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Gainsville

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Exactech (Nasdaq-EXAC) is building a $3.2 million, 38,000-square-foot manufacturing plant, to be completed in the fall of 1998. The orthopedic implant and surgical instrument manufacturer and marketer employs 50 and plans to hire another 50 within two years.

Jacksonville

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Barnett Banks (NYSE-BBI) is paying a $100,000 fine for not reporting several cash transactions of more than $10,000. The Treasury Department charged that Barnett didn't file transaction reports in 1987 on two businesses the bank believed to be exempt from the Bank Secrecy Act. Barnett also didn't report a commercial customer's combined same-day cash withdrawals between 1993 and 1995.

CSX Transportation plans to transfer 600 jobs to its Jacksonville headquarters over the next three years. About 500 customer service and administrative jobs will be moved, starting next summer, from CSX's newly acquired Conrail operations in Pennsylvania and Michigan, pending federal approval of the acquisition. Railroad company CSX also plans to move 100 positions from Baltimore. The company employs 6,000 in the Jacksonville area, making it one of the area's largest employers.

Environmental Corp. of America (OTC-NTCK), formerly NTS Technology, has agreed to buy treatment services company Hydropro Inc. of Lake Park for $5 million. Environmental was formed in 1995.

Jacksonville-based plumbing products distributor Barnett (Nasdaq-BNTT) agreed to acquire the assets of LeRan Gas Products, also of Jacksonville, for $4 million.

Diagnostic Imaging, a subsidiary of Physician Sales & Service (Nasdaq-PSSI), acquired medical equipment distributor General X-Ray of St. Louis. General X-Ray, which reported revenues of $76 million last year, distributes radiology and imaging equipment and supplies.

Robroy Enclosures will shutter its Jacksonville sheet metal factory within a year and transfer the plant's 130 jobs to its facility in Freemont, Ind., to cut operating costs. Robroy makes metal boxes for the electrical industry.

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ON THE BLOCK

Jacksonville's Banking...

... community was puzzled when its largest remaining independent community bank, American National, sent a letter to its shareholders telling them that the bank was on the market - before it identified a list of potential suitors. "I can't think of another situation where I've seen it done this way," says Compass Bank Vice Chairman Robert E. White, who works in Jacksonville and navigated the purchase of four banks here for Birmingham-based Compass.

While the method seemed curious, no one was surprised that privately held American National, with $563 million in assets, was on the block. Sale of the bank has been rumored for years, and American National reported a drop in income last year: $3.69 million, down from $3.98 million in 1995. Its return on assets was a poor .66%, compared with 1.2% for similar banks.

There was speculation in the community that the unconventional move revealed an internal rift, pitting Raymond Mason Sr., the bank's biggest shareholder, against his son Raymond Mason Jr., chairman, CEO and president of the company that owns and operates the bank. Mason Sr. reportedly has been wooing buyers, while Mason Jr., who declined to be interviewed, wants to hang on.

Buying American National may offer the last best chance for an outside bank to penetrate Jacksonville's growing market.

- Jane Tanner

Ocala

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The Eighth Annual Rural Conference, "Sustaining Rural Florida," will be held in Ocala, Nov. 12-14. The conference will include information on Florida's new welfare reform legislation [Florida Trend, June 1997] and other programs, as well as discussions on using and protecting the environment and networking with rural economic development officials. To register, contact Enterprise Florida: 407/316-4631.