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Around the State-Northeast-Jan.1999

Alachua County -- Florida Rock Industries (AMEX-FRK) won a heated battle when a proposed air-quality ordinance to stop construction of its $80 million cement plant near Newberry was defeated by a 2% margin. The plant will be completed in August and will employ about 100.

Bradford County -- SMI Joist Florida, a steel fabricator, plans to add 50 employees in the next six months, bringing its payroll to 300 and making it the largest private employer in the county. The expansion includes a $600,000 facility upgrade.

Flagler County -- Los Angeles-based Lowe Enterprises is completing the $60 million Grand Haven development, which includes a Jack Nicklaus golf course and 1,600 upscale homes. The company also started work on a $200 million development that will have a convention center, golf course and 2,700 homes.

Jacksonville -- Recently merged Jefferson Smurfit and Stone Container, now Smurfit-Stone Container Corp., closed a papermill here. The move cut nearly 300 jobs, a $20 million payroll and $114 million in annual local spending on supplies and services.

Gateway Shopping Center, a once-abandoned but revived north side mall, and a local Revlon plant will receive state grants of $1.25 million and $580,000, respectively, to hire welfare recipients as part of the state's WAGES program.

Anchor Glass Container Corp. laid off 76 of 310 workers at its plant here after losing a Bacardi Co. contract, but additional orders from Anheuser-Busch will keep the plant running at about 80% capacity.

Coggin Automotive Group sold a majority interest in five local dealerships to Philadelphia-based Asbury Automotive.

Marion County -- Pending regulatory approval, Del Webb plans to expand its retirement community along U.S. 441 by more than 400 acres and 1,000 homes, along with commercial development.

St. Johns County -- St. Joe Co. (NYSE-JOE) plans a retail, office and distribution center development on 27 acres near World Golf Village. St. Joe had negotiated with Davidson Development for 400 acres, but the two couldn't agree on a price. St. Joe officials say they didn't want to absorb that much with demand uncertain.

Union, Taylor, Duval County -- About 400 north Florida paper mill and building products employees are cautiously watching as Georgia-based Gilman Paper Co. seeks a buyer. Gilman officials say the company may sell itself in parts or as a whole. There are plants in Perry, Maxville and Lake Butler.