A ‘tremendous impact’ even while Destin is spared direct effects of shutdown

Matt Algarin

As the government shutdown eases into its third week, the direct impacts in Destin have been limited, but continued government furloughs could mean less spending by the city’s residents and visitors.

"We have families whose incomes have been shut down and some of them have both spouses working for the government," Destin Area Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Shane Moody told The Log. “That has a tremendous impact on them as well as our local economy.”

"It also hurts business travel and then tourist travel, as those related to the federal government and contractors will not travel now," he added. "It's a bad and scary situation all around, for everyone."

With no end to the shutdown in sight, The Log asked representatives in various industries how the government impasse was affecting what they do on a day-to-day basis.

Shaun May from the Okaloosa County Health Department said there has been little impact on his agency since they are mostly funded by state dollars, but they are continuing to monitor the situation.

If the shutdown were to be prolonged, there could be an impact to the department's Women, Infant and Children (WIC) program, which provides supplemental foods, health care referrals, and nutrition education for low-income pregnant, breastfeeding, and non-breastfeeding postpartum women, and to infants and children up to age five who are found to be at nutritional risk.

May provided the following statement to The Log.

"The Florida Department of Health will be able to continue WIC services for the foreseeable future due to temporary operating dollars including reallocated federal funding, USDA contingency funds and infant formula rebates. The department will continue to monitor the situation in Washington, D.C., and reassess as updated information becomes available."

Officials from the city of Destin told The Log that there were no direct impacts from the shutdown on city operations. Local developer Peter Bos noted that he hadn't heard of any impacts in the Destin area currently.

Stan Kirkland from the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission told The Log that the state agency had no issues either.

With uncertainty over when the shutdown will come to an end, May summed things up in a simple way.

"The sooner this gets settled the better for everyone," he said.