September 30, 2023
Aero-Dynamics: Bay County welcomes GKN Aerospace
GKN Aerospace will lease a 130,000-sq-ft. building from the county.

Northwest Florida Roundup

Aero-Dynamics: Bay County welcomes GKN Aerospace

Carlton Proctor | 4/26/2017

Bay County’s recent success in landing a $50-million aerospace manufacturing facility started with a knock on Becca Hardin’s door.

After Hardin, president of the Bay County Economic Development Alliance, moved into her Panama City home two years ago, a neighbor, Paul Cocker, came by with his wife to welcome her and her husband. “We got to talking. I asked him what he did,” says Hardin. “He said, ‘I just retired from GKN Aerospace.’ ”

Hardin, who has extensive experience in aviation industry recruitment, eventually learned that Cocker had been CEO of the North American subsidiary of GKN, a U.K. aerospace company with some 28,000 employees worldwide.

Hardin invited Cocker to accompany Bay County’s economic development delegation to the International Paris Air Show as a consultant. While in Paris, Cocker set up a meeting between Bay EDA officials and Daniele Cagnetel, CEO of GKN North America at the time.

“We told him where we were, what we were and what we did,” says Hardin. “And he (Cagnetel) said, ‘Well, we have a project that we need a location for.’ ”

Eighteen months later, the Bay EDA announced that GKN would move into a 130,000-sq.- ft. building later this year. The company, which received $3.78 million in incentives, will lease the building — now under construction — from Bay County and will create 170 jobs for skilled workers.

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DESTIN — Allegiant Airlines has begun non-stop service from Destin-Fort Walton Beach Airport to 11 U.S. cities, including Austin, Cleveland, Louisville, Washington, D.C., Pittsburgh and Newark. Chef Emeril Lagasse is opening a restaurant in Grand Boulevard’s Town Center in Sandestin.

MARIANNA — Catalyst Fabric Solutions, which makes bed furnishings and towels, announced it will begin production in early spring in a 270,000-sq.-ft. building. The company expects to hire between 100 and 150 employees.

PENSACOLA — University of West Florida accounting students ranked third in the nation in 2016 for their first-time pass rate on the Certified Public Accountant Examination (87.1%). UWF trailed only Wake Forest University (89.5%) and Northwestern University (89%) among 858 institutions surveyed. SANTA ROSA COUNTY — The Santa Rosa County Commission has approved an ordinance allowing alcohol to be served on Sundays.

TALLAHASSEE — A $20-million affordable housing project in the historic African-American Frenchtown community is expected to be ready for leasing by the end of 2017.


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