Economic Yearbook 2007
BIG BEND: Rounding out the Economy
The Big Bend region is growing its manufacturing and tourism base
NEW DEVELOPMENTS: Charles Benedict, president of Benedict Engineering, expects 20% sales growth this year -- 100% in 2008 -- as the company brings to market two new developments: A self-guided, laser-technology system capable of moving supplies vertically and horizontally into storage units and an ocean-going cargo moving system adapted to stack cars and save space in parking garages. ... "Another emerging story is our sleepy little airport,'' says Law, referring to Flightline Group's $14-million expansion plan, which will add 110 jobs, and DayJet's scheduled landing about midyear. "We're getting interest from companies wanting to use our clear skies commodity.''
|? Manufacturing Shift|
|Government employment in Tallahassee accounts for 35.6% of all jobs, compared to the 12% state average. Business leaders are eyeing additional manufacturing jobs to diversify the economic base. Here's how Tallahassee's manufacturing sector compares with other Panhandle metro areas and statewide, as of December:|
|Metro area||Manufacturing jobs||% of total jobs|
|Fort Walton Beach||4,800||5.2%|
|Sources: Labor Market Information, Agency for Workforce Innovation; Woods & Poole|
? Since its 1981 startup, Benedict Engineering has garnered 85 patents, with 12 more pending. It works in three divisions: Forensic and consulting engineering; development of cargo-moving systems; and NuShore, a spinoff working in new-method beach restoration.
? Flightline Group's three-year expansion at its Compass Pointe headquarters at Tallahassee Regional Airport will include a training center for pilots and support personnel of very light jets, plus VLJ sales, a service center and hotel. On its radar: An international pilot training program.
? Florida State University Center of Excellence in Advanced Materials, started with a $4-million state grant, ties in with FSU's plans for a $17-million building at Innovation Park to focus on materials science research.
Hamilton / Suwannee / Madison Counties
ADDING WORKERS: Maronda Homes of Tampa, in partnership with Hamilton County, will start first-phase construction in early summer on a regional manufacturing facility at Genoa Industrial Park, where the company will make building components. At full capacity, the plant will provide 100 jobs. ... At Live Oak in Suwannee, 100 additional workers were hired following a $70-million expansion at the Gold Kist chicken-processing plant -- subsequently acquired by Pilgrim's Pride. The expansion doubled plant capacity and incorporated innovative robotics for checking product inventory.
NEW: Madison County has teamed with The Original Florida regional tourism group to promote the area to travel writers. ... The town of Lee has created and filled a business incubator converted from a former elementary school.