Around the State- Northeast- Nov. 2001
Shands is in line to land a high-tech facility offering an advanced form of cancer treatment.
By Chuck Day
Jacksonville's economic leaders have taken a critical step toward landing a proton beam cancer treatment center, only the third such center in the U.S.
The Jacksonville Economic Development Commission approved an agreement in mid-September between the city and University of Florida Health Sciences Inc. to build a $27-million, 90,000-sq.-ft. facility at the Shands Jacksonville medical center. The initiative is to be a key component of Shands.
Plans call for leasing part of the four-story building to Proton Therapy Corp. of America, an affiliate of Ion Beam Application S.A. of Belgium, where the medical technology originated. The facility also will house up to 20 non-clinical professionals from the University of Florida's College of Medicine.
Proton Therapy, in turn, will develop the proton beam system at an estimated cost of $65 million. It is now in the process of securing funding for the system, which is expected to be operating by April 2004.
Two years in the making, the agreement now awaits the green light from Jacksonville City Council, which is expected to come this month. The facility would be the first in the Southeast and furthers Jacksonville's reputation as a medical center. The first proton beam center operates at Loma Linda University in California. A second center will open in Boston by year-end.
Proton beam therapy is regarded as the most advanced form of radiation therapy. Used on cancers confined to specific areas of the body, it has proved to be highly effective in treating tumors of the prostate, brain, head and neck region.
The center will receive a $15-million, 20-year loan from the city, a two-year economic development grant worth nearly $500,000, and a qualified targeted industry refund from Florida's office of trade, tourism and economic development. Officials estimate the value of the refund could total $693,000.
"This project positions our community as a leader in cancer treatment and research," contends Mike Weinstein, who served as JEDC executive director when it was approved.
Over a 10-year period, the center is projected to generate more than $17.7 million in tax revenues. Proton Therapy Corp.'s annual payroll is projected to be $10.1 million, with salaries averaging $55,000, says Paul Krutko, JEDC's senior director of development services.
Krutko also expects the center to spur additional development on Jacksonville's north side -- a key area targeted by JEDC for economic growth.
In the News
Alachua County -- Business incubator Cenetec has formed an alliance with Enterprise North Florida designed to help the region's entrepreneurs advance their fledgling technologies at all stages of early development.
Bradford County -- A $150,000 state grant has been added to the $1.1 million in state funding the county received earlier to finance a county courthouse expansion. Two one-story, 5,400-sq.-ft. additions will be built to flank the existing courthouse.
Jacksonville -- St. Joe Co. (NYSE-JOE) is spending $24 million to build a seven-story, 140,000-sq.-ft. headquarters close to downtown. The three-acre property is on Riverside Avenue. The company hopes to wrap up construction by March 2003.
Vestcor Cos., a northeast Florida developer of multifamily properties, has received a $17.8-million, 1.5% interest loan from the city to purchase Jacksonville's historic Roosevelt Hotel and Lynch building and transform them into residential apartments.
Resource Bancshares Mortgage Group will consolidate its 275 employees in Cypress Point Business Park beginning next month. The 59,500-sq.-ft. space is regarded as one of the year's more significant office deals.
Establishing a five-attorney downtown Jacksonville office gives Becker & Poliakoff P.A. 15 Florida locations. Gary Poliakoff, president of the 30-year-old firm, says there will be further expansion in Jacksonville. Three of the five lawyers hold equity interests in the firm, which also has offices and representation in Europe and China.
Efforts to resurrect the football program at Edward Waters College got a major boost from well-known Stuart attorney Willie Gary, who chipped in $100,000. School President Jimmy Jenkins has been trying to revive the program, which was discontinued in 1966 ["Revival," February 2001].
Miami call center operator Supra Telecom plans to open a 400-employee center in Jacksonville within the next year.
Ocala -- Stein Mart (Nasdaq-SMRT) is planning a 34,000-sq.-ft. store in the Boyd Market Place, a fast-growing commercial corridor that has been dubbed "Easy Street." The clothing store is scheduled to open early next year. Jacksonville-based Stein Mart operates more than 240 stores in 30 states.
Hale Products will move its headquarters to Ocala from Conshohocken, Pa., in early 2002, giving Ocala a second IDEX Corp. company. Last January, IDEX, based near Chicago, acquired Ocala-based Class 1, a manufacturer of plumbing systems and wire harnesses for emergency vehicles that employs about 230, and aligned it under the Hale Products line.
St. Augustine -- The St. Augustine Industrial Park has been sold for $3 million. The 140-acre tract is located 10 miles south of World Golf Village. The new owner is St. Augustine Industrial Development Corp. and Deer Park Industrial Corp. David Gonzales, who owns those companies, envisions adding distribution centers and warehouses. A Tree of Life Inc. distribution center already sits on the property.
St. Johns County -- Residents on both sides of the St. Johns River are assailing a state study that suggests the need for a new bridge across the river to Clay County. Some 200 St. Johns County residents and 150 Clay County residents attacked the idea at one recent public meeting. Expanding the existing Shands bridge is another option. No construction would begin for at least 10 years.
Mayoral Race: A Curious Move
JACKSONVILLE -- Business and political leaders are still scratching their heads over Mike Weinstein's mid-September declaration that he will run for mayor in 2003. Some suggest the former Jacksonville Economic Development Commission chief abruptly jettisoned his power base when he left not only the JEDC on Sept. 30 but also the top spot with the high-profile Super Bowl Host Committee.
It was assumed Weinstein would relinquish his Super Bowl chores at some point. That Weinstein won't "officially" resign his post until Feb. 1 has aroused curiosity. Moreover, Mayor John Delaney has openly grumbled about the jockeying for a job that's still his for almost two more years.
Weinstein says the terrorist attacks cemented his desire to run. Already in the race are council members Alberta Hipps and Ginger Soud. John Payton, Gate Petroleum Corp. vice president, is said to be 90% certain that he will run.