Photo: Romeo Guzman/NewscomShad Khan has a net worth of $4.4 billion, according to Forbes.
Northeast Florida roundup
The wrath of Khan: Jaguars owner Shad Khan withdraws support for business incubator
Jaguars owner Shad Khan withdraws his support for an incubator affiliated with the One Spark festival.
Local entrepreneur Elton Rivas boosted his profile in the city’s business community as a co-founder of One Spark, which bills itself as the world’s largest crowdsourcing festival. The event, now in its third year, is meant to link entrepreneurs with funding sources; a key element is a competition at which attendees, who contribute to a pool of cash, vote to award the prize money to one entrepreneur in each of five categories.
Rivas subsequently founded KYN, a business incubator meant to help winners of One Spark bring their ideas to market. KYN drew the attention of the city’s highest-profile businessman, Jacksonville Jaguars owner Shad Khan, who contributed $1.1 million to KYN through a company called Stache Investments.
Khan has now withdrawn that contribution, however, alleging that the startup companies and entrepreneurs got only 12% of the money he’d provided. A flurry of dueling memos has followed, with the One Spark leadership working to prevent any ill will from spilling over onto the 2015 One Spark festival, which is scheduled for April.
Khan announced his decision to pull his funding in early October in a memo from a spokesman, Jim Woodcock. The memo stated that the intended startups had received a “disappointing level of financial support.” A later memo elaborated, alleging that “KYN paid its top employees and advisers an amount many times greater than it distributed to Jacksonville startups.”
In a rebuttal memo, Rivas said KYN had provided $35,000 in cash and $75,000 in services, such as office space, internet access, design and marketing to each of the six startups that were selected for KYN from among 200 applicants. The balance of the funds supplied by Khan — $440,000 — went to cover KYN’s overhead expenses, Rivas said in his memo.“It takes both cash and services provided by people to help make a startup successful.”
Rivas has since shuttered KYN and has refused to disclose financial records, saying KYN was a private company that received no tax money.
In a blog post, Joe Sampson, One Spark’s executive director, sought to distance One Spark from KYN. “It is important to note that Mr. Khan has given no financial support — investment or otherwise — directly to One Spark,” he said. “One Spark as an entity is and always has been separate from KYN.”
Rivas and Sampson both say Khan’s decision won’t affect the One Spark festival, which drew 200,000 in 2014 but continues to lose money. The main financial support for One Spark has come from Peter Rummell, the former Disney and St. Joe executive, who reportedly has spent more than $2 million to keep the festival operating.
The University of Florida board of trustees chose Kent Fuchs, provost of Cornell University, to succeed Bernie Machen as the school’s next president starting next year.
Jackie Burns, director of Citrus Research and Education Center at Lake Alfred, has been appointed dean for research of UF/IFAS.
Trilogy at Ocala Preserve
A new 1,700-home resort community, Trilogy at Ocala Preserve, is being built on 623 acres in Ocala. Shea Homes held its grand opening in late October with the first residents expected to arrive in January, says spokeswoman Lauren Cook. The “active adult” resort will combine golf, tennis, fitness, dining, clubs, classes and other amenities. The homes will start in the upper $100,000s, Cook says.
GAINESVILLE — The University of Florida has announced the formation of the UF Diabetes Institute. > UF’s Sid Martin Biotechnology Incubator has won the 2014 State Science and Technology’s Excellence in Technology- Based Economic Development Award for achievement in technology commercialization.
JACKSONVILLE — GE Oil & Gas is opening a $50-million plant at Cecil Commerce Center to produce control valves and regulators. The company will initially have 35 employees. The city and state are providing $15.4 million in incentives. > Brazilian aircraft manufacturer Embraer has unveiled its first military plane made in Florida, an A-29 Super Tucano light air support aircraft. Embraer and partner Sierra Nevada have been awarded a $427-million contract from the U.S. Air Force to supply 20 planes for use by the Afghanistan military. The company has received 170 orders for the plane, which is used by nine air forces in Africa, Asia Pacific and Latin American regions. > Fidelity Southern, an Atlanta-based bank, recently completed the acquisition of six branches from CenterState Bank of Florida. Two are in St. Johns County, one is in Jacksonville and three are in the Orlando area. All of the branches will be branded with the Fidelity Southern name, bringing to six the number of Fidelity Southern banks in Jacksonville. The deposits transferred are valued at about $174.2 million. > JAX Chamber and the Jacksonville Civic Council are teaming up to help redevelop Jacksonville’s downtown by creating an independent organization to provide capital for real estate investment. The effort will be led by Steve Crosby, president of CSX Real Property, who will be loaned to the project by CSX. Crosby has already started creating a foundation for the organization. Private real estate investment company Crocker Partners has acquired the Flagler Center business park for $133.2 million. The acquisition of the 12 buildings adds 1.4 million square feet to its Florida portfolio. The buildings are 81% occupied.
Jacksonville-based Tote Services was awarded a $7.13-million Navy contract for operations and maintenance work on two vessels.
Jacksonville City Council approved spending about $1 million to get the Baseball Grounds of Jacksonville ready for the start of the soccer season for the Jacksonville Armada. > UF Health’s First Coast Advantage, which administers Medicaid managed health care in seven northeast Florida counties, is laying off 63 employees following its sale to Molina Healthcare.
NASSAU COUNTY — Chesapeake Utilities has announced that its subsidiary, Eight Flags Energy, is pursuing the development and construction of a combined heat and power plant in Fernandina Beach on Amelia Island. The plant will generate steam that will be sold to Rayonier Performance Fibers.