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Wednesday's Daily Pulse

Extended unemployment benefits a casualty of the 'fiscal cliff'

More than 2 million Americans, including 118,976 Floridians, will lose their extended jobless benefits by the end of the year unless Congress reauthorizes federal emergency unemployment benefits. The state Department of Economic Opportunity, which administers the program in Florida, is sending notices to recipients alerting them that their benefits will end Dec. 29. [Source: Orlando Sentinel]

To EB or Not to EB

EB-5 is a federal program that allows foreigners to obtain U.S. resident status through investments of at least $500,000 in U.S. projects. But it is being hampered by bureaucratic delays. Full story...

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Teachers upset with newly released appraisals

Many teachers have taken issue with the use of the value-added model, or VAM, which uses student test scores and accounts for 40 percent of the appraisal. Teachers and union officials have questioned the validity of using the data the way the data is being used, particularly the way teachers who do not teach FCAT grades are evaluated. [Source: Gainesville Sun]

Judge tosses out prison health care privatization

State Circuit Judge John Cooper in Tallahassee ruled on Tuesday that the Legislative Budget Commission broke the law when it approved the department’s request to transfer $57.6 million meant to pay the salaries and benefits of 1,837 state employees to instead help fund the contract with Brentwood, Tennessee- based Corizon. More from Businessweek and the Palm Beach Post.

Florida workplace fatalities near record low

Workplace fatalities in Florida remained near a record low in 2011 with construction once again accounting for the single highest number of deaths, according to a government report released Tuesday. Fatal work injuries statewide totalled 227, up just two from the total in 2010 and the second-lowest since the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics began tracking fatalities in 1992. [Source: Tampa Bay Times]


› Art Miami buys Aqua Miami
One of the largest satellite art fairs buys a smaller one in South Beach to get a foothold in the lower end of the market.

› Sarasota County to recover $24 million lost in '08 collapse
Sarasota County has reached a settlement with Wells Fargo Bank to recoup about roughly $24 million that disappeared during the economic collapse of 2008.

› Innovative AC company moves to Sunrise
Keep an eye on Advantix Systems, a company opening its world headquarters in Sunrise on Tuesday and winning accolades for innovations in air conditioning. Advantix has nearly doubled sales this year, thanks to its patented technology in air conditioners.

› New web portal puts Gainesville on the map
Gainesville is presenting a bright new face to the world with the launch of GainesvilleConnect.com, a unified web portal designed to entice and welcome new businesses, researchers, entrepreneurs and investors.

Go to page 2 for more stories ...

› Darden warns investors of weak sales, profit
Darden Restaurants warned investors Tuesday that disappointing response to promotions took a bite out of its sales for the second quarter. The company said it expects 25 to 26 cents earnings per share when it reports earnings later this month. Analysts had been expecting per-share earnings of 47 cents.

› CFO Jeff Atwater, Gov. Rick Scott settle 'Taj Mahal' art case
After two years, two lawsuits and seven appeals, Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater and Gov. Rick Scott on Tuesday agreed to pay Signature Art Gallery for framed photos ordered by judges at the 1st District Court of Appeal.

› Turning $5,000 into $1 billion with panties
From a woman who sold fax machines door-to-door to being named a billionaire, Sara Blakely's career trajectory has been anything but usual. No Ivy-League MBA in sight, Blakely has helmed Spanx, a company that produces slimming bodywear -- bras, panties and more -- to a presence in more than 50 countries and an estimated value of over $1 billion.

› AutoNation to buy six stores in Texas
AutoNation, already the largest vehicle retailer in the United States, is getting bigger. The Fort Lauderdale-based company said Tuesday it is buying six stores in Texas with about $575 million in sales per year. It called the purchase the largest acquisition of U.S. dealerships in a decade.