BAKER COUNTY —
» The Trust for Public Land has reached a deal with local landowner Long Branch Farms to expand St. Mary’s Shoals Park by 865 acres this year. The Florida Communities Trust had earmarked $3.75 million to expand the county-owned park. Long Branch agreed to sell the additional tracts for about $2 million.
CLAY COUNTY —
» County commissioners extended a moratorium on collecting the county’s transportation impact fee until July. The fees help pay for some $450 million in highway improvements, but commissioners want to unburden the struggling construction industry.
» In a settlement with federal prosecutors, Exactech agreed to pay a $3-million fine to avoid prosecution on charges resulting from an investigation into whether orthopedic-implant manufacturers were paying kickbacks to surgeons to use their products. What the prosecutors called kickbacks, Exactech called consulting fees to doctors to help develop better products. Exactech did not admit to wrongdoing in the settlement, and the U.S. Attorney acknowledged the company’s conduct did not harm patients or their care.
» Before leaving office, former Gov. Charlie Crist and the Florida Cabinet approved a wood-burning power plant for Gainesville. City officials say the project will produce jobs and renewable energy using waste wood, reducing Gainesville’s reliance on coal. But opponents have challenged the plant’s air-pollution permit from DEP, arguing that biomass incineration is not really “green energy” because it is polluting.
» The National Science Foundation awarded University of Florida chemistry professor Lisa McElwee-White $1.5 million to create a nanotechnology center to research how to manufacture microscopic-scale electronics. If the initial research shows promise, the center will be eligible for $40 million in second-phase funding.
» The city’s solar feed-in-tariff program has helped draw the largest privately owned solar array in the state. A German company called Sybac is erecting 8,600 photovoltaic panels on seven acres off U.S. 441. Gainesville Regional Utilities will pay 26 cents per kilowatt hour generated into the power grid.
» City and chamber officials announced that Bank of America plans to hire 1,000 employees at its Southside office campus.
» Medical-equipment distributor PSS World Medical acquired Linear Solutions, a $45-million company that allows doctors to dispense medications within their practice. Both companies are based in Jacksonville. They did not disclose terms of the deal.
» Jacksonville-based Brightway Insurance acquired General Insurance Concepts of Orange Park, making it Brightway’s 23rd location in northeast Florida. Brightway CEO David C. Miller also reported that company sales doubled again in 2010, to $70 million, from 2009.
» Local investor David Gonzales bought the Baywood Center suburban office building for $6.8 million from Boston-based REIT KBS Realty Advisors, the largest office building sale in the Jacksonville area in 2010.
» Fortegra Financial Corp. had to lower the price of shares to $11 from a planned $14 to $16, to complete its December IPO. The Jacksonville-based company, which provides services to insurance and financial services companies, sold 6 million shares and is trading on the NYSE under the ticker symbol FRF.
ATLANTIC BEACH —
» The Department of Defense awarded Earl Industries an $8-million contract to repair the USS Klakring, a frigate stationed at Mayport Naval Station.