Voices of the Gulf


Gulf business leaders link environmental restoration with economic renewal.

Business and community leaders in the Gulf clearly recognize the important link between a healthy environment and a thriving, resilient economy. From engineering firms to power companies to fishermen and even the United States Air Force, leaders are calling for environmental restoration to create jobs, strengthen Gulf communities and contribute to long-term economic renewal.

Read what they have to say:

Reid Loper, CrowderGulf LLC

"Most companies that call the Gulf Coast home are hoping that the RESTORE Act brings well-needed business and project funding to the area. It has been a rough 4 or 5 years for the Gulf Coast, and I see the RESTORE Act as a mechanism to not only benefit the ecosystem but to also help the economy with projects that will produce jobs."

Sandy Sims, Gulf Power Company

Sandy Sims is the Community Development Manager at Gulf Power, one of the major partners in creating Project Greenshores, a multi-million dollar habitat restoration and creation project located in Downtown Pensacola, Florida along the urban shoreline of Pensacola Bay.

Sarah Mack, Tierra Resources LLC

"The LA coast is losing wetlands at a rate of one football field every hour, which amounts to about 24 square miles being lost each year. However, using market-based solutions, we can work to reverse this disturbing trend."

Patrick Barnes, BFA Environmental

President of BFA Environmental in Orlando, Patrick Barnes is also the founder of the non-profit Limitless Vistas, which prepares young people for environmental jobs.

Tom Matthews, Matthews Brothers, INC

"As one of the first firms to win a contract on a post-BP spill environmental restoration project in Mississippi, I have witnessed firsthand that investments in coastal restoration can mean jobs for coastal workers and economic growth for local businesses and communities."

Pasco Gibson, Fisherman and Restaurant Owner

"Oyster harvesting used to be a viable industry in our area, employing 30 boats and their crews at one time, which has all but vanished at this time. In my opinion, [the] restoration of our bays and estuaries is the only thing we can do to ensure a future on the water. . . .More than anything, I’d like for our oyster industry to come back."

Nicole Waguespack, Martin Ecosystems

"We have a once in a lifetime opportunity to restore what has been damaged and protect what remains. We also have a tremendous opportunity to build markets and jobs around the restoration and protection work that remains to be done, and to be a world leader in restoration and protection innovation."

Emery Baya, Thompson Engineering

"I am very optimistic about the future of the Gulf [as] business and environmental communities are coming together and recognize that wise stewardship of Gulf resources is a must in order for both economic and environmental objectives to be realized."

Webster Pierce, Pierce Industries

"I support coastal restoration because it is essential for preserving the way of life of the people who live in this area."

Tyler Ortego, ORA Estuaries

"Long-term restoration will require perseverance and collaboration, as well as sustained funding."

Woody Gagliano, Coastal Environments, Inc.

"We have an opportunity to recognize the irreplaceable value of the Gulf’s bounty and create projects designed, funded, contracted and staffed with a maximum level of local involvement and economic, environmental and social benefits."

Chris Nelson, Bon Secour Fisheries

"I’m fourth-generation in the business—it’s a nice legacy to be a part of. I have two children who could one day become the fifth generation in the business, and I would like to leave them a healthy environment."

Brigadier General David Harris, United States Air Force

"Eglin Air Force Base’s renowned environmental programs are committed to protecting this natural resource to ensure the continued operation of the most important Department of Defense range capability in the world."

Scott Saunders, Fury Water Adventures

"A restoration effort for the Gulf will not only preserve this one of kind ecosystem, but will also allow businesses that depend on this resource to exist into the future."

Matt Campbell, Coast and Harbor Engineering

"The biggest opportunity that I see in the future of the Gulf coast is the merging of the 'working coast' in its economic development with the restoration of the environment. The correlation has always been there, but the momentum to intentionally combine these efforts has never been greater."

Carole Lynn Meadows, Chair of the Gulfport (MS) Redevelopment Commission

"As a co-founder of the Lynn Meadows Discovery Center, Mississippi’s first children’s museum, our goal was to provide a place for children to learn to appreciate the world in which he or she lives. Teaching children about restoration is critical to the future of the Gulf."

John Brawley, Woods Hole Group, Inc.

“The Gulf is extensive, dynamic and diverse. I am optimistic about the future of the region, particularly in the will of the Gulf community to work together to rebuild and conserve the resources that have been lost and damaged.”

