April 24, 2014

Around the State

Jill DeVlieger | 6/1/1995
Florida

More than 100 Florida independent drug stores filed suit against 29 major drug makers including Bristol-Myers Squibb, Ciba-Geigy and Eli Lilly & Co, claiming the manufacturers violated antitrust laws by charging a premium for brand-name drugs sold to smaller drug stores while offering discounts to larger purchasers. The suit, filed in U.S. District Court in Orlando, seeks a jury trial and more than $1 million in damages.

The Florida Department of Transportation is soliciting proposals for development of a $3.5 billion "bullet train" linking Tampa, Orlando and Miami. The FDOT set an October 31st deadline, hoping that construction could start by 1997. The original plans for such a train failed; under the new approach, the FDOT promises to subsidize the project with $70 million a year, with the balance coming from the company hired to build the system.

Birmingham, Alabama-based AmSouth Bancorporation, parent company of Florida's fifth-largest bank, AmSouth Bank of Florida, plans to eliminate 1,000 jobs and close 44 branches throughout Florida, Alabama, Tennessee and Georgia. Half of the cuts will be from AmSouth's mortgage company subsidiary in Birmingham, Alabama, due to the company's reduction in mortgage servicing. The AmSouth cutbacks are expected to take effect this summer. Company officials say most of the cuts should come from attrition, the rest from layoffs.

Northwest

Okaloosa County's Crestview Aerospace Corp. is bidding on a Navy contract that could give 150 displaced Naval Aviation Depot workers new jobs over the next two years. If the company wins the contract, it will be responsible for maintaining and upgrading T-2 Buckeye and TA-4 Skyhawk training jets. Crestview currently employs more than 180.

With support from NASA-Kennedy Space Center and the Florida Technological Research and Development Authority, the governments of Escambia, Santa Rosa and Okaloosa counties will promote a new program that will provide technical assistance from NASA experts to businesses. The program's major goals include increasing the number of high-technology jobs in Florida.

Northeast

Vienna, Va.-based America Online will open a customer service center in Jacksonville. The center eventually will employ 1,000 people. America Online, the largest U.S. provider of on-line computer services, will begin operations at One Imeson Center in north Jacksonville with about 100 employees, with growth to 1,000 expected over the next two years.

Physician Sales & Services of Jacksonville, a distributor of medical supplies and equipment, acquired a similar company, Beaumont, Texas-based Taylor Medical, through a stock-for-stock merger.

Jacksonville-based SafeCard Services announced a new subsidiary, the Family Protection Network, that will register relevant information about children, quickly inform police when a child turns up missing and provide investigators to help with searches for missing children.

Anheuser-Busch of St. Louis, the nation's largest beer brewer, will spend $75 million on a three-year modernization of its 26-year-old Jacksonville plant. Installation of a new beer-fermentation facility and a high-speed bottling line are part of the project.

Atlanta-based Georgia-Pacific will build a new 500,000-square-foot distribution center in Jacksonville. The company, which sells building materials to retail outlets and manufacturing companies, plans to open the Jacksonville center by late this year or early 1996.

Atlantic Marine Inc., a Jacksonville shipbuilder, and its sister company, Atlantic Dry Dock Corp., a ship-repair company also in Jacksonville, have hired approximately 350 new full-time workers since the beginning of this year due to three new ship-building projects: a $5.5 million tugboat, a $3.7 million ferry and a $13.5 million casino boat. Many of the new employees are skilled laborers, like welders and carpenters, that earn an average salary of $13 an hour. Atlantic Marine and Atlantic Dry Dock are divisions of Jacksonville-based Atlantic Marine Holding Co. Inc., a privately held company.

Central

Chicago-based Homart bought 130 acres in Ocoee to develop West Oaks Mall, a 950,000-square-foot shopping center. The new mall, previously known as Lake Lotta Mall, is expected to open in the fall of 1996.

Fleetwood Homes, a division of California-based Fleetwood Enterprises, announced plans to close its plant in Haines City because of a lack of demand for its manufactured housing. The company employs 175 hourly and 29 management employees.

