ESCAMBIA COUNTY, Fla. (WKRG) — On Thursday, the Triumph Gulf Coast Board approved a $14.2 million request for OLF-8, a $56 million project located on Hwy. 90, which could bring 338 jobs to the Beulah area. 

OLF-8 was a helicopter flying field for the Navy before they swapped land with Escambia County for a piece of land in Santa Rosa County. The county approached the U.S. Navy in 2013 with a proposal for the land exchange, due to the rapid growth occurring in the Beulah area, according to the county’s Triumph pre-application.

According to Triumph’s scoresheet, the project score was “A,” and the board voted unanimously to award the funds. The project will install a roadway, water and sewer, and drainage running from South to North on the East side of the site.

“Following on the model of the Santa Rosa Milton Interchange Industrial Park, Escambia County will put up the first $3 million in cash into the project and improvements, with this money being reimbursed by Triumph when construction has begun on the $40 million in private sector infrastructure,” the board said in the scoresheet. “The Escambia BOCC will hold the associated proportional clawback based on creation of a minimum of 338 jobs each paying 115 percent or more of the EFI-specified average wage for the two-county metro area.”

According to the application from the county to Triumph, the grant will enable the initial development of “Project Sapphire,” a 125,000 SF- 250,000 SF multi-use manufacturing, warehouse project on 43 acres within OLF-8.

Triumph board member David Humphreys asked Escambia County Administrator Wes Moreno if there was already an existing industry signed up to provide jobs once the site is complete.

Moreno said there are some potential prospects.

“I believe some of our prospects want to see what our layout is for the access road and the amenities we are going to bring to the table,” Moreno said. “So, we are continuing those negotiations and I would say they look pretty positive.”

Moving forward, Moreno said they would go back to the board and ask for a modification in the ordinance to separate the light industrial so they can better build the amenities and recruit people to populate the area.

The roadway the grant will help construct is what Escambia County Commissioner Jeff Bergosh said will allow them to “wooh” the developers who have been circling the property.

“This is going to be the catalyst for that,” Bergosh said. “We have two, possibly three strong prospects to go in there. It’s a big deal. It’s a big win for the citizens.”

Over the years with OLF-8, Bergosh said there were some compromises made to make it happen.

“It was always going to be about jobs, but we did have to make some big comprises with some of the citizen groups that didn’t want anything to be done to the field,” Bergosh said. “Anything that is going to effect them in their area, folks are going to be concerned, but what we did is we had a big process and brought in a very well, internationally-known design firm. It was always supposed to be a high-tech job incubator, but we ended up settling on instead of doing the entire acreage as jobs, we dropped it to 275 acres. For the folks that are concerned, I would say that there was always going to be something built there, but at least we have a strong master plan and good idea of what it looks like. I think it is going to be beneficial for, not only the county, but the region.”

The Triumph board approved phase one of the process and now will move the proposal into a period of term sheet negotiations. During the term sheet negotiations, details of the grant award contract will be discussed between the county and the Triumph board.

Triumph Gulf Coast, Inc., is a nonprofit corporation organized to oversee the expenditure of 75 percent of all funds recovered by the Florida attorney general for economic damages to the state that resulted from the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill.