The following is from the Tallahassee Democrat on 8/12/06:St. Joe Co. lays off employeesNumber yet to be releasedBy Billy Bruce andFerdie De VegaDEMOCRAT STAFF WRITERSThe downturn in Florida's real-estate market hit home Friday when The St. Joe Co. laid off employees in three divisions statewide, a company spokesman said.Chris Corr, chief strategy officer at St. Joe's Jacksonville headquarters, said the company is merging its Commercial, Land, and Towns and Resorts divisions into one company that will be known as just The St. Joe Co."We're responding to the business cycle," Corr said. "There's been a slowdown in the Florida real-estate market. We believe it's cyclical. It is going to come back. We believe in the market here."Corr declined to provide exact numbers of employees who are losing their jobs, but he said the company will release more detailed information Monday that will explain the reorganization.In 2005, St. Joe Co. had 1,362 employees, according to Hoovers.com."We have had a work-force reduction, but I can't give you exact numbers," Corr said. "There are employees who have not yet heard about it."Teary-eyed workers carrying office boxes outside the company's Tallahassee office on Esplanade Way about 1 p.m. declined to comment. Two men climbing into a pickup truck in the company's parking lot said they'd been laid off but declined further comment."Do I work for St. Joe's? Not any more," one of the men said. "I got a good severance package, though."The merging of the three divisions will increase efficiency of operations, Corr added."This is a restructuring and a reorganization," he said. "This will give us a more direct empowerment in the communities we do business in."St. Joe owns 825,000 acres, mostly in Northwest Florida. It is seeking approval to build 44,000 homes. WhiteFence Farms east of Tallahassee and SummerCamp near St. Teresa in Franklin County are among those developments.The company recently announced that its net income was $19 million for the second quarter - nearly half of what it was during the same quarter in 2005.Company officials noted that sales are slowing in its primary-home communities. Earlier this year, St. Joe had reported slowing sales in its resort communities.St. Joe is not the first developer in Florida to lay off employees this year. The South Florida Sun-Sentinel noted that G.L. Homes in Sunrise laid off 68 workers in June. In addition, WCI Communities, a Bonita Springs-based builder, cut jobs in July but would not disclose the number.
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