F.Y.I. North Florida Economic News: December 2013

December 2013 economic news, notes and commentary from the North Florida region.

University of Florida

The Florida Board of Governors has approved a plan for the University of Florida to spend close to $1 billion to hire as many as 100 new faculty members over the next five years, with the goal of achieving top-10 status nationally. While UF is already among the top 10 public universities in 22 categories identified by President Bernie Machen, it lags in seven critical areas, four of them involving faculty. Machen’s plan calls for investing millions in key areas and recruiting faculty with national standing in those areas.

Foresight Construction Group

Gainesville-based Foresight Construction Group has won a potential $4 million contract through the U.S. Small Business Administration’s 8(a) Business Development Program to provide construction services at the U.S. Navy base in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. The SBA program helps small minority-owned businesses compete for government contracts. Foresight is owned by Juan Segarra, who is from Puerto Rico. Aside from its head- quarters in Gainesville, the company has an office in Tampa and a smaller presence at Naval Air Station Jacksonville.

Prioria Robotics

Gainesville company Prioria Robotics was awarded $4.5 million worth of contracts to produce 36 small unmanned aircrafts (drones) and 12 ground control stations for the U.S. Army. Each Maveric Unmanned Aircraft System consists of three hand- launched aircrafts, a ground control station and various payloads that include equipment for intelligence gathering, surveillance and reconnaissance. The contracts represent the Army’s move toward smaller, more rapidly deployable units that are operable by one person.