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How the Pensacola International Airport and city of Pensacola plan to diversify Pensacola’s growing landscape, starting with VT MAE and the aerospace industry.
· OTHER STORIES ·
Called 2 Rescue
IN A YEAR OF POLITICAL TOXICITY, LOCAL BUSINESSMAN FRANK WHITE HOPES TO MAKE SUBSTANTIVE AND MEANINGFUL CHANGES IN THE FLORIDA STATE HOUSE.
What a local organization is doing to prepare volunteers in the Florida Panhandle on how to aggressively address and root out human trafficking in our area.
Around the Region FIND OUT WHAT IS HAPPENING IN BUSINESS, GOVERNMENT AND CULTURAL NEWS IN THE GREATER PENSACOLA AREA AND NORTHWEST FLORIDA.
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Government FRANK WHITE, a native of the Texas panhandle, is dipping his toes into the complex world of state politics when he officially assumes the role of District 2 state representative in just a few weeks. He has been active on the Florida Development Finance Corporation Board of Directors and the Pensacola State College Board of Trustees. When he is not working for his father-in-law Sandy Sansing, White also serves as a board member for Baptist Hospital, a mentor with Take Stock in Children, a lead organizer for Startup Weekend Pensacola, and is a former board member of the Pensacola M.E.S.S. Hall. He, his wife and three children live in Pensacola. White was unchallenged in the primary competition and beat out opponent Ray Guillory in the general.
Why did you get involved with politics in this divisive year? It was really about the opportunity to serve and make a difference. I saw the dynamics align to where there was a path. In knowing that public service is something I’ve always been interested in, this was the time when there was a clear path. We took a big risk and filed before some dominoes began to fall and some seats began to open up. As soon as that happened, we were off and running, knocking on doors, raising money, going to events, etc. That kept the primary path open and clear, which was a wonderful benefit working in the fall. Have you always had your eye on a legislative position? Yes and no. I’ve always been interested in it. I’ve never had a 30-step plan to become something like Secretary General or something. A long time ago, I learned to have plans but those plans never work out like you think they will. The opportunity was there, to
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and strengthen our economy and provide opportunity more broadly to everyone in the area. We’ll start The political newcomer is ready to represent to make improvements in a lot of Florida’s District 2 with a moderate voice, a the other challenges our society face like generational poverty, sensitive likability, and a sensible approach to healthcare outcomes, K-12 the state’s challenges. education, stronger community, BY JOSH NEWBY etc. As a region, we once had serve and make a difference. a strong, vibrant middle class I’m not playing House of Cards. Some that was based on a manufacturing economy. people I’ve met seem to be playing House of Things have changed in the region. As Cards. That’s not me and that’s not what’s globalization and automation has hit the entire going to make a legislation successful. manufacturing sector, in the area, that has eroded what was our stable middle class. So What are your priorities? kitchen table economics for people in our area Number one is the BP settlement are very different than they used to be. You TRIUMPH funds being invested in our have one- or two-parent households with at economy. The damage was done here, the least one job per person, and those jobs don’t settlement was intended to come here, and have as much stability as we thought they had. the legislature promised that it would. And Those people are also saddled with a lot of now those funds are at risk. The number student debt. Any state policy that will provide one priority is that the legislature fulfills its more economic stability in more homes will be promise to our region. a good thing. I’m also interested in policies that promote growth. The issues of growth are much greater than the issues of stagnation. Let’s diversify
What particular committees are catching your interest? Appropriations definitely. But there’s only a few spots, so I’m interested in that process wherever I’m best used. Also, tax, healthcare, regulations. Those are my main focuses. Have you seen Speaker Corcoran’s plans to limit lobbying? I love it. Any reforms that will make the legislative process more open and responsive and open and accountable, I will support. What are some things you think the district can do better on? This district has probably the largest spread in household income of any district in the state. We have median household incomes in the six figures in Perdido Key and Gulf Breeze. And then you have some zip codes with a median income of $14,800 a year. To me, that’s mind-boggling. A lot of that is generational poverty, which I will support policies and make investments to solve. How do you feel about pay raises for state workers? I’ll look at the state budget and see if the budget would support a pay raise. Second, I’d look at market dynamics and if the state is having a hard time attracting the workforce it needs to do the people’s business.
