Northwest Fla., Panhandle Business Briefs - Feb. 2010
» Hexaport Building Systems of Florida, owner of GreenSteel Homes, is seeking protection under the Chapter 11 bankruptcy laws. The company, the brainchild of Lawton “Bud’’ Chiles III, was launched in 2007 to build “Katrina cottages,’’ architecturally designed hurricane-resistant homes. Current owner Tony Attalla bought out Chiles’ share of the business in 2008.
» Sunshine Aero Industries is adding a $3-million, 31,200-sq.-ft. building to house a hangar and office space to expand its flight-test services for the military and aerospace industries. Employment will increase from 25 to 35.
ESCAMBIA COUNTY —
» Pensacola Bay 2008-09 fiscal-year lodging revenue was the second-highest ever, at $133 million, behind only the previous year’s $138 million. Among visitor draws: Pensacola’s 450th anniversary, attracting celebrants including the king and queen of Spain, and the reopening in May of the hurricane-damaged Fort Pickens roadway with the resulting 1 million visitors to the park, part of Gulf Islands National Seashore, by October.
FORT WALTON BEACH — Okaloosa
» County commissioners have approved a $27-million bond issue to fund the planned south end judicial center, which will replace the existing Shalimar courthouse annex, serving south county residents. The main Okaloosa County Courthouse is in Crestview, the county seat.
GADSDEN COUNTY —
» Adage biopower company plans to build a $250-million plant on 100 acres adjacent to the Gretna Industrial Park to generate electricity from wood waste, creating 125 permanent jobs and 400 construction jobs. Construction, to take 30 months, could start by midyear.
OKALOOSA COUNTY —
» The Florida Institute for Human and Machine Cognition in Pensacola is partnering with Okaloosa County Schools’ CHOICE Engineering Academy at Choctawhatchee High School to engage students in project-based science activities. Students are asked to work on technology problems in areas including medical robotics, enhanced operator performance and unmanned vehicles.
PANAMA CITY —
» Peoples First Community Bank was shut down by the Office of Thrift Supervision due to growing financial losses. Operations at 29 locations in north and central Florida were turned over to Hancock Bank of Gulfport, Miss. Peoples First had $1.8 billion in assets.
» The City Council approved a plan to redevelop the Port of Pensacola. The proposal, not yet funded, calls for transforming the northern 10 acres of the 51-acre port into mixed use.
SANTA ROSA COUNTY —
» The Zoo Northwest Florida, closed since August, is expected to reopen by early spring under new owner Eric Mogensen, who also owns the Virginia Safari Park in Natural Bridge, Va.