Northeast Fla., Jacksonville Business Briefs - July 2010
» Donald and Margaret Hurst trace their 80-acre farm in Lafayette County to a homesteading letter from President Benjamin Harrison. The farm used to produce peanuts and tobacco, but today’s crops are straw and trees.
» In Suwannee County, Claude and Sandra Starling raise cattle and produce hay on 40 acres formerly devoted to row crops such as corn, peanuts and tobacco.
» In Levy County, Dianne Priest Joyner has a cow/calf operation on the 200-acre farm where her family traditionally grew peanuts and watermelon.
GAINESVILLE — The University of Florida’s College of Medicine and Levin College of Law both rank among the nation’s top 50 colleges in this year’s U.S. News & World Report rankings. The medical school is No. 42, which is six better than in 2009. The law school is 47, four higher.
» Gainesville is the only Florida city in the top 10 of Car.com’s annual ranking of “eco-friendly” car cities based on consumer interest in hybrid vehicles as a percentage of total shopping activity. San Francisco is No. 1. Gainesville and Madison, Wis., home to the University of Wisconsin, are the only top 10 cities outside the West Coast.
JACKSONVILLE — BAE Systems, Europe’s largest defense contractor, plans to buy Atlantic Marine Holding of Jacksonville for $352 million. BAE will take over the ship-repair company’s operations at Jacksonville and Mayport; Moss Point, Miss.; and Mobile, Ala.
» Atlantic BancGroup, parent company of Oceanside Bank, and Jacksonville Bancorp, parent company of Jacksonville Bank, agreed to merge. Oceanside is taking Jacksonville Bank’s name. Combined, the banks will have more than $700 million in assets and nine branches and create the largest community bank in the area.
» Florida transportation officials and Amtrak senior staffers took a test trip from Miami to Jacksonville on the Florida East Coast railroad tracks — the first time a passenger train had traveled the route since 1968, when a labor dispute ended service. Officials in Jacksonville and cities along the route have lobbied to re-establish service and say they’re willing to build or renovate stations to make it happen. Jacksonville could move its station to the Prime Osborn Convention Center downtown, turning it into a regional transportation center.
MARION COUNTY — Marion County commissioners rejected a special magistrate’s recommendation to allow CB Three to operate a lime rock mine on a 167-acre former horse farm in the northwest part of the county. Commissioners said the magistrate’s recommendation was incompatible with surrounding horse farms and other operations and inconsistent with Marion County’s Comprehensive Plan.
» Citing exorbitant costs, Marion County dropped out of a regional effort to build the proposed $1.1-billion Coquina Coast Seawater Desalination Project in Flagler County.
NASSAU COUNTY — Community First Credit Union, based in Jacksonville, shuttered its branches in Callahan and Fernandina Beach last month. The bank will maintain a presence in Nassau County with its Yulee branch.
OCALA — Taylor, Bean & Whitaker Mortgage’s new leadership alleged in bankruptcy proceedings that former Chairman Lee Farkas withdrew more than $50 million from the business for his personal benefit and for companies he controlled. The Ocala company was the largest independent mortgage lender in the nation before collapsing last fall.
» Average prices at the spring Ocala Breeders’ Sale were 12.9% higher than a year earlier, indicating recovery in the depressed thoroughbred market. The average price was $28,084, with a top
sale of $500,000.