October 21, 2014

Around the State

| 9/1/1998
BROWNFIELDS- The first Florida City to take advantage of the state's 1997 brownfields legislation is Clearwater, where 10-year-old Information Management Resources (Nasdaq-IMRS) is building new international headquarters downtown on a 14.3-acre brownfields site. Under the federal Brownfields Economic Redevelopment Initiative, IMR paid $1.5 million for the former Montgomery Ward site, more recently City Hall Annex. The initiative was established by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and, combined with state statutes, it provides benefits such as site assessment grants, matching funds and loan guarantees to promote redevelopment of environmentally contaminated lands.

Benefits to companies also include protection from liability tax incentives. "It breaks the liability chain because a company like IMR would not be responsible for future discovery of environmental problems," says John R. Swinton, assistant professor of economics at the University of South Florida. "Why would a company move into a site where a multimillion dollar cleanup may be necessary down the road that wasn't their fault?" he asks.

For the IMR project, the city of Clearwater retains responsibility for any future environmental cleanup and pays monitoring costs up to $15,000. Tests conducted by the city last year showed petroleum contamination, presumably caused by underground oil, diesel and gasoline tanks when the land was occupied by a Montgomery Ward's auto center in the 1960s and 1970s. The tanks have been removed. According to Swinton, who will study the economic impact of the IMR project, the brownfields program benefits local or county government by putting underutilized or abandoned space back into use and creating potential for long-term improvements.

The IMR Global Center will house executive offices, administration, research & development and training. The software company, which projects 1998 revenues of $140 million, specializes in resolution of the year 2000 problem and currently employs about 150 in Clearwater. IMR plans to add locally about 560 new employees - mostly engineers, managers and support staff with an average wage of at least $40,000 - by the year 2001. - Judy Buller

BRADENTON- Aldon Industries, a manufacturer of canvas, upholstery and windshields for the marine industry, was bought by Gloversville, N.Y.-based Taylor Made Group. Aldon's management will remain intact and expand product development under the newly named subsidiary Taylor Made Systems.

CLEARWATER - A new insurance brokerage, OneSource Group, was formed with the merger of Jones & Hawkins Insurance of Clearwater, Bisbee-Baldwin Insurance of Jacksonville and Robbins Insurance of Tampa. OneSource has 60 employees at its Clearwater headquarters and 10 in Jacksonville.

BankAtlantic, whose parent company is Fort Lauderdale-based BankAtlantic Bancorp (NYSE-BBX; Nasdaq-BANC), is expanding into the Tampa Bay area, giving it a total of 65 branches in 13 Florida counties. The bank has opened a full-service branch in the Countryside area and plans four more Tampa Bay locations by this fall.

CLEWISTON - U.S. Sugar Corp. provided a grant of $500,000 and arranged additional financing to renovate existing housing into 100 single-family homes for local farmworkers. Homes will be priced from $50,000 to $80,000 with various Palm Beach banks offering assistance for first-time home buyers and second mortgages.

TAMPA- TECO Energy (NYSE-TE) bought propane distribution company Florida Gas Services Corp., which will become part of TECO's Peoples Gas Co. Florida Gas delivered last year about 700,000 gallons of propane to some 2,300 customers, mostly on Marco Island near Naples and in the Fort Myers area.

Uniroyal Technology Corp. (Nasdaq-UTCI) of Sarasota and Emcore Corp. of New Jersey will set up headquarters for a joint venture in a new 68,000-square-foot Tampa facility. The plant will make compound semiconductor devices and will employ initially about 130 people and eventually as many as 400.

Bear Stearns & Co., a New York investment and brokerage firm, is putting a computer software operation in Tampa. The firm expects to hire 100 programmers to develop and maintain software and plans to start operations in November.

U.S. Airways selected Tampa International Airport (TIA) as base for its Airbus jetliners. The airline ordered about 400 single-aisle jets from Airbus Industrie last year, with the first six delivered this year. To maintain the new jets, U.S. Airways will need 100 additional mechanics, bringing its total at TIA to 400.

Payroll Transfers Inc. (PTI) bought New Jersey-based Employee Management, a professional employer organization with offices in Clearwater, Coral Gables, Fort Myers and Sarasota as well as New York and Philadelphia.

Tags: Florida Small Business, Politics & Law, Southwest, Business Florida

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