Around the State
Effective in September, State Farm Insurance announced it would no longer write new policies in Florida for single-family homes, condominiums, mobile homes or commercial property. The Bloomington, Ill.-based company, the largest property and casualty insurance provider in Florida, cited one main reason for its decision: it wants to halt its growth in Florida to reduce its exposure to hurricanes.
The Florida Department of Commerce has gone on-line. The Florida Commerce Home Page (http://www.state. fl.us/commerce/) on the Internet offers information about the state's economic climate, business incentives and local communities. In unrelated news, the Division of Tourism established a 63-member Multicultural Tourism Industry Council that will help attract more minority-based meetings and conventions to Florida.
The Supreme Court of Florida approved four new areas in which lawyers can become certified: admiralty and maritime law; business litigation; aviation law; and city, county and local government law. These new fields are highly specialized and will provide Floridians one more way to pick a qualified lawyer.
Florida boasts five cities in the top ten of Money magazine's survey of the best places to live in America. Gainesville stole the number-one spot, with Jacksonville at number three and Ocala at number five. Fort Lauderdale was listed as number six, with Naples rounding out the top ten. Of the 100 best places, Florida was home to 20.
Tallahassee city commissioners voted to pay $160,000 in subsidies over four years to General Dynamics in order to get 165 jobs. The Falls Church, Va.-based company, a manufacturer of defense products, plans to move the jobs to Tallahassee because their plant in Sterling Heights, Mich., is not competitive and also because much of General Dynamics' electronic work is already done in Tallahassee.
The Trane Co., a division of Piscataway, N.J.-based American Standard, selected Lynn Haven industrial park, in the Panhandle's Bay County, as the site for its new 100,000-square-foot manufacturing facility. The company, a manufacturer and supplier of air conditioning equipment, will begin production by May and will employ more than 200 people by the end of 1997.
Big Bend Pipeline and Terminal, a newly formed Tallahassee-based company, plans to build a gasoline pipeline from Bainbridge, Ga., to Gadsen County in the Panhandle. The proposed line would be a small-diameter, low-pressure pipeline built underground and away from developments, according to John L. Ballentine IV, president of Big Bend. The company must meet rigorous guidelines that will take up to two years to complete before construction can begin.
Ponte Vedra Beach-based Golf-Technology Holding, manufacturer of Snake Eyes Golf Clubs, plans to triple the size of its headquarters by the end of the year. The company currently employs 15 in Florida, with plans to add an additional ten over the next several months to handle anticipated growth. It hasn't decided if it will build or lease the 10,000 square feet.
The four Florida offices of Prudential Health Care System, a division of Newark, N.J.-based Prudential Insurance Co. of America, recently laid off 60 of their 678 Florida employees. The offices are responsible for Prudential's health maintenance organization (HMO). The Jacksonville office laid off ten of its 130 employees while the Tampa office cut 13 out of 140. The largest cuts were at the Orlando office with 20 of its 145 employees losing their jobs. Fort Lauderdale cut 17 out of 263. The company cited "market pressures" as the cause for the cuts. In the first quarter of 1995, the company's health maintenance organization lost $7.9 million.
Jacksonville-based Ideon Group, formerly SafeCard Services, laid off 300 employees from three of its Jacksonville operations. Ideon closed its Family Protection Network, which registered children and provided investigators to help with searches for missing children, due to a lack of consumer response. All 95 of the division's employees lost their jobs. Additionally, the company laid off 75 out of 125 employees in the corporate offices and 130 people at Ideon Marketing and Services, which was responsible for marketing MasterCard credit cards in partnership with the PGA Tour. Ideon reported a loss of $46.7 million for the second quarter of 1995.
AT&T's computer chip plant on John Young Parkway in Orlando will undergo a $600 million expansion. The New York City-based corporation, which provides products, services and systems for the management and movement of information, plans to hire 600 new employees over three years at a minimum salary of $34,200. The new plant is expected to begin production late next year.
LICO II, a manufacturer of gold-plated wire for computer disk drives, will open a 40,000-square-foot plant in West Melbourne. The start-up company will initially employ 30 and eventually 150. The Economic Development Commission of East Central Florida assisted LICO II in their decision to locate the business in Brevard County by providing pre-location assistance such as building availability and site tours.
Florida Seed is moving from Ocala to a 53,000-square-foot building in Lakeland. The company, a distributor of a variety of products for home and garden, decided to relocate because Lakeland is in the center of 85% of the company's marketing area. The facility will be a distribution center only and will employ about 50 when fully operational.
The University of Sarasota, which focuses exclusively on graduate education, has leased 9,000 square feet in the Brandon area for its new doctoral program in Clinical Psychology and other graduate programs. Since 1992, the university has grown more than 50% per year.
Nova Precision Components, a start-up manufacturer of high-tech equipment, will begin production at a former nuclear weapons plant in Largo. The company plans to employ 30 to 40 by the end of their first year in operation.
Tampa-based Busch Gardens has unveiled plans for the largest expansion in its history. The theme park will build a seven-acre area called Egypt, with a brand-new 13-story-high roller coaster. Egypt, expected to open by June, also will feature walk-through replicas of King Tut's tomb and an archaeological dig.
Community Care of America, a Naples-based developer and operator of health-care networks, made an initial public offering of three million shares for $9.50 per share. All of the shares were sold.
Fort Myers-based South Seas Resorts acquired the Safety Harbor Spa Resort in Pinellas County. The 50-year-old resort has 172 guest rooms and is located on 20 acres fronting Old Tampa Bay. South Seas, a $100 million company, owns resorts throughout Florida.
Columbus, Ohio-based Cooker Restaurant Corp. is moving its headquarters to West Palm Beach. The company owns and operates 35 Cooker Bar and Grille restaurants in Florida and several other states that sell a variety of items including soups, salads, chicken, fish, beef and pasta entrees. About 15 employees will move from Ohio, and the company will hire approximate 30 new employees when the move is completed early this month.
Toledo, Ohio-based Dana Corp. announced that one of its divisions, Dana World Trade, will open a 112,000-square-foot distribution center in Riviera Beach. Dana, a manufacturer of automotive parts, plans to use the new center to distribute its products globally. The center will initially employ 25.
West Palm Beach-based Servico, an owner and operator of a variety of franchise hotels, purchased seven new hotels, four in Florida and three in Alabama. The purchase price was $34,600,000, and the purchase adds 1,009 rooms to Servico's current 51 hotels with 9,700 rooms.
A new production facility is being built in West Palm Beach called Palm Beach Ocean Studios. It will house one of the largest production spaces in Florida. The 40,000-square-foot first phase is expected to be completed in February and an additional 63,000 square feet is planned for the future.
Minneapolis, Minn.-based G&K Services, a supplier of uniforms and textile products, opened a 50,000-square-foot processing facility in Hollywood. The center provides uniform rental and related services to the area and employs about 85.
Samsung Electronics, the Korean manufacturer of computer chips, is relocating its Latin American headquarters from Panama to Miami. The 120,000-square-foot office building and warehouse will house 150 employees and serve as a distribution center for the Southeast and Latin America.