Northwest Fla. Business Briefs - May 2010
» Intrawest, based in Canada, has sold the 2,400-acre Sandestin Golf and Beach Resort for an undisclosed price to the Destin family-owned business led by Tom and Damon Becnel. The Becnels develop and operate resorts and condominiums. Intrawest bought Sandestin for $130 million in 1998 from Malaysia-based Sime Darby Berhad.
ESCAMBIA COUNTY —
» Gulf Power Co. has purchased 756 acres in northern Escambia County for $3.37 million as a potential site for a power plant to replace or supplement its Crist plant. New plant construction, requiring about 3,000 acres, is estimated to be 10 to 15 years away. The plant could be solar, wind, biomass, gas-fired or nuclear, says Gulf Power spokeswoman Sandy Sims.
» Efforts to consolidate the governments of Escambia County and cities of Pensacola and Century failed when the northwest Florida legislative delegation elected not to file a bill setting a voter referendum. A 25-member consolidation study commission led by former Florida Supreme Court Associate Justice Kenneth Bell held 85 public meetings to draft the plan. Existing government bodies opposed consolidation.
GADSDEN COUNTY —
» Adage has suspended work on its proposed 55-megawatt, $250-million biopower plant at Gretna. City officials had said they wanted to further study the project due to citizen concern over possible pollution from the wood-waste fueled plant. Mayor Anthony Baker subsequently said the city considered the matter of a Gretna location closed.
JEFFERSON COUNTY —
» Gov. Charlie Crist and the Florida Cabinet have approved a $5.2-million purchase of 2,849 acres from the Nature Conservancy to add to the Aucilla Wildlife Management Area in Jefferson County. The tract is home to important species, including the Florida black bear, river otter and the Eastern indigo snake.
» Groundbreaking was held for an $8.2-million Jackson County Health Department building, which will combine department services from multiple sites into one 48,950-sq.-ft. building and include space for public service training programs. Completion is targeted for April 2011.
» The Moors Golf Club, an 18-hole, Scottish-style course that hosted 11 PGA tournaments in its 16 years of play, closed in March because of operating deficits blamed on the economy. Owner Jimmy Lee, CEO of Buffalo Rock Co. in Birmingham, Ala., hopes to find a buyer who will continue operating the course.
OKALOOSA COUNTY —
» A production delay until 2016 of the Air Force's new F-35 fighter plane could mean this year's launch of F-35 pilot training at Eglin Air Force Base would use simulators instead of actual aircraft. Meanwhile, the city of Valparaiso and the Air Force settled a dispute over F-35 noise, calling for reduced usage of the runway closest to the city.
PANAMA CITY —
» Gulf Coast Community College will break ground in June for a $30-million, four-story Advanced Technology Center, to be completed in summer 2012. Design features include a vivarium, a green roof, solar panels and wind turbines.
» One Pensacola call center is closing this month, and another customer care office has been hiring. Shutting down: Teleperformance, a 176-employee call center owned by a French company that's been open since 2003. Expanding: West Corp., looking to fill more than 300 additional customer service positions.
» The Pensacola Habitat for Humanity is among seven national Habitat organizations picked by Habitat for Humanity International to share $141 million in federal stimulus funds. Pensacola Habitat, which serves Escambia and Santa Rosa counties, will receive $24 million to build or restore 240 homes within three years.