September 30, 2023
The food network in Jacksonville

Photo: Bruce Lipsky/Florida Times-Union

Mark Patterson's North Florida Food Alliance meets twice a month to exchange ideas.

Northeast Florida Roundup

The food network in Jacksonville

A group of Jacksonville businesspeople shares a common bond: Food and networking.

Mark Basch | 7/27/2016

When Mark Patterson began his frozen dessert company, Naturally Smart, three years ago, he began looking for people who could help his fledgling business.

“I started networking, and there was really no one working on food,” he says.

Patterson started a network himself, bringing together small Jacksonvillearea businesses last year to form the North Florida Food Alliance.

The alliance, which includes a dozen food businesses, meets twice a month to exchange ideas and develop relationships with retailers and distributors who might carry their products.

“You have to show some kind of commitment,” says Patterson. “We expect you to show up for meetings.”

Besides attendance, the other requirements include having products that are “store ready” and don’t compete with those of other members.

The group is focused on Jacksonville area businesses now but is open to anyone in north Florida, and Patterson is hoping to expand with affiliates in other regions for networking opportunities.

Most of the products are for human consumption but membership includes the Pawfection Bakery, a home-based business that offers gourmet dog treats.

“I thought it would be a great fit for me and my company,” says Pawfection owner Amy Gorman.

“We’re all about networking and sharing ideas.” “We didn’t really know what the group was going to be except we knew we’re all like-minded companies,” says Jason McDonald, president of Fresh Jax, a food and healthy lifestyle business. “It’s really neat to just talk openly and confidentially with our peers.”


Tech + Food

“I’m a foodie and a techie,” says Jeff Charette, describing his inspiration for Menuat, a St. Augustine business that offers technology for electronic restaurant menus.

The electronic menu boards that Menuat provides in place of chalkboards allow restaurants to easily update menus daily.

After three years in business, Charette’s data show the electronic boards work. “We see traditionally a 7% increase in revenue as a result of using our menu boards,” he says.

Business Briefs

ALACHUA — Shareholders of RTI Surgical voted in seven board members backed by management, including three new directors for the surgical implant company. Krensavage Asset Management, a 6% shareholder, launched a proxy fight by nominating four candidates for the board. Krensavage’s top candidate only garnered 20% of shareholder votes.

GAINESVILLE — Video game company Trendy Entertainment settled a lawsuit with co-founder Jeremy Stieglitz, who left Trendy in 2014. Trendy alleged Stieglitz violated a non-compete agreement by starting another company, Wildcard Properties, which developed a successful video game called ARK: Survival Evolved. A tweet from Stieglitz’s wife said Wildcard paid $40 million to settle the suit. Infinite Energy is raising the starting salary for all employees to $15 an hour.

GREEN COVE SPRINGS — Green Cove Development Group bought the 23-acre site of the former Gustafson Dairy, with plans to open a concrete paver manufacturing facility.

JACKSONVILLE — Graham Media, which already owns Jacksonville independent station WJXT TV-4, is buying CW affiliate WCWJ TV-17. Nexstar is selling TV-17 and four other stations to satisfy regulators before it buys Media General. Aetna is moving 800 employees from a 22-story tower along the downtown Southbank to a suburban office park originally built a quarter-century ago for Barnett Bank. New Stein Mart CEO Dawn Robertson is launching strategies designed to attract younger shoppers. Stein Mart’s traditional target market is women over 35. BAE Systems halted many of its planned 300 layoffs at its two Jacksonville shipyards after announcing two new U. S. Navy contracts worth at least $61.7 million. The company is maintaining employment at about 600. Despite the faltering economy in Puerto Rico, Crowley Maritime says it remains committed to running shipping lines to the island. It signed a $21-million construction contract for upgrades at its terminal in San Juan, following a $48.5-million project last year for a new pier at the terminal. Black Knight Financial, which provides processing technology for mortgage companies, bought document technology company eLynx for $115 million. Developer Sleiman Enterprises donated $500,000 for a down payment on a new lower-rate loan to save the Faithbridge Church, which was facing foreclosure. HomeServices of America acquired Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Florida Network Realty, a 28-year-old Jacksonvillebased company. Terms were not disclosed.

LAKE CITY — After laying off 128 workers during the winter, customer service center Sitel is hiring 200 at its Lake City facility.

YULEE — Rayonier is moving its headquarters from downtown Jacksonville to a 24,000-acre project it’s developing in Nassau County. The company is consolidating three offices, with 145 employees, into a 55,000-sq.-ft. building scheduled to open in the fall of 2017.


As part of a realignment of its executive management team, CSX promoted Cressie Brown from vice president/ labor relations to senior vice president and chief administrative officer, and Kathleen Brandt from head of its information technology unit to senior vice president and chief information officer. Lisa Mancini retired as executive vice president and chief administrative officer.

Chad Christianson was appointed CEO of Ocala Health, which operates two Marion County hospitals. Christianson was most recently COO of CJW Medical Center in Richmond, Va.

Tags: Dining & Travel, Northeast

Florida Business News

  • Florida’s population boom drives bigger hurricane losses, despite tougher building codes

    Florida leads the nation in strict building codes, and the decades of hard work have paid off in the increasing number of homes and buildings that survive each time a hurricane slashes the state. But all those hard-won gains have been undermined by the explosion of growth along the coast.

  • Business BeatBusiness Beat - Week of September 29th

    Get top news-to-know with Florida Trend's headline-focused video news brief, hosted by digital content specialist Aimée Alexander.

  • Enterprise Florida exiting

    The doors are ready to close on Enterprise Florida, the business-recruitment agency long targeted by state House leaders.

  • Seeking protection

    Three activist groups served notice to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service that they intend to sue to force the agency to invoke Endangered Species Act protection for the ghost orchid.

  • State jobless claims decrease

    An estimated 5,155 first-time jobless claims were filed in Florida last week, a decrease from the previous week and below the average for the year.

Florida News Releases

Florida Trend Video Pick

Radioactive roads? Florida has yet to submit application to EPA to start testing
Radioactive roads? Florida has yet to submit application to EPA to start testing

It appears no steps have been taken to begin testing whether slightly radioactive waste from fertilizer production can be repurposed for Florida road construction projects.

Video Picks | Viewpoints@FloridaTrend

Ballot Box

Do you believe that home values in Florida have finally peaked?

  • Absolutely!
  • No way!
  • The jury's still out...
  • Other (Let us know in the comment section below)

See Results

Florida Trend Media Company
490 1st Ave S
St Petersburg, FL 33701

© Copyright 2023 Trend Magazines Inc. All rights reserved.