Around the State
USBiomaterials will move its Baltimore, Md., headquarters to its research and manufacturing facility near the University of Florida. The company will create 110 high-tech jobs paying an average of more than $30,000 a year, almost $9,000 above the area average. The company, which was considering moving its research facility out of state, will receive $462,000 from the Qualified Targeted Industry Tax Refund Program. USBiomaterials develops and manufactures medical products for the repair of bone and soft tissue using a patented product developed at UF.
River City Plastics is building a 130,000-square-foot PVC pipe manufacturing plant, the second largest in the U.S., in Sanderson. In addition to transferring about 80 warehouse and manufacturing jobs to the plant when it opens in October, the company will hire about 60. The Haskell Company of Jacksonville is building the facility.
AccuStaff (NYSE-ASI) acquired Computer Action of North York, Ontario, one of Canada's leading staffing agencies for the computer industry. Computer Action is Accustaff's first international acquisition. AccuStaff is the fourth-largest U.S. provider of temporary staffing.
NTS Technology (OTC Bulletin Board-NTCK) agreed to acquire an undisclosed specialty environmental service company in the Southeast for $5-million. NTS Technology was formed in 1995 to develop a group of environmental and infrastructure niche companies.
Jacksonville-based Automotive Industries, operating as Jim Martin Tire, Mott Tire and Wall Tire & Automotive, sold its 28 tire centers to Don Olson Tire & Auto of Clearwater, which is currently building 10 centers in south Florida and plans to add four centers in Jacksonville. Don Olson Tire & Auto operates 99 retail stores in the state.
Barnett Banks (NYSE-BBI) agreed to acquire Republic Banking Corp. of Miami and its 25 Republic National Banks, located primarily in Dade County. Subject to regulatory approval, Republic Banking would add $1.3 billion in deposits and $1.5 billion in assets to Barnett's $40 billion in assets.
New Symrna Beach
The New Smyrna Beach Utilities Commission signed a letter of intent with PanEnergy Power Services of Houston, Texas, to build a 250-megawatt natural gas power plant to meet increasing power needs and to take advantage of a deregulated industry. The plant will be completed by the year 2000 and will reduce electricity rates for New Smyrna residents by as much as 10%, officials say. PanEnergy (NYSE-PEL), which operates more than 37,000 miles of natural gas pipeline, is one of the leading energy services companies in the U.S.
ONCE-STAID ST. JOE...
... is showing a different face under new Chairman and CEO Peter S. Rummell. At the annual meeting of the Jacksonville real estate giant's shareholders, Rummell hinted at plans to develop residential communities in the Panhandle a la Celebration, the Osceola County town he spearheaded during his years with Disney. At the same time, Rummell showed some Disneyesque touches in stylish presentations to St. Joe's investors. Take the cover of the company's annual report, which sports a clever rendering of a yellow legal pad filled with the private jottings (supposedly) of Rummell. The scribblings include a dash of corporate boosterism ("no debt ? wow!"), a glimpse into Rummell's family life ("To do: Mahala ? b'day; Harry ? fix bike") and a few hints about skills that the company values ("deal-making, talent, brainstorming"). In another sign of change, St. Joe paid New York artist Steven Salerno to create a limited series lithograph of "The New Florida." It's a colorful illustration of how St. Joe, with its 1.1 million acres of north Florida land, views the state - with the Panhandle dominant and Orlando and Miami as afterthoughts.
- Barbara Miracle