Central Florida roundup
Apopka's new mayor made ‘rookie mistakes'
“There are a host of things that we need to get to,” Mayor Joe Kilsheimer says. “And if we can just get past this kind of bumpy launch and get to the 50,000-foot level, we’ll tackle some of that stuff.”
The new mayor of Apopka is finding out that promising change is much easier than making it happen in the sleepy suburban community northwest of Orlando.
Joe Kilsheimer drew international headlines in April when he defeated the 93-year-old incumbent, John Land, one of the oldest and longest-tenured mayors in the country. But since then the former Orlando Sentinel reporter and public relations manager has stumbled from one controversy to another, with some in the city’s old guard happily fanning the flames.
In June, Kilsheimer cast the deciding vote to award himself a $150,000 salary, more than the Legislature budgets for the governor’s salary. A month later, he abruptly ousted the longtime city attorney and replaced him with a campaign supporter — only to have the new attorney, a veteran lawyer with the Orlando firm GrayRobinson, resign two weeks later when news leaked linking him to a prostitution ring.
Even some of Kilsheimer’s smaller decisions have prompted grumbling and backbiting, including spending about $20,000 to renovate the mayor’s suite and handing a contract worth as much as $14,500 to a consultant assigned to evaluate city policies.
Fred Brummer, a longtime politician who has represented the area in the Legislature and on the Orange County Commission, says Kilsheimer has made some “rookie mistakes.”
Kilsheimer, 57, says his stumbles have been magnified by people who are still unhappy to have someone new in charge for the first time in half a century. He’s confident he can bridge the divide in the city of nearly 46,000. Once that happens, he says, the community can begin to focus on rebranding the city and attracting more businesses and festivals.
Players Amid mounting pressure from investors, Clarence Otis resigned as chairman of Darden Restaurants and plans to step down as CEO of the restaurant company by the end of the year.
Osceola County’s publicly subsidized tourism promotion agency, Experience Kissimmee, hired D.T. Minich as its new president and CEO. Minich previously led Visit St. Pete/Clearwater.
Perry Nisen was named CEO of Sanford-Burnham Medical Research Institute, the La Jolla, Calif.-based organization that has a major presence in Orlando. Nisen had been senior vice president of science and innovation for GlaxoSmithKline.
CNL Commercial Real Estate, a unit of Orlandobased CNL Financial Group, hired David Willett as director of acquisitions. He will lead acquisition efforts in the Southeast and Texas, where the company wants to buy up to $300 million worth of offi ce, industrial and retail real estate over the next 18 months.
BREVARD COUNTY — French aeronautics supplier Vision Systems opened a $1.2-million manufacturing facility in Melbourne, expecting to create 40 jobs. Port Canaveral asked the Florida Department of Law Enforcement to investigate improprieties in its parking operations after an internal investigation prompted by anonymous tips from employees that some workers were skimming cash.
LAKE BUENA VISTA — A $370-million, 443-room Four Seasons Resort opened at Disney World, adjacent to Disney’s Golden Oak residential subdivision.
LAKE MARY — Accounting and fnancial services company Deloitte Consulting plans to open a 130,000-sq.-ft. U. S. delivery center where it will provide services such as systems development, database administration and analytics. The frm, which will receive a large incentive package, says that up to 1,000 positions could be created over the next four years.
MAITLAND — Zynga, the San Franciscobased video-game company behind mobile games such as “Words with Friends” and “Farmville,” plans to develop football and golf games from a new studio. The company has signed licensing deals with both the NFL and Tiger Woods for the games.
ORANGE COUNTY — Sea- World Entertainment is losing one of its biggest sponsors, as the Orlando-based marine park owner and Southwest Airlines will allow a more than two-decadelong marketing deal to expire at the end of the year. Activists have been pressuring Southwest and other SeaWorld sponsors, a movement that gained momentum after the 2013 documentary Blackfsh. > Orange County’s hotel-tax collections climbed 7% to more than $156 million through the frst nine months of the county’s fscal year. > An affliate of Boston real-estate investment frm AEW Capital Management paid $260 million to buy most of SouthPark, a 176-acre offce park that is home to the headquarters of SeaWorld Entertainment and other tenants.
ORLANDO — The city agreed to move a planned $110-million Major League Soccer stadium one block to the west, avoiding an eminent-domain action against a family-owned church in the downtown Parramore neighborhood. Darden Restaurants completed the sale of Red Lobster to private-equity frm Golden Gate Capital for $2.1 billion. The seafood restaurant chain then signed a long-term lease to establish a new headquarters and culinary center in the CNL Tower 1 in downtown next to City Hall, where it plans to have approximately 300 employees. > Texas construction company Austin Commercial won a $42-million contract to build a 23-story apartment tower in downtown’s Thornton Park neighborhood. Construction on the 233-unit Citi Tower is expected to begin at the end of the year. > Also in Thornton Park, McLean, Va.-based Jefferson Apartment Group broke ground on Artisan 420, a nine-story, 299-unit apartment building. The frst units are scheduled to open in October 2015. > PowerDMS, a cloud-based document management software company, will add 65 jobs over the next three years and invest $400,000.
VOLUSIA COUNTY — The University of Florida’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences and Florida A&M University’s Small Farms and Alternative Enterprises Focus Team chose Vo-LaSalle Farms in DeLeon Springs for an Innovative Farmer Award. The farm uses natural vegetation to protect lakes, no-till practices to prevent soil erosion and innovative fertilizer and irrigation techniques that prevent water leaching.
Advanced IT Concepts
Founded in 2006 by a former communications and technology acquisitions officer in the U.S. Army, Advanced IT Concepts plans to invest $1.87 million and add 50 jobs over the next five years as it expands its headquarters in Winter Springs. The company, which is qualified as a Service-Disabled Veteran-Owned Small Business, provides information-technology systems and support to both private and government clients. The company says it considered moving to Texas, Georgia, North Carolina and Virginia but chose to expand locally after local and state officials promised a package of incentives.