Around the State
FORT WALTON BEACH -- Club La Vela, the Panama City Beach night spot and concert venue, is considering opening a club here, the first expansion for the 14-year-old business. Other possible sites include Tampa, Orlando and Atlanta, according to club CEO Patrick Pfeffer.
GULF COUNTY -- Two referenda go before voters in November. One would establish a countywide bed tax for visitors staying overnight in hotels, motels, rental homes and trailer parks. Another referendum addresses complaints that the time difference with neighboring Bay County complicates business dealings. Voters will decide whether to adopt Central time.
LYNN HAVEN -- Merrick Industries is building a 13,000-sq.-ft., $2.2 million engineering and electronics facility to complement its production of weighing equipment for heavy industry. The new building, located next to Merrick's headquarters, will be finished in February 1999.
Belgium-based IPSO-ILG will build a 47,000-square-foot manufacturing center and move its U.S. headquarters from Baltimore to the Lynn Haven Commerce Park. The company, which trades on the Brussels stock exchange, makes commercial washing machines and dryers for hotels, other businesses and prisons. It expects to employ nearly 150 when the new facility opens in July 1999.
PENSACOLA -- Conway Quality, a New Hampshire-based global management consulting firm, opened its first southeastern branch office. Conway also has offices in Philadelphia, Toronto, London and S?o Paulo, Brazil.
Barnhills Buffet, a chain of 20 restaurants, will open eight more this year. The company, expects to reach $45 million in annual sales. New locations include Tallahassee, Lakeland and Albany, Ga. Barnhills also operates in Louisiana, Alabama, Arkansas, Tennessee, Texas and Mississippi.
ST. GEORGE ISLAND -- The Inn At Resort Village, the island's first luxury resort, is open and plans to keep growing, adding four more hotels, a restaurant, and a beach club and fitness center.
TALLAHASSEE -- SunTrust Banks agreed to acquire Citizens Bancorporation, a holding company based in Marianna that owns Citizens Bank of Marianna and Gadsden State Bank in Chattahoochee. Both will become part of SunTrust Bank, Tallahassee, a subsidiary of SunTrust Banks of Florida. The deal is valued at about $50 million.
WALTON COUNTY -- County commissioners have approved a 2-cent tax on gasoline, on top of an existing 5-cent county gas tax, to cover the cost of repairing roads and bridges. The new tax will generate nearly $500,000 and goes into effect Oct. 1.