Pensacola, Florida
Monday July 22nd 2019


The Buzz 11/16/17

Port Vision Last week, we wrote about the need for a plan that lays out the future of the Port of Pensacola. (Inweekly, “Port Needs a Plan,” Nov. 9). Triumph Gulf Coast recently uploaded the pre-screening form for the Northwest Center for Dynamic Ocean Technologies (CDOT) proposed for Port of Pensacola Warehouse 4.

The $23-million project will be a public-private partnership. The City of Pensacola will provide the land and warehouse, valued at $2 million. Escambia County and Institute for Human Machine Cognition will donate in-kind services worth $200,000 and $494,000 respectively.

The remaining $20.32 million includes:


  • Triumph Gulf Coast; $15,000,000
  • Pensacola and Perdido Bays Estuary Program and Escambia Co.: $2,000,000
  • Cobalt Intelligence LLC: $2,473,000
  • Naval Surface Warfare Center (Donation of six unmanned surface and subsurface vehicles): $600,000
  • Pensacola Bay Oyster Company (Equipment, boats, aquaculture): $245,000

According to the form, Cobalt Intelligence LLC is a private investment group that has committed $2 million to commercialize ocean technologies developed from the Center into spin-off business entities in Northwest Florida, as well as an additional $248,000 in an initial artificial reef project, and $225,000 for a Director of Commercialization.

The Pensacola Bay Oyster Company has committed aquaculture, boats and equipment resources.  Its owned by Donnie McMahon of McMahon Hadder.

The CDOT will target Advanced Industries and R&D in the areas of Robotics Automation, Artificial Intelligence, Big Data, and Human-Machine Interfaces. These R&D efforts are skill sets that support other critical industries such as Aerospace and Defense, Cybersecurity, and IT and, according to proposal, are the future of the water transportation industry.

Initial job creation of 25 high wage jobs through the Center will focus on research, education and technology with salaries ranging from $60,000 to $150,000.

It is anticipated that this initial investment will have a multiplier effect on direct and indirect future job growth. Initial educational opportunities include high school career academies focused on marine technology, aerospace engineering, computer programming, advanced manufacturing, and will lead to internships, state college apprenticeship, certificate programs, and traditional university undergraduate and graduate degree production.

The long-term Center objective is to create a local ladder for careers and job placement in ocean technology, including ocean engineering, programming, advanced manufacturing, undersea robotics, autonomous water vehicles, sensors, aquaculture, and marine biology. As the Center progresses and intellectual property is created, patented and commercialized, the Center will also generate local job opportunities in commercial business, supply chain logistics and sales and marketing to aid in the diversification of regional employment opportunities.

The Center will be continued after the initial two years of funding with research grants and collaborations from various federal agencies. IHMC will provide accounting, audit, reporting, and project management support for the Center.

The anticipated commencement is December 2017.  The City of Pensacola has committed to removing Warehouse 4 from the secured area of the Port making the building accessible to workers, student interns and the public without the necessity of a security clearance.

The warehouse is immediately available for the abatement and upgrades estimated at $7.5 million. The boat dock facility had previously received an Environmental Resource Permit. That permit expired when the facility was not constructed and will be reapplied.

In six months from project start, the warehouse will be the home of a collaborative center for ocean technologies at the Port of Pensacola bringing together academia, industry, military, and commercial investors to foster innovation and entrepreneurship around the coastal environment.

Fill The Mayflower Coastal Moving & Storage will hold its Fill the Mayflower event on Monday, Nov. 20 and Tuesday, Nov. 21 at Cordova Mall. They ask the community to come out and fill the Mayflower trucks with donations of food and cash.

Volunteers will be on site to take in donations and load them into boxes and onto the trucks. Media partners Cat Country 98.7, NewsRadio 1620 and WEAR ABC Channel 3 will be there to help collect food and tell the story of Manna and its impact on the community.

Fill the Mayflower donates all food and monies collected to Manna Food Pantries,  a charity organization whose mission is to offer emergency food assistance, service the food-related needs of vulnerable populations, and engage Escambia and Santa Rosa counties in the fight against hunger.

The canned items Manna needs the most are fruit (in 100% juice preferred), chicken, mixed vegetables, green vegetables (English peas, spinach, turnip greens), carrots and yellow vegetables (squash, corn).

For more information, please go to

Pelicans Drop Shreveport Website reported last week that a New Orleans Pelicans official announced that Shreveport, La. is no longer under consideration for the New Orleans Pelicans G-League team.

Greg Bensel, vice president of communications for the NBA G League team, said, “We have moved on and are talking to other cities.”

The statement about “other cities” is odd since Pensacola residents have been led to believe Shreveport and Pensacola were the two finalists and no other cities were in the running.

In September, the Escambia Board of County Commissioners approved for staff to work with the City of Pensacola and the Pelicans organization on how the G League team could play at the Pensacola Bay Center.

