DAYTONA BEACH —
» International Speedway Corp. has closed the Daytona 500 Experience interactive attraction as part of a $20-million cost-cutting effort. The 60,000 square feet of space will remain open for private parties, meetings and events. An expanded tram tour of the speedway was launched in November to give visitors more behind-the-scenes views of the facility.
» Fantasy Surf wave rider attraction, along with a retail shop and restaurant, has opened.
» The Osceola County Health Department will use an $8.3-million federal grant to build a $5.7-million facility in Poinciana and add to its St. Cloud and Kissimmee campuses.
» The University of Central Florida has opened a business incubator at City Centre in downtown Kissimmee.
LAKE NONA —
» The University of Florida started preliminary work on its Research and Academic Center at Lake Nona, just west of the Sanford-Burnham Medical Research Institute. The $44-million center will house a clinical research unit from UF’s Institute on Aging, expand the College of Pharmacy’s drug research program and house 200 students seeking pharmacy degrees.
LAKE/SUMTER COUNTIES —
» The Central Florida Health Alliance and Hospital Corporation of America have applied for state permission to build hospitals in Wildwood.
» The owners of the Maitland-based Tijuana Flats plan to open a Cajun-style restaurant called Tibby’s New Orleans Kitchen in Winter Park later this year.
» Chicago-based AAR Corp. selected Melbourne as the new site for its airlift services and specialized aircraft modification division, AAR Airlift Group, and says it expects to employ 225 by 2012.
» Darden Restaurants plans to open Red Lobsters, Olive Gardens and LongHorn Steakhouses in seven Middle Eastern countries over the next five years: Bahrain, Egypt, Kuwait, Lebanon, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.
» A security clearance program that allows travelers to bypass regular lines is operating again at Orlando International Airport. The Clear program at OIA began in 2005 but ceased operations in 2009 and was later bought by Alclear LLC. It charges $179 a year for the service.
» France-based vaccine giant Sanofi Pasteur is buying VaxDesign, a biotechnology company that moved to Orlando from Oklahoma in 2004, in a $60-million deal.
» Walt Disney World plans to convert Pleasure Island into a faux wharf called “Hyperion Wharf” with new restaurants and shops that will open in stages through 2013.
» SeaWorld Orlando has laid off 129 employees and raised prices $1 to $79.99.
ORANGE CITY —
» Mid Florida Hematology & Oncology has opened its first stand-alone cancer center in West Volusia.
» The new 4,000-passenger Disney Dream is scheduled to arrive at Port Canaveral this month. The Disney Fantasy is expected to be completed and in service in 2012.
» The Brevard Workforce Development Board has opened an office to serve displaced workers from the Kennedy Space Center and aerospace companies.
» Orlando Sanford International Airport is regaining discount carrier Allegiant. The airline plans to reconsolidate operations and move the 10 routes it had flown out of Orlando International back to the smaller airport in February.