“Any state policy that will provide more economic stability in more homes will be a good thing.”
What is your opinion on Enterprise Florida and funding for them? Enterprise Florida is a flawed organization. The excesses were shocking. It was formed as a public-private partnership. The intent was half would be private and half would be public. It didn’t work out that way. Over 90 percent of its budget comes from taxpayer dollars. We do need an economic development agency in the state. We need an entity that tells Florida’s story as being a business-friendly climate and a wonderful place to grow your economy. But it needs to be a good steward of taxpayer dollars and show a positive return on investment. Candidly, a lot of those deals haven’t shown that. I think a review of how the state does economic development is in order? How about the death penalty legislation that keeps getting struck down? Whenever the state is going to take someone’s life—even someone who has been found guilty of the most heinous type of crime you can imagine—it better be the right result. The first law that the Supreme Court overturned required a minimum 7-5 votes to impose the death penalty, that seemed to me too low given the significant disparities in judicial outcomes for different economic and ethnic groups. I don’t think that a 7-5 vote by a jury was a high enough standard. I’m not convinced, though, that it must be unanimous. That may be too high a bar because a juror may have a philosophical problem with the death penalty, they can highjack the process. On the other hand, we have to place the highest standard on the state when it wants impose such a penalty on a person. What are your thoughts on zero-based budgeting? I absolutely 100 percent love it. It’s common sense. There are some anti-discrimination LGBT bills coming up. What are your thoughts on that? I’m against discrimination. I’ll look at the bills on a case-by-case basis. President Obama’s mandate about bathrooms in public schools was heavy-handed and authoritarian. I’ll look at the legislation on a case-by-case basis.
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Human Trafficking Awareness in the Florida Panhandle by Dawn Gresko
The underground world of human trafficking lurks below the surface of our every day lives. While you might not have heard much about it in the local news, that is not to say that human trafficking is not an issue in our own sector of the planet: the Florida Panhandle. In fact, the state of Florida itself has been ranked second in the county for the number of human trafficking reports received by the National Human Trafficking Hotline. In honor of upcoming Human Trafficking Awareness month in January, Business Climate spoke with local leader and advocate for missing and trafficked persons, Brad Dennis, in order to discuss human trafficking and how Called2Rescue addresses the concern in our own backyard. nwflbusinessclimate.com | Business Climate | 53
Two years ago, Called2Rescue was created to educate, empower and mobilize an alliance of local churches and community partners to search for and rescue trafficked and exploited persons in our area. The organization was founded by Brad Dennis, who has over 30 years experience in search and rescue as well as crisis management; some of which stems from his career as a Cryptologic Master Chief Petty Officer in the US Navy, when he received highly decorated recognition for his intelligence analysis and counter-terrorism efforts. Since then, he has managed search efforts for over 200 missing and abducted children around the 54 | Business Climate | nwflbusinessclimate.com
country, most famously managing the community-assisted search effort following the abduction of Polly Klaas, which has become the model for child abduction search strategies. He has been instrumental in the rescue of numerous children from sex trafficking and the intelligence he has gathered has been key in assisting in taking down several child prostitution rings. Following the Klaas case, for 13 years Dennis has served as the National Search Director for the KlaasKIDS Foundation and the director of its National Search Center for Missing and Trafficked Children. Although he also serves as Master Lead Evaluator for the National Association of Search and Rescue, travelling extensively
throughout the US to provide dynamic instruction concerning search and rescue advocacy to families of missing children, child abduction search management, and the sex trafficking of minors, he also serves locally as the founder of Called2Rescue and as Pastor of Eden Fellowship Church right here in Pensacola. During his time with the KlassKIDS Foundation, he and his team discovered many of our missing children in this country have been lured, groomed and abducted into the world of human trafficking. Although the foundation worked with law enforcement agencies to find ways to interdict and rescue those children, Dennis cites the power of an aware community
