Fort Myers-- Fox Electronics opened a 10,000-sq.-ft. programming center near its headquarters here. The facility adds 27 jobs to the local economy and is projected to have a $3.5-million economic impact. Fox manufactures and distributes quartz frequency control timing products worldwide, such as quartz crystals, clock oscillators and crystal filters used in wireless communications equipment and telecommunications devices.
Oldsmar-- Genesis Manufacturing, once listed as one of the fastest-growing companies in the Tampa Bay area, has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. The 8-year-old contract electronics manufacturer cited the loss of its biggest customer as one of the causes. At one time, Genesis employed 140 workers; its workforce is now down to 97.
Polk County-- The Central Florida Development Council's Business Development Team played a role in 18 business expansions or relocations in the area last year. Capital investment from the projects totaled $118.5 million, and 668 jobs were created. The team was formed 15 years ago to support economic developers' initiatives to diversify the county's then-predominantly agricultural and mining economy.
Sarasota-- Schroeder-Manatee Ranch, the umbrella organization over Lakewood Ranch, has established a community endowment fund. The Lakewood Ranch/East Manatee County Community Fund will support community initiatives to serve the master-planned community and its neighbors.
St. Petersburg-- Florida Progress Corp. has a new name and a new owner. CP&L's acquisition of the St.Petersburg-based electric utility was finalized just before the new year, just 15 months after the $5.3-billion deal was announced. The new name: Progress Energy (NYSE-PGN). The combined company will serve a total of 2.8 million customers in North Carolina, South Carolina and Florida; 1.3 million of those in Florida. The closing of the deal also signaled the beginning of layoffs: About 800, mostly in Florida offices, are expected by March.
General Dynamics is acquiring Primex Technologies, a provider of munitions, propellants, electronics and satellite propulsions to the military, for $32.10 a share. General Dynamics will assume $170 million of Primex debt. Primex employs 2,850 and posted revenues of $530 million in 2000.
Tampa-- TECO Energy is up to $1.86 billion in investments in merchant power plants outside of Florida following its joint venture with Dallas-based Panda Energy International. The companies will develop two independent plants in Arkansas and Arizona. TECO will have a 50% ownership stake but will receive 75% of revenues from the plants. The plants will be financed in part with a $200-million stock offering slated for the middle of this year.
Optoelectronics: Uniroyal Expands
SARASOTA -- Uniroyal Technology Corp. (Nasdaq-UTCI) continues to bulldoze its way into the small but highly profitable high-brightness light-emitting diode (HB-LED) market. Final build-out of the Sarasota-based company's 77,000-sq.-ft. Tampa facility began in November. The expansion includes more space for fabrication and testing processes for HB-LEDs, as well as a state-of-the-art R&D center. The company recently beefed up its research staff, adding top guns from the optoelectronics industry, including Jeffrey Nelson, who joined Uniroyal from Sandia National Laboratories, and Christian M. Wetzel, from the High Tech Research Center at Meijo University, Nagoya, Japan.
The Tampa facility began rolling out LEDs, an alternative, longer-lasting type of lighting used in traffic lights, automobile dashboard displays, tail lights and various types of signs, early last year. In 1999, Uniroyal took the risky move of selling off its plastics division, which made up two-thirds of its annual revenues, to begin focusing on LEDs. Today, Wall Street predicts that market to grow at a 35% annual clip.