Coral Gables-- Memphis-based Union Planters will buy Republic Banking Corp. [FT, May 1998] in a $412 million cash deal. Republic operates 25 branches in Miami-Dade and two in Broward County, totaling about $1.6 billion in assets. In the past year and a half, Union Planters has acquired Miami's Capital Bancorp, Boca Raton's Trans-Florida Bank, Hialeah's Ready State Bank and California Federal's Florida assets, making it the state's sixth-largest bank.
Deerfield Beach -- A new upstart competitor has entered the package delivery industry. Link Express Worldwide of Deerfield Beach, which will use mostly third-party contractors to ship packages, is offering next-day service anywhere in the U.S. and to more than 220 countries. The company, which employs 105, expects to add up to 500 positions by mid 1999.
Miami-Dade County -- The state-funded Training and Employment Council of South Florida helped nearly 4,000 legal immigrants find work in Miami-Dade last year. The average full-time wage: $6.18 per hour. But the county's unemployment rate -- 6.7% in 1998 -- was still nearly two points above the state average.
The Port of Miami boosted gross revenues in 1998 by 12%, to nearly $68 million. Cargo totals increased 4%, passenger totals 7%. The port, rocked last year by allegations of mismanagement and abuse, is the state's largest.
Monroe County -- Residents of the Florida Keys once again boast the highest cost of living in Florida. Nos. 2 and 3: Miami-Dade and Broward. Panhandle counties remain among the cheapest places to live.
West Palm Beach -- Palm Beach County now has the country's largest publicly owned residential recycling facility following a recently completed $4.4 million expansion project that nearly doubled capacity.
HOMESTEAD -- South Florida's environmental community is abuzz over a proposal by Collier Resources Co., based in Naples, to acquire Homestead Air Force Base from the federal government in exchange for the company's oil and gas rights within the Big Cypress National Preserve and other protected areas. Plans for a commercial airport at the base are on hold, pending completion of a court-mandated environmental impact study. The base is bounded by two national parks -- Everglades National Park and Biscayne National Park -- prompting environmental groups to oppose the airport plan. The Collier proposal, now being considered by federal officials, calls for limited development of the property, but rejects plans for an airport.