Hsu Innovation Institute and NWF Open Aviation Training Center at Bob Sikes Airport | Northwest – Florida Trend


Aeronautical partnership

The Hsu Innovation Institute, in partnership with the Aviation Center of Excellence at Northwest Florida State College, recently opened a 27,000 square foot space. Aviation Training Center at Bob Sikes Airport in Crestview.

The facility’s campus, which includes a large hangar and access to an 8,000-foot runway, will provide students with several professional training opportunities to compete for high-tech jobs in aviation and aerospace.

“This partnership is just the start of great growth for Bob Sikes Airport, and I think there will be a few more phases to this project in the future,” said Paul Hsu, Founder of Hsu Innovation Institute.

NWFSC President Devin Stephenson said the goal over the next decade is to train several hundred students in FAA-certified airframe and powertrain mechanics and unmanned vehicle systems and produce more pilots.


  • The state’s Department of Economic Opportunities has cleared Escambia County plans to develop a 500-acre field adjacent to the 316-acre Navy Federal Credit Union campus. State approval authorizes the county to begin zoning and dividing the property for commercial, residential and professional purposes. The property, located in the community of Beulah about 10 miles northwest of Pensacola, was a former Navy helicopter training site recently acquired by the county.
  • Site preparation and construction has started for a downtown Pensacola revitalization project that includes a nine-story hotel, office buildings and restaurants. The project is being developed by Chad Henderson, CEO and founder of Catalyst, a local investment firm.
  • Triumph Gulf Coast has tentatively approved $ 15.9 million for Santa Rosa County to purchase land to expand its industrial park inventory. Shannon Ogletree, director of the Santa Rosa Economic Development Office, said the county’s three industrial parks can no longer accommodate large-scale industries that need 40- to 60-acre sites. Ogletree says several large companies have recently expressed an interest in locating in the county. To meet this need, the county plans to spend some $ 36 million, which includes the Triumph grant, to build the Milton Interchange Industrial Park. Triumph was established by the Florida legislature to distribute BP oil spill settlement money in 2010.


  • Senator Doug Broxson, R-Gulf Breeze, said state officials were in preliminary negotiations to purchase the 3.5-mile Garcon Point Bridge from the bondholders who funded the structure. Built in the 1990s, the bridge became a vital transportation link when the new $ 400 million bridge connecting Pensacola and Gulf Breeze was badly damaged in 2020 by Hurricane Sally. During the storm, more than 22 large barges, owned and operated by general bridge contractor Skanska, became loose from their moorings. It took Skanska nine months to repair the damage and reopen the bridge.


  • Hitachi Cable America is closing its Pensacola, Florida plant and laying off more than 200 employees by the second quarter of 2022. The company is moving manufacturing operations from Pensacola to Mexico. The plant manufactures components and cables for anti-lock braking systems and hybrid vehicles.


  • Construction is underway on an $ 80 million apartment complex in Navarre that includes six restaurants and retail spaces. Called Elevate Navarre and developed by Branch Properties of Atlanta, the resort will be built on 20 acres just off US 98, near the bridge to Navarre Beach. The unincorporated Navarre in southern Santa Rosa County is one of the fastest growing communities in Northwest Florida.


  • Escambia County’s new business registrations soared nearly 70% in the first nine months of 2021. County records show just over 2,100 companies registered in the first three quarters of this year, compared to an average of 1,250 for the same period in 2020 and 2019.


  • The Triumph Gulf Coast Board of Directors has approved $ 11.5 million to help fund the Advanced Science and Career Education in New Technologies (ASCENT) project at Florida State University Panama City. The ASCENT project will be funded over six years and is designed to meet the workforce needs of Northwest Florida through education and training opportunities focused on cybersecurity.


  • The Music Department at the University of West Florida received an endowment of $ 8.5 million from the estate of Herman and Valerie Rolfs. The donation was made in early 2020 and has just been announced. Although Herman and his wife, Valerie, are now deceased, the donation was the largest endowment from a living donor at the time.

Learn more in the December issue of Florida Trend.
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Keywords: Education, Transport, Northwest, Functionality

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Milton S. Rodgers