Northeast Florida Roundup
UF IFAS researchers develop citrus greening-resistant tree
Researchers at the University of Florida Institute for Food and Agricultural Sciences have made headway in developing a citrus greening-resistant tree.
Greening, a disease transmitted by an insect, compromises a tree’s root system and ultimately affects the fruit. The disease has spread rapidly, killing about 130,000 acres of crops since it arrived in the state around 2005, according to the Florida Department of Citrus. “You cannot find a citrus grove in Florida that doesn’t have citrus greening,” says professor Fred Gmitter Jr.
Searching for a solution, UF researchers have worked with scientists from the University of California Berkeley and the U.S. Department of Energy’s Joint Genome Institute to sequence the genome of trifoliate orange, a cousin of citrus trees.
By sequencing the genome, scientists can begin isolating genes that are resistant to citrus greening. This information can be used to breed new trees that can survive citrus greening and other conditions.
- Lockheed Martin Logistics Services laid off 90 employees in December at Jacksonville’s Cecil Field after its contract to handle maintenance on the Customs and Border Protection’s fleet of P-3 aircraft expired. Many of the employees are expected to get job offers from Northrop Grumman, which was awarded a contract in June to maintain the aircraft for the next 10 years at the National Air Security Operations Center-Jacksonville, one of two sites where the P-3 fleet is based.
- Big Daddy Unlimited has announced plans for a 40,000-sq.- ft. distribution and ammunition manufacturing center in Ocala. The online gun retailer hopes to employ between 10 and 20 people.
- The Jacksonville Jaguars presented new plans for the Shipyards and Metropolitan Park development in November. Plans for the property, on the north bank of the St. Johns River downtown, include a Four Seasons hotel, a medical center, residential, retail and restaurant space as well as event space and a marina with 78 boat slips.
- The Florida School for the Deaf and the Blind in St. Augustine hired Tracie Cascio Snow as its new president. Snow had been the administrator of instructional services for the school.
- University of Florida scientists have developed a device that monitors water quality. GatorByte, which is tracked using GPS and cellular communication, allows water source managers to quickly locate sources of pollution.
- The North Florida Land Trust has purchased two parcels of conservation land for the city of Fernandina Beach. The properties are adjacent to an undeveloped city-owned right of way.
- The owners of Celebrity’s Soul Food chain have chosen Ocala for the company’s headquarters. Fredrick and Taja James plan to open 200 franchised soul food restaurants across the country in the next two years.
- Jacksonville-based Grumpy’s Restaurant will open three locations in 2021: One in St. Johns County and two in Jacksonville. The southern-style diner plans to open eight restaurants by the end of 2022.
- The U.S. Small Business Administration has selected Michael Barrera as its North Florida district director. Barrera has served as the organization’s national ombudsman and as CEO of the U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce.
- The Downtown Investment Authority in Jacksonville has issued a request for proposals to redevelop the former Jacksonville Landing property. The organization is asking for designs that include public space and areas reserved for private development. The deadline for proposals is April 1.
- AdventHealth plans to build a freestanding emergency room in Belleview.
- In November, Trulieve opened its first Columbia County store in Lake City, the company’s 72nd nationwide.
- Encompass Health Rehabilitation Hospital of Jacksonville plans to build a 50-bed hospital off Gate Parkway to provide physical, occupational and speech therapy. The company also has plans for a 40-bed rehabilitation hospital in St. Augustine.
- Dredging of the Port of Fernandina has been completed. It can now receive ships with a draft of up to 40 feet.
- Safelite Group of Columbus, Ohio, bought the auto glass division of Lee & Cates Glass, a Jacksonville-based glass supplier. Founded in 1926 by brothers-in-law Thomas Lee Sr. and Raymond Cates, Lee & Cates has 10 locations in Northeast Florida and Southeast Georgia.
- Construction began in January on the $32.8-million Hyatt Place hotel in downtown Gainesville. The six-story hotel will open in mid-2022 with 144 rooms and 39 studio apartments.
- Construction on the Cornerstone Crossing at 47 in Lake City is set to begin in the spring. The 27-acre, multi-million-dollar project at SR 47 and I-75 will include commercial, restaurant, grocery and retail spaces.
- Benderson Development plans to build a 991-acre industrial park in north Jacksonville.
- 1A Auto, an online retailer for after-market car parts, has signed a lease on a 86,800-sq.-ft. warehouse at the Northpoint Industrial Park in Jacksonville.
- Temporary staffing company Adecco Group has sold its subsidiary Vendorpass, a workforce management company headquartered in Jacksonville, to Houston-based Icon Information Consultants, a human capital and payroll management company.
- The Jacksonville Bar Association is working with the city of Jacksonville to administer a $5.1-million eviction and foreclosure prevention program. Residents who have been affected by COVID-19 can receive up to $5,000 and business owners up to $10,000 to pay rent or mortgages.
- JaxPort reported a 5% drop in cargo shipments in 2020.
- Throughout the spring semester, the University of Florida is testing students for COVID-19 every two weeks. The mandate applies to students living in residence halls, Greek Life students with a meal plan, ROTC members and students enrolled in face-to-face courses.
Read more in Florida Trend's February issue.
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