Northeast Florida Roundup
In the shadows: JaxPort's intermodal container transfer facility
To many people, the future of Jacksonville’s port is riding on a nearly $700-million project, still in limbo, that would deepen the channel. However, JaxPort has more quietly completed another project designed to increase freight moving through the port.
A $30-million intermodal container transfer facility opening this summer allows shippers to load containers directly from boats to CSX trains, making cargo traffic more efficient.
“Developing the rail facility is really a sign of developing a mature seaport,” says JaxPort CEO Brian Taylor.
The project was funded with $10 million from the U.S. Department of Transportation and $20 million from the Florida Department of Transportation.
CSX connects to 70 ocean, river and lakefront ports in the Eastern U.S., says Bob O’Malley, regional vice president for state government and community affairs for the Jacksonville- based railroad company. He sees the intermodal terminal as a plus for JaxPort as freight traffic expands on the East Coast.
“Ports that connect to other forms of transport are going to do well,” O’Malley says. “A port with an ICTF is more competitive for discretionary cargo.”
Along with conducting its traditional commercial operations, the port is one of 17 that the U.S. military has designated as strategic for moving military-related cargo.
While the smaller ICTF project is finished, Taylor is hopeful that the major harbor project, which would deepen the channel from 40 to 47 feet, will be put out for bid by the end of this year.
Drone Aviation named Jay Nussbaum CEO. Nussbaum, a former executive at Oracle, joined Drone Aviation as chairman in June 2015 after investing in the Jacksonville-based company, which makes lighter-than-air aerostats and electric-powered drones. Nussbaum succeeds Kevin Hess, who had just been appointed CEO in October. Hess remains with the company as chief technology officer.
The Florida Nonprofit Alliance named Sabeen Perwaiz executive director. Perwaiz had previously worked with TedxJacksonville and JAXUSA Partnership. The FNA, headquartered in Jacksonville, is a resource center for non-profits at the local, state and national levels.
ALACHUA COUNTY — The county commission closed a loophole that had allowed public contractors to pay their workers less than the $12 hourly rate mandated for county employees. The $12 minimum wage now applies to county contractors that supply waste management, grounds maintenance and janitorial services. Florida Biologix, a biotechnology firm spun off from the University of Florida in 2015, merged with Brammer Biopharmacueticals of Lexington, Mass., to form a cell and gene therapy biologics company called Brammer Bio. The merged company maintains a development and manufacturing facility in Alachua and another facility in Lexington. Applied Genetic Technologies, another UF spinoff, opened an office and laboratory.
GREEN COVE SPRINGS — Puma Aero Marine is moving into a hangar at Reynolds Industrial Park for use in renovating 737 and rotary wing aircraft for clients. The company will bring 40 jobs to the facility.
JACKSONVILLE — The Regency Square Mall suffered another major blow when Sears decided to close its store. Regency’s owners are now looking for nonretail uses for the facility. As General Electric brought its annual meeting to Jacksonville, the company announced a $250,000 grant to the AGAPE Community Health Center Network to launch a cardiovascular community outreach program. GE held its annual meeting in Jacksonville to highlight its new $75-million oil and gas products manufacturing plant. Fidelity National Financial Chairman Bill Foley joined with former Blackstone deal maker Chinh Chu to form a company called CF Corp. The company is raising $1 billion to look for acquisition targets, but Foley says its efforts will remain separate from Fidelity’s investment portfolio. Although Jacksonville’s One Spark crowdfunding festival downsized from six days to just one this year, organizers called the event a success after drawing 70,000 to the downtown event. Last year’s six-day event drew an estimated 320,000. Under new ownership for the first time in 32 years, the Jacksonville Suns drew more fans than any other double-A baseball franchise on the season’s opening weekend with 24,508. Ken Babby bought the Suns from Pedro Bragan Jr., whose family had owned the team since 1984, for a reported $20 million. Babby then spent $1.8 million on stadium upgrades. Novolex launched a $6 million expansion project that will add 25 jobs to its Jacksonville manufacturing plant. The plastic bag manufacturer already employed about 100 people at the plant. TapImmune is launching a phase 2 trial of its ovarian cancer vaccine at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York. The company moved its headquarters from Seattle to Jacksonville last year as phase 1 trials of the vaccine were conducted at the Mayo Clinic in Jacksonville.
OCALA — The Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. ended its receivership of Independent National Bank after completing the liquidation of its assets. The FDIC was appointed receiver of the bank in 2010, and its deposit accounts were transferred to CenterState Bank of Florida.
Bryce Pfanenstiel started Forge 3D Printing Studio with partner Adam Dukes four years ago and has expanded by becoming the U.S. arm of German 3-D printing company Staramba.
“It started with two guys disillusioned with sitting at a computer and not being able to touch anything we created,” says Pfanenstiel.
Staramba won the top prize at April’s One Spark creators competition in Jacksonville, and Pfanenstiel hopes his downtown business will be a spark for Jacksonville. “This can be something people can see as razzle and dazzle,” he says.