Around the State
California replaced Florida as the number one state for international tourists, the U.S. Department of Commerce reports. In 1994, 5.05 million international visitors vacationed in Florida, while 5.23 million visited California.
Panama City/Bay County International Airport completed phase one of its expansion project earlier this year and opened a new 55,000-square-foot terminal with two new jetways. Phase two of the expansion, expected to open in October, will include a new airline ticket wing and 350-space parking facility.
Kia Motors Corp., a Seoul, South Korea-based auto maker, has opened its first two Florida dealerships in Pensacola and Fort Walton Beach. The Kia Sephia, a compact sedan that retails for approximately $8,895, has been available in the United States since February 1994. Prices for the new Kia Sportage sport-utility vehicle will start at $13,495.
Los Angeles-based Northrop Grumman, a designer and manufacturer of aircraft and electronic systems, will supply the French Ministry of Defense with two E-2C Hawkeye aircraft and auxiliary equipment for $562 million. The aircraft will be manufactured at Northrop Grumman's St. Augustine plant and will be used aboard the carrier Charles de Gaulle.
By a vote of 4-3, St. Johns County commissioners approved the sale of $18 million in bonds to build an 80,000-square-foot convention center at the World Golf Village. The center would be owned by the county and run by John Q. Hammons Hotels.
Georgia-Pacific is building a new 500,000-square-foot warehouse and distribution center in Jacksonville. The Atlanta-based manufacturer plans to spend approximately $14 million on the project, according to reports by the Jacksonville Business Journal. When completed, the center will run multiple shifts, employing about 70.
Jacksonville-based Personal Wealth Systems, a sales business, has been sued by the Securities and Exchange Commission for selling unregistered securities and misleading buyers regarding the nature and risks associated with their investments.
Denton, Texas-based Sally Beauty Supply, a distributor of professional beauty products, will open a new 225,000-square-foot distribution center at the International Tradeport in Jacksonville. The facility should be completed in March 1996. It will replace an Atlanta distribution center which will close.
Crowley American Transport Inc., a Jacksonville-based shipping company, added its home city as a direct port of call in its U.S./Mexico service. Two container ships, the MV Helvetia and the MV Almania, will be used in the weekly service from Jacksonville to Port Everglades, Progreso, Veracruz, Tampico and then back to Jacksonville.
The Walt Disney Company confirmed that it will build a new 500-acre theme park, Disney's Wild Animal Kingdom. The new park, Disney's fourth in Central Florida, is scheduled to open in the spring of 1998.
Orlando-based Campus Crusade for Christ International (CCCI), an interdenominational ministry, plans to move its world headquarters to a new 450,000-square-foot center in Orlando. CCCI will spend approximately $165 million to build and equip the new facility. When completed, it will house approximately 160 full-time paid employees.
Apopka-based Sawtek Inc., a manufacturer of filters for wireless equipment, expects to increase its work force from 175 to 310 by the end of next month.
Trustees voted to close Bartow's 69-year-old Polk General Hospital (PGH), which currently employs more than 500, due to revenue problems. By the end of next month, more than 300 employees will be out of work. PGH trustees decided to keep the hospital's five outpatient clinics open, which will allow approximately 200 employees to keep their jobs.
Prudential Health Care System of Orlando, a health insurance company, is consolidating its Maitland claims division with its Jacksonville operations. Approximately 70 employees will lose their jobs as a result.
The Golf Channel, based in Orlando, canceled its news program "Golf Today" and eliminated ten jobs. Company officials blamed the show's afternoon time slot for the program's failure. The Golf Channel still employs about 175 and is carried by cable systems covering more than eight million households.
Patch Communications, a Titusville magazine publishing company, is moving to Branson, Missouri, in order to consolidate with its other interests. The company employs about 60; it did not say how many jobs will be affected by the move.
The Base Realignment and Closure Commission rescinded its recommendation to close MacDill Air Force Base in Tampa. The airfield will remain open, and the 43rd Air Refueling Group will become a permanent flying unit at the base. The action means MacDill will more than 1,000 new military jobs.
Tampa's Museum of Science & Industry (MOSI) completed a $35 million expansion. The museum's new 201,700-square-foot, four-story building on 47 acres includes the only IMAX DOME theater in Florida. The theater seats 350 and has a 10,500-square-foot hemispherical movie screen.
The Tampa City Council approved an incentive package for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers which will allow Malcolm Glazer to complete his purchase of the team. Under the two-year agreement, if the Buccaneers sell less than an average of 55,000 tickets per game, the Tampa Sports Authority will lower the team's stadium rent, with financial backing from the city and Hillsborough County. Public financing for a proposed new stadium remains unsettled.
Ford Motor Co.'s South Florida Vehicle Evaluation Center, located just east of Naples, will be expanded. The company, which already uses the site to test warm-weather road conditions, plans to build a 2.5-mile oval test track, a garage and new offices. Construction should begin early next year and be completed in 1997.
Baader North America Corp., a manufacturer of poultry processing machinery, relocated its headquarters from New Bedford, Mass., to Fort Myers. The company currently employs 95 in Fort Myers, but in four years, when the facility is fully operational, Baader should employ about 135.
Sony Electronics, a manufacturer of electronic components, will build a national customer service center in the Gateway Town Center Park in Fort Myers. Construction is expected to be completed next year, and Sony plans to employ up to 450, according to the Fort Myers News-Press.
The board of directors of W.R. Grace & Co., the Boca Raton-based manufacturer of chemicals and medical products and provider of health-care services, voted to sell Grace's medical business to shareholders as a separate company. National Medical Care, the major segment of the business, is the leading kidney dialysis service in the United States, ringing up annual revenue of almost $2 billion.
Eastern National Bank, a Miami-based commercial bank with five offices in Southeast Florida, has been acquired by Union Planters Corp., a Memphis-based multi-bank holding company with 375 locations in Tennessee, Mississippi, Arkansas, Louisiana, Alabama and Kentucky. The deal is expected to be completed, subject to regulatory approval, by the end of October. If the transaction is completed, Eastern National Bank's name will be changed to Union Planters Bank of Florida.
More than 100 Coral Gables Federal Savings and Loan employees may lose their jobs by September as a result of the thrift's planned merger into First Union National Bank of Jacksonville. At least nine Coral Gables Federal branches will close after the $531 million acquisition is completed.
Fort Lauderdale's Vacation Break U.S.A. Inc., a vacation timeshare company, filed a registration statement with the Securities and Exchange Commission for an initial public offering of two million shares at $7 to $8 per share. Proceeds of the IPO will be used to buy condominium units, pay construction costs for new projects, pay a distribution to the chairman of Vacation Break's board of directors and develop new properties.