850 — The Business Magazine of Northwest Florida - 850 Business Magazine October-November 2012

Young Leaders Making Their Mark On The 850

Meet more of Northwest Florida’s-up and-coming business leaders in this fifth installment of 40 Under 40. From Tallahassee to Pensacola, from a former major leaguer to an economic development specialist to a hot shot realtor, see who is making a mark on the business world and in their own community.

Ryan Cohn, 25, Tallahassee

Started What's Next Marketing right after graduating from Florida State University three years ago. In 2011, the company was named as a finalist by Forbes Magazine for America's Most Promising Companies. The Ad Club of Boston named the company as Emerging Interactive Business at the 2011 South by Southwest Festival. No surprise then that this summer his company was acquired by Ron Sachs Communications — and that he's writing a book to help business and government leaders navigate the fast-changing landscape of social/digital media platforms.

Heather and Chris Thomas, 35 and 39, Destin

Chris left the high pressure life of working for a Fortune 100 company after his father, a Destin charter boat captain, passed away. He took early retirement from corporate life and returned to Destin with his wife, Heather, to start Destin Vacation Boat Rentals, now in its third year of operation. Heather Thomas does PR and marketing for the company. She has a tourism blog and was named one of the Amazing Women of 2011 by a top website for women.

Jeremy S. Johnson, 30, Gulf Breeze

Realtor who works on Pensacola Beach — and closed more than $4 million in sales during the first half of 2012 in spite of the economy. His grandmother established the first Pensacola Beach newspaper, The Islander, which his mom owns and manages today as Island Times. An expert marksman, he is in the process of opening a gun sales shop — and is involved in a rescue program for golden retrievers.

Jennifer Conoley, 29, Panama City

A mainstay for the Bay County Economic Development Alliance, where she heads up the marketing program. She got her professional start with Herrle Communications in Tallahassee and now lives in Panama City, where her job with the EDA is to promote Bay County to businesses looking to relocate.