in protecting others from human trafficking; he witnessed how children were more likely to be rescued when a community was aware and readily mobilized to meet rescue efforts. “Called2Rescue was birthed from that realization,” said Brad Dennis. “The realization is that an aware community can make a difference and more importantly, an aware community that educates can prevent it from happening. Called2Rescue’s mission is to educate, train and mobilize the faith-based community to action to combat child exploitation and reach out to our vulnerable teens.” As Dennis points out, the ability to bring home children who have fallen victim to human trafficking
is the result of combined efforts by local and federal law enforcement, community partners, and the people who make up a community. In our own community, we have a number of partners who aid Called2Rescue’s efforts including: KlaasKIDS Search Center for Missing & Trafficked Children, Junior League, University of West Florida, Gulf Coast Child Advocacy Center, Lakeview, Liberty Church, Freedom Church, Eden Fellowship Church, and Crown Church. However, Called2Rescue has a number of community volunteers (just like you and me) who help keep their operations running successfully. How do they do it? By taking action and signing up for one (or all three) free training modules through Called2Rescue. The training is from people who have been “on the streets,” who like Dennis have conducted direct action with law enforcement, engaged in searches for the missing, and led teams in search and rescue efforts. Prior to training, all volunteers must complete an online questionnaire before they will be contacted by a ministry representative. Then, the first step in training is going through Module 1, which includes a vulnerability assessment conducted in our area to highlight potential trafficking and exploitative situations. After completing Module 1, you’ll have the option of taking on Modules 2 and 3, which possess components to get you ready to go out in the field and get your “boots on the ground.” Module 1 is the only mandatory section of training and includes an eight-hour block of instruction based around your availability. Lessons range from an overview of human trafficking, schemes that form labor trafficking, commercial sexual exploitation, as well as understanding the
issue of human trafficking as it applies to supply and demand. After Module 1, training is broken down into two separate modules in which your church, ministry or group determines the direction of your action based on the needs in your area and your level of experience. “Train-the-Trainer” programs and other opportunities are available to encourage continued education in Called2Rescue volunteers.
Called2Rescue’s mission is to educate, train and mobilize the faith-based community to action to combat child exploitation and reach out to our vulnerable teens.” Depending on your level of training, volunteers can fill a number of roles from educators, teachers and mentors to joining the “Protect Initiative” and “Shepherds’ Team” programs, which Dennis has graciously broken down for us. Educators and teachers cover Human Trafficking Awareness and Child Safety classes for the community. Members attend Called2Rescue’s “Train-theTrainer” program to offer these classes to their community, churches and businesses.
one member of a dynamic group of women who provide mentoring and life-coaching to survivors of exploitation. Your role is moving these teens and young women from victims to survivors and finally to thrivers. Participants in “The Protect Initiative,” spearhead Called2Rescue’s proactive interdiction efforts to combat online child exploitation. These members scrub internet sites searching for child exploitation victims then develop comprehensive leads reporting to law enforcement around the country to rescue the children. Over the past two years, “The Protect Initiative,” has been a collaborative partnership between Called2Rescue, KlaasKIDS Foundation and law enforcement, which assisted in the rescue of 27 children. The most recent was their assistance in rescuing a 15-year-old in North Florida. Being a member of the “Shepherds’ Team” means being one part of a group of strategic outreach teams who reach deep into communities to vulnerable populations, providing education and awareness, offering referral services, as well as searching for missing children and ministering to the voiceless. How do we help stop human trafficking? Stay informed by getting involved with Called2Rescue today, or by catching up on resources found at called2rescue.org.
