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Long time resident and business woman enters race

What most of the neighbors regarded as a “crack house” that needed razing – struck Emily L. Dowdy as an opportunity. She spent almost two years investing sweat equity and limited resources to make the house a home. For twenty years, Dowdy has lived and conducted business in Ward 1.

“This is my home, and I am concerned about its future and vitality, which is why I decided to run for Panama City Commissioner, Ward 1. My campaign is about setting goals and achieving them; it is about bold action, and the implementation of plans,” said Dowdy in announcing her candidacy.

In concert with partners, Dowdy has recruited national and international businesses to the area and leased and sold properties in the Ward to engineers, bail bond persons, hair dressers, attorneys, and restaurateurs. She continues to be involved in real estate projects that contribute to the revitalization of blighted and neglected areas and to the preservation of historical treasures in downtown Panama City and Millville. According to Rebecca Saunders, President of the Historical Society of Bay County, Dowdy was awarded special recognition, “…in appreciation for her decision to preserve four historical buildings prior to the construction of the State Attorney/Public Defender office complex.”

During 2002-2003 Dowdy’s company spearheaded construction of the 42,000 square foot State Attorney/Public Defender office building that houses at least 100 individuals who daily participate in various downtown experiences.

“If not for the vision of Emily Dowdy working through Fourth & Magnolia Development Group, the four-story State Attorney/Public Defender complex would not have been constructed. Emily saw the possibility of Downtown Panama City and was a true pioneer by assembling many individual parcels. Based on her vision of something better, she developed a team to design, finance, and construct this welcome addition to our community,” said Contractor Richard Dodd.

Public Defender Herman Laramore stated that “the planning, design and construction process for the State Attorney/Public Defender complex worked seamlessly because of the hands-on team approach taken by Emily Dowdy through Fourth & Magnolia Development Group, with all the participants involved from inception working together to set and accomplish specific goals.” Former State Attorney Jim Appleman agreed and added “this truly was a community effort that partnered local businesses in the private sector with local government, and it remains a textbook example of how such projects should be conducted.”

Dowdy conveys both pride and concern when discussing Ward 1. “We must solve the problems that face us and have gone unresolved for too long. We can’t avoid the tough issues like homelessness and the economy because in choosing inaction - the problems worsen. We can meet the challenges and succeed by finding and implementing solutions that serve the needs of all of those with vested interests.”

She’s happy to get specific about solutions. “The private sector and the city and the county need to team up when possible; infrastructure and enterprise zone incentives need to be addressed and the possibility of utilizing tax-exempt industrial development bonds (IDBs) for financing commercial projects needs to be explored, along with urban development action grants and community development block grants. There is a wealth of potential in this community - US Business 98 Heritage Corridor, Bay Front developments in Millville and Panama City, Panama City Green Initiatives, the Federal and County Court Houses, to name a few. I believe the best is yet to come.”

For twenty years she has served on the board of Advocates for Children and is a current member of the Downtown Improvement Board. She was also the President of the Greater Downtown Association for several years and is a past member of the Board of Directors of the Visual Arts Center.

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