Northwest Florida Roundup
Construction underway for Leon County's $24-million business incubator
Construction is underway on the $24-million North Florida Innovation Labs, a partnership of Florida State University, the city of Tallahassee and Leon County.
The 40,000-sq.-ft. business incubator, slated to be completed by 2024, will house 31 labs, including biology and chemistry, and flexible workspaces and a machine shop to build prototypes.
Bill Lickson, previously executive director of the Tallahassee-based incubator Domi Station, is director of the NFIL.
NFIL is designed to help technology companies that need specialized, dedicated research facilities to commercialize and grow their innovations.
City and county officials say the new lab is the last piece of the region’s entrepreneurial ecosystem.
Major contributors to the NFIL project, located in Leon County’s Innovation Park, include $12 million from the U.S. Economic Development Administration; $5.6 million from FSU’s Research Foundation; and $2.5 million each from Tallahassee and Leon County.
NFIL’s other goal is to assist young companies co-locate in an established research park with other innovators and develop products that are the core elements of new and expanding businesses.
FSU President Richard Mc-Cullough says the incubator is a major step forward in the university’s continuing efforts to boost opportunities to keep graduates in the area and create startups based on university research.
“Universities are economic engines,” says McCullough. “This partnership with Innovation Park will enhance our existing research operations while building new partnerships and creating new jobs.”
- St. Joe Co. has begun construction of a Residence Inn by Marriott in Panama City Beach. The project is a partnership between St. Joe and Louisiana-based InterMountain Management. The hotel is expected to open in mid-2024.
- Plans for a hotel in the Bay County town of Callaway have been approved. The Candlewood Suites hotel will be built near Tyndall Air Force Base, which is undergoing a multi-billion-dollar rebuild after being devastated by Hurricane Michael in 2018.
- Pensacola law firm Aylstock, Witkin, Kreis & Overholtz donated $2.5 million to the University of West Florida. The gift will support the Center for Leadership’s two flagship programs, including an Executive MBA degree that focuses on leadership, along with executive leadership development seminars. “The importance of strong leadership in the civic setting, in schools, local government and other institutions, as well as in private sector businesses, has never been greater,” says Justin Witkin, a founding partner of the law firm.
- Despite losing a $3-billion U.S. Coast Guard contract earlier this year, Panama City-based Eastern Shipbuilding recently announced plans to hire almost 300 employees to meet project demands. “We currently have projects that extend for several years and will continue to add new projects to our docket,” says company President Joey D’Isernia.
- Mocama Marine plans to launch a boat manufacturing operation in existing buildings in the Bay County Industrial Park. Mocama says the plant will create 105 jobs with an average annual salary in excess of $50,000. Bay Economic Development Alliance President Becca Hardin says the company is investing $10.5 million into the new facilities. Mocama Marine is a subsidiary of East Bay Capital, an investment firm based in Jacksonville.
- Sun Country Airlines plans to launch service from Minneapolis-St. Paul International to Destin-Fort Walton Beach starting in April.