September 30, 2023

Economic Yearbook 2017

Northwest Florida: A slew of projects

Carlton Proctor | 3/28/2017

Boats and More

Bay County / Panama City

County Population: 185,193, Ï+7.7% vs. 2012
5-Year Change in Wages/Salaries: 14.4%
Per Capita Income: $41,014

Eastern Shipbuilding announced last year it had won a U.S. Coast Guard contract to design and build a fleet of Offshore Patrol Cutters. Phase one of the contract is valued at $110.3 million for the first cutter hull, with a total order for 25 cutters. Eastern beat out General Dynamics Bath Iron Works and Bollinger Shipyards for the potential $10-billion to $12-billion program. At full ramp-up, 900 to 1,000 workers will be at work on six hulls, according to Eastern.

Following its recent move into a newly renovated building in downtown Panama City, Jellyfish Health, a locally founded health technology company, will hire an additional 100 employees at an average wage of $70,000 per year.

Panama City Port Authority and WestRock, a corrugated packaging company, have launched an effort to double the port’s cargo capacity with the addition of 41 acres and a second terminal. Meanwhile, at its intermodal distribution center, the port has completed a 100,000-sq.- ft. Expansion of the 150,000-sq.-ft. distribution warehouse.

Construction is under way on the $67.9-million 23rd Street Flyover Project that will elevate U.S. 98 over 23rd Street, Collegiate Drive, Seaport Drive and the Bay Line Railroad in Panama City at the entrance to Port Panama City. Construction is scheduled to be completed in the fall of 2019.

Big Projects

Escambia County / Pensacola

County Population: 315,969, Ï+3.9% vs. 2012
5-Year Change in Wages/Salaries: 9.2%
Per Capita Income: $39,398

Navy Federal Credit Union’s $598-million expansion will add 5,000 jobs. Meanwhile, VT Aerospace’s $46-million commercial aircraft maintenance hangar at Pensacola International Airport is under way. That facility is expected to create 400 jobs.

A $15-million YMCA opened in January in downtown Pensacola in the core business district. A major portion of the project was funded by Quint and Rishy Studer, Fred Levin and sister-in-law Teri Levin and the Bear Family Foundation.

The first units at Southtowne, a 258-unit, $52-million mixed-use complex under construction in downtown Pensacola, are scheduled for completion by the fall. The rental complex is located on four acres of industrial property formerly occupied by the Pensacola News Journal’s headquarters.

Developer and outdoor sign magnate Bobby Switzer’s multimillion- dollar redevelopment of the 110-year-old Blount and Brent buildings is nearing the halfway point. Switzer’s One Palafox Place bought the historic buildings, which occupy 4½ acres and an entire city block, in 2015 for $7.5 million.

Skanska USA has begun construction of the $398.5-million Pensacola Bay Bridge. The 3.7-mile-long project will link downtown Pensacola with Gulf Breeze.

The Florida Department of Transportation’s $29-million Nine Mile Road Expansion in Escambia County is scheduled for completion in late 2018. The project will four-lane Nine Mile Road from I-10 to the Navy Federal Credit Union complex.

Urban Core

Leon County/ Tallahassee

County Population: 294,229, Ï+3.7% vs. 2012
5-Year Change in Wages / Salaries: 11.1%
Per Capita Income: $40,789

North American Properties will invest more than $150 million in the redevelopment of the Firestone and Bloxham Annex properties to include new apartments, townhouses, a boutique hotel, multiple restaurants, retail shops and office space.

Tallahassee Memorial Healthcare’s new M.T. Mustian Center, a $250-million, five-story, 340,000-sq.- ft. Addition, is under way and expected to open in early 2019.

Tallahassee International Airport completed a $12-million facelift in 2016. Improvements included terminal modernization and renovations for the pre-security areas.

Improvements in 2016 to FAMU Way and the Capital Cascades Trail, both adjacent to Railroad Square Art Park, include a market area and bicycle repair station. The Capital Cascades Crossing Bridge, a canopied pedestrian walkway over South Monroe Street, opened last fall. The $7.2-million bridge connects Cascades Park to the refurbished FAMU Way. The bridge was funded with $5.8 million of sales tax revenue and a $1.4-million grant from the Florida Department of Transportation.

Florida State University’s Jim Moran College of Entrepreneurship, an academic center, is being built in downtown Tallahassee.

The Ballard Building, a new office/retail project underway in downtown Tallahassee, is on schedule for completion in late summer of 2017.

Construction is underway on a new laboratory for Danfoss, a manufacturer of magnetic bearing compressors. The 22,000-sq.-ft. structure will be built adjacent to the company’s existing facility.

Marine Matters

Santa Rosa County

County Population: 173,789, Ï+9.7% vs. 2012
5-Year Change in Wages / Salaries: 11.0%
Per Capita Income: $40,259

Construction of Cape Horn/Fabbro Marine’s 78,500-sq.-ft. manufacturing facility in the Santa Rosa Industrial Park East is under way with completion anticipated by the end of the year. The $4-million project doubles the company’s boat-building capacity. CEO Chris Fabbro says the company looks to retain 30 jobs and add 10 more over the next few years.