Doug Robison, Atkins North America

"Restoration of the Gulf of Mexico is critical to the economic vitality and ecological sustainability of the Gulf region. Funding provided through the RESTORE Act offers an unprecedented generational opportunity for Gulf Coast states and local governments to implement coastal zone projects that promote habitat restoration, water quality improvement, environmental sustainability, and economic resiliency."

Minor Sinclair, Oxfam

The Nature Conservancy talks with Oxfam about new partnership to promote restoration in the Gulf of Mexico.

Kay Rasmussen, CEcD. Associate Director Economic Development Council of Okaloosa County, Florida

The Economic Development Council of Okaloosa County, FL, is a nonprofit, public-private partnership serving Okaloosa County as its primary economic development organization committed to continual growth and diversification through existing industry retention and expansion, workforce development and expansion of key industry clusters.

Sean Russell, Project Director, Stow It - Don't Throw It Project/Youth Ocean Conservation Team

"The Stow It-Don’t Throw It Project is a youth-driven marine debris prevention and fishing line recycling initiative that provides resources and support to students working to take on these issues around the world. "

Will Myers, Conservationist, Texas

"Fishing the bays and estuaries of Texas has made me keenly aware of the critical importance of both preserving and restoring our coastal bay habitats, whether they be seagrass beds, oyster reefs or mangrove marsh."

Keith Wilkins, Director, Community & Environment, Escambia County Board of County Commissioners

"It is very positive for this and the next generation of scientists and hopefully the understanding that our economy is tied to our environmental quality. "

William Frazer, Brewmaster/Co-founder, Fat Point Brewing

"I feel education is always a challenge. If everyone understood the benefits and impacts of preserving and restoring our waters they would act differently and more passionate about protecting the natural wildlife we have."

Mike Rogers, General Contractor, Mobile, Alabama

"I view the future of the Gulf in a very positive light. I believe that the BP oil spill and Hurricane Katrina have placed a tremendous amount of attention on the Gulf of Mexico. Even though a lot of the attention was focused on the disaster, it also brought a lot of positive attention."

Julie Sullivan, MS, Vice President, Environmental Science Associates

"We are on the brink of a generational opportunity in the Gulf of Mexico. With decades of degradation of habitat, natural and manmade disasters, we are poised for an unprecedented influx of funding that if well planned and executed can not only halt the degradation but move us toward a sustainable future for the Gulf States."

John Hosey, Director of Development, The Corps Network - Gulf Coast Restoration Corps

"The Gulf is more than a body of water it is a way of life. It gets into your soul and develops your sense of culture and the value of being a part of a community that has a vibrant and resilient spirit. "

Beverly Donlon, Co-Owner of Wintzell's Oyster House in Mobile, Alabama

"The Gulf is still one of the best kept secrets in the world. Not til the oil spill occurred did anyone outside of our own culture give the Gulf much of a second thought. Some say bad press is better than no press at all, and this may be the case with the Gulf of Mexico. "

David Stejskal, Geographic Operations Manager, CH2M Hill

"The Gulf, like the rest of the world, is constantly changing. I am optimistic that as we further develop solution to the problems resulting from growth, both people and economic, we are taking an approach that provides for more sustainable and natural solutions. "

Anna Bryant, Director, 17 Turtles Gulf Coast Outfitters

"The future of our Gulf of Mexico is in our hands. We can continue to pollute it or love it. I am optimistic about the organizations who are already educating our students as well as the new and emerging organizations who want to do the same. "

Larry Robinson, Professor, Florida A&M University

"During my tenure at Florida A&M University, and as Assistant Secretary of Commerce at NOAA at the peak of the BP oil-spill crisis, I have learned first-hand the value of research, education and outreach in our efforts to understand, conserve and restore the Gulf of Mexico ecosystem. "

Forest Latta, Attorney, Alabama

"Upon graduating from college and law school, I wanted to pursue that dream and the coast was the sole reason I located here to practice law. I came for the sun, the sailing, the boating, diving, fishing and all other outdoor activities associated with the coast. It is the reason most of us live here."

Bill Hanson, Vice President Great Lakes Dredge & Dock Company; Board Member of Coast Builders Association

"We need to continue to work together to make sure policy makers understand that they can’t work us against each other any more. We are on the same page and they are the ones who are going to approve and fund projects that accomplish both lofty economic and environmental ambitions. We can do this… we have to."

Bink Grimes, Owner of Sunrise Lodge on Matagorda Bay

"We will never take the Gulf for granted as one of America's most valuable natural resources."



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