DEGREES — For the fifth consecutive year, Florida’s community colleges rank No. 1 among more than 1,200 schools as the nation’s most successful producers of associate degrees. According to Community College Week’s annual report conducted by the National Center for Education Statistics, Florida’s community colleges lead in total number of associate degrees; degrees awarded to African-American students; degrees awarded to Hispanic students; health professions and related clinical sciences degrees; and nursing degrees.
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MALPRACTICE RATES — Medical malpractice insurance rates for Florida physicians and surgeons fell 3.06% in 2006, continuing a trend as a result of legislative reforms in 2003, according to a report by the Florida Office of Insurance Regulation. Seven new medical malpractice carriers entered the market in 2006. The office also reported that 900 med-mal cases were closed last year, with about $188.8 million paid out ($138.2 in economic damages and $50.6 in non-economic damages).
ONLINE CRACKDOWN — Attorney General Bill McCollum’s office has opened cybercrime units in Jacksonville and Orlando as part of an initiative to combat cybercrime against children. Five additional units will open in the Tampa, Fort Myers, Tallahassee, Fort Lauderdale and Pensacola areas over the next several months.
TEAMING UP — Venture capitalists Tate Garrett, Matthew Shaw and Jeffrey Wolf are forming VC firm Sunrock Ventures, which plans to invest in 18 to 24 companies in Florida and the Southeast over the next four years. Sunrock will be based in Tampa and Miami.
HELIOS HELP — Helios Education Foundation, a $600-million grant-awarding non-profit, has opened a Tampa office, its first in Florida. The foundation supports education-related programs in Florida and Arizona. Since its inception in 2004, it has awarded $25 million — $11 million in Florida.
NEW TO FLORIDA — Furniture retailer IKEA has opened its first two Florida locations, a 293,000-sq.-ft. store at I-595 in Sunrise and a 310,000-sq.-ft. store in Orlando at the Mall at Millenia.
ANIMAL CRUELTY — The Humane Society ranked Florida 12th nationally on the strength of its dogfighting law. Participating in dogfighting in Florida, possessing dogs with the intention of fighting and being a spectator are punishable by a maximum of five years in jail and/or a $5,000 fine. Idaho and Wyoming have the weakest dogfighting laws, according to the Humane Society. New Jersey and Alabama have the strongest.