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Fabbro Marine, local manufacturer of the Cape Horn offshore boats, broke ground this afternoon on their new facility at Santa Rosa Industrial Park East in East Milton, becoming the first company to build on one of Gulf Power’s Florida First Sites.

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Santa Rosa County Industrial Park East in East Milton, Fla. (Special to The Pulse)

After 20 years of operations, Fabbro Marine has outgrown their current facility at the Santa Rosa Industrial Park. With options to either move operations — and jobs — outside the area, or find a larger property in Santa Rosa County, they reached out to the county’s Economic Development Office (EDO) last year for site selection assistance. Shannon Ogletree, EDO director, recognized the company was a perfect fit for Florida First Sites in the Santa Rosa Industrial Park East, the first regional site certification program to develop project-ready industrial sites.

Santa Rosa County Industrial Park East in East Milton, Fla. (Special to The Pulse)

“Each Florida First Site has undergone a rigorous screening process to ensure it is ready for development and all pre-work has been completed,” said Ogletree. “This takes the majority of the risk out of the site selection process. We are pleased to keep Cape Horn boats in Santa Rosa County as the ‘anchor’ in our industrial park and excited about their expansion.”

The Santa Rosa County Board of County Commissioners accepted Fabbro’s bid for 20 acres, which includes 10 additional acres for future expansion. Fabbro recently closed on the property and construction of the 78,000 square foot facility – a combined investment of $4 million – will begin soon with completion expected in January 2017.

Santa Rosa County Industrial Park East in East Milton, Fla. (Special to The Pulse)

Santa Rosa County Industrial Park East in East Milton, Fla. (Special to The Pulse)

The company, currently employing 30 technicians with wages of 115 percent of the local area, expects to hire 10 additional workers within the next three years.

“Florida First Sites has allowed northwest Florida to be a more competitive player in site selection decisions,” said Stan Connally, Gulf Power president and CEO. “We’re not only celebrating new jobs and investment in Santa Rosa County, but also the first success story of this site certification program.”

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Santa Rosa County Industrial Park East in East Milton, Fla. (Special to The Pulse)

Fabbro Marine was also recently the recipient of a $200,000 Industry Recruitment, Retention, and Expansion Fund (IRREF) grant through the University of West Florida. The Industry Recruitment, Retention and Expansion Fund (IRREF) Grant Program, administered by the University of West Florida’s Office of Economic Development and Engagement, aids the disproportionately affected counties of northwest Florida in their economic recovery from the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill of 2010.

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