Human Trafficking Statistics The State of Florida has been ranked second in the country for the number of human trafficking reports received by the National Human Trafficking Hotline. I-10 has often been cited as one of the highest corridors for human trafficking in the country. Called2Rescue has led reports and worked with over 80 suspected victims of human trafficking in the Panhandle.
On the other hand, you might prefer being a mentor: nwflbusinessclimate.com | Business Climate | 55
Keep It Real This Holiday Season
Adopt-A-Manatee® for Loved Ones
Call 1-800-432-JOIN (5646) savethemanatee.org Photo © David Schrichte
vt mae Growing the Economic
Landscape of Pensacola
written by Hana Frenette photos courtesy of VT mae renderings courtesy of city of pensacola
The Pensacola International Airport and the City of Pensacola are making strides in their quest to expand and diversify Pensacolaâ€™s growing economic landscape. After years of strategic planning and negotiating, the airport and the city solidified a long-sought after lease agreement with the Mobile-based company VT Mobile Aerospace Engineering (VT MAE) to construct a major aircraft maintenance, repair and overhaul facility on airport propertyâ€”a project expected to bring more than 400 aerospace industry jobs to Pensacola when the facility begins operations in 2018. City officials and economic experts are hopeful the $46 million aircraft maintenance facility will serve as a stepping-stone in the development of an aerospace industry in Pensacola. nwflbusinessclimate.com | Business Climate | 57
VT MAE’s History VT MAE opened its doors in Mobile’s Brookley Aeroplex in 1991 with 50 employees and one airplane hanger offering services to both commercial airlines and airfreight operators. By the end of their first year, VT MAE added a second hangar and launched their Boeing 727 passenger-to-freighter (PTF) conversion program. Just two years later, the company expanded with the addition of four more hangars. Today, VT MAE is capable of accommodating eight wide-body and 10 narrow-body aircraft simultaneously within their 10 hangars, which occupy more than 900,000 square feet. Each hangar has direct access to the Mobile downtown airport’s 9,600-foot, 24/7 operational runway. They’ve also developed additional buildings onsite to house training materials, warehouse operations and an environmentally controlled engine storage facility.
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VT MAE’s employees, facilities and procedures consistently meets and exceeds extremely stringent airworthiness requirements and are fully certified by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and by the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) as an approved repair station.
the residents have been so receptive and so supportive of the project,” Bill Hafner said. “We looked all over Mississippi, central and northern Alabama and western Florida—but the workforce is there, and the interest to grow is there, along with the proximity to Mobile.”
The repair station has been operational in Mobile for 25 years and now employs 1,000 individuals locally; their annual employee payroll reached $80 million in 2010 and totals more than $1 billion since opening the door in 1991.
Bill Hafner, president of VT MAE and chief operating officer said when VT MAE made the decision to further expand within the region and began their search for a new satellite facility location, Pensacola quickly became a contending city—both for its proximity to Mobile and the interest expressed by local residents. “The city of Pensacola, the airport, and
Once the initial idea of opening a satellite location in Pensacola began to take hold, Hafner and the leadership team at VT MAE began conducting job market research in order to survey the interest and qualifications of local Pensacolians. They quickly realized there were a significant number of people in the panhandle who were highly qualified and interested in working for the new potential VT MAE facility. “We held a job fair as a test, and we met a significant number of folks who expressed interest in working for an aviation center in Pensacola- more than we thought we would get to come to work in Mobile,” Hafner said.
“The city of Pensacola, the airport, and the residents have been so receptive and so supportive of the project,” Bill Hafner said. “We looked all over Mississippi, central and northern Alabama and western Florida- but the workforce is there, and the interest to grow is there, along with the proximity to Mobile.” Hafner said VT MAE wasn’t interested in simply doing a transfer of labor from Mobile to Pensacola—they wanted to source the new jobs locally. He also noted the large military and exmilitary presence in Pensacola as a positive factor. “After a full career they’ve enjoyed with the military, we can do a cross-train and bring them into civilian aviation while utilizing their previous skill set and training,” he said. In 2013, conversations began firing back and forth between Pensacola city officials, Pensacola International Airport Director Dan Flynn, and VT MAE leadership as to whether or not building the 173,000 square-foot aerospace facility in Escambia County could be a real possibility.
