Northwest Florida Roundup
Rebuilding an amusement park in Panama City Beach
More than 20 million people visited Miracle Strip Amusement Park in Panama City Beach during its 41-year lifespan. Located on Front Beach Road, the park closed in 2004 when owners sold the land to developers.
Six years later, Teddy and Jenny Meeks, who own a handbag and jewelry manufacturing business in Griffin, Ga., were seeking to open a ride at a nearby outdoor mall called Pier Park owned by Simon Property Group. The couple found that the original Miracle Strip carousel was collecting dust in a nearby unlocked warehouse.
They bought and refurbished the ride, which became a huge hit — and went on to add more rides from the original Miracle Strip before deciding to create a new, full-fledged amusement park.
Last November, Miracle Strip at Pier Park broke ground on an adjacent 10-acre site. The park will open in April with the addition of a zip line and five antique kiddie rides, including a 1936 caterpillar coaster. The Starliner Roller Coaster — the main attraction at the former Miracle Strip Park — will open in the summer of 2015. "It was the oldest wooden roller coaster in the state of Florida," says Jenny Meeks. "We purchased the cars, brakes, pull chain, track and even the wood. We'll be rebuilding it over the year using everything but the wood."
BAY AND WALTON COUNTIES —
St. Joe Co. Plans to create a 112,000- acre Bay-Walton Sector Plan to guide development during the next 50 years. The plan would replace the West Bay Sector Plan, which totals about 75,000 acres.
ESCAMBIA COUNTY —
The county will purchase 601 acres in Santa Rosa County from Alabama-based RMS Timberlands for nearly $1.9 million. The site is set for development of a helicopter training facility and may be swapped for the Navy's 640-acre Outlying Landing Field 8 in Beulah. Estimates for jobs from the development of the Beulah land range from 4,000 to 8,000. » Escambia County commissioners will give $4.4 million in annual bed tax revenue to Visit Pensacola Inc., a former arm of the Greater Pensacola Chamber, to pay for tourism-related advertising and marketing. » Commissioners will spend $2.1 million on land for a future Community center. The four-acre property is being purchased from Brownsville Assembly of God. It includes a 32,000-sq.-ft. facility.
The Sound of Navarre Beach, a $34.5-million apartment complex in Santa Rosa County, will build 250 homes, adding about 800 construction jobs to the area.
German aerospace industry executives say it will be at least five to seven years before Airbus will bring a manufacturing plant to the southeastern U.S, but during the International Aerospace Industry Forum in Hamburg they encouraged northwest Florida leaders to build relationships with German aerospace companies.
PANAMA CITY —
Medical software company iSirona plans a $2.25-million expansion, which will add 300 jobs to its Panama City headquarters over the next three years, more than tripling its current staff to 400. Gulf Coast Medical Center changed its name to Gulf Coast Regional Medical Center after adding maternal fetal medicine for high-risk pregnancies, level III neonatal ICU, pediatric ICU, telemedicine and a number of pediatric subspecialties. » Gray Television, parent company of WJHG-TV (NBC affliate) and WECP-TV (CBS affliate), purchased the 18-station Hoak Media, parent company of WMBB-TV (ABC affliate). Because of FCC requirements, Gray will sell WMBB in the Panama City market to Nexstar Broadcasting.
The University of West Florida College of Business launched its Student CEO (Student Collaborative Entrepreneurship Organization) initiative to create a link for UWF students with the business community.
SANTA ROSA COUNTY —
The Santa Rosa County Economic Development Offce implemented SantaRosaSites.Com, a website that allows users to fnd commercial property, demographic information and other information.
Tallahassee Regional Airport added an American Eagle direct fight from Tallahassee to Dallas-Fort Worth. In addition, regional carrier Silver Airways began offering two weekday fights from Tallahassee to Orlando. The airport is rebuilding its east-west landing strip, upgrading lighting and relocating the ground-based navigation aids for pilots.
WALTON COUNTY —
The Florida Department of Environmental Protection proposed nine projects worth about $1.7 million to be funded in Walton County as part of the Deepwater Horizon Natural Resource Damage Assessment phase III program. The proposals include a Deer Lake State Park Development project, improvements to the Boardwalks and Dune Crossovers at Ed Walline, Gulfview Heights, Grayton Dunes, Dothan Beach, Palms of Dune Allen West and Bayside Ranchettes and boat ramp improvements at Choctaw Beach and Lafayette Creek. » Amy Miller is the frst female director of the Port of Pensacola, which has operated since the mid- 1700s. She is the only woman port director in Florida. She had been CFO and human resources offcer at the port. » End Schroeder is director of tourist development for Okaloosa County. He had been interim general manager at Marcus Pointe Golf Course in Pensacola and director of tourism development for the Pensacola Bay Area Convention and Visitors Bureau.
The Meeks bought rides from the original Miracle Strip Amusement Park to form the foundation for a new park.