ESCAMBIA COUNTY — Groups planning two large projects within the county's 18,000-acre sector plan have reached agreement with Florida Department of Community Affairs to set aside 1,000 acres of wetlands. The projects' director of development, Dan Gilmore, says construction could start by summer, first focusing on a 1,000-acre industrial-commercial park at I-10 and Beulah Road. Also planned is a residential development on 6,000 acres.
FORT WALTON BEACH — Developers of the proposed Landmark Center have shelved plans for the $29-million mixed-use project, the city's largest proposed development, and have put the 1.4-acre site up for sale. City Council had declared the development agreement in default.
GRETNA — Construction is under way for a horse racing track and gaming room off State Road 12 at I-10, following a four-year effort marked by lawsuits and challenges from dog track owners.
NAVARRE — Frama-Tech, a seller of specialty construction products, moved its headquarters from California to Navarre.
NORTHWEST FLORIDA — Two of the Gulf Coast's oldest banks, New Orleans-based Whitney Holding Corp., founded in 1883, and the 112-year-old Hancock Holding Co. of Gulfport, Miss., agreed to merge in a stock transaction valued at $1.5 billion. The deal, in which Whitney becomes part of Hancock, affects 27 branches in the Panhandle, 62 overall in Florida.
» Florida Energy Workforce Consortium will use its $75,000 share of a $1.37-million Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation grant to implement its Get into Energy Career Pathways program in three Florida subregions: Northwest Florida, Polk County and south Florida. FEWC became the first consortium in the country focused on preparing a future generation of energy workers when it was formed in 2006.
OKALOOSA COUNTY — Atlanta-based Vision Airlines is creating a hub with the addition of service to 17 new markets from Northwest Florida Regional Airport.
PENSACOLA — The University of West Florida is combining two research and business development centers into the new Office of Economic Development and Engagement, to enable UWF to play a more significant role in economic development, says President Judith A. Bense. Being joined: The Haas Center for Business Research and Economic Development and the Florida Small Business Development Network. Rick Harper will lead the new office.
TALLAHASSEE — High-Performance Magnetics, formerly known as Cable-in-Conduit Engineering Fabrication & Test, has launched construction of a production facility at a Tallahassee Regional Airport site.
» Event Photography Group is expanding its local operation, formerly Bob Knight Photo, and consolidating headquarters in Tallahassee for GradImages after numerous recent acquisitions. GradImages will hire 50 full-time and seasonal workers and invest $350,000 in facilities and equipment.