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Thursday's Daily Pulse

Florida looking at state budget surplus

For the first time in five years, Florida policymakers are looking at a horizon free of projected budget shortfalls, thanks to growing tax collections and cuts to spending on classrooms, road-building and the state's social safety net. The state's top economist told the Joint Legislative Budget Commission on Wednesday that lawmakers and Gov. Rick Scott would have more flexibility next year when they write a new budget than at any time since 2007. [Source: Orlando Sentinel]

Florida unemployment would be 9.8 percent if not for labor pool drop-outs

Florida's unemployment rate has dropped from 9.9 percent in December to 8.8 percent in July. The rate, however, would be little changed at 9.8 percent if not for a substantial number of people dropping out of the labor force, according to the Florida Legislature's Office of Economic and Demographic Research [Source: Tampa Bay Times]

Bad economic deal could leave state on the hook for $20M

Promised their investment would help lure 500 high-paying jobs to Florida, lawmakers in 2009 sidestepped existing procedures to funnel $20 million to a well known movie production company that animated the scenes in Titanic and the Transformers movies. But this story's ending isn't one for the movies. [Source: Times/Herald]

Florida Trend Exclusive
Medical Arms Race

When it opened in 2006, the University of Florida’s $125-million Proton Therapy Institute was the only one in the Southeast and only one of five in the country. No longer. There are now 10 centers in the United States. And in Florida, cancer centers at the University of Miami, Boca Raton Regional Hospital and South Florida Radiation Oncology are now pursuing plans to purchase their own proton therapy machines. Full story...

Florida battles South for film work

Debate raged last week as members of the Congress of Motion Picture Associations met to discuss how Florida can better compete with Georgia, Louisiana and North Carolina in the race to lure film productions. Some members, including Chris Ranung, the group's president, say the state should expand its incentive program and remove the $8 million cap on incentives per project. But others say the program, which grew from $2.45 million in 2003 to its current $296 million, is successful. [Source: Miami Today]


› Sarasota County issues most building permits in 6 years
In home construction, this summer has been one for the post-recession record books. During June, Sarasota County government issued 117 permits, the highest number since June 2006. Then in July, the average value for a newly permitted home hit $332,000 in Sarasota County, the highest since September 2008.

› There’s a market for used smartphones
So you’re itching to buy an iPhone 5. And you’re wondering what, if anything, you can get for that smartphone you’re now carrying. Possibly hundreds of dollars, depending on the make, model and condition of the phone, said Dan Brauser, chief executive of uSell.com, a Fort Lauderdale-based online resale marketplace for electronic items.

› All Aboard Florida still seeking route to airport
Would-be builders of a billion-dollar privately financed train still are looking at several options on how to get from near Cocoa to Orlando International Airport.

› Magazine ranks New College No. 5 in nation
New College’s academic profile continues to shine among the nation’s elite. In a survey released Wednesday, U.S. News & World Report ranked Florida’s honors school among the country’s top 100 best public liberal arts institutions.

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› Florida voting list lawsuit mostly settled
Florida’s attempt to screen voting rolls for non-U.S. citizens is yielding a smaller number than state officials anticipated.
» State identifies, removes 207 noncitizens on Florida voter rolls

› Unions voice opposition to Jackson ER privatization proposal
Jackson Memorial’s emergency room and rape treatment center could be operated by third-party medical staffs under a proposal drawing the ire of some Miami-Dade union members.

› New brand, new logo, new campaign for Manatee County tourism
The Bradenton Area Convention and Visitors Bureau on Wednesday unveiled a new marketing campaign aimed at further distinguishing Manatee County from competing Gulf Coast tourist hot spots like Sarasota and St. Petersburg.
» Related:
Kissimmee tourism leaders to push pride in their area
» Collier commissioners hooked on idea of artificial reefs to attract tourists

› RNC boosts Tampa Bay area hotel occupancy 48 percent
The Republican National Convention pushed Tampa Bay area hotel occupancy up 48 percent and doubled per room revenue, according to an industry research firm. STR, which compiles data for the hotel industry, said the bay area "recorded the largest performance increases among the top 25 U.S. markets."