Walgreen Co. of Deerfield, Illinois, paid $2.55 million for a 198,856-square-foot distribution center in Orlando Central Park, located one block from the company's 350,000-square-foot distribution center there.

Bok Tower Gardens, a Lake Wales cultural attraction, plans to add a
$4.5 million education and visitor center to its site. New attractions housed in the center would include a 90-seat theater, an exhibit hall and restaurant.

Blockbuster, the Fort Lauderdale division of media giant Viacom, bought American Video Network of Orlando, a video rental firm that does business under the name 16,000 Movies and has 17 Florida locations.

Tampa Bay

Clearwater-based Lincare Holdings, which provides home respiratory services, agreed to merge with Denver-based Coram Healthcare, a provider of home infusion therapy, in a $1 billion deal expected to be completed in July. Lincare will operate as a division of Coram Healthcare.

Progressive, an automobile insurer with division headquarters in Tampa, opened a new 24,000-square-foot claims training center. Separately, Progressive says it expects to add 150 claim representatives to its Florida work force in 1995.

St. Petersburg-based Eagle Asset Management, an investment company that manages more than $1.6 billion, will open an office in San Juan, Puerto Rico, to serve individual and institutional clients.

Southwest

Ocean Boulevard Partnership, a unit of Naples-based Barron Collier Companies, plans to build the largest mall in southwest Florida at an estimated cost of $125 million. It would be built at the intersection of U.S. 41 and Immokalee Road in Naples and would include 1.35 million square feet of commercial space, a 250-room hotel and 60,000 square feet of office space.

Southwest Florida International Airport bought 1,686 acres near its current location for a new parallel runway, taxiways and terminal. The $40 million deal, funded by income from passenger facility charges, Florida's Department of Transportation and the Federal Aviation Administration, was approved by Lee County commissioners.

The Naples Area Chamber of Commerce and the Economic Development Council of Collier County formed a new venture to share resources and eliminate duplication of local economic development efforts.

Treasure Coast

Sugar Cane Growers Cooperative, Belle Glade's largest employer with more than 900 employees during harvest season, produced 3,000 tons less of raw sugar than originally estimated for the 1994-95 season due to wet conditions early in the 147-day season and freezing temperatures toward the end. The co-op says 2.6 million tons of cane were ground into 283,057 tons of raw sugar.

Delray Beach-based IntegraCare Inc., a provider of therapy services to hospitals, nursing homes and schools, agreed to be acquired by Owings Mills, Maryland-based Integrated Health Services Inc. in a deal valued at more than $29 million.

Southeast

Coral Gables-based Expert Software Inc., a publisher of consumer software, completed an initial public offering of 2.7 million shares of common stock at $12 per share. Hambrecht & Quist and Piper Jaffray co-managed the offering. The stock is traded over-the-counter under the Nasdaq symbol XPRT.

Unisa America of Miami, a 110-employee distributor of women's shoes and boots, will relocate its corporate headquarters and distribution facility from NW 52nd St. in west Dade County to a 77,900-square-foot facility in Beacon Industrial Park, also in west Dade.

CONFERENCES & MEETINGS

June 1
Disney's Yacht Club Resort, Orlando
"A Day with Congress in Florida: Working Together for Florida's Future"
Contact: Florida Chamber of Commerce, 904/425-1200

June 2
Walt Disney World Resort, Orlando
"Behind the Scenes at the Walt Disney World Resort"
Contact: Florida Chamber of Commerce, 904/425-1200

June 6-9
Hyatt Regency/Tampa Convention Center, Tampa
"Ninth Annual Governor's Hurricane Conference"
Contact: 813/586-7686 or 800/544-5678

June 7-9
West Palm Beach Ramada Hotel and Conference Center, West Palm Beach
"Changing the Rules for Redevelopment, A Joint Conference of the Florida Redevelopment Association and Florida Main Street"
Contact: Florida League of Cities, 904/222-9684 or 800/342-8112

June 29
Orange County Convention Center, Orlando
"Creating a World of Difference: 47th Annual Conference and Exposition"
Contact: The Society for Human Resource Management, 703/548-3440 or 800/283-7476

Tags: Florida Small Business, Politics & Law, Business Florida

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