FloridaTrend.com, the Website for Florida Business

Monday's Daily Pulse

All eyes on Florida as presidential candidates meet for final debate

President Barack Obama and Republican challenger Mitt Romney face off in front of the cameras for a third and final time on Monday near the end of a presidential campaign season marked by a high number of memorable debates. With 15 days to go until Americans vote, and with the latest polls showing Florida a statistical tie, the two presidential candidates turn to foreign policy for their last encounter at Lynn University in Boca Raton. More from Reuters and NBC.

See also:
» 5 things to watch in the final presidential debate
» Presidential debate brings small Lynn University in Boca Raton to big stage
» Pre-debate, Ohio and Florida voters interested in foreign policy
» Candidates pushing hard to claim the Florida prize
» Little Lynn University touted civics focus to land presidential debate
» Debate gives Lynn a chance to shine

Florida Trend Exclusive
Community banks in Florida are "Slow to recover"

A struggling economy over the past five years triggered the failure of eight Northwest Florida banks, all but one taken over by non-Florida newcomers. Community banks are needed for community growth, say their leaders. “Mom and pop businesses are looking for a handshake bank — more flexible, where bankers listen to the customer,’’ says Buzz Ritchie, a 45-year banker and CEO of Pensacola’s Gulf Coast Community Bank, a 2003 startup. Read full story...

Boat show is big business for South Florida companies

With less than a week before the sails are hoisted on the Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show, many local businesses are preening and prepping their wares to prepare for show time. Among them are exhibiting marine businesses as well as companies that provide key services to exhibitors and show organizers such as event planners, transportation companies and florists. [Source: South Florida Sun-Sentinel]

ID theft fuels "tsunami" of tax fraud in South Florida

Perpetrators in South Florida, Tampa and other regions of the country exploit the identities of people who don’t file income tax returns, to avoid having the Internal Revenue Service detect duplicate filings. That strategic scam, coupled with the outright theft of everyday people’s IDs, which are then used to file phony tax returns, has robbed the U.S. government of billions of dollars yearly since the crime began spreading in 2008, according to a Treasury Department report. [Source: Miami Herald]

Muscled out and mad

For former members of Lifestyle Family Fitness who had to adjust their routines when the chain was bought out by LA Fitness, the decision by their new gym to discontinue Les Mills classes was the last straw. They say they haven't been treated fairly since the takeover and many have chosen to take their workout business elsewhere. [Source: Tampa Bay Times]


› Tampa company installs solar panels and power bill disappears
Utility companies such as Tampa Electric and Progress Energy Florida offer about $1 million to $2 million in rebates to homeowners and businesses each year to support projects like these as part of their energy conservation efforts. Still, pushing energy conservation is something of a double-edged sword for utilities: They make money by selling power, not buying it.

› For storied Keys graveyard, new life and owner
Venerable Southern Keys Cemetery has as many tales as burial plots. Its longtime owner, Martina Thurmond, 92, just sold the business but only after finding the right buyer.

› Salaries rise at merged blood bank, even as revenues fall
Florida's Blood Centers, based in Orlando, underwent a dramatic overhaul two years ago after stories in the Orlando Sentinel revealed large executive salaries and bonuses and that board members had long been doing business with the agency.

› Top chef’s bitter fall: a Miami story
Once the golden boy of Lincoln Road and a pioneer in Miami’s food culture, Jonathan Eismann saw his professional career take a dive from that peak in late 2010 as his ambitious plan to become the restaurant king of Miami’s Design District ended in financial disaster.

Go to page 2 for more stories ...

› Florida is a prime stop for hunter of Holocaust memories
A battered suitcase or a pair of dice, they are intimate tokens of a painful time, occupying the periphery of aging memories. Holocaust survivors or their families ignore them for decades in trunks and garages from Israel to China and, often, South Florida.

› Psst, taxes go up in 2013 for 163 million workers
President Barack Obama isn't talking about it and neither is Mitt Romney. But come January, 163 million workers can expect to feel the pinch of a big tax increase regardless of who wins the election.

› Neighbors wait, worry as banks take longer to sell foreclosed homes
A neighborhood's chances of recovering quickly from the hung-over U.S. housing market depend not only on how many foreclosed homes it has but also, it seems, on which banks own the properties.

› Tebow trademarking 'Tebowing'
Dropping to a knee like Tim Tebow might cost you now. The New York Jets backup quarterback is trademarking “Tebowing,” a move in which he goes down on one knee and holds a clenched fist against his forehead while praying during games.