FSU students study county’s future trends

Apalachicola Mayor Van Johnson, left, and Franklin’s Promise Director Joe Taylor, center, met Monday Photo available for purchase

Apalachicola Mayor Van Johnson, left, and Franklin’s Promise Director Joe Taylor, center, met Monday with Aaron Henderson and Kristi Malone from the Florida State University Department of Urban and Regional Planning.

Lois Swoboda
Published: Wednesday, March 6, 2013 at 02:20 PM.

Two Florida State University graduate students are seeking input on the economic future of the county.

On Monday, March 4, Aaron Henderson and Kristi Malone, both FSU masters candidates, met with Apalachicola Mayor Van Johnson and Franklin’s Promise Director Joe Taylor to discuss the future economics and demographics in the county.

Henderson said the pair accessed census records from 2010 in an attempt to get a snapshot of conditions in the county and are in the process of interviewing county residents to get a boots on the ground feel for social and economic conditions.

Johnson gave them in-depth information on the county’s economic woes and problems with the bay. He was quick to point out that although the county received no oil from the Deepwater Horizon spill, its reputation was blackened by negative reporting of environmental effects further west. He painted a picture of the problems caused by lack of freshwater in the bay and the multigenerational ties of many families to the seafood industry.

Henderson and Malone said they were anxious to speak to Johnson because he is a lifelong resident of the county in addition to holding public office.

Taylor outlined some of the programs under way to provide education for underemployed seafood workers.

Johnson said one traditional problem with economic diversification schemes here is the tendency for seafood workers to return to life on the bay when fishing rebounds. He pointed out that many oystermen prefer the freedom and potential for substantial profit to a steady job, especially since few jobs here provide benefits as an incentive.

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