County Administrator Jack Brown told Inweekly that they met with Pelicans officials along with Mayor Hayward in a conference room in the county’s administrative complex on Sept. 18. Since then, the county called the team several times but heard nothing until Oct. 25.

In an Oct. 25 email, Stephen Pate, the team’s Senior Director of Government & Community Relations, said, “We are currently evaluating a couple of different options. I should be in contact with you soon.”

In a local radio interview, Pensacola Mayor Ashton Hayward indicated the negotiations were on track.

“I think we’ve all worked tirelessly to make this happen, and I’ve been on the front end of this from the beginning,” said the mayor. “We need to move on this because I think there’s an opportunity for the county and the city.”

Inweekly called Bensel several times for a comment. He did not return any of the calls.

ACA Enrollment Nov. 1 marked the start of the Affordable Care Act’s fifth health insurance open enrollment period, which runs through Dec. 15. To assist Floridians with getting covered, the Epilepsy Foundation of Florida (EFOF) once again hosts enrollment sites throughout the state.

EFOF is Florida’s second largest provider of free in-person ACA enrollment assistance and has been a federal Navigation grant recipient in every ACA open enrollment period.

The upcoming enrollment events are free and open to the public. Floridians can also call toll-free to schedule an appointment, at 877-553-7453.

On Friday, Nov. 17, from 10 a.m.-3 p.m., Epilepsy Foundation of Florida, Pensacola Office, 2401 Executive Plaza Road, Suite 3A. By appointment only, call 877-553-7453.   (English only)

On Saturday, Nov. 18, from 10 a.m.-4 p.m., Downtown Branch – West Florida Public Library, 239 N. Spring St. (English/Spanish)

On Monday, Nov. 20, from 10 a.m.-3 p.m., Epilepsy Foundation of Florida, Pensacola Office, 2401 Executive Plaza Road, Suite 3A. By appointment only, call 877-553-7453.   (English only)

On Tuesday, Nov. 21, from 10 a.m.-3 p.m., Downtown Branch – West Florida Public Library, 239 N. Spring St. (English only)

Fraud, Lies, and Hermes Ties The University of West Florida College of Business Executive Mentor Program will host guest speaker Aaron Beam from 1-2:30 p.m. on Nov. 17 in the College of Business, Building 76A, Room 101. Beam will discuss the dangers of unethical business practices and the ethical challenges students and others could one day face in his presentation, “Fraud, Lies, and Hermes Ties.”

The pressure put on Beam as an accounting executive to raise the bar put him behind bars after he took part in one of the largest corporate fraud schemes in the U.S. From 1984 to 1996, Beam, the co-founder and first chief financial officer of HealthSouth, helped land his company on the Fortune500 list. In 1996, earnings declined, and the former CFO took part in a $2.5 billion accounting fraud scandal. In 2003, he pleaded guilty to the crime and spent a short time in federal prison for approving fraudulent quarterly numbers in the scandal.

In his recently published book, “Ethics Playbook: Winning Ethically in Business,” Beam helps others understand the importance recognizing ethical boundaries in business and the value of doing the right thing.

The presentation is free and open to the public. A drawing will be held to win a copy of Beam’s “Ethics Playbook.” The winner must be present. Free lunch is provided to those who RSVP to the event online.

To RSVP or for more information, visit or contact the Executive Mentor Program at

Second Bruce Beach Grant Last week, Inweekly discovered that the DEP construction plans for the fish hatchery at Bruce Beach did not have many of the amenities that Mayor Hayward’s supporters have touted, such as kayak launch, Baywalk across the entire property and access to the bay. The pedestrian bridge across Washerwoman’s Creek was an alternative in the DEP bid documents.

On social media, Assistant City Administrator Keith Wilkins wrote that the city had applied for another NRDA Enhancement grant to provide the amenities. According to him, the grants would be awarded in the spring of 2018.

In reviewing council meeting videos, we found where Wilkins gave a presentation in August on the various grants and funds tied to the 2010 BP Oil Spill. He told the council that the NRDA Enhancement grant application was for $1.02 million.

Inweekly made a public request for: “NRDA Enhancement Grant application for expansion of public walkways on Bruce Beach, the creation of an observation deck at the south end of Clubbs Street, public parking for kayakers at a cul-de-sac also on Clubbs Street, and kayak launch ramp.”

The application we received was from December 2016 and totaled $427,000, not $1.02 million. Wilkins was listed as the contact person.

“This project is proposed to provide human use amenities, public water access, environmental and cultural education on the City-owned property, of the currently funded NRDA Pensacola FWC Fish Hatchery Project,” wrote the city in the application. “Amenities will include a Contour pedestrian bridge across Washerwoman’s Creek, a shoreline walkway with benches and interpretive markers, a kayak entrance ramp and waterfront trail on the Fish Hatchery parcel.”

The city also wanted grant funds to build a kayak entrance ramp to provide paddle access and an overlook and signage interpreting the ecology and function of coastal wetlands.

The grant request was for $427,000, of which $200,000 was for a pre-fabricated pedestrian bridge.