» The city has opened a north access road near DeLand Airport to allow for a new industrial park.
LAKE COUNTY —
» ERA Tom Grizzard Realtors and ERA Neil Fischer Realty have merged, creating the largest ERA office in central Florida and the third-largest in the state. The combined company now has more than 100 agents and 1,000 listings and had $566 million in sales over the past three years. The combined company will be led by Gus Grizzard.
» Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide and the YRG Hotel Group have opened a 253-room Westin hotel in Lake Mary to support companies in the fast-growing high-tech business corridor along I-4.
» Harris Corp. (NYSE-HRS) has won a five-year, $196.5-million contract to provide IT services for the U.S. State Department's Bureau of Consular Affairs worldwide. The company also has been awarded a $38-million IT services contract to provide operations and maintenance for U.S. Southern Command communications systems at Soto Cano Air Base in Honduras.
» US Airways has announced it's returning to Melbourne International Airport next month after a 12-year absence, bringing 15 full- and part-time jobs and nearly $2 million in annual economic impact.
» DRS Technologies in Melbourne, which manufactures equipment for the military, laid off about 160 people in November, bringing its workforce to 900.
» Melbourne-based BRPH Construction Services and partnering firm Lifecycle Construction Services of Washington, D.C., have secured a contract worth approximately $200 million to handle U.S. Army Corps of Engineers projects in the Southeast over the next five years.
» Florida Institute of Technology and the Melbourne Airport Authority are teaming up to create Florida Tech Research Park at the airport. The partnership is designed to boost economic development and foster new scientific discovery in Brevard County.
Rendering: Disney Theater
ORLANDO/ORANGE COUNTY —
» The Dr. P. Phillips Orlando Performing Arts Center in downtown Orlando has unveiled interior renderings of its 2,700-seat Disney theater and 300-seat community theater, which will break ground this spring with funding of $250 million. A 1,700-seat multiform theater will be added later.
» UCF's College of Optics and Photonics has secured a $7.5-million grant to study ways to improve the efficiency and lower the manufacturing costs of photovoltaic solar cells. The grant from New York-based Prime Source Initiative will be awarded over five years. UCF has also been awarded a first-of-its-kind $727,000 National Institutes of Health grant to study aphasia among Chinese-Americans. The condition caused by stroke, head trauma, tumors, brain infection or dementia affects a person's ability to speak and comprehend conversation. Studies have looked at aphasia's effects on English-language speakers, but the brain processes Chinese languages differently.
» The Amway Center, which will replace the Amway Arena as the major events center and home of Orlando Magic NBA games in downtown Orlando, held a "topping off" ceremony in November and is on track to open this fall. The center will cost $380 million and seat 18,600 for Magic games.
» Contact Centers of America, which operates a call center in Orlando with about 50 employees, plans to add two local call centers and several others nationwide and expand to 1,500 employees by the end of the year.
» Orlando-based Dynetech and its affiliates, which merged last fall under the name Telligenix, have filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection with $50 million in debt and are under investigation for complaints in Florida and Texas. Formerly a rising star in downtown Orlando, with a projected 600 employees and a new $80-million office tower, the company that sells motivational seminars and materials was hit hard by the recession and pared its workforce to about 100.
» Web company MyDocHub, which allows patients to review the backgrounds of physicians, has added dentists to its database. The company receives more than 400,000 hits a month.
» Blackstone Group, half-owner of Universal Orlando Resort, has purchased Busch Entertainment Group, parent company of SeaWorld, Busch Gardens and other theme parks.
» Walt Disney World plans to reopen its 220-acre Wide World of Sports complex next month with updates that incorporate the ESPN brand. The facility will provide new entertainment features for guests and athletes.
» Bonnier Corp., which publishes several magazines out of its Winter Park office, has purchased the quarterly Conceive magazine from Intellectual Capital Productions in Orlando. Its founder and editor, Kim Hahn, will stay with the publication.
SEMINOLE COUNTY —
» Seminole State College, formerly Seminole Community College, has opened a $17.6-million public safety training center for criminal justice, fire science and emergency medical services training programs.
WINTER PARK —
» Barnie's Coffee & Tea Co. has won a contract to be the exclusive coffee provider at Amway Arena. The company also is opening stores inside regional malls again.