Pensacola, Florida
Tuesday October 16th 2018


The Buzz 6/11/15

Silver Shovel International Paper helped Enterprise Florida, the state’s principal economic development organization, win Area Development magazine’s Silver Shovel award for significant job creation and economic impact. Florida has received the honor for three consecutive years.

Governor Scott said, “We are honored to receive this award which recognizes Florida as a great place for business. With a top-ranked workforce, low tax climate, reduced regulations, and a multi-modal infrastructure that supports record numbers of residents and visitors, businesses across all industries are growing and creating more opportunities for Florida families. More than 865,000 private-sector jobs have been added since December 2010 and we’re continuing to work every day to make Florida the global destination for jobs.”

Area Development’s annual Shovel Awards recognize state economic development organizations that drive significant job creation through innovative policies, infrastructure improvements, processes and promotions that attract new employers as well as investments in expanded facilities.

“Three consecutive years of winning this important award means Florida is clearly demonstrating its status as one of best states in the nation for business,” said Secretary of Commerce Bill Johnson, who serves as president & CEO of Enterprise Florida, Inc. “We will continue working to tell the state’s business story everywhere we go and remain aggressive in bringing new jobs to Florida. We thank Area Development for this award and are especially thankful to the companies whose projects helped us win this important recognition.”

Each of the 50 states was invited by Area Development to submit information about its top-10 job creation and investment projects. Only those projects that began to materialize in 2014 were considered. The Shovel Awards are given to the states with the highest weighted scores based on number of high-valued added jobs per capita, amount of investment, number of new facilities, and industry diversity.

One of the projects recognized as part of Florida’s Silver Shovel award was International Paper’s Pensacola Mill that is investing $123 million to expand its corporate headquarters.

Obamacare Battle, Part 2 Chief U.S. District Judge M. Casey Rodgers will hear arguments June 19 in a lawsuit filed by Governor Rick Scott against the federal government in a dispute about the Low Income Pool health-funding program. On June 4, Judge Rodgers issued an order scheduling the hearing on Scott’s motion for a preliminary injunction in the case.

Scott filed the lawsuit April 28 on the day the Florida House abruptly adjourned after Speaker Steve Crisafulli declared an impasse in the budget deliberations with the Senate. The sticking points were funding the LIP program and Medicaid expansion.

In the lawsuit, the governor argues that the Obama administration has unconstitutionally tried to link expanding Medicaid with the continuation of LIP. Attorneys for the state filed a motion last month seeking a preliminary injunction to prevent federal officials from linking the issues.

Waffle Fries Arrive On June 4, Chick-fil-A began serving at the Pensacola International Airport, completing the year-long transition to OHM Food Concessions at the facility. In a press release, Mayor Ashton Hayward said he was excited that the airport would now have chicken biscuits and waffle fries.

With the addition of Chick-fil-A, the airport food concession revenues appear ready to return, and hopefully exceed, pre-2014 levels. The airport went without food service, except for Einstein Bros. Bagels, for the last nine months of 2014, when the city failed to work out a transition plan with the former vendor.

The Pensacola Beach House opened in January 2015 in the pre-security area. The post-security area with Einstein Bros., Freshens and Pensacola Beach House opened in Feb. 24, 2015. Chick-fil-A is the final addition.

The mayor’s office reported the April 2015 sales per enplaned passenger exceeded the FY 14 average by $1.41.  OHM’s gross sales of $326,143.67 in April 2015 exceeded the previous highest-grossing month—$278,578.67 in July 2008—by more than $45,000. Overall sales are up by more than 15 percent over last year.

The new food concessions are expected to generate $100,000 per year in additional non-airline revenue for the airport over the next 10 years, according to the mayor.

NC investigates NEP The North Carolina State Board of Education has voted to temporarily put the brakes on allowing Newpoint Education Partners (NEP) to open schools in its state.

The Board referred Pine Springs Preparatory Academy in Wake County and Cape Fear Preparatory Academy in New Hanover County to the Charter School Advisory Board to investigate allegations of grade tampering at NEP’s Escambia County schools.

