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October 21, 2018

Business Florida 2018 - The Regions

Bounding Forward

| 9/22/2017

Northwest

ECONOMIC ACTIVITY (continued)

Tourism

PANAMA CITY BEACH Two new hotels have opened along the beach and within walking distance of the Pier Park shopping/entertainment complex — a 157-room Holiday Inn Express and a 182-room Hampton Inn & Suites. Coming soon: the 260-room SpringHill Suites by Marriott.

DEFUNIAK SPRINGS The historic downtown Hotel DeFuniak is getting a well-deserved makeover. Plans call for the 100-year-old property to be returned to its original grandeur as a “New York-style, high-end vintage boutique hotel.” No opening date has been set, but 20 new jobs are anticipated.

Key Players

Edgewater Beach & Golf Resort | Panama City Beach
Innisfree Hotels | Gulf Breeze

The lure of year-round sunshine and lazy afternoons spent at sidewalk cafes continues to make tourism big business in five northwest coastal counties. Bed taxes collected in Bay, Escambia, Okaloosa, Santa Rosa and Walton topped $74 million in 2016, a 6% increase over 2015.

 

Business/Financial Services

TALLAHASSEE The Thomasville, Ga.-based Senior Life Insurance Company has selected Tallahassee-Leon County as the location for its first expansion into Florida; 30 full-time jobs are expected.

TALLAHASSEE The 200 employees of a Tallahassee-based insurance group consisting of Southern Fidelity & Causality, Capitol Preferred Insurance Company and Southern Fidelity Insurance Company have moved to a three-story, 55,000-sq.-ft. building in order to make room for a new title insurance company.

Key Players

CHCS Services | Pensacola
Navy Federal Credit Union | Pensacola
West Corporation | Pensacola

Navy Federal Credit Union continues work on an expansion that will add 1.1 million square feet and another 5,000 employees at its Pensacola campus by 2019. The Virginia-based credit union — largest in the world and consistently named among the nation’s best companies to work for by Forbes — expects to have a $1-billion investment in Pensacola, a $425-million payroll and 10,000 employees locally by 2026

 

Logistics/Transportation

PANAMA CITY Panama City Port Authority and WestRock, a corrugated packaging company, have combined forces to double the port’s cargo capacity with the addition of 41 acres and a second terminal. At its intermodal distribution center, the port has added 100,000 square feet to its existing 150,000-sq.-ft distribution warehouse.

WALTON COUNTY A FedEx Ground distribution center opened in September 2016 in Mossy Head Industrial Park. The new facility, just off Interstate 10, is about four times the size of the facility it replaces. Current employment is nearing 300.

MIDWAY Four Star Freightliner has opened a dealership in Gadsden County with proximity to Interstate 10. In addition to creating 10 jobs, the firm will partner with the Gadsden Technical Institute on a diesel technician training program.

OKALOOSA COUNTY Destin-Fort Walton Beach Airport logged the highest passenger count in its 60-year history in 2016, an 18% increase over 2015. With the recent addition of Allegiant service to 11 destinations, officials expect next year to break the 1 million mark.

PENSACOLA Improvements at the Port of Pensacola’s Warehouse 9 include a “high hat” bay with 30-foot+ hook height to support overhead bridge cranes with 30-ton capacities, and installation of three 120-amp, 440-volt electrical outlets to provide incoming vessels with more energy efficient power sources while in port.

Key Players

Eastern Shipbuilding | Panama City
Gold Ring Distributing | Milton and Panama City
Linea Peninsular | Panama City

 

Technology

Using a Mina v2 exoskeleton developed by the Pensacola-based Florida Institute for Human & Machine Cognition, Mark Daniel, who is paralyzed from the waist down due to a spinal cord injury, performed everyday tasks — like walking up/down stairs and sitting down/standing up from a sofa — well enough to earn IHMC a second-place medal in the “powered exoskeleton” division of an international competition for disabled athletes and their wearable robotics.

Tags: Business Florida

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