By Jeremy Morrison, Inweekly
–Interests vying for funding from Triumph Gulf Coast found mixed fortunes when the organization’s board met in Fort Walton Beach Dec. 7. While the city of Pensacola will get a little longer to pull together matching funds for a jobs project at the airport, a tech related venture at the downtown port was snubbed.
Mayor Grover Robinson appeared before the Triumph board torequest additional time to secure around $40 million of funding for the STEngineering project at the Pensacola International Airport. The city was facinga Dec. 31 deadline to come up with the funds in order to get $56 million fromTriumph; the city is responsible for more than $200 million total for theproject, which is expected to yield hundreds of jobs.
The Triumph board granted Pensacola a 90 day extension, meaning the city will need the money by the end of March.
The Triumph board granted Pensacola a 90 day extension, meaning the city will need the money by the end of March. Robinson said the board seemed to understand the importance of the project.
“I think everybody is excited by ST,” the mayor said. “I think the challenge is the amount of money and how it can work. We’re working with that and we’ll see what we can do.”
A potential technology project pitched for Pensacola’s downtown port got a less welcoming reception from the Triumph board. The Florida Institute for Machine and Human Cognition, as well as the city, Escambia County and the University of West Florida have proposed a $50 million marine research center for the port and applied to Triumph for $15 million.
On IHMC $50 Million Request for port facility: Triumph board members, however, painted the ask as too much money for too little return, job-wise.
Triumph board members, however, painted the ask as too much money for too little return, job-wise.
“They obviously had some concerns and questions,” Robinson said. “On the surface, it does appear to be a pretty significant ask that we’re looking for.”
But the mayor stressed that he “wasn’t necessarily disappointed”about the board’s response and suggested the project just needed to bere assessed — perhaps “shrink the ask” — and taken back to the board at a later date with an emphasis on its research merits.
“I think we’ve got to do a better job of getting them to understand what research and development is versus funding an existing company like a Eastern Shipyard or an ST Aerospace,” Robinson said.
Triumph Gulf Coast, Inc., is nonprofit created to oversee the dispersal of funds recovered for economic damages resulting from the 2010 oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.