WUWF Public Media

In this week’s Economic Report, Dr. Rick Harper discusses growth in leisure and hospitality as a driving factor in Pensacola’s economic growth.

In a recently published column, Harper wrote about how job growth in the leisure and hospitality sector has been steadily improving.

Harper said that job growth started at the end of the Great Recession in 2010, but was then stalled by the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill.

Michael Spooneybarger/ CREO

Anyone who walked by Professor Thomas Asmuth’s office on the University of West Florida Pensacola Campus recently might have heard intermittent beeps and seen flashes of light as he worked on one of his projects that merges science and art.

University of West Florida

The UWF Spring Sports teams were introduced to the media Wednesday afternoon. "53 of our conference championship have come out of spring sports" said Dave Scott, Athletic Director at the University of West Florida. He was speaking at a gathering of coaches, athletes and the media to kick off the 2016 spring sports season at the university. "Spring's always been very string for us and we don't expect anything different this year. We have teams in tennis and golf that have strong national ratings this year."

Sheriffs’ offices in Escambia and Santa Rosa Counties are among the agencies teaming up to form the High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area program that serves the Gulf Coast.

HIDTA is a federally-funded operation that provides resources to link together local, state, and federal law enforcement to disrupt and dismantle drug trafficking. Chris Canova, the acting U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Florida, says there are only 28 such programs nationwide.

University of West Florida

Though the housing market recovery is in full swing, a continued “weakened climb out” from the Great Recession has stymied its full potential.

Dr. Rick Harper, associate vice president for Research and Economic Opportunity at the University of West Florida, delivered that message and an economic forecast for 2016 during a meeting Wednesday of the Emerald Coast Association of Realtors and the Building Industry Association of Okaloosa-Walton Counties held at the Ramada Plaza Resort in Fort Walton Beach.

Photo via Flickr// Marc West /

If you’re up a little before dawn over the next month, you may want to go outside and view another celestial treat, compliments of most of the solar system.

Five planets will span the sky together in the early morning hours: Mercury, Venus, Saturn, Mars, and Jupiter will all be visible to the naked eye from January 20 to February 20.

Photo via Flickr// Bart van Maarseveen /

The Florida Institute for Child Welfare is giving a $60,000 grant, aimed at enhancing the work of Early Childhood Court Teams serving Escambia and Okaloosa Counties.

ECCT’s goal is to improve the overall well-being of children from birth to three years old, who have been removed from their homes due to maltreatment.

“There has to be a verified finding of abuse, neglect or abandonment,” said Program Facilitator Margot Doelker. “And in order to be eligible to be in an early childhood court team, it has to be a removal from both parents.”

Michael Spooneybarger

  “Ready … steady … go.”

That prompt from Hillary Skowronski cued a University of West Florida graduate student and an environmental specialist with the Florida Department of Environmental Protection to quickly grab whatever creatures pop out of a PVC pipe that’s been strategically hung on a tree at Gulf Islands National Seashore.

Bob Barrett

  Community leaders gathered at the University of West Florida Tuesday morning for the announcement of a major gift to the school. Dr. Brendan Kelly, vice president for University Advancement at UWF, stood in the lobby of the College of Science and Engineering building at the school to announce a record gift for that department. Calling it a "turning point in the history of the university", he announced a $5 million gift to the College of Science and Engineering from Pensacola businessman Hal Marcus.

Christopher Satterwhite

There was music, sunshine, diversity and laughter Monday in downtown Pensacola as the annual Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day Parade got under way. 

The Grand Marshal of this year's parade was David Alexander, III, Chief of the Pensacola Police Department.

"It represents the celebration of the legacy of a great man, a great leader, who not only had a dream for himself, but for his family and every human being on earth," said Alexander.

Photo via Flickr//Ben Ferenchak

Aspiring lifeguards should mark Saturday, January 30 on their calendars, for tryouts to work at Pensacola Beach.

Senior Lifeguard Alex Johnson is making the call to join him at 6:30 that morning at the University of West Florida Aquatic Center. But he warns that the requirements for employment will be challenging.

Michael Spooneybarger/ CREO

About 200 people gathered at Sanders Beach-Corinne Jones Resource Center for breakfast Friday to celebrate accomplishments and set goals. The cause: ECARE, Every Child A Reader in Escambia.
State of Florida statistics gleaned from kindergarten readiness screening tests, indicate that about 1,200 Escambia County students arrive for the first day of kindergarten ill-prepared to learn. The ECARE membership, business leaders, educators, and volunteers have made it their mission to change this by building a strong foundation of early literacy skills in pre-school.

The Greater FWB Chamber of Commerce and ResortQuest are hosting the Winter Guest Fest Friday morning, January 15th from 8 a.m. to noon. The trade show is held each year to acquaint winter visitors or “snow birds” with local services on the Emerald Coast.

Dr. MLK Jr Celebration Committee of Okaloosa County

The legacy of slain Civil Rights icon Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. is being celebrated with a host of events across the region leading up to the annual MLK Day parades on Monday.

For the Fort Walton Beach area, 2016 marks their 30th annual Martin Luther King, Jr. Celebration.

“The theme for this year is “My Life Matters,” said Steve Chatman, co-chair of the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Celebration Committee in Okaloosa.

WUWF Public Media

In this week’s Economic Report, Dr. Rick Harper talks about the economic issues discussed in the State of the Union address and discusses how important education will be for job development in the Pensacola area.

In his final State of the Union address, President Barrack Obama began by assuring Americans that the U.S. economy is the strongest and most durable in the world.