Northwest Fla., Panhandle Business Briefs - December 2010
CENTURY — Century Lumber and Land and Michigan-based Railmark Holdings have partnered in a venture that will include producing and installing environmentally friendly railroad cross ties, railroad and rail car repair services, and treating domestic lumber for the building industry. Operations will be in the 42-acre, years-vacant Alger-Sullivan Lumber complex. Century Lumber is hiring 70 workers to start; Railmark, 35.
FORT WALTON BEACH— Wyndham Exchange & Rentals, part of Wyndham Worldwide, has acquired ResortQuest for $56 million, a merger claimed to form the world's largest full-service vacation rentals business. ResortQuest manages nearly 6,000 U.S. vacation rental properties; Wyndham Exchange & Rentals, based in Parsippany, N.J., has more than 85,000 vacation properties in over 100 countries.
NICEVILLE — Northwest Florida State College has begun a $25.5-million, two-phase project, including a new, 75,000-sq.-ft. Student Services Building and remodeling of the existing 32,000-sq.-ft. College Mall.
PANAMA CITY BEACH — Florida's oldest wooden roller coaster, the 1963 Starliner, will be ready for riders again by summer 2012. The coaster operated for 41 years at the original Miracle Strip Amusement Park. When Miracle Strip closed in 2004, Cypress Gardens in Winter Haven bought the coaster and put it into storage. Now it's a $2-million addition that will join other former Miracle Strip rides at a smaller park replica at Pier Park.
PENSACOLA — Pensacola State College has received an $8.5-million healthcare education grant, to be funded over five years, from the Department of Health and Human Services, Administration for Children & Families. The grant, awarded under the government's Temporary Assistance to Needy Families program, will enable individuals to receive education, training and supportive services for employment in nursing and other healthcare fields. PSC teamed up with numerous local agencies, including United Way and Catholic Charities, to develop the project.
» Construction is under way on a $7.6-million renovation and expansion of the 53-year-old downtown Pensacola Public Library.
» Gulf Power Co. has activated its $5.3-million gas-to-energy facility at Escambia County's Perdido landfill, using methane to produce 3,200 kilowatts of electricity, enough to power more than 900 homes. It's the first renewable energy generation facility owned and operated by Gulf Power and the first landfill gas-to-energy project of Gulf's parent, Southern Co.
PORT ST. JOE — A century-old community icon, a holdover from the town's paper-milling days, has been razed, possibly to be replaced by a retail development. Originally a railway depot for the Apalachicola Northern Railroad, the building was connected to a dock frequently used to transport logs. With the closing of the St. Joe Paper Co. mill in the late 1990s, the depot became St. Joe Co. offices, now unneeded with the company's headquarters move to the Gulf coast.
SANTA ROSA COUNTY — Avalex Technologies will move from downtown Pensacola to a 9.2-acre site on Highway 98 east of Gulf Breeze, following the expansion and $10-million renovation of the building previously occupied by a Ford dealership. The company manufactures aerial surveillance equipment for the military and law enforcement.
TALLAHASSEE — Florida State University's Rudy Diamond Auditorium, built in the 1950s, reopened in October after a 30-month, $38-million makeover to transform it into a world-class performance hall.
» Elbit Systems of America is closing its plant at Innovation Park and cutting 192 jobs. The Tallahassee plant makes a handheld computing device for military customers.
» Florida State University's College of Nursing will increase its full-time enrollment and accelerate graduation of family nurse practitioners with advanced education through a $1.4-million Affordable Care Act grant from the Department of Health and Human Services.
WAKULLA COUNTY — The Wakulla County Expo Association has donated 50 acres near Crawfordville to Tallahassee Community College for a joint venture to create the Wakulla Environmental Institute. The college is working with a consulting firm to plan the unbudgeted institute, which would foster workforce training, community activities and possibly research, all with an environmental theme, says John Chapin, TCC's vice president for workforce development.