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Around the Bay

By Times Staff writer
Published February 19, 2007


Citrus County officials learn from Hernando's airport

As a bus packed with Citrus County officials drove around Hernando's airport business parks this month, Brett Wattles remained quiet for most of the ride. But when the Citrus County Economic Development Council's executive director spoke, his point was clear. Pointing toward fiber-optic cable manufacturer CompuLink's office, Wattles said, "They could not find what they needed in Citrus County, so they came here." And so did dozens of other companies. They make sausages and skin lotion, parts for surgical tools and ice cream machines. The Suncoast Parkway, rail lines and several runways are nearby to ship materials all over the world. It's the perfect combination, said Michael McHugh, director of Hernando's Office of Business Development. And it's growing, bringing tax dollars and jobs to the 2,400-acre airport facility in the heart of Hernando County's business sector. Citrus County's Crystal River and Inverness airports are only a fraction of that size. But members of the Citrus Economic Development Council, which sponsored this month's airport tour, said Citrus can learn from Hernando's approach. Corporate and rail parks are next to the airport. The average building size is 20,000 to 30,000 square feet, McHugh said. And the entire airport facility is self-sustaining. "Our citizens that don't use the airport don't pay for it, either," McHugh said.

Cosmetics company anything but superficial

Though nanotechnology is a popular buzzword that many people don't understand, a new plant is using the concept to make something all too common: cosmetics. Dermazone Solutions spent $2-million to rehab a 33,000-square-foot building off 30th Avenue N last year, consolidating its operations in Orlando and Clearwater into the new plant. The company produces nano-based skin creams, sunscreens and other "cosmeceuticals" under the brands Celazome and Kara Vita. Using patents held by a professor at the University of South Florida, the company has branched out, producing cosmetics for other groups. "We've really come into our own," said Deborah Duffey, president of Dermazone. Dermazone uses nanotechnology to help products work better by sending them to affected areas directly, Duffey said. Rather than apply moisturizer and have it sit on top of your skin, for example, Dermazone products aim to move the moisturizer to the lower layers of skin that need it. The company uses "microspheres" called Lyphazomes, which are tiny balls that contain cosmetic products. These spheres penetrate the outer layer of skin before releasing one or more products slowly over time.

No problem finding a seat at the movies

This fall, Wesley Chapel will welcome its first multiplex movie theater, a 16-screen Cobb Theatres, at a new shopping mall called the Grove at Interstate 75 and County Road 54. Late next year, if developers clear final regulatory hurdles, an 18-screen AMC theater will be built at Cypress Creek Town Center at State Road 56 and I-75. Add that to the 20 screens at Muvico Starlight in New Tampa and the six screens at a Zephyrhills multiplex, and central Pasco will have a whopping 60 screens within a 15-minute drive of one another. Developers are betting on theaters drawing a flood of retail dollars as central Pasco comes of age. Trouble is, it's coming at a time when the movie industry is still trying to regain its foothold after four years of declining admissions nationwide. Borrowing an idea from a Pittsburgh competitor, Cobb Theatres might introduce VIP balcony seating, complete with wider seats and a wide variety of food and drinks at some auditoriums in its proposed Wesley Chapel complex, said Bill Krahe, managing partner of Echo Real Estate Services, the Grove's developer. Muvico is planning to combine restaurants, bars, bowling and live performances with its movie experience at its future cinemas, though Chuck DeWitt, vice president of Muvico operations, said the chain has no plans to enter the central Pasco market.

Beer on patio not what some planned

Take one down, pass it around, but don't go near Linebaugh Avenue. It's the predicament at World of Beer, a new bar in Westchase Town Center that wants permission to serve beer and wine on a roadside patio. The bar, which sells 500 types of beer from around the world, has raised some eyebrows among Westchase officials. They say the shopping center's developer promised a faux front for the center along Linebaugh - not functional business areas like World of Beer's patio. "There's a sense among many people in the community that the developer has not only fallen short of that representation, but fallen woefully short," Westchase Community Association president Brian Ross told World of Beer owner Scott Zepp at a recent association meeting. World of Beer, which faces Westchase Elementary across Linebaugh, has been open about three weeks. Recently, Zepp applied for a license to sell liquor at the bar. The Westchase Community Association and school district opposed that request. Zepp, who said he applied for the license as a safeguard for his business, has offered to withdraw that request. "We're going to be okay with just beer and wine," Zepp said. Still, Zepp wants to expand his zoning to sell beer and wine on the patio past 3 p.m., when students have left the school. "My whole goal, like everybody else, is to be successful," Zepp told the board. "Just like you, I'm trying to do something that works for everybody."

[Last modified February 19, 2007, 11:18:32]

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