Northeast Fla., Jacksonville Business Briefs - September 2010
» The U.S. Economic Development Administration awarded Santa Fe College a $1.6-million grant for two additional laboratories and more classrooms at its Perry Center for Emerging Technologies in Alachua. The college says the expansion will allow it to train an additional 270 people.
» The Justice Department made arrests in a Miami-Gainesville labor ring accused of forcing Haitian nationals to work in north Florida picking beans and peas. Thirty-four Haitians were falsely promised lucrative jobs and permanent residency only to have their passports confiscated and be subjected to threats, loan sharks and other abuses when they arrived in Gainesville, according to federal officials.
» The $23-million William R. Hough Hall is opening this month on the University of Florida campus. The facility will house the college of business’s MBA program, as well as nine specialized master’s programs and six Ph.D. programs.
» Fidelity National Information Services, one of the largest public companies in Jacksonville, is acquiring a San Diego company called Compliance Coach. Fidelity provides technology and payment services to financial institutions around the world. Compliance Coach provides financial institutions with risk-assessment software and other compliance tools used by about 1,500 clients.
» Jacksonville-based retailer Body Central Corp. plans to raise $86.3 million in an initial public offering. The company, with 197 stores around the Southeast and Midwest, plans to go public after 38 years of selling discount apparel for girls and young women. The price and timing of the offering had not been disclosed by press time. It will trade on Nasdaq under the symbol BODY.
» Well-known Jacksonville investment adviser Wayne McLeod committed suicide after federal authorities closed in on what they describe as a Ponzi scheme that raised at least $34 million from federal employees across the nation. Investigators say McLeod admitted to them that promised government-secured bonds he’d sold through his firms since 1988 didn’t exist.
» Jacksonville-based RailAmerica acquired a Midwestern railroad engineering, construction, maintenance and repair company called Atlas Railroad Construction for $24 million. President and CEO John Giles said the purchase prepares RailAmerica for “a dramatic increase in spending on railroad infrastructure driven by government stimulus programs and increased investments by North American railroads upgrading and improving their rail lines.”
» The University of Florida shuttered its dental clinic for low-income Jacksonville residents after a quarter-century, citing an inability to pay for building renovations.
» Four of every 10 homes sold in Marion County in the first quarter were foreclosures, according to RealtyTrac, putting Marion ahead of both state and national averages for foreclosure sales. The average sale price for a foreclosed home in the county was $91,845, nearly 16% less than a non-foreclosed home.
» The Naval Surface Warfare Center awarded Lockheed Martin a $44-million contract for the Target Sight System, a fire-control system that it manufactures in Ocala and Orlando for Cobra attack helicopters.
» The county ranked No. 3 on the Forbes list of top five counties in the nation where the rich are moving in large numbers. The average per capita income of those arriving in Nassau is $51,833, compared with the average household per capita income of $32,306 for those already living there.
» Local businessman Lee Farkas, accused of a $1.9-billion scheme to defraud investors and the U.S. government during his time as chairman of Ocala-based Taylor, Bean & Whitaker Mortgage Corp., posted $2 million in bail, pleaded not guilty and had his federal trial date set for November.
» Firefighting apparatus manufacturer E-ONE has laid off about 40 employees. The company just opened a 75,000-sq.-ft. facility in Hamburg, N.Y.