worked together to provide the funding for the design and construction of the $46 million facility, which also included a $6.3 million loan from the city to kick start construction. On Oct. 28, the city of Pensacola broke ground on the much-anticipated project, and is expected to complete construction on the massive structure within 16 months. When finished, the facility will be able to accommodate two Boeing 777’s, or several Boeing 757’s and Airbus A-320 sized aircraft. City of Pensacola Mayor Ashton Hayward said he believes the VT MAE project is a big
success for Pensacola and the community will continue to feel the benefits of the partnership in the future. “That put us on the world map—to have a big time international company in Florida, in Pensacola, and in the city limits,” he said. “Again, it was a team effort with the city and the county. We were determined to get it done.”
Adding Value to the Region The expansion of VT MAE into Pensacola’s economic landscape marks what many are hoping to be a significant milestone for new job growth within the city.
“This is an industry that the area does not currently have, and one we haven’t had in Pensacola since we had the naval aviation facility in the 1990s on the navy base,” Airport Director Dan Flynn said. “This would give individuals the opportunity to stay in Pensacola and use the skills they’ve worked toward building. It’s also a great source of non-airline revenue for the airport. ” While the initial reactions from entities within Pensacola were those of excitement and optimism, the cost and size of the facility, along with the city’s willingness to help secure funding for construction played a large role in the multi-year discussion of the project.
Renderings of the VT MAE facility
“Took us a long time to get here—we did quite a bit of looking around, surveying, and getting it to come together and finally making it happen,” Hafner said. “It will be a beautiful facility, state-of-the-art, everything is in place to help us make this successful.” In late September, the City of Pensacola and VT MAE finalized the remaining portion of the long-awaited deal. The State of Florida and the Florida Department of Transportation, Escambia County, VT MAE and the Industry Recruitment, Retention and Expansion Fund
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VT MAE by the numbers The new repair facility will cost $46 million to design and construct. The blueprint of the building will cover 19 acres of Pensacola International Airport property and consist of 173,000 square feet. The facility is expected to bring more than 400 local jobs to the area. The majority of the jobs are expected to pay a salaries ranging from $30,000 to $58,000. The city will lease the newly constructed facility to VT MAE for a 30-year term lease. Construction is expected to take approximately 16 months, with an opening date taking place in early 2018.
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Scott Luth, CEO of Florida West Economic Development Alliance said he is hopeful the aerospace company will hire predominantly local people to fill the new positions. “The new facility will be hiring for approximately 400 positions,” he said. “And hiring local people is an investment in Pensacola and the entire Gulf Coast. “ Luth noted some of the higherexperienced level positions could possibly be recruited from outside the city, but would still leave hundreds of skilled positions available for locals. Some of the current jobs openings offered at the Mobile location include sheet metal mechanic, avionics technician, IT support technician, and aircraft inspector. Most of the positions require three or more years of experience in commercial or military aircraft avionics, while some of the advanced openings, like the master APG technician, require 10 or more years of experience and the ability to read and interpret service bulletins, engineering orders and Structural Repair Manuals. “Four hundred jobs is a great number of openings for a company of that size, and is certainly a significant number for the area,” Luth said. Luth made comparisons to International Paper in Cantonment for scale, with 500 to 600 employees, and also to Navy Federal with more than 5,000 to 10,000, many of which are local. “This new facility could really encourage growth of aerospace industry sector for us,” he said. “In partnership with the Chamber of Commerce as an effort to address our double digit unemployment over last 5 to 6 years, the goal was to really decrease the unemployment and increase private sector jobs and this company is part of that success we’ve worked toward.”
