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Thursday's Daily Pulse

July home sales up, prices rise in Florida

Pending sales, closed sales and median prices rose, while the inventory of homes and condos for sale dropped in Florida’s housing market in July, according to the latest housing data released by Florida Realtors. Read more from the News Service of Florida and Florida Realtors.

Giving startups a kickstart

Kickstarter is the largest of dozens of sites, including Peerbackers.com based in Palm Beach County, devoted to crowdfunding, in which donors contribute small sums of money to get a project off the ground. Inventors, artists and entrepreneurs post their projects on a Kickstarter page, usually with a video presentation. They set a fixed duration for their fundraising, from one to 60 days, and a dollar goal for contributions. Anyone can contribute. [Source: AP]

Study: College becoming unaffordable to Middle Class

Many Florida families have been paying up to 25 percent of median income for public in-state college costs — out of reach for some middle-class parents who have taken recent pay cuts or lost jobs, according to a new study. Some South Florida families are paying even more — plunking down what amounts to about a third of the median income for Floridians. [Source: South Florida Sun-Sentinel]

» New study: Middle class to its lowest level in decades

Medical tourism fills hospital beds

Miami's business and cultural links to other countries make it a natural place for foreigners to seek medical care as well, and local hospitals and other health-care facilities have long been cultivating medical tourism. Baptist Health South Florida sees about 12,000 patients from more than 100 countries annually, says Mario Mendez, director of medical staff development in International Services. [Source: Miami Today]

Judge invalidates Florida teacher evaluation rule

An administrative law judge says a Florida teacher evaluation rule is invalid. Judge John Van Landingham on Wednesday in Tallahassee found the State Board of Education and Florida Department of Education failed to follow rulemaking procedures. The Florida Education Association challenged the rule designed to implement evaluation criteria required by a new state law passed last year. [Source: AP]


› FPL testimony moved up to prepare for Tropical Storm Isaac
Florida Power & Light Co., which is presenting its $690 million rate case to regulators this week, asked Wednesday to move up testimony of four FPL employees. The utility said the workers play key roles in a storm and need to prepare for Tropical Storm Isaac. Florida is in the cone of error for the storm.

› Nonprofit gets money to boost minority businesses in Palm Beach County
Paragon Foundation of Palm Beach County will receive $300,000 to help minority-owned small businesses borrow money to grow and hire. As a Community Development Financial Institution, the nonprofit Paragon, which was established in 2006, is eligible for these U.S. Treasury funds for disadvantaged and rural communities.

› Tampa Bay gets sent home with a bad infrastructure report card
If all this talk of political conventions and hurricanes gets you down, then this report from the American Society of Civil Engineers isn't going to help any: Tampa Bay's infrastructure earned a "C" grade — but maybe they forgot the "minus."

› Baptist Health initiates pricing revolution
Baptist Health, South Florida's largest private healthcare provider, is undertaking a sea change in setting healthcare costs: hospitals, physicians, and insurers or other payers consulting each other to agree on a price for patient care before — not during or after — services are delivered.

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› First lady announces new hiring push for vets
First lady Michelle Obama chose a naval station in the electoral battleground of Florida to announce Wednesday that 2,000 businesses around the country have hired or trained more than 125,000 military veterans and spouses in the past year, exceeding a White House goal of 100,000 by the end of next year.

› New owners of BankAtlantic to cut 365 employees
The new owners of Fort Lauderdale-based BankAtlantic plan to lay off 365 people, or about one third of the bank's employees, between October and Feb. 1. Financial giant BB&T, which acquired BankAtlantic three weeks ago, announced the layoff plan in a notification to the state released on Wednesday.

› Orlando OKs economic incentives for 2 companies
The city of Orlando this week approved more than $140,000 in economic incentives for two health-care-related companies poised to bring jobs and growth to the city. Benecard Services Inc., an in-house prescription-benefit administrator based in Lawrenceville, N.J., and Mazor Robotics Ltd., an Israeli medical-robotics distributor, both had their incentive petitions granted Monday by the City Council.

› Existing single-family home sales rose in Miami-Dade and Broward in July
The price of a single family home in Miami-Dade rose 2.8 percent to $185,000 in July from a year earlier, marking the eighth consecutive month of rising prices and providing further evidence of recovery in the battered housing market.