Northwest Florida Business Briefs - Jan. 2006
? Wakulla Correctional Institution has become Florida's third faith- and character-based facility and the nation's largest, with a 1,191-inmate capacity. The voluntary program provides inmates access to classes and services designed to strengthen character.
? Destin developer Olson Associates of Northwest Florida donated 6.5 acres near Crestview to expand the Emerald Coast Wildlife Refuge.
ESCAMBIA COUNTY --
? Emerald Coast Utilities Authority has selected a 327-acre, midcounty site owned by Solutia Inc. as the preferred location for a new wastewater treatment system. Officials hope federal and state funds will help pay the estimated $200 million. The 68-year-old plant in downtown Pensacola was damaged by Hurricane Ivan in 2004.
? The Florida Institute for Human and Machine Cognition is among seven U.S. finalists for a $20-million grant to create a national research center studying ways to gain and transfer workforce expertise. A decision is expected this month...
? The University of West Florida is looking to expand. President John Cavanaugh says he'll request legislative funding to open campuses in north and south Walton County and to offer classes at Crestview in Okaloosa County.
? The Florida Department of Environmental Protection will allow Buckeye Mill to run a pipeline to the Gulf of Mexico, diverting wastewater discharge from the polluted Fenholloway River. Environmentalists oppose the plan, saying it will further degrade Gulf waters.
PORT ST. JOE --
? Port St. Joe Port Authority and the St. Joe Co. (NYSE-JOE) have reached an agreement that may lead to re-establishment of a working port and will provide St. Joe with a key parcel in its waterfront development plans. Terms give the Port Authority a two-year option to purchase one or two parcels of land, 63 and 47.5 acres on the Intracoastal Waterway and north of the old paper mill site, for a new port. St. Joe Co. will be able to repurchase 3.9 acres of bulkhead property on the mill site, sold to the Port Authority in 2001 under an earlier port-development plan.
? Southeast Corporate Federal Credit Union is building a 30,000-sq.-ft. headquarters at SouthWood. The $5-million investment also will add 40 employees. Southeast is the largest depository financial institution headquartered in Tallahassee, with $4 billion in assets...
? Nearly 60% of voters in a November mail-in ballot endorsed city participation in the North Florida Power Project, construction of a $1.4-billion coal-fired utility plant expected to be located in Taylor County. City officials estimate that a 20% share of the plant's output could save the city $67 million a year at today's rates...
? The Florida Cabinet has approved a $5.85-million sale of nearly two entire downtown city blocks. The sale, part of a long-planned state move to sell off surplus office space, is also a boon for the Tallahassee master plan calling for "18-hour" livability downtown. Among site redevelopment visions: A first-class hotel, grocery service, mixed-use retail/housing...
? Cascades Park, site of the long-gone waterfall that helped determine the Capitol's location in 1823 but currently an industrial wasteland, is being re-created -- complete with restored waterfall. Federal, state and local partners are contributing to a $7.8-million cleanup of the park, polluted by industrial use and dumping. It has been closed since 1988.