Bentina Terry, Gulf Power’s Vice President of External Affairs and Corporate Services was interviewed by Robin Rashard of the Pensacola Network on last Friday, September 27th at DeVilliers Square located at the intersection of Belmont & DeVilliers Streets. The focus of the interview was concerning the BP Oil Spill RESTORE Act as the highlight of the Pensacola Network’s third evening of business networking linking black businesses in Pensacola to each other, corporate Escambia County, financial resources, technology and business expertise.
Gulf Power sponsored the first Pensacola Network event which is the brainchild of entrepreneur and engineer Lloyd Reshard, owner and president of Tip or Tap Marketing. Other sponsors included WRNE Radio, Huey Works, Robert Robino Productions, and Pivotal Data Technologies. The organization’s events are held monthly on the last Friday of every month at DeVilliers Square in the historic Belmont & DeVilliers business district. Rashard stated that all of the events have been very well attended and several of the attendees have obtained jobs and business opportunities.
The interview of Bentina Terry, Chairman of the Escambia County RESTORE Act Advisory Committee was presented with the objectives of the Pensacola Network in mind, job and business opportunities for African-American individuals and businesses, respectively. Robin Rashard began with questions concerning the purpose of the RESTORE Act in helping Gulf Coast communities to rebound from the 2010 oil spill process to assist persons in poverty in addition to vendor contracts for healthy and growing businesses. Terry responded that the advisory committee is asking the community to provide input on Escambia County’s needs as the funding process will focus on more than addressing poverty.
The Gulf Power VP stated that some people think that the county government will be writing them a check from the RESTORE funding, however the projects will utilize the local county government’s procurement procedures along with those of the federal Department of Treasury and the Office of Management and Budget. She stated, “We have asked people to come in and talk to us about what they think the criteria should be that we use or that we recommend to the County to use to select these projects.” Terry added that people have talked about the issues that they feel need to be addressed and what project types they thought could resolve those issues.
When Rashard opened up the conversation with Terry to the audience, that packed the lobby, the questions flowed with the same momentum of her one-on-one interview. For example, there was a question about job creation as a major focus of the RESTORE Act program and “Are we going to have the trained labor force to be able to fulfill these positions and are you at this point and time incorporating the school administrators to discuss this and have proposals from the education system be brought forth to the committee?” The response from the advisory committee chair was that the Pensacola Chamber and the University of West Florida Haas Center are tasked to develop what will be needed for the workforce development component. She assured the audience that the effort would include input from the Escambia County School District. The Chairman of the Board of the Pensacola Chamber, Gary Houston, elaborated that while there is a lot of attention on the adult population for workforce development that significant focus should also be placed of our youth from pre-school to high school.
When asked if the advisory committee would have the last word on what projects would be approved, Terry responded that the elected officials will have the last word because they were voted to their positions by the citizens placing the accountability at the appropriate level. When asked about input from the everyday citizen, Terry replied that the process is a very public one and residents can attend the Escambia County RESTORE Act Advisory Committee meetings every other Monday at the Escambia Board of County Commission Chambers at 221 Palafox Place. The next meeting is scheduled for October 7th.