According to the most recent report on state unemployment numbers from the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity, Pensacola has added 3,000 more jobs since October 2015 and has significantly increased private sector growth. Luth said the jobs brought in by VT MAE or any other manufacturing industry help to boost the creation of other jobs in the community—a boost Escambia and Santa Rosa Counties could really benefit from. Aside from diversifying the job market and creating a potential hub of aviation industry, VT MAE will also encourage students from Pensacola State College and the University of West Florida to stay in the area once they’ve graduated, allowing them to utilize their skills locally. “These are jobs people can be trained for that don’t have a fouryear degree and may not have a two-year degree,” Hayward said. “Our school district (PSC and UWF) have partnered with us.” Pensacola State College and several other schools within the Escambia County School District will begin offering courses in aviation, prior to VT MAE’s completion. Hayward said he believes VT MAE could help promote the renaissance of the modern American worker by supporting and encouraging the importance of specialized trade skills. “I think many of us who were formally educated started to appreciate that when the economy crashed and we were envious of the plumbers and electricians,” he said. “What we did with VTMAE is a big deal and I think the community will continue to feel the benefits in the future.”
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Around the Region
Pen Air Gifts $100K to PSC Scholarships
Two UWF professors join human trafficking task force
On Nov. 30, Pen Air Federal Credit Union announced they were gifting $100,000 to the Pensacola State College (PSC) Alumni Association Endowed Scholarship Fund. The gift parallels with the celebration of the college now having more than 100,000 graduates as of December’scommencement ceremony. “We are honored to help provide a way for our community to fulfill their dreams of having a college education,” said Stu Ramsey, president and CEO of Pen Air. “Dreams can make incredible things happen, and having the education to back those dreams can make them a reality.” In partnership with PSC and the PSC Alumni Association Endowed scholarship initiative, the gift names the Pen Air Federal Credit Union Scholarship Fund, and will be available to area residents who enroll at PSC and meet the qualifications. The gift also names the Pen Air Federal Credit Union Room in the Edward M. Chadbourne Library. The room will host financial literacy classes and seminars to PSC students, Pen Air members and the entire community. “We are exceedingly grateful to Pen Air for this generous gift that will help so many area resident attend college,” said Dr. Ed Meadows, president of PSC. “Pen Air’s pacesetter gift will help us jumpstart the growth of new scholarship funds. Combined with gifts from our past graduates, we can enable the maximum number of area residents to realize their goal of a college education and provide them with the essential building blocks to lead productive lives and attain their career goals. We encourage our alumni to join with us and help future students attend college.”
Drs. Andrew Denney and Melinda Lewis, faculty members in the University of West Florida College of Education and Professional Studies, have been asked to serve as members of the Pensacola Task Force for Human Trafficking. Organized by the Florida Department of Children & Families and the Florida Department of Juvenile Justice, the task force aims to bring together government agencies and community partners to better address human trafficking issues in Escambia, Santa Rosa, Okaloosa and Walton counties. It is one of several task forces across the state mandated by House Bill 7141, passed in early 2016. “Human trafficking does happen in our area, and a lot of people think it doesn’t,” said Denney, an assistant professor in the UWF Department of Criminology and Criminal Justice. “Many people are aware of sex trafficking, but there is also a labor aspect, especially with the number of hotels and attractions on the Gulf Coast and our proximity to New Orleans, Atlanta and other larger cities.”
our department’s commitment to engage with the community to develop solutions for our most pressing societal issues,” said Dr. Matthew Crow, professor and department chair. “We are proud to have him represent UWF and share his expertise as a taskforce member.” Dr. Melinda Lewis, assistant professor in the UWF Department of Social Work, will join the Human Trafficking Task Force at its second meeting, to be held Thursday, Nov. 17. “As an instructor of human trafficking courses at UWF, I am passionate about spreading the word on various forms of modern day slavery,” Lewis said. “The prevention of human trafficking is such an important cause and I am pleased to be a part of this new multi-agency interdisciplinary task force in Florida’s First Circuit.”
“To help out in any capacity and affect change in the local community is exciting,” he said.