Water and More

Okaloosa County / Fort Walton Beach

County Population: 201,034, Ï+5.6% vs. 2012
5-Year Change in Wages / Salaries: 7.6%
Per Capita Income: $47,800

The $65-million Arbennie Pritchett Water Reclamation Facility project, currently underway, will expand the facility’s capacity from 10 million gallons per day to 15 million gallons per day.

Brooks Bridge Water Main expansion will install a second water supply line that will serve as the primary water source to Okaloosa Island.

Construction is underway on the $37-million Landmark Center, a mixed-use complex that will occupy a two-acre commercial site in downtown Fort Walton Beach and include residential, retail shops, office space, restaurants and a Hilton hotel.

Work in Progress

Taylor County / Perry

County Population: 23,010, Ï+1.2% vs. 2012
5-Year Change in Wages / Salaries: 9.9%
Per Capita Income: $30,336

Once a thriving way station for tourists driving to south Florida, Perry began a long, steady decline in the 1970s when I-75 bypassed the town. These days, local officials are optimistic that a downtown revitalization effort will reverse that trend.

In 2016, the city of Perry completed Rosehead Park, a 20-acre, $2-million publicly funded facility in the core business district. “We had 7,000 people attend a New Year’s Eve celebration in the park,” says Perry City Manager Bob Brown.

“The park has been a huge success.” The park helped attract a development firm that plans a $10-million apartment complex along Perry’s main business corridor — the first apartments to be built here since 1972 and the town’s first-ever gated community — with groundbreaking expected later this spring. The development company “saw a community moving forward and a community they wanted to invest in,” says Scott Frederick, director of the Taylor County Development Authority.

Industrial Park

Walton County

County Population: 66,870, Ï+16.8% vs. 2012
5-Year Change in Wages / Salaries: 28.8%
Per Capita Income: $49,678

At the 350-acre Mossy Head Industrial Park, a county investment of $500,000 plus another $6 million from the state for a wastewater treatment facility and other infrastructure helped create 300 jobs and land a 213,500-sq.-ft., $11-million FedEx Ground distribution center, says Walton spokesman Louis Svehla. “What’s driving this surge of investment is capital and confidence in northwest Florida’s rapidly diversifying economy,” says FloridaWest CEO Scott Luth

People to Watch

Joey D’Isernia: As president of Panama Citybased Eastern Shipbuilding, D’Isernia will oversee the company’s $2.3-billion Coast Guard contract.

Elizabeth Walters: A Panama City attorney and partner at Burke, Blue, Hutchison, Walters and Smith, she also is vice chair for Port Panama City and pro-bono legal counsel for Triumph Gulf Coast.

Grover Robinson: The Escambia County commissioner is considering a run for mayor of Pensacola. The former president of the Florida Association of Counties, Robinson was a key player in shaping statewide policies for the use of fines resulting from the 2010 BP oil spill.

Michelle Dennard: Dennard has taken the reins at CareerSource Florida, the policy and investment board that guides workforce development for the state. Dennard is an attorney who has worked in the executive office of Gov. Rick Scott and at the Republican Party of Florida. Previously the organization’s vice president of policy, Dennard replaces Chris Hart, who has moved to the top job at Enterprise Florida.

Yuh-Mei Hutt: Hutt, 36, started working at Tallahassee-based Golden Lighting as the director of product development and marketing just out of college in 2003. In 2005, she was promoted to president. The firm won the Tallahassee Chamber of Commerce Business of the Year award for 2007. In 2008, she won the FSU-based Jim Moran Institute’s Entrepreneurial Excellence award.

Peter Neuhaus: A scientist at the Florida Institute for Human and Machine Cognition, Neuhaus heads the team that created Mina2, an exoskeleton that was runner up in a 2016 international robotics competition.

Angelo Crowell: The former NFL player based in Tallahassee heads Kalo Restaurant Group, which has seen impressive franchise growth in northwest Florida of Jersey Mike’s Subs.

Rep. Jay Trumbull Jr.: Trumbull chairs the House Select Committee for Triumph Gulf Coast, which will distribute $1.5 billion in economic damages from the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill.

Regional Roundup

Dixie County

County Population: 16,447, Ï+2.4% vs. 2012
5-Year Change in Wages / Salaries: 13.7%
Per Capita Income: $26,727

CROSS CITY — With a grant from the Florida Department of Transportation, Dixie County purchased 75 acres in 2016 near its Cross City Airport to allow for a runway extension. The county also has built 11 new aircraft hangars available for lease. A $9.4-million FDOT paving project costing about $9.4 million got under way in 2016.

Gadsden County

County Population: 46,891, Ï0.5 vs. 2012 5-Year Change in Wages / Salaries: 11.2% Per Capita Income: $31,807

MIDWAY — Four Star Freightliner’s new vehicle dealership broke ground in January. The county received a grant from the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity’s Rural Infrastructure Fund to provide critical infrastructure for the new facility, which will bring 28 jobs to Midway.

