MILTON -- Russell Corp. says it will close its textile facility, due to soft sales and competitors' price cuts. Some 200 employees will lose jobs. Alexander City, Ala.-based Russell also cited the cost of Florida's workers' compensation insurance. The company operates 70 factories nationwide.
PANAMA CITY -- The city commission decided unanimously to annex some 760 acres owned by the Panama City Port Authority. Port officials said the annexation would make it easier to market the property, located on U.S. Highway 231, as an industrial park. In exchange for half of the revenue from property sales inside the park, Panama City will provide water and sewer service at a cost of nearly $2 million.
PENSACOLA -- Barnes & Noble, the nation's largest bookseller, 480 stores, plans to open a 26,000-square-foot outlet in the new Cordova Crossing shopping center. The bookstore will feature a music department and Starbucks coffee and will create more than 50 jobs. Fort Lauderdale-based Sports Authority (NYSE-TSA) expects to open a store in the same shopping center.
Pensacola Regional Airport will get a makeover when the Pensacola City Council approves long-delayed renovations. The $24 million project will include a four-tier parking garage, two more terminal gates and expanded ticket counters. Completion is scheduled for summer 1999.
PENSACOLA BEACH -- The 15-story Santa Rosa Towers condominium is nearly complete. Delayed for two years by hurricanes and litigation, it will open in late summer.
PORT ST. JOE -- City commissioners accepted a bid from Panama City-based Royal American Construction Co. to build a 172-slip civic marina. It will cost nearly $3 million and will be paid for with several low-interest federal loans, says Port St. Joe Mayor Johnny Linton. According to Royal American, construction could be done by the end of 1998.
TALLAHASSEE -- Fort Lauderdale-based Extended Stay America (NYSE-ESA) is opening a 58-room hotel on Raymond Diehl Road. Studioplus Deluxe will feature studio-style rooms with weekly housekeeping services and an on-premises laundromat.
PANAMA CITY BEACH
-- Renovation and expansion at Gulf World will more than double the marine park's size. Owners of the 30-year-old park say the $5 million project will add two more dolphin aquariums, a bird jungle, sea lion exhibit, restaurant and a five-story, 24-store retail center. Construction starts in May, with completion possible by March 1999. Gulf World employs about 25 people seasonally; owners say that will increase to more than 200 employees year-round.