As an Emerge Faculty Fellow in the College of Education and Professional Studies, Lewis has been instrumental in creating high-impact learning opportunities for UWF students on the subject of modern day slavery. One such collaborative high impact practice activity, entitled “From the Underground Railroad to Modern Day Human Trafficking,” took place on a weeklong learning journey in 2014 as students, faculty, and staff traversed rural portions of the historic Underground Railroad across several states.
Through his work with the UWF Criminal Justice Student Association, Denney previously has helped to place student interns with the Pensacola-based KlaasKIDS Search Center for Missing & Trafficked Children.
For more information about the Florida Department of Children & Families’ efforts against human trafficking, visit their website. For more information about the UWF College of Education and Professional Studies, visit uwf.edu/ceps.
Denney said the task force will initially meet monthly as it works to develop community outreach programs and initiatives.
“Dr. Denney’s appointment to the Human Trafficking Task Force is a wonderful example of
One Palafox Place Announces New Tenants One Palafox Place is pleased to announce five new retail tenants to its new mixed-use community development: Wilfrid’s, a barber and fine goods shop; Gray, a women’s fashion and lifestyle boutique; Bee & The Bear, a casual restaurant; Frios Gourmet Popsicles; and Nick Zangari’s newly renamed bar, Badlands. The new retail tenants will occupy the renovated first floor of the Brent building, which is part of One Palafox Place development. The new retailers are expected to open in the first quarter of 2017. Wilfrid’s, owned by successful stylist and owner of Volume One Salon, Hurst Butts, and his sibling Evan Butts, has already begun temporary operation in the former Dollarhide’s Music space while its future permanent space at the other end of the development is under construction. Gray Boutique, a fashion and lifestyle boutique by seasoned apparel veteran, Katy Nagel, will bring a new offering of clothing and accessories to Pensacola along with a unique shopping experience.
Bee & The Bear is a new bar/restaurant concept from Kiley and Bill Manning, owners of the popular neighborhood bar and restaurant, The Magnolia, in East Pensacola Heights. The new restaurant will have al fresco seating in the new courtyard on the backside of the Brent building. Frios Gourmet Pops, a Gadsden, Alabama-based company with over 20 retail locations stretching from Mississippi to Houston, Texas, sells fresh, frozen popsicles with unique flavors developed by a team of passionate foodies, chemistry geeks and organic farmers using simple, wholesome ingredients that are grown or sourced locally. Nick Zangari, the former New York Nick’s restaurant owner, has announced the renaming of his new bar from Glory Dayze to Badlands. The bar will still be themed “a roadside bar”. “We’ve sold out of retail and office space at this point,” said Billy Lovelace, a partner and leasing agent for One Palafox Place. “In the next few months, we will be announcing additional retail and office tenants after finalizing several new lease agreements, which will include an international brand.” nwflbusinessclimate.com | Business Climate | 63
Around the Region
Cognitive Big Data Systems Wins Cox Business’ Get Started Pensacola Business Pitch Competition Over 100 community leaders and local business owners watched as Cognitive Big Data Systems was selected the winner of the 2016 Get Started Pensacola event, presented by Cox Business, held last night at the Pensacola Little Theatre. Cognitive Big Data Systems takes home a prize package worth up to $20,000 to assist in the development of their business. Cognitive Big Data Systems’ computer vision app uses creative machine learning technologies to learn the pixel patterns from each camera’s video stream to understand what’s normal at that location and generates both threat and business intelligence information on the fly. “I feel very emotional right now. We’ve put a lot of hard work in. It means a lot to be recognized,” Lloyd Reshard of Cognitive Big Data Systems said after being named winner of the competition. “We entrepreneurs, we spin our wheels quite a bit doing things, but it’s better if you can work within a framework knowing you’re not spending your time doing the wrong thing, or you don’t know if somebody wants it. So, this event is just what Pensacola needed to stir up some entrepreneurship stuff and give folks a chance.” More than 30 local businesses applied to pitch at the event. Five businesses were selected as finalists and pitched their ideas or business plans to a panel of experts in front of a live audience. After much deliberation, Cognitive Big Data Systems was selected as the winner. “I’d like to congratulate Cognitive Big Data Systems for their outstanding pitch at Get Started Pensacola,” said Harbin Bolton, vicepresident of Cox Business Florida/Georgia. “All of our finalists demonstrated great products and business plans. It’s exciting to see these types of ideas and entrepreneurs along the Gulf Coast. Cox Business looks forward to working with these groups to help their businesses grow.” Each organization delivered a two and a half minute pitch to a panel of successful entrepreneurs and business experts. After votes were collected, Cognitive Big Data Systems was named the winner and recipient of the prize package valued at more than $20,000, including $5,000 in cash, a Cox Business technology package and additional prizes from local partners.
