After three years in Carrabelle, the Gulf Unmanned Systems Center (GUSC) left town.
At aSept. 2016 Carrabelle city meeting, after a grilling by Mayor Brenda La Paz, GUSC CEO Bruce McCormack said that he had no intention of abandoning his plans to build a business that would design, test and manufacture unmanned drones in Carrabelle in spite of the fact that unexpected delays in funding for government contracts had forced him to lay off staff.
At that meeting, Carrabelle commissioners voted unanimously to allow GUSC an additional six months to come back into compliance with their lease on the Hexaport factory building on John McInnis Road, which specified the company employ 30 Franklin County residents by the end of its third year of operations.
At the March 2 Carrabelle meeting, City Attorney Dan Hartman said McCormack had voluntarily vacated Hexaport.
La Paz told commissioners there had been a flat bed truck parked at the Hexaport building, and that McCormack had been selling items from the building online through the Franklin County Yard Sale on Facebook. “They have sold everything,” she said.
But at the April meeting, after Hartman examined the GUSC lease, he told La Paz that GUSC was within its rights in selling the contents of the building.
Tallahassee attorney Matt Mathews prepared the lease, after Hartman recused himself from the negotiations, because La Paz alleged he had a conflict of interest because his name appeared on a grant document as a member of GUSC’s board of directors. The inclusion of Hartman’s name on the document proved to be a typographical error.
McCormack initially said he had plans to build a new facility in Gulf County, but in a telephone interview Tuesday, he said he has moved his operation to St. Petersburg where he is focused on manufacturing an unmanned system (drone) to harvest lionfish, an invasive species wreaking havoc with the ecosystem of the Gulf of Mexico. He said the state would probably deploy some of the equipment in the Panhandle beginning in February.
Carrabelle contineus to seek another tenant for the Hexaport building.