Northwest Florida Business Briefs - July 2006
» Special exemption status for the Panhandle in meeting state building code requirements for protection against windborne debris ended with the spring legislative session.
» Developers in 16 northwest Florida counties are no longer excluded from requirements of the Environmental Resource Permitting program, which calls for developers who pave over wetlands to mitigate the loss by building artificial wetlands elsewhere or pay into a preservation fund. The rules have applied elsewhere in Florida for a decade and are effective in the northwest region as a result of legislative action this past session. The Panhandle's special status stemmed from area representatives' earlier insistence that government oversight wasn't needed because of the region's slower growth, a circumstance that may no longer apply. Two counties, Leon and Escambia, already had more stringent wetland protections in place. The tougher regulation in any case will apply. The recent legislation also provides $2.7 million for implementation.
» Florida Agriculture and Consumer Services has opened its first inspection station in northwest Florida and its first new station since the 1960s. The main mission of the station, located on I-10 close to the Alabama border, is to prevent plant and animal pests and diseases from entering the state.
OKALOOSA/SANTA ROSA COUNTIES --
» Voters in both counties will decide during primary elections Sept. 5 whether they're willing to pay an extra penny per dollar in sales taxes to fund infrastructure improvements, mainly roads. In Okaloosa, where the tax rate is 6%, the extra penny would potentially raise $29 million annually. In Santa Rosa, where taxes are 6.5%, the extra penny would generate $183 million over 10 years.
» Fund-raising leadership for the $15-million maritime museum proposed by the late Jack H. Fetterman will be assumed by four of his friends: Florida U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson, Arizona U.S. Sen. John McCain, former "Good Morning America'' TV host David Hartman and New Orleans Saints owner Tom Benson. The Legislature designated the museum an official state museum, giving it access to state artifacts, and named it the Admiral Jack H. Fetterman State of Florida Maritime Museum and Research Center. Fetterman died in March.
» Ohio-based garage door manufacturer Wayne-Dalton Corp. will launch a $37-million expansion of its Pensacola plant, creating 150 new jobs. The 350-employee plant is the company's second-largest.
» Lance Foods is planning a $7.5-million plant modification to handle a new "kettle chip line,'' which will add as many as 52 jobs to its local plant.
» The City Commission has picked a site near the state Capitol for a performing arts center, expected to cost $113 million and targeted for opening within eight to 10 years.
WALTON COUNTY --
» ZOL Development has started construction on the first phase of Aquatera, a $300-million, 26-acre master-planned luxury residential community on Highway 30-A.