NAVIGATION

February 18, 2018
No bluffing: Escambia hopes to convert vacant land into jobs

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Scott Luth, CEO of FloridaWest, says the four Bluffs industrial park sites have access to utilities and road, rail and barge transportation.

Northwest Florida Roundup

No bluffing: Escambia hopes to convert vacant land into jobs

Carlton Proctor | 1/27/2016

FloridaWest, Escambia County’s lead economic development alliance, has rolled out a plan to develop a 1,760- acre industrial park about 10 miles north of Pensacola. The project could accommodate as many as 60 new industries and up to 15,000 jobs.

Called “The Bluffs — Northwest Florida’s Industrial Campus,” the project is a partner-ship among Emerald Coast Utilities Authority (ECUA), Ascend Performance Materials, Gulf Power and the University of West Florida.

Plans call for four large, segmented parcels of land along bluffs that overlook Escambia Bay and Escambia River. Nearly all the land available for development is owned by Ascend (formerly Solutia) and ECUA.

“All four parcels have immediate access to existing natural gas lines, a CSX rail line, two barge terminals and the major utility providers of Gulf Power and ECUA,” says Scott Luth, CEO of FloridaWest.

“So, the more we looked at it, the more we realized we’ve got in excess of $1-billion worth of assets and infrastructure that’s already in place along these four parcels.”

Luth would not put a price tag on developing the Bluffs. However, given the size and potential economic impact it could have on Escambia County, the project might be a prime candidate for funding from Triumph Gulf Coast, which is charged with investing $1.5 billion in BP oil spill fines over the next 17 years.

Innovation

Desk Commands

StandiT, a Pensacola-based startup led by founder and CEO Sebastien Cotton, has developed an electric-powered platform that can raise or lower traditional desks or tabletops. The structure’s four aluminum legs contain motors that can raise and lower a 100-pound desk platform from 27 to 44.5 inches. The StandiT platform has a control panel but also can be activated by voice command or smartphone app and automatically senses when the user approaches and adjusts itself to the preferred height. StandiT employs seven former researchers from the Pensacola-based Florida Institute for Human and Machine Cognition.

Business Briefs

DEFUNIAK SPRINGS — Mayor Bob Campbell has said he is in preliminary discussions with a group of investors about developing a major motorsports facility capable of hosting Indy- Car, Formula 1 and NASCAR events in Walton County.

OKALOOSA COUNTY — Innisfree Development has received approval from Okaloosa County to build a 175- room hotel at its Emerald Breeze Resort on Okaloosa Island.

PENSACOLA — Fiat of Pensacola closed late last year after little more than a year in operation. It was one of 86 Fiat dealerships to open in the U.S. and Canada after a 16-year absence from the North American market.

PERRY — BioNitrogen Holdings filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy reorganization, citing $3.5 million in debts. Its local affiliate, BioNitrogen Taylor, still owes $4.35 million on a bank loan guaranteed by the city of Perry. The company had been working on a plan to construct a $300-million fertilizer plant in Taylor County.

PONCE DE LEON — Miramar Beachbased Howard Group, a commercial real estate developer, has purchased 2,000 acres of farmland near Ponce De Leon in Holmes County.

QUINCY — The Florida Department of Health has given approval to Hackney Nursery to grow and dispense a strain of marijuana-derived oil known as Charlotte’s Web. It is one of five growers authorized statewide. The oil is used to relieve pain in epilepsy and cancer patients. The nursery is partnering with California growers with experience in the industry.

SANTA ROSA COUNTY — South Carolina- based PowerSecure, an energy technology company, is building a facility to house the company’s 10- week training programs.

TALLAHASSEE — Florida State University received a $100-million donation, the largest in its history, from Jan Moran and the Jim Moran Foundation. The donation will be used to create the Jim Moran School of Entrepreneurship. Jim Moran founded JM Family Enterprises in Deerfield Beach. He died in 2007. Tallahassee Memorial Health- Care plans to start construction of a surgical center this spring. At 340,000 square feet, the $250-million center will be eight times the size of the hospital’s Northeast Emergency Center.

Players

Ken Ford, CEO and director of the Florida Institute for Human and Machine Cognition, has been named a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

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