Around the State
About 5,000 members of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters went on strike Sept. 7 against the nation's largest car hauler, Miami-based Ryder System Inc. As a result of the strike, several thousand cars shipped to Jacksonville's seaport remained unloaded in mid-September. There were reports in early October that General Motors might stop car and truck production at some plants due to the Teamsters strike.
State officials say tourism rose 8% in the January-July period, to 27.1 million visitors from 25.1 million during the same period last year. A preliminary Florida Department of Commerce report also says the state's taxable sales from tourism rose 6.7% in the first half to $18.2 billion.
A unit of Florida's Department of Elder Affairs awarded more than $3 million to 21 contractors around the state to provide job training to workers 55 and up.
Spencer Industries, a manufacturer of torsion bars and parts, plans to open a plant in the Bay Industrial Park in Panama City. The company, based in Spencer, Ohio, expects to hire 100 within its first three years of operation.
Tacoma, Wash.-based Weyerhaeuser, a forest products company, opened a 30,000-square-foot regional building-materials distribution center in Pensacola's Ellyson Industrial Park. The center opened with five employees and eventually could employ up to 25.
Chestnut Display Systems, a manufacturer of point-of-purchase racks for grocery and convenience stores, plans to double its Jacksonville plant size to 100,000 square feet and to expand from 100 to 120 employees. Chestnut Display expects the plant to ring up sales of at least $8 million this year.
Harris Specialty Chemicals of Jacksonville, a manufacturer of chemicals for the construction and pharmaceuticals industries, is building a three-story, 57,000-square-foot headquarters building. The Deerwood Park site, which initially will employ 130, should be completed next spring.
Jacksonville-based Physician Sales & Services (PSS), a distributor of medical supplies and equipment, agreed to purchase Brown's Medical Supply of Omaha, Neb., also a distributor. After the deal is completed, PSS will operate 59 service centers.
Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Florida has begun construction of a three-building corporate campus in Jacksonville's Deerwood Park with 640,000 square feet of office space for approximately 3,000 employees. Construction is expected to be completed by mid-1997.
CSX Intermodal, a business unit of transportation company CSX Corp., will consolidate its Maryland and New Jersey offices in a new corporate office in Jacksonville, where more than 200 new jobs will be created.
The Clara White Mission in Jacksonville proposed a $2.1 million expansion plan that includes exterior renovation, construction of a new building for classes and a housing complex for low- and middle-income residents. Executive director Ju'Coby Pittman ("Faces of '95" FT March 1995) presented the plan to the Downtown Development Authority and plans to launch a fund-raising drive to help finance the project.
Orlando-based Darden Restaurants closed all 51 of its China Coast restaurants. The China Coast chain employed 3,000 including 320 in Orlando.
America's Health Network of Orlando, a start-up cable channel that will feature consumer health programs, began construction of an $11 million production center at Universal Studios and will hire 168 employees before it begins broadcasting early next year. The channel will broadcast 24 hours a day, with 16 hours of live programming.
Later Today, a cable television news show, is being produced at Disney-MGM Studios in Orlando. The show airs in March. It has a staff of about 110.
Sarasota-based Wellcraft Marine Corp. plans to expand the work force at its Avon Park facility from 175 to 325 by the end of the year. Wellcraft was awarded a $140,543 Enterprise Florida Quick Response Training grant that will enable the company to provide employee training through South Florida Community College.
Ytong Group of Munich, Germany, broke ground for its first U.S. business location in Haines City. The manufacturer of concrete building products says the $35 million facility will employ more than 100.
Apopka-based EnviroWorks (formerly known as the Gale Group) opened a new 267,000-square-foot center that includes offices, production areas and distribution facilities for its Planterra line of pots. The manufacturer of lawn and garden products expects 1995 sales in excess of $100 million.
Tupperware U.S. laid off 45 of 340 employees at its domestic division headquarters in Orlando. The cutback was part of the plastic container company's efforts to make its U.S. operations as profitable as its foreign operations.
Development company Bay Plaza, selected by the St. Petersburg City Council more than nine years ago as the master developer for its downtown, says it's abandoning the city. In 1988, the company proposed a $200 million revitalization project for the city. In the end, $51.4 million was expended, mostly for downtown property acquisitions, a parking garage and an empty retail building. The city's contribution was $26.4 million and Bay Plaza's $25 million.
The Signature Group of Schaumburg, Ill., opened an 11,000-square-foot telemarketing center in Bradenton's DeSoto Center. The company, the second-largest telemarketing firm in the U.S., sells many services and products including insurance. The Bradenton center employs about 200 and provides support for several products, including membership in the Montgomery Ward Auto Club. Separately, the company plans to open another telemarketing center in 40,000 square feet on the second level of St. Petersburg's Montgomery Ward Outlet Store. This customer service center will employ 400 and should be operational this month.
Kash n' Karry Food Stores is the title sponsor of the Florida Grand Prix of St. Petersburg, which will take place in February in the streets of downtown St. Petersburg around the ThunderDome. Other sponsors of the car race include Dodge and the Dodge Dealers Association, Chrysler Corp., Stouffer Renaissance Vinoy Resort, the St. Petersburg Times and Bayfront Medical Center.
Florida's Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services says the deluge from August's Tropical Storm Jerry cost Southwest Florida farmers $23 million, citing damage at citrus groves and nurseries in Charlotte, Collier and Lee counties.
IBM Corp. is relocating 1,000 jobs from Boca Raton to Austin, Texas, in a consolidation move. The 1,000 employees work for IBM's OS/2 operating software division. IBM's 550-acre facility in Boca Raton will still employ about 1,000, down 8,600 from its peak in the 1980s. IBM is also contemplating selling the entire site, which was the birthplace of the IBM PC in 1981.
Univax Biologics of Rockville, Md., agreed to merge with North American Biologicals Inc. of Boca Raton. The combined company, which will still be based in Boca Raton and called North American Biologicals, will have annual revenues of about $200 million. The deal is expected to be completed in November.
United Parcel Service is turning an existing 93,500-square-foot building in Boynton Beach into a new telephone call center. The center will be operated by APAC TeleServices of Cedar Rapids, Iowa, and will employ approximately 700.
The New Meyers Aircraft Co., a manufacturer of sport planes, plans to lease 40,000 square feet at St. Lucie County International Airport. Approximately 70 new jobs will be created.
Motorola hired 250 employees at its Paging Products Group in Boynton Beach.
Hellmann International Forwarders is relocating its North American headquarters to a 150,000-square-foot facility in Dade County. The new site will be open by early 1996 and employ 85.
Sun International Hotels is consolidating its four offices in North Miami and Aventura into a new leased location in the Sun International Building in Fort Lauderdale. The new location will house 175 employees in tour operations, casino and marketing offices, and the development office. Approximately 30 new jobs will be created in a planned expansion of reservation services.