Northwest Florida Roundup
Yamaha Marine execs believe a Pensacola technical college program can serve as a national model
Yamaha Marine executives believe an innovative marine service technology program at a Pensacola technical college can serve as a model for more than 100 similar training schools across the country. The program, at George Stone Technical College in Pensacola, has an almost 100% graduation rate and job placement of students.
Kenyon Ward, training coordinator for Yamaha Marine, says marine repair service companies are facing a shortage of technicians while trying to meet demand for services after a surge in boat sales during the pandemic. Ward and other Yamaha executives are hoping to apply George Stone instructor Stefan Schmitt's curricula and instructional methods to the more than 100 marine service schools the college has partnered with across the country.
Another key to George Stone’s program success, says Ward, is the relationships it has built with marinas and boat dealers in Northwest Florida. Ward adds that many retail boat dealers and marinas are too focused on selling boats rather than investing in the technicians to service them.
“To solve this problem, we’ve got to do the small things like what’s being done at George Stone and communicate this model to the dealers and other marine service schools and say, 'Step up your game,’ ” Ward says.
- After a yearlong delay due to the pandemic, the second phase of ST Engineering’s jet aircraft, maintenance and repair facility at the Pensacola International Airport is underway. Completion of the 177,000-sq.-ft. hangar is expected by the fall of 2022. ST’s plans call for two more similar sized maintenance and repair hangars. Once all hangars are completed, ST Engineering will have more than 700,000 square feet under roof. The company says it expects to hire nearly 1,700 employees over the next several years. The $210-million project is being funded through grants from the state and include $66 million from Triumph Gulf Coast and $15 million each from the city of Pensacola and Escambia County.
- Southwire plans to spend around $10 million to expand and modernize its building at Bob Sikes Airport in Crestview. Georgia-based Southwire, one of the country’s largest wire and cable producers, says the project will take place over the next few years and create a significant number of jobs.
- The Charles, Destin’s newest apartment complex, opened in July. The 192 apartments vary from 736 square feet to 1,412 square feet. Rents range from $1,522 to $2,602 a month, says spokeswoman Stephanie Fuzy.
- Washington Prime Group, owner of University Town Plaza in Pensacola, has filed to reorganize under the Chapter 11 bankruptcy laws, citing the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. Tenants include JCPenney, Academy Sports and Burlington Coat Factory. In announcing the bankruptcy filing, the Ohio-based company says it has secured $100 million in additional financing that will ensure retailers can continue regular business operations.
- Mississippi-based Spooner Petroleum has ended its efforts to find oil and gas after an exploratory well in Gulf County came up empty. The drilling site was in the Wetappo Creek area in northern Gulf County. The effort is the company’s second unsuccessful exploratory well in Northwest Florida.
- Allegiant has added new twice-weekly service from Destin-Fort Walton Beach Airport to St. Cloud Regional Airport in Minnesota.
Read more in Florida Trend's September issue.
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