Around the State- Southeast- Jan. 2001
Barely a year after raising more than $50 million in a public offering, Sunrise-based Mortgage.com (Nasdaq-MDCM) laid off 518 workers and closed its online lending operation. The stock, which once topped $17 a share, has been trading at less than 3 cents. ... Meanwhile, Pompano-Beach-based ByeByeNow.com, a travel and services online vendor, has sliced its payroll to less than 100 from a high of more than 200. Executives say the layoffs will allow them to focus on their brick-and-mortar operations, which include a franchise network of 300 affiliated travel agencies.
Juno Beach -- The planned merger between FPL Group (NYSE-FPL) and New Orleans' Entergy Corp. could result in 1,271 layoffs, according to a consultant hired by the companies. Most cuts would occur at FPL's Juno Beach headquarters and in New Orleans. FPL employs about 11,000, and Entergy employs just over 12,000.
Miami -- Among Florida's largest cities, Miami registered the lowest rate of job growth in the 12-month period ended last September. According to figures compiled by the Florida Agency for Workforce Innovation, Miami added 25,700 jobs during the year, a 2.6% increase. Tops on the list: Orlando, up 5.1%.
The University of Miami's North-South Center has launched a partnership with the University of Pennsylvania's prestigious Wharton School of Business to help advise multinational firms about labor management and human resource practices in Latin America.
Thanks to economic growth in Latin America and Europe, the Port of Miami posted record levels for cargo tonnage and cruise ship passengers for the fiscal year that ended Sept. 30, 2000. Cargo volume jumped more than 12% to 7.8 million tons while cruise traffic increased 8% to 3.3 million passengers. The port earned close to $3 million on revenues of $72.5 million. Meanwhile, former port Director Carmen Lunetta, the target of a massive federal corruption probe, pleaded no contest to charges of illegally funneling port funds into campaign contributions. He was sentenced to six months of house arrest.
Pompano Beach -- The state's first online grocer will begin operation in April with the launch of PublixDirect, a subsidiary of the Lakeland-based chain. While prices will be the same as those in the stores, an undetermined delivery fee will be added. Initial delivery service will be limited to a 25-mile radius from a new Pompano Beach warehouse. The operation will employ about 300.
St. Lucie County -- St. Lucie West Development Corp. has announced plans for a 2,000-acre mixed-use development just west of I-95 and north of Gatlin Boulevard in St. Lucie County. Plans call for 800 single-family residences, 100,000 square feet of office space and 58,500 square feet of commercial retail space. The project, to be called Westchester, also will include a school, which will be built by the developers and operated by the county school district.
Advertising: AutoNation Sells Outdoor Ad Unit
FORT LAUDERDALE -- In a move that caught analysts by surprise, AutoNation (NYSE-AN) sold its outdoor advertising business, Republic Media, to Infinity Broadcasting for $104 million. Infinity's parent company, Viacom, bought Blockbuster Entertainment from AutoNation Chairman Wayne Huizenga in 1994. In recent years, as part of a plan to focus on new-car sales, AutoNation has shed its used-car superstores, its auto-rental unit, its solid-waste business and an electronic security company.
Meanwhile, ANC Rental Corp. (Nasdaq-ANCX), the car-rental division recently spun off by AutoNation, has announced that its CarTemps USA unit, which specializes in the insurance replacement and local rental markets, will be rebranded under the Alamo nameplate. Alamo and National are ANC Rental's principal units.