Congress may have kept the nation from going over the fiscal cliff, but it failed to avert a multi-billion dollar hit to Florida’s struggling economy. The decision to let the 2010 deduction in the Social Security payroll tax expire will cost Floridians an estimated $6.5 billion, said Sean Snaith, director for Institute Economic Competitiveness at the University of Central Florida. [Source: Times/Herald]
Senator Marco Rubio is one of several "Newsmakers of the Year" in Miami-Dade.
Miami: Marco Rubio, Carlos Migoya, Michael Swerdlow, Philip Frost, Jorge Perez and P. Michael Reininger
Southeast: John Textor, Robert Runcie and Joe Rooney
Southwest: Al Austin, Stephen Klasko, Progress Energy, Mystery Monkey and Jill Kelley
Central: Lake Nona, David and Jacqueline Siegel, The Villages and Theme Parks
Northeast: Shahid Kahn, Ted Yoho and EverBank
Northwest: Quint Studer, BP, Jim Murdaugh and Navy Federal Credit Union
According to the FDLE, 797,970 background checks were requested last year — about 200,000 more than in 2011. The numbers skyrocketed in the days after the mass shooting in Newtown, Conn. and is likely fueled by fear that greater gun control laws may be passed after the Connecticut shooting. [Source: Tampa Bay Times]
Related: Newsmakers of the Year: Gun Owners
Driving recently through his family's citrus groves in rural LaBelle, Fla., Mark Wheeler saw scores of oranges littering the ground. It was an ominous sign the trees could be ailing just as the citrus harvest gets under way in Florida. The likely culprit was an incurable disease known as citrus greening that is ravaging the state's orange and grapefruit trees. [Source: Wall Street Journal]
Tucked into the 157-page legislation that saved the nation from the worst of the fiscal cliff is an extension of the Mortgage Debt Relief Act, which allows borrowers to exclude loan debt forