Northwest Florida Business Briefs - Feb. 2007
» Premier Community Bank of the Emerald Coast, which opened last fall in temporary quarters, is building a main office at Crestview and a branch at Fort Walton Beach. Organizers are local residents and business owners. M. Sean Davis is CEO.
ESCAMBIA COUNTY —
» The Escambia County School Board is rezoning and consolidating schools in a move expected to save $2.5 million. Major changes include closing Woodham High School and using the site to consolidate middle schools; closing three middle schools; and relocating Woodham students to three other high schools.
» The Walton County Commission has approved Walton County Workforce Housing Corp.’s plans to build a 400-acre affordable housing project consisting of 523 homes, a school and retail/office space. At least half of the homes, initially priced from $84,000 to $124,000, must be sold to “essential county personnel,’’ including teachers, hospital workers and county employees. Construction is expected to begin this year.
» Businessman and conservationist M.C. Davis is building Biophilia, a 14,800-sq.-ft. research and wildlife center, on his 53,000-acre Nokuse Plantation to provide an education program for county schoolchildren and an additional location for Emerald Coast Wildlife Refuge. Construction, expected to cost $3 million to $5 million, will begin early this year.
JACKSON COUNTY —
» Oldcastle Precast, a division of an Irish building materials group that manufactures precast, prestressed and polymer concrete and concrete pipe products, will locate a plant in the Marianna/Jackson County Construction Services Park, creating 110 jobs within five years.
NORTHWEST FLORIDA —
» Gulf Power Co. implemented its largest rate increase ever in January, raising the price of 1,000 kilowatt-hours by approximately 10%, from $92.34 to $101.87. The Pensacola-based utility, a unit of Southern Co., blamed the hike on rising fuel prices, primarily for coal.
» Pennsylvania-based Select Medical Corp. is building a 54-bed, specialized acute-care hospital that will employ up to 200 on an 18-acre site being developed by Pensacola business partners Jim Cronley and Tony Terhaar. Select Medical operates 97 specialty hospitals and 600 rehabilitation clinics nationwide.
PORT ST. JOE —
» Port St. Joe Port Authority has purchased 46 acres for $4.5 million from the St. Joe Co. (NYSE-JOE), providing a cumulative 68 acres for re-creating a deepwater port.
SANTA ROSA COUNTY —
» Officials with the state Division of Alcoholic Beverages and Tobacco doled out 17 permits for purchasing county liquor licenses after 16 months of sifting through 4,951 applications. Residents approved county liquor sales in September 2005.
SANTA ROSA/OKALOOSA COUNTIES —
» The state has agreed to buy 11,257 acres in the two counties from The Nature Conservancy, which bought the land last year from International Paper Co. and held it for the state. Part of the Yellow River Ravines Florida Forever project, the land protects historic longleaf pine habitat, river frontage, ravine systems and wildlife corridors, and provides buffers to two military installations. It’s the largest single addition to the Blackwater River State Forest since its establishment in 1954.
» ProBank will begin banking operations at two Tallahassee locations early this year, following approval by the Florida Office of Financial Regulation, CEO Bryan Robinson says. The bank will focus on small and medium-sized businesses.
» County commissioners approved plans of Destin-based Deer Lake Development for Prominence, a 79-acre, upscale South Walton waterfront community of 650 homes, 120 hotel rooms and 200,000 square feet of commercial and office space. About half of 60 acres of pine scrub habitat will be preserved.