weaknesses that exist and allow us to work together to turn them into strengths. Positive business growth happens when all the key players  work together toward the same goal this is what Six Pillars is designed to accomplish.

Thursday's meeting will be the kick-off to the strategic planning initiative and will be held at the Destin United Methodist Church's Life Center at 200 Beach Drive from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Collaborative Labs from St. Pete College will lead the facilitation.

To attend, RSVP to the Destin Area Chamber of Commerce at or call 850-837-6241. Cost of the event is $10, which includes lunch.

"We definitely want the community to come out," Moody said. "This is a plan for everybody in Okaloosa County. We want the community to tell us what they want to see."