Around the State
Some South Florida residential citrus trees near the Miami International Airport have been infected with the Asian strain of citrus canker, the most virulent of the two strains of canker. A quarantine zone of about 100 square miles - encompassing Westchester, Sweetwater, West Miami, Airport West, Virginia Gardens, Coconut Grove and parts of South Miami - has been established to try to prevent further spreading of the disease. The last canker outbreak, which began in 1986 and wasn't totally eliminated until 1994, cost the industry about $200 million during the eradication campaign that destroyed 20 million plants and trees.
Florida will add more than 58,000 new businesses over the next five years, making it the fastest-growing state in business formations, according to "The Business Marketing Files" database developed by InfoTech Marketing in Littleton, Colo. More than 68% of these new businesses will be service and financial institutions.
BellSouth of Florida will close 10 of its 14 Florida customer-service centers in a company-wide reorganization that will cut costs and trim its payroll. Starting early next year, the consolidation will cost Daytona Beach 75 jobs and Merritt Island 50 jobs, while the Orlando service center may grow from 190 to over 400 employees.
Pensacola-based Runyan Industries, a ship repair and construction company, won a contract from American Casino Entertainment Services, a gaming company in Fort Lauderdale. Runyan will complete structural work on a 140-foot catamaran that will eventually be converted into a 217-foot floating casino boat. As a result of the contract, Runyan will hire approximately 70 workers by the end of this month, bringing its total work force to almost 100.
Houston-based American General Corp. (AGC), a financial services company, announced that it will acquire Jacksonville's Independent Insurance Group. As a result, within the next 18 to 24 months, Independent's Jacksonville office will be consolidated into AGC's insurance subsidiary with headquarters in Nashville. Approximately 700 employees in Jacksonville could lose their jobs. AGC says the consolidation is an effort to provide the most efficient service to policyholders.
Two contractors filed liens against Jacksonville Riverfront Development, the company trying to turn the Jacksonville shipyards into a $100 million entertainment complex. Jacksonville-based R.L. Hickman Inc., a construction firm, and Big John Fence, a Jacksonville fencing company, filed liens totaling almost $176,000. Both companies worked on the Riverview Music Shed, a concert hall and also the first building completed in the massive project. Since opening, the concert hall has lost money and drawn smaller-than-projected crowds. Development of the project is expected to continue despite the financial difficulties.
Haile Plantation in Alachua County won the Residential Environmental Award from the Florida Association of Realtors. The 1,600-acre master-planned development scored high in four categories: drainage, preservation of natural flora and fauna, common area and marketability. One of the areas that most impressed the judges was Haile's drainage system. Developers used natural depressions to create a system of infiltration basins, eliminating most runoff. Also, reclaimed wastewater is used to water the golf course and to create fish-filled streams that run throughout the course.
Beginning next month, "Tarzan, The Fantastic Adventures," a syndicated TV series, will be produced at Orlando's Disney-MGM Studios. Producers plan to hire about 90 local workers and begin an eight-month filming schedule that will create a two-hour premiere and 20 one-hour episodes.
Approximately 150 workers lost their jobs when two Central Florida Spageddies restaurants shut down. The two Spageddies, owned by Dallas-based Brinker International, failed to meet sales expectations.
About 250 employees, both local hires and transferring employees, started moving into Budget Rent A Car's new accounting office in Orlando this month. The rental-car agency, based in Lisle, Ill., decided to consolidate its accounting operations from Lisle, Boston, Denver and Honolulu into a single Orlando office.
Browning-Ferris Industries of Houston, the second-largest waste-disposal company in the nation, plans to build a $3.5 million recycling plant in Central Florida. The facility will focus on commercial recycling and employ 50.
Constellation Technology opened a new facility in the Department of Energy/Lockheed Martin Pinellas Plant. The St. Petersburg company, a developer of advanced sensor technology, now employs 25 and plans to hire 200 more within three years.
Container maker Gaylord Container of Deerfield, Ill., may decide by next spring to move its plant in Tampa to nearby Plant City. Largo's AT&T Paradyne has been put up for sale by its parent company, AT&T Corp. in New York. The computer communications equipment company, one of the area's largest employers with about 1,300 employees, was bought by AT&T in 1989 and then employed 2,600. Its annual sales are approximately $300 million.
Lykes Bros. Steamship filed for protection from its creditors under Chapter 11 of the federal bankruptcy law. The Tampa-based company is one of the nation's largest ocean carriers.
Tampa-based Suncoast Sports & Recreation has opened its newest sporting goods superstore in Clearwater. The 62,000-square-foot building is nearly twice the size of its former location in Clearwater. The company currently operates 72 stores in 26 states.
About 375 employees will lose their jobs this month when the Anheuser-Busch Cos. of St. Louis, Mo., closes its Tampa Brewery, the highest-cost plant in its system. The brewery, opened in 1959, has an annual capacity of 2.6 million barrels. This announcement was one of four major moves undertaken by Anheuser-Busch to boost its stock.
American Multi-Cinema Theatres (AMC) has broken ground on its first Southwest Florida movie theater, a 54,000-square-foot, 16-screen facility in North Fort Myers. AMC, the nation's third-largest motion picture exhibitor, is headquartered in Kansas City, Mo., and operates 234 theaters with 1,664 screens in 22 states and the District of Columbia.
Paxson Communications plans to acquire a majority interest in Knoxville's Shop At Home, a TV retailer with over $40 million in annual sales. Paxson, a West Palm Beach-based operator of 22 TV stations, four statewide radio networks and four regional sports radio networks, plans to build a new facility for Shop At Home in Palm Beach County and hire about 250 new employees.
W.R. Grace's health-care subsidiary National Medical Care (NMC) in Waltham, Mass., received investigative subpoenas from the U.S. Dept. of Health and Human Services. HHS is concerned about possible violations of federal laws relating to health-care payments and reimbursements. After NMC made the announcement, Grace's stock fell from $65.13 to $56.63. Grace says its spinoff of NMC as a separate company, originally planned for the fourth quarter of 1995, will be delayed until the first quarter of 1996.
Tampa's Walbridge Contracting won a $6 million contract to build a 60-bed nursing home in West Palm Beach by January 1997.
Galaxy Latin America, a partnership of Hughes Communications of El Segundo, Calif., Televisao Abril of Brazil, MVS Multivision of Mexico and the Cisneros Group of Venezuela, is expanding its headquarters in Fort Lauderdale and plans to hire 175 employees. Galaxy will deliver the Direct TV satellite television service to Latin American countries beginning early next year. Subscribers to Direct TV will pay a monthly fee, allowing them access to 144 television channels and 30 music channels via a 24-inch satellite receiver.
Allied Extrusions, a subsidiary of Royal Plastics Group in Canada, began construction of a 105,000-square-foot corporate headquarters, manufacturing and distribution facility in Coral Springs. Upon completion, the manufacturer of PVC vertical blind products will relocate from Deerfield Beach and bring 125 jobs to the Coral Springs facility.
Alert Centre of Englewood, Colo., an installer and monitor of security systems, is consolidating its Miami and West Palm Beach offices into one location in Lauderhill. The 5,880-square-foot office will house 70 employees.