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Election of City Council President and Vice President At a special meeting of the Pensacola City Council held on November 22, 2016, the City Council elected Brian Spencer as the President of the City Council and Gerald Wingate as Vice President of the City Council. The President and Vice President Elect assumed their positions immediately. In 2013 City voters chose to amend the City Charter by doing away with two at-large City Council seats. In 2014 Dr. Megan Pratt’s District A at-large seat was eliminated and on November 22, 2016 immediate past Council President Charles Bare’s District B at-large seat was eliminated. This brings the total number of City Council Members to seven.
Escambia Co. Sheriff’s Off ice gives $10,000 to PSC’s McGuire scholarship fund Pensacola State’s Culinary Arts program received a $10,000 boost Wednesday from the Escambia County Sheriff’s Office, Sheriff David Morgan. Morgan made the donation to the Molly McGuire Culinary Arts Endowed Scholarship fund. Molly “McGuire” Martin, the matriarch of McGuire’s Irish Pub in Pensacola, died in August 2014. In June 2015, the over $200,000 scholarship endowment was established at the college with contributions from more than 200 Pensacola area residents and businesses. Interest from the endowment funds annual scholarships for Molly McGuire Culinary Arts Endowed Scholars. Also, the college’s culinary arts dining room was renamed the Molly McGuire Culinary Arts Dining Room. Morgan said the donation is part of the sheriff’s office long-term community reinvestment efforts. “It is our policy to take drug forfeiture money from the seizure of cash and property of those convicted of drug offenses and return it back into the community,” he explained. “I was approached by Mr. (Jim) Reeves and Mr. (McGuire) Martin about helping underserved students and those in need enrolled in Pensacola State’s culinary arts program.” In fall 2015, the first scholarships were distributed to several culinary arts students. Pensacola State President Ed Meadows said he and the entire college family were touched by Morgan’s generosity. “It makes us feel good here at Pensacola State to know that Sheriff Morgan recognizes the way this
college changes lives,” Meadows said. “Many of our students have full-time jobs, are parents and caregivers. But they are willing to make sacrifices to earn a degree or certification because they realize education is the pathway to a better life.” McGuire Martin said his late wife would be “so, so pleased” with the gift. “This donation will help some young people further their education. It is money well-spent by the sheriff’s office,” Martin said. “I want to thank Sheriff Morgan for remembering Molly and the students here at the college. Molly really loved Pensacola State.” Jim Reeves, a longtime Martin friend and real estate attorney, spearheaded the initial fundraising efforts for the endowment following Molly “McGuire” Martin’s death in 2014. “Culinary support staff is so important to our local restaurants, and employees who work those jobs mattered to Molly. She started out as a waitress at McGuire’s,” Reeves said. “I want to say thank you to Sheriff Morgan for the $10,000 donation. This is an outstanding way to honor Molly McGuire.” Morgan said the donation was part of the sheriff’s office diversionary plan which serves as an incentive for young people to continue their education. “This was my first time partnering with Mr. Reeves and Mr. Martin but the sheriff’s department plans to make more donations to Pensacola State’s culinary arts program in the future,” he said.
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