Northwest Florida Roundup
FSU alum Joshua Esnard won a $300K partnership deal with Shark Tank investor
A Cut Above
Florida State University alumnus Joshua Esnard, inventor of The Cut Buddy, a hair and beard grooming device, recently reached a $300,000 investment partnership deal from ABC’s Shark Tank investor Daymond John.
The partnership includes a licensing deal. The Cut Buddy will be sold at Walmart and Target.
In addition to the Shark Tank deal, Esnard, who graduated from FSU’s College of Business in 2008, has launched a campaign to raise an additional $750,000 during the first half of this year. Funds from that effort will be used to expand the startup’s operations and meet demand.
Ruling Goes Against Skanska
A federal court judge has sided with nearly 1,000 homeowners, commuters, business owners and government entities in the case against Skanska over the destruction of the Pensacola Bay Bridge that occurred when the company’s barges broke loose from their Pensacola Bay moorings during Hurricane Sally.
The decision, by federal Judge Lacey A. Collier, is considered a major win for the region’s businesses, which were significantly impacted during the nine months that the new, $400-million bridge connecting Pensacola and Gulf Breeze was unusable.
Collier’s opinion found that Skanska, the general contractor, was negligent in its preparations ahead of the September 2020 hurricane. Further, Collier’s ruling says the company cannot limit its financial liability — under an arcane maritime law — to the $1.2 million value of the 20-plus barges that broke free during the storm.
- Amazon's $200-million robotics fulfillment center in Tallahassee is nearing the halfway mark with completion expected by the end of this year. The 630,000-sq.-ft. building will create some 1,000 jobs.
- Site preparation is underway for construction of Panama City Beach’s first full-service hospital, a joint venture between Tallahassee Memorial Healthcare, St. Joe Co. and the Florida State University College of Medicine. The 100-room hospital, to include doctors’ offices and an urgent care facility, is expected to be completed during the first half of 2024. The campus is located on an 87-acre parcel near St. Joe’s Latitude Margaritaville, Watersound residential community and Northwest Florida Beaches International Airport.
- Construction is underway on 4Forty North, a 250-unit apartment in downtown Tallahassee. The $69-million redevelopment of the 2.5-acre site includes nearly 14,000 square feet of commercial office space. Completion is expected by summer 2023. Boulos Corp. has 10 construction projects planned this year that will deliver some 700 single-family and duplex homes to the Tallahassee market. Among the projects underway are Tower Gates, a 154-unit, single-family subdivision, and Lexington Park, a subdivision of 64 single-family homes on Apalachee Parkway.
- Construction is moving forward on the Orange Avenue Apartments, one of the largest residential redevelopment projects on Tallahassee's south side in decades. The public housing project is funded in two phases. Construction of the first phase is on track to begin in May, with second phase construction starting in late summer.
- FedEx is planning a 251,000-sq.-ft. shipment facility at the Port of Panama City’s Intermodal Distribution Center. The 33-acre site was chosen, in part, because of its access to major highways, proximity to area distribution centers and a strong local workforce, says Will Cramer, chairman of the Bay Economic Development Alliance.
- Boeing Global Services, one of Okaloosa County’s largest employers, has selected Fort Walton Beach for a $2.5-million expansion project.
- Central Moloney has chosen Bay County for a $20-million expansion of its manufacturing operations. Headquartered in Pine Bluff, Ark., the company designs and manufactures electrical distribution transformers and transformer component parts for utilities and distributors throughout the U.S.
- Pensacola-based car dealer Sandy Sansing has given the University of West Florida $600,000 to support construction of a sports medicine center. The center will be named in Sansing’s honor. Sansing, owner of 11 new-car dealerships in West Florida and south Alabama, is a graduate and former student-athlete at UWF.
- American Airlines will begin offering weekly service between Logan International Airport in Boston and Pensacola International Airport in June.
- United Airlines has discontinued all flights to and from Destin-Fort Walton Beach Airport. Okaloosa County Airports Director Tracy Stage says the airline's decision should not have a significant impact and will open up “some much needed gate space” for other airlines.