Gulf County

County Population: 16,256, Ï+3.7% vs. 2012
5-Year Change in Wages / Salaries: 11.8%
Per Capita Income: $30,056

PORT ST. JOE — The Port of Port St. Joe is using a $6-million Florida Department of Transportation grant to repair a rail line that runs from Chatahoochee in Gadsden County south to the port. Port officials also are seeking state and federal funds to dredge the shipping channel from the Gulf to the port.

Franklin County

County Population: 12,241, Ï+4.9% vs. 2012
5-Year Change in Wages / Salaries: 11.7%
Per Capita Income: $35,570

APALACHICOLA BAY — Franklin County recently completed a $10-million, 251- acre oyster bed restoration project. Alan Pierce, director of Franklin County Administrative Services, says the Apalachicola Bay Oyster Restoration project was carried out by the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services. A majority of the funding came from Gulf oil spill recovery funds supplied by BP.

Calhoun County

County Population: 14,976, Ï+1.8% vs. 2012
5-Year Change in Wages / Salaries: 5.6%
Per Capita Income: $25,403

BLOUNTSTOWN — Calhoun County Airport, near Blountstown, is seeing a steady increase in the number of private aircraft owners leasing new hangars, says Calhoun County Chamber of Commerce spokesperson Kristy Terry. The airport’s growth is being driven by a recent runway extension and by the growth of Bay County’s nearby Northwest Florida Beaches International Airport.

Holmes County

County Population: 20,249, Ï+2.7% vs. 2012
5-Year Change in Wages / Salaries: 12.3%
Per Capita Income: $28,860

HOLMES COUNTY — Abundant Farms, a division of the Phi-Group in Las Vegas, has bought 409 acres with plans to begin farming organic fruits and vegetables. The company has investors with ties to Vietnam, says Raymon Thomas, executive director of the Holmes County Development Commission. Abundant Farms announced plans to hire up to 100 employees.

Jefferson County

County Population: 14,486, Ï+2.1% vs. 2012
5-Year Change in Wages / Salaries: 8.9%
Per Capita Income: $36,909

LLOYD — Plans for a $10-million sports complex in the Lloyd community received a setback in 2016 when voters rejected spending county funds on the facility. Since the referendum, economic development officials have been exploring private funding, says Julie Connelly, executive director of the Jefferson County Economic Development Council.

Lafayette County

County Population: 9,119, Ï+3.6% vs. 2012
5-Year Change in Wages / Salaries: 23.7%
Per Capita Income: $24,825

MAYO — A recent FDOT road improvement project on U.S. 27 through downtown Mayo has removed a large number of storefront parking spaces and hurt several local business, says Vi Johnson, president of the Lafayette County Chamber of Commerce. Chamber representatives are working with Mayo officials to find alternatives that will ease the parking situation, Johnson adds.

Liberty County

County Population: 8,694, Ï+5.4% vs. 2012
5-Year Change in Wages / Salaries: 22.1%
Per Capita Income: $27,930

LIBERTY COUNTY — Local officials continue to work to find a suitable site in Liberty County for a major manufacturing company. County officials are seeking an environmental easement on a prospective property. If successful, they expect to announce a deal in mid-summer, says Johnny Eubanks, executive director of the Liberty County Chamber of Commerce.

Madison County

County Population: 18,649, З1.4% vs. 2012
5-Year Change in Wages / Salaries: 10.9%
Per Capita Income: $30,025

MADISON COUNTY — The county has purchased an additional 100 acres for an industrial park, says county consultant Crawford Powell. The additional property doubles the county’s industrial park acreage available for development.

Wakulla County

County Population: 33,080, Ï+7.3% vs. 2012
5-Year Change in Wages / Salaries: 21.3%
Per Capita Income: $32,371

CRAWFORDVILLE — The county has received $2 million from the Florida Department of Transportation for road resurfacing improvements to a 6.3-mile portion of Shadeville Road in Crawfordville. As part of the project, which is on schedule to be completed in midsummer, Wakulla County is paying for a bike trail to be installed on a portion of Shadeville Road, says David Edwards, Wakulla County administrator.

Washington County

County Population: 24,954, Ï+0.4% vs. 2012
5-Year Change in Wages / Salaries: 7.1%
Per Capita Income: $27,801

BONIFAY — WestPoint Home, a manufacturer of bedding products, has boosted its employment to 275, says Ted Everett, executive director of the Washington County Chamber of Commerce. Washington’s economic development officials continue to work with Holmes County and the city of Bonifay to create an authority that would fund construction of water and sewer lines to several communities in the two counties, Everett says.

Jackson County

County Population: 49,892, Ï+1.9% vs. 2012
5-Year Change in Wages / Salaries: 4.6%
Per Capita Income: $30,599

MARIANNA — Safari Helicopter of Marianna is expanding its workforce after receiving orders totaling nearly $1 million for six helicopter kits. Owners Bobby and Delane Baker say they expect to hire up to four technicians.

Tags: Economic Yearbook, Northwest

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