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Gulf Coast Week: Feb. 11 - Feb. 17

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  • | 11:35 p.m. February 10, 2011
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Factory breaks ground

Chromalloy Gas Turbine LLC broke ground on a $5-million, 40,000-square-foot ceramic core production plant in Tampa. The new facility is scheduled to open early next year.

A subsidiary of Tampa-based Sequa Corp., Chromalloy opened its 150,000-square-foot foundry in December at a cost of $30 million.

The foundry expanded its casting capability to pour up to a million pounds of superalloy turbine components and parts for aerospace, aero-derivative and industrial gas turbine engines.

The new facility will supply the critical ceramic cores used to cast superalloy turbine engine vanes and blades.

Gov. Rick Scott attended the Feb. 3 groundbreaking ceremony and met with Chromalloy executives and employees. The company has locations in 17 countries.

New exterior for TIA

Nearly $12 million worth of improvements are planned to the roads and curbsides at Tampa International Airport. A contract for the year-long project is expected to be awarded by the Hillsborough County Aviation Authority at its April 7 meeting.

Design changes proposed by Tampa-based Alfonso Architects Inc. include new approach and curbside signage, improved exterior lighting, restored outside baggage counters, and street and sidewalk resurfacing.

Work at the 40-year-old TIA terminal will be done in phases and limited to off-peak hours to avoid disrupting traffic and flight service.


Canadians acquire Oasis

Lofton Island Holdings of Canada has acquired 224 condos in the second tower of Oasis, a complex in downtown Fort Myers developed by the Related Group.

Lofton paid $36.7 million for the 224 condos, or nearly $164,000 per unit.

Besides Oasis, Lofton has acquired other distressed properties on the Gulf Coast, including The Place at Channelside in Tampa and The Sage in St. Petersburg.

Lonely Planet Lee

Travel-guide publisher Lonely Planet recently unveiled marketing tools for the Lee County Visitor & Convention Bureau.

The tools include a 144-page guidebook that will be included free in Lonely Planet sales from tourist feeder markets to the area. The book will also be included as a gift for anyone who purchases a Lonely Planet guide at 41 Florida Books-a-Million stores.

The Lee County tourist guide is also available in electronic format on the bureau's Web site and as a free iTunes application on the Lonely Planet Web site.

AutoNation buys dealership

AutoNation plans to acquire the Fort Myers Toyota dealership from the Templeton family.

Terms of the deal were not disclosed, but AutoNation is buying the dealership located at the intersection of Colonial Boulevard and Fowler Street in Fort Myers, according to Pamela Templeton, Fort Myers Toyota's treasurer.

Competitor CarMax Auto Superstores recently acquired a 17-acre parcel near the Toyota dealership at the corner of Colonial and Metro Parkway for $4.1 million.

Chamber chief retires

Stephen Tirey has retired as the president and CEO of the Chamber of Southwest Florida, a regional chamber in Fort Myers.

Tirey will become director of industry partnerships and graduate placement for Southwest Florida College, a private college with campuses in Lee, Charlotte and Hillsborough counties.

Tirey's replacement at the chamber has not yet been selected.


Backlog remains high

The foreclosure backlog in the judicial district that includes Sarasota and Manatee counties dropped 21% over the last six months, according to state data.

But the decline, in the 12th Judicial Circuit, is not on target with a statewide initiative for all circuits to cut the foreclosure case backlog 62% by July. The initiative stems from a onetime grant authorized by the Legislature that gave Florida's 20 judicial circuits $9.6 million to divvy up in the effort.

The 12th circuit used its share of the funds to hire case managers and bring back retired judges to hear foreclosure cases. The circuit, which is comprised of DeSoto, Manatee and Sarasota counties, cleared 4,500 cases since July 1, but more than 17,000 cases remain in the system.

Mayor proposal denied

An effort to bring an elected-mayor form of government to the city of Sarasota has been defeated again.

The city's Charter Review Committee, which suggests possible changes to the city's charter to city commissioners, recently rejected a proposal on the issue. The committee, in turning down the effort, noted city voters defeated referenda three times that called for an elected mayor.

Sarasota's mayor title is currently rotated annually among city commissioners. A city manager, who reports to the commission, handles the day-to-day management of the city.

More cuts loom

The state budget recently proposed by Gov. Rick Scott could cost the Manatee and Sarasota county school districts $37 million, school officials say.

Manatee County would lose $20 million, while Sarasota County could lose $17 million. Both districts have previously made cuts in their spending. Manatee County, for example, has cut $46 million out of its $640 million budget since 2008, while Sarasota County has cut $104 million out of a $734 million budget since 2007.

Scott's budget includes a proposal to cut school spending statewide by 10%.


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