The Bay County Chamber of Commerce held a press conference on August 15, 2018 to announce that the General Services Administration (GSA) has approved and signed a lease with the Bay County Board of County Commissioners to continue federal operations in Panama City as of January 2019.
Under the agreement with GSA, the Federal Courthouse will be moved to the site of the current Bay County Juvenile Courthouse, located at 533 E. 11th Street, in January. Juvenile Justice operations will be temporarily relocated to the former Panama City City Hall building. The money from the lease will be used to pay down the debt on the 11th Street courthouse and help fund the construction of a new juvenile courthouse near the Bay County Courthouse.
“The City is very excited that the Federal Courthouse will be remaining in Panama City. We have been honored to collaborate with the Bay County Board of County Commissioners, Bay County Chamber of Commerce, and its task force in this 21-month effort. Having the Federal Courthouse in Panama City is a huge benefit not only to our citizens but the entire community,” Mayor Greg Brudnicki said. “We look forward to working alongside the county to ensure all needs are met as the Juvenile Courthouse moves into our former City Hall building.”
This effort was a collaboration of the Bay County Chamber of Commerce Federal Courthouse Taskforce, the City of Panama City and the Bay County Board of County Commissioners. The Chamber was made aware of the intended closure of the federal courthouse in November 2016. The closure of the facility would have resulted in the loss of 27 direct jobs and more than 100 indirect jobs in addition to the loss of more than $300,000 in annual income for the housing of federal inmates at the Bay County Jail. It would have also forced those involved with federal cases to drive to Tallahassee or Pensacola to handle business and hold court.
“This is news that our task force and the entire county has been eagerly awaiting,” Carol Roberts, President/CEO of the Bay County Chamber of Commerce said. “Our team has worked tirelessly for the last 21 months on this project, and we are ecstatic that it is finally coming across the finish line.”