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May 27, 2018

Around the State- Central- Aug. 2001

| 8/1/2001
Landing the Sparrow
CorbinMotors is planning an electric-vehicle plant in Daytona Beach.

By Chuck Day

The city renowned for gas-guzzling race cars will begin churning out a new electric car next year. The three-wheeled Sparrow, 4 feet wide by 8 feet long, weighs 1,350 pounds, carries one passenger and costs just under $15,000. Maximum speed: 70 mph. Maximum range before recharging: 60 miles at top speed.

CorbinMotors, headquartered in Hollister, Calif., plans to break ground on its second plant, a 110,000-sq.-ft. facility a stone's throw from the Daytona International Speedway, by October. Tom Corbin, who helped create the vehicle and co-founded the company with his father, is hoping to have the plant, designed to produce 50,000 cars a year, up and running in time for Bike Week next March. The timetable hinges on completing the design of Sparrow II, a new model earmarked for Daytona.

Initially, CorbinMotors will hire between 80 to 100. Ultimately, the company, which is working with Daytona Community College to develop an employee-training program, anticipates a payroll of 250 to 300. "This certainly is a great motor-sports town," says Corbin, "so it's an ideal place to introduce an important new transportation form."

The company has already sold 160 of the 350 vehicles it's produced and has orders for 3,000 more. Sparrow enjoyed a publicity bonanza in April when Jay Leno talked about the car on The Tonight Show after he took one for a test drive.

The Daytona plant, like the car itself, will be unorthodox. "We see it almost as a tourist attraction," says Corbin. Besides the manufacturing area, there will be a visitors center to house exhibits detailing the energy and environmental benefits of electric vehicles, a restaurant and ultimately a research and development center.

"We want to provide a long-term look at how we use resources but also show how this complex will contribute to the community," says Anthony Luzi, president of CorbinMotors Daytona. "This will be a role-model, earth-friendly plant," he says. The material used to build the car will be "100% recyclable and 70% biodegradable."

What about the vehicle's marketability? Corbin and Luzi say 87% of commuters travel 18 miles or less to work daily and 93% of them travel alone.

In the News

Apopka -- Sawtek Inc. (Nasdaq-SAWS) laid off what the company called less than 10% of its 400-employee workforce in an across-the-board effort to cut costs. The layoffs were the second this year by the cell phone chip manufacturer.

Cocoa Beach -- Ron Jon Surf Shop ["Surf's Up," February 2000] has pleaded guilty to federal charges of misrepresenting income tax forms and lying on Customs documents for a shipment of clothing from Indonesia. The company was accused of filing false documents on one 1996 shipment valued at $16,977.

Daytona Beach -- Orlando-based flight school Airline Training Academy plans to relocate its Discover Air charter operation to Daytona Beach International Airport and begin regularly scheduled flights between Orlando and Gainesville and between Daytona Beach and Miami, Key West and the Bahamas.

Lake Mary -- Mountain View, Calif.-based Veritas Software Corp. has shifted resources at its Lake Mary facility, cutting 50 jobs while adding 50 different positions at its 700-worker facility.

Melbourne -- Percepta LLC has hired more than 400 temporary workers to handle the flood of calls coming from Ford Motor Co.'s recall of 13 million Firestone tires. Percepta is partly owned by Ford.

Orange County -- Orlando Regional Medical Center and HealthCentral in Ocoee have been given state approval to add a total of 94 acute-care beds. The beds were previously licensed to Princeton Hospital, which closed in 1999.

Orlando -- Broadband-wireless company Triton Network Systems (Nasdaq-TNSI) says it plans to lay off another 35% of its workforce -- 72 people -- because of the slowdown in purchases of telecommunications equipment.

Hughes Supply (NYSE-HUG) laid off 40 from its headquarters following its first quarterly loss in a decade. The company also imposed a hiring freeze.

Belz Enterprises has been awarded a construction permit for the 1.1 million-sq.-ft. Festival Bay shopping and entertainment complex on International Drive. Estimates for completion range from the end of the year to next summer.

Milpitas, Calif-based Adaptec Inc. has consolidated its operations from several buildings in Maitland to a new $10 million facility at Central Florida Research Park. The move will allow the company to add about 100 people to its local payroll, which now totals just under 200. At the same time, however, Adaptec has decided to move manufacturing operations overseas, leading to about 450 layoffs nationwide, including 50 in Orlando.

Optium Inc., a fiber-optic communications company launched by four University of Central Florida scientists, has landed more than $35 million in venture capital and will add more than 100 positions by the end of the year. The company also plans to move into a 30,000-sq.-ft. headquarters at Central Florida Research Park. The newest venture deal was led by Kalkhoven, Pettit & Levin Ventures and Texas Pacific Group, both based in Silicon Valley, and included four other venture capital companies. Inc. will expand to a second call center/warehouse by December, adding 250 warehouse positions and 20 software development jobs.

The Hard Rock Hotel earned AAA's Four Diamond Award just three weeks after opening, making the Loews Hotel/Universal Orlando venture the 15th Four Diamond property in central Florida.

The Orlando Sentinel is launching El Sentinel, a weekly Spanish/English newspaper and companion website this month. It will be distributed free to selected neighborhoods in Orange, Osceola, Seminole, Lake and Volusia counties and sold at some newsstands. Initial circulation has been set at 60,000. The Sentinel is also offering early retirement packages to employees who are at least 50 and have been with the company for five years. The move affected about a dozen of the company's 1,500 employees.

FirstPublish Group, which specializes in digital on-demand printing and publishing, plans to nearly double its workforce by year's end, adding 80 positions to the year-old company's 90-employee payroll.

The Holy Land Experience will have to answer to a higher authority: The tax man. Despite the 15-acre attraction's biblical theme and the fact that it is owned by a religious organization, the Orange County Property Appraiser's Office has ruled it must pay taxes. The decision could mean hundreds of thousands of dollars Zion's Hope Inc. must pay unless the decision is overturned.

Osceola County -- The Ginn Co. has announced plans for a 2,500-acre development at the Osceola/Polk County line, where it will build 5,000 residential resort units, 3,000 hotel rooms, 540,000 square feet of commercial space and three golf courses. The site, formerly known as Magnolia Creek, straddles I-4 between ChampionsGate and Celebration. Developer Bobby Ginn says the project, dubbed Reunion Resort & Club, will begin construction immediately and may take 15 years to complete. Total investment is projected at $2 billion.

Sanford -- Former Sanford Mayor Larry Dale was appointed to the newly created position of president of the Orlando Sanford International Airport. The Sanford Airport Authority granted Dale a three-year contract worth $125,000 a year to oversee all operations, including the work of the airport's former chief, Victor White.

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