Northwest Florida Roundup
Energized: Walton County revitalizes industrial park
A once-idle industrial park in Walton County comes to life.
For more than a decade, Walton County’s Mossy Head Industrial Park sat vacant, lacking infrastructure and unable to compete with other shovel-ready northwest Florida sites.
The 350-acre park, which straddles I-10 and State Road 285, was “just a big open field with not a single thing planned or developed,” says Bill Imfeld, executive director of Walton County Economic Development Alliance.
In 2013, Walton County commissioners invested $500,000 to improve the park’s infrastructure, coupled with an aggressive streamlining of the county’s permitting process. Commissioners then enlisted the help of Walton’s legislative delegation to secure state funding for additional road improvements and the construction of a large wastewater treatment plant to service the park.
By 2014, Mossy Head was open for business and quickly began attracting tenants. Imfeld, then a county commissioner, and Walton County administrator Larry Jones, reached out to Oklahoma-based Love’s Travel Stop and negotiated the sale of a park site adjacent to I-10.
In rapid succession, Mississippi-based Empire Trucks and Southern Tire moved in, followed by a Frito-Lay distribution facility and a Sleep Inn.
“Then the biggie came along, FedEx Ground,” says Imfeld. FedEx’s 213,508-sq.- ft. Distribution center, which opened in September, occupies 25 acres in the Mossy Head park. Current employment is approaching 300. FedEx’s overall investment, including land, equipment and the $11-million distribution facility, tops out at $20 million, says Walton spokesman Louis Svehla.
“The success of the park was the combination of taking action at the right time, with the right people and right contacts, and it became a landslide from there,” Svehla adds.
» Brad Griffin is the new CEO of Panama City-based Gulf Coast Medical Center. Previously, Griffin was CEO of Colleton Medical Center in Waterboro, S.C.
Targeting Brain Injuries
Florida State University researcher Jacob VanLandingham founded startup Prevacus with hopes of developing new treatments for mild traumatic brain injuries.
The Tallahassee company is developing an alternate line of drug therapies that do not have the side-effects of neurosteroids. Prevacus also is in the early stages of novel drug testing in animals for other neurodegenerative disorders, including Alzheimer’s disease.
DESTIN — City Market Bayside, a 32,000-sq.-ft. shopping center just east of Destin, opened late last year with 12 retail and restaurant spaces.
NAVARRE — Contractors have begun installing a large-scale solar-generating facility on Whiting Field Naval Air Station land near Navarre in Santa Rosa County. The solar farm is one of three joint renewable energy projects that Gulf Power, the U.S. Navy and U.S. Air Force are developing. The three solar farms will be among the state’s largest solar projects, with approximately 1. 5 million solar panels capable of generating up to 120 megawatts of electricity, enough to power roughly 18,000 homes.
PENSACOLA — The Pensacola Sports Association and Visit Pensacola have launched a campaign urging Escambia County commissioners to demolish the 30-year-old Bay Center and replace it with a $100-million multipurpose facility. PSA had been looking at five possible sites for a new sports complex but determined the current location of the Bay Center in downtown Pensacola to be the most feasible, says Ray Palmer, PSA president. » American Airlines will launch daily non-stop service between Pensacola International Airport and Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport on April 4. » Two 150-passenger ferries are scheduled to begin shuttling people between downtown Pensacola, Pensacola Beach and Fort Pickens this summer, says Dan Brown, superintendent of Gulf Islands National Seashore.
TALLAHASSEE — Danfoss Turbocor has opened its advanced manufacturing test facility for the Danish company’s five manufacturing sites in North America. The facility will test air-conditioning system compressors that range from 12 ton to 150 tons. » Tallahassee International Airport has completed a $12-million facelift to its passenger terminal. » Elite Airways is now offering direct flights from Tallahassee to Sarasota and Vero Beach. Elite Airways also announced plans to offer seasonal flights to Asheville, N.C., and Islip, N.Y.