FloridaTrend.com, the Website for Florida Business

Friday's Daily Pulse

Florida voters won't decide fate of big casinos

Florida's gambling future, including the fate of its horse and dog tracks, Internet cafes and tribal-run casinos, appears likely to be decided by the Republican-controlled Legislature. After spending nearly $1 million on an effort to let voters decide what kind of gambling to allow, a major casino developer has decided to work with legislators over the next two years. More from the AP and the Miami Herald.

Florida Trend Exclusive
From Russia to Turkey

Francisco “Frank” Sánchez, a native of Tampa, is undersecretary for international trade at the U.S. Department of Commerce, where he directs trade promotion and advocacy efforts. He is one of the architects of President Obama’s National Export Initiative, which aims to double U.S. exports by 2014. Read our interview with Sánchez.

South Florida steps up efforts to brace for climate change

Raising low-lying roads. Building higher seawalls. Strapping on more solar panels. The threat of rising seas has more South Florida officials shifting from "What if?" to "What do we do?" when it comes to dealing with climate change. [Source: South Florida Sun-Sentinel]

Florida expects to repay federal unemployment loans by May

Florida's unemployment trust fund, drained when the state's labor market collapsed, should be back in the black by the middle of 2013, according to state officials. The state's outstanding loan balance to the federal government was about $544 million at the end of November, and economic analysts project Florida will pay that off and no longer have a need to borrow by May. [Source: Orlando Sentinel]

Scott names counsel to head jobless agency

Gov. Rick Scott turned to his top lawyer to take over the state’s jobs agency after the executive director abruptly resigned amid questions about jobless benefits he received before he was hired. Scott on Thursday named Jesse Panuccio, the governor’s general counsel, to replace Hunting Deutsch. [Source: Miami Herald]


› Miami event to turn entrepreneurs into ‘TekFighters’
A free event at Miami Dade College’s Wolfson Campus uses the trappings of a martial arts tournament to challenge entrepreneurs, investors and supporters.

› Large rent increases surprise manufactured home community
When Allan and Eleanore Warren signed next year's lot lease on a “fixer upper” they bought in Bay Indies, a manufactured home community, they presumed the rent for their investment property would increase by 3 percent. However, when they got the new lease they were astonished to see a rent increase of more than 19 percent — from $687 to $820.

› UF seeks new ways to improve the turnover and retention rate
As a way to improve the new hire process and retention rate, the University of Florida’s Human Resource Research Center (HRRC) is collaborating with the Gainesville Area Chamber of Commerce to engage with member businesses and their employees.

› Citrus groves fight for a comeback
Planting citrus isn't for the shortsighted. It isn't done to get quick turnaround on a buck. So, if you see new trees — either a few rows replacing old, diseased specimens or a whole new grove — you can be pretty sure the landowner has no other plans for that property for a good long while.

Go to page 2 for more stories ...

› St. Petersburg City Council members vote to continue new pier project
They came in slogan-bearing T-shirts. "Stop the Lens," the red ones blared. "Make Lens not War," those of turquoise pleaded. They shot out words like malfeasance, debacle, world class centerpiece, referendum. There was passion. A few tears. In the end, city leaders gave each side a bit of what they asked.

› Florida officials consider using genetically modified mosquitoes
Mosquito control officials in the Florida Keys are waiting for the federal government to sign off on an experiment that would release hundreds of thousands of genetically modified mosquitoes to reduce the risk of dengue fever in the tourist town of Key West.

› Wells Fargo serves up principal reductions and popcorn
It was more like a café than a place where struggling homeowners negotiated deals to stave off foreclosure. But that’s where things are four years after the economy broke and real estate toppled: pink lemonade, popcorn and Kelly Clarkson videos.

› Neal Communities sells 56 new homes in November
Neal Communities sold 56 new homes last month, raising its 2012 total to 559 sales, or 156 more than all of last year. November sales were 21 percent ahead of 2011, which was a record year for sales before being topped in September of this year.