DESTIN — Although the economy is stuck in neutral and real estate markets are hurting, local investor and entrepreneur Ryan Jumonville is not discouraged.
He says difficult times "separate the strong from the weak."
"I really think this region will come back before a lot of the others," said Jumonville, president and CEO of United Networks of America. "We have the infrastructure here in Destin to come back stronger."
Jumonville, a former javelin thrower, said the effects of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill "definitely didn't do anything to help" the area. He said the long-term effects of the spill will not truly be known for years.
While the current market conditions look bleak, Jumonville continues to push forward, acquiring Panhandle properties at a "discounted rate." In the past year, he has purchased the outdoor shopping mall City Market and the Beach Community Bank building in Destin, in addition to his most recent purchase of Uptown Corners in Fort Walton Beach for $1.72 million.
The new owner said he has really benefited from the shopping center's location and proximity to the area military bases and Uptown Station. He said the traffic through the area is tremendous.