NEP had two of its school charters terminated last month by the Escambia County School Board for numerous contract violations. On June 1, Newpoint Pensacola math teacher Chris Fowler was arrested on four counts of helping students cheat on End of Course exams. On June 2, NEP fired all its teachers, including those working at its elementary school, Five Flags Academy. The elementary school was the only Newpoint school that still had a contract with the school district.

NEP officials are scheduled June 16 to appear before the North Caroline Charter School Advisory Board.

Telling Your Military Tales The Florida Humanities Council seeks veterans from the Pensacola area to tell their stories onstage in a public performance. They will have a chance to tell their experiences to people who have not served. The program is called “Telling: Pensacola.”

Those chosen will be part of the nationally acclaimed Telling Project, which puts veterans and/or family members in front of their communities. In professionally directed, scripted performances, they tell how service affected their lives and attitudes.  They will talk about how and why they served, the injuries and challenges they’ve had to overcome, and how they are transitioning back into civilian life.

Among the Telling Project’s goals are to ease veterans’ transitions, to allow communities to benefit from the skills and experience the vets bring home, and to foster a level of understanding that will deepen a community’s connection to its veterans, to itself, and to its place in the nation and the world.

It also hopes to bridge the communications gap between service members and American society, in which less than 1 percent of the population has served in the military over the past dozen years of war. The performance script will be based on interviews with the veterans conducted by Jonathan Wei, founder of the Telling Project.  Acclaimed Florida dramatist Lisa Powers is the Telling: Pensacola director.

Interested veterans can apply by going to, scrolling down and clicking on the Telling: Pensacola icon. Application deadline is July 10.

For more information, visit

Unequal Starts Children from low-income families have a distinct disadvantage when they start school. According to Project Literacy, numerous studies have shown that children who grow up in more impoverished environments are more likely to have problems with focus, control, memory, and language skills.

Many factors hamper these children’s learning: more stress and instability in the home, less quality time with parents, fewer opportunities for educational enrichment, poor nutrition, and less sleep.  In other words, the stress of poverty makes it harder to for kids’ brains to develop early literacy skills

The average low-income home has one book in the house; the average higher-income home has 54. Before kindergarten, a child in a low-income home is exposed to 13 million words and 25 hours of one-on-one reading time; in a higher income home, it’s 45 million words and somewhere between 1000-1700 hours.

Hayward and Congressional Rumors Rick’s Blog ( has reported that Pensacola Mayor Ashton Hayward is a potential candidate for Congress, if Rep. Jeff Miller decides to run for U.S. Senate in 2016.

State Senators Don Gaetz and Greg Evers, State Representative Mike Hill and former Escambia County Commissioner Gene Valentino are also considered viable candidates. Someone has conducted a telephone survey to measure the support among voters for various candidates.

The daily newspaper and the mayor’s office have tried to downplay any interest on the mayor’s part in seeking higher office. The only way to stop the speculation is for the mayor to announce that he will not run for Congress.

When Sen. Marco Rubio announced his run for the White House, Florida CFO Jeff Atwater was considered the frontrunner for his Senate seat until he issued a statement that he would not run in 2016.  Attorney General Pam Bondi did the same thing to take her name out of contention.

If Mayor Hayward wants the rumors of him running for Congress to stop, then he needs to follow the examples of Atwater and Bondi. It ‘s that simple.

Thomas Seeks Third Term Escambia County School Superintendent Malcolm Thomas has pre-filed for a third term. The last superintendent to serve three terms was J. E. “Bud” Hall (1965 – 1977).

Thomas surprised the political world when he first ran in 2008. He was the district’s Director of Evaluation Services. Prior to that, he was a special education at Tate High School for eight years during the 1980s. Thomas was the Republican nominee after Deputy Superintendents Alan Scott and Ronnie Arnold dropped out of the race. Thomas beat Claudia Brown-Curry in the general election, 86,684- 58,175 votes.

Thomas defeated Brown-Curry again in the 2012 general election.