Haas Center 25th Anniversary Retrospective Video Transcript


When I was an executive at Baptist Health Care, I was part of the conversation back in the early 90s when the Haas Center got started.

I was business editor at the News Journal for 26 years, and fortunately, it was during those years that I got to report on the development of the Haas Center. I lived the discovery and lived the development along with the people that were working on it, and it was very exciting.

It was at that time part of the College of Business, and Dr. Bill Huth was the initial director of the Center.

We all owe a debt of gratitude to Bill. He told us how to run a Center for Business Research, what it was, what it should do, and he brought that concept to life at UWF.

So CBRED, or the Center for Business Research and Economic Development, became the Haas Center when Ray Haas provided a large donation to expand our facility and our operations.

He was one of the founders of ServiceMaster, which is a Fortune 500 company out of Chicago.

Grandpa would, he would donate... I mean the stuff that he, you know, that he supported was stuff he kind of, he believed in. He got involved in the history of Pensacola and just really saw a lot of potential that a resource like that could play in the in the growth of Pensacola.

He would say, "You know, the Haas Center is the best investment I ever made."

The Haas Center developed its reputation primarily through the leadership of Bill Huth and Rick Harper.

We took that job extremely seriously of communicating what it means when there's a change in a data series over time, whether it's personal income or the share of kindergarten students that have showed up ready to learn to read and write.

 

They gathered tourism statistics, business statistics, manufacturing… It was invaluable.

That's the role of the university-based economic research center, is to be… is to be that, that objective source of data and information.

But as I think back over the years and over the people that I interacted with at the Haas Center, what really strikes me is that first, we had great experiences for our student workers.

I worked with them as I started my graduate degree with a master's in business administration. While I was there, it was a springboard to my career now.

I always thought that that was one of the best values that the Haas Center ever brought to the school, that it tied the Haas Center in very nicely with the school's mission, which of course is educating people.

That's a fantastic experience for a UWF student, to get in there and, you know, participate in studies, participate in data requests.

And when studies are completed by them, people realize that it's done with quality, it's done with expertise.

The Haas Center has been, and I think always will be, about data-driven decisions. It gives people the analysis, it provides people the information, and lets them make better decisions.

They've been behind some of the biggest decisions that have been made in helping our community here in Pensacola and our region grow.

I think the most important thing the Haas Center has done over the first 25 years is help leaders in the community understand what's important.

They've provided this intellectual capital of research and data to decision makers and policy makers that have driven decisions that have helped create economic programs and policy that have helped drive Pensacola's economy forward.

The bottom line is that without the Haas Center, maybe some of this economic activity wouldn't happen.

What has developed in our economy is to a significant extent because of the Haas Center. I think that we need to credit them for that.