May 20, 2024
ATS Dec NW 2023
The Foley Cellulose mill near Perry was Taylor County's largest single employer.

Photo: Georgia Pacific

ATS Dec NW 2023
Developers are moving forward with plans to build a nine-story Hampton Inn & Suites in downtown Pensacola. To make room for the hotel, New World Landing, a small boutique hotel built in the 1970s, will be razed.

Photo: Lindsay Pope Brayfield And Associates

ATS Dec NW 2023
Construction is underway on a $65-million Leonardo Herlicopter maintenance and aftermarket support facility at Whiting Aviation Park in Santa Rosa County.

Photo: Leonardo

Northwest Florida Roundup

Shredding Jobs

A paper plant closure in Taylor County leaves hundreds of locals jobless and will have ripple effects across the state.

Carlton Proctor | 12/31/2023

SPOTLIGHT

Taylor County and city of Perry officials are scrambling to find a buyer for the Georgia-Pacific paper mill that abruptly closed in September eliminating approximately 525 jobs. Known as the Foley Cellulose mill, the paper manufacturer near Perry was the largest single employer in Taylor County.

Perry officials describe the mill’s closure as “devastating.” The county seat of Taylor County, Perry’s current population is about 7,000. Job losses related to the shuttered plant will approach 2,000 statewide, according to an analysis by the UF Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences that counts loggers, truckers and others who draw their livelihood from the mill. The study estimates local and state tax coffers will take a combined hit of nearly $10 million.

Georgia-Pacific said the decision to shut down the mill was made before Hurricane Idalia, a Category 4 storm which struck the Big Bend region in late August damaging some of the mill’s equipment.

However, the paper company issued a press release saying that despite the hurricane damage it did not have a longterm conviction the mill could serve its customers in a competitive manner.

The mill produces “fluff pulp” that is used in a wide range of products that include clothing, tires, shampoo, diapers, filters and towels. The mill closure was the second major blow to the Taylor County economy in the past three years. In 2020, Georgia-Pacific laid off 150 employees after scaling down production during the pandemic.

AEROSPACE

  • A $32.5-million aviation maintenance, repair and overhaul hangar at Northwest Florida Beaches International Airport in Bay County is under construction. Premier Aviation USA Overhaul Services says the facility will create 250 high-wage jobs when it’s completed in 2025. “This project could have gone anywhere in the United States and Premier Aviation chose Bay County,” says Holly Melzer, chair of the Northwest Florida Beaches International Airport Board of Directors. Haney Technical College in Panama City will assist with the training of technicians and aviation mechanics at the Premier MRO facility. Funding for the project came from Triumph Gulf Coast and Space Florida.

HEALTH CARE

  • HCA Florida Healthcare is moving ahead with construction of a health care facility on nine acres it purchased in DeFuniak Springs. HCA has not provided specifics about the project but did confirm the facility will include emergency services and be more substantial than an outpatient clinic.
  • Construction is underway on a $65-million Leonardo Helicopter maintenance and aftermarket support facility at Whiting Aviation Park in Santa Rosa County. The 113,000-sq.-ft. center will provide the Italian-based aerospace company with repair, overhaul and transmission testing along with a larger warehouse for spare parts. Leonardo CEO Clyde Woltman says the facility is the result of a partnership and support by the State of Florida, Space Florida, Triumph Gulf Coast, Santa Rosa County and the U.S. Navy.

REAL ESTATE

  • Developers are moving forward with plans to build a nine-story Hampton Inn & Suites in downtown Pensacola. To make room for the hotel, New World Landing, a small boutique hotel built in the 1970s, will be razed. While initially supporting the project, the city of Pensacola’s Architectural Review Board has asked developers to redesign the exterior of the building to conform more closely to the facades of existing downtown buildings.
  • Construction is underway on a $ 65-million Leonardo helicopter maintenance and aftermarket support facility at Whiting Aviation Park in Santa Rosa County. The 113,000-sq.-ft. center will provide the Italian-based aerospace company with repair, overhaul and transmission testing along with a larger warehouse for spare parts. Leonardo CEO Clyde Woltman says the facility is the result of partnership and support by the State of Florida, Space Florida, Triumph Gulf Coast, Santa Rosa County and the U.S. Navy.

Tags: Northwest, Feature

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