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June 25, 2018

Economic Yearbook 2006 - Big Bend Region

High-Tech Victories

Economic diversification in Tallahassee is giving a population and business boost to rural, fringe counties.

Charlotte Crane | 4/1/2006

Key Newcomer

? "The mag lab is the best in the world -- that's simply true,'' says David Larbalestier, director of the Applied Superconductivity Center, soon to relocate from Madison, Wis., to be close to the lab, its frequent research partner. As a result, "There's an opportunity to make an entirely new generation of superconducting magnets out of new superconducting materials.'' The science already is seeing applications in medicine, especially in magnetic resonance imaging. A member of the National Academy of Engineering and holder of four patents, Larbalestier will move this summer along with 12 to 15 of the center's scientists. "We will grow to the size of 30 researchers fairly quickly.'' He's also talking with small companies interested in working with the center on commercial applications.

New Companies

? Tallahassee's proximity to markets and ports figures in the 2006 move of Danfoss Turbocor, a Canadian firm that makes cutting-edge, oil-free centrifugal compressors.

? California-based Copart Inc. auctions crashed autos online to salvage markets. It opened a regional collection point at Midway's 10-90 park, hiring nine.

? Altaquip opened a facility in Jasper in March, its first in the Big Bend region. The Cincinnati company, which provides powered-equipment warranty and other after-sale services for Home Depot stores, has hired 12.

? Taylor Energy Center near Perry, owned by four Florida municipal power companies, is building a $1.5-billion, 800-megawatt coal-burning power plant projected to fire up in 2012.

? Tai Yang Research of Knoxville, Tenn., has opened a branch at FSU's Center for Advanced Power Systems.

Tallahassee/ Leon County

Tallahassee is capitalizing on its research prowess. "This is the beginning of a change in the Tallahassee area, where we are now thinking about technology and how it can contribute to the economy,'' says Kirby Kemper, vice president for research at Florida State University. He cites moves by the Applied Superconductivity Center, with the potential to draw industrial contractors, and high-tech Danfoss Turbocor, promising at least 150 jobs averaging $59,500. ... Tallahassee's two-university pool of business graduates is a plus for transportation logistics company C.H. Robinson Worldwide of Minnesota, which opened an office in Tallahassee. So is the capital's location, says branch manager Ricky Glass: "It is a gateway to some very vibrant customer markets.'' ... High-rise condominiums are also elevating the capital profile, with as many as 10 projects under construction or in planning stages.

Key Newcomers

? Marty Stubblefield, North Florida market president for Mississippi-based Hancock Bank, which bought into the Florida market in 2004 with a Tallahassee acquisition, has plans to expand throughout the Panhandle, especially nurturing small business. "We want to be the first place they call about a startup, after their accountant and attorney,'' says Stubblefield.

? KC McWilliams, general manager of the Tallahassee area for Comcast Communications since 2004 and a board member of the Economic Development Council of Tallahassee/Leon County, has partnered with the city and Tallahassee Community College to put high-speed internet in community centers and Tallahassee Community College satellite centers, "and cross that digital divide.''

Hamilton/Suwannee/ Madison Counties

Evers Wood Products, a startup company in Greenville, will specialize in manufacturing privacy-fence material. Evers Wood Owner Larry Evers is a partner in a similar company in South Florida.

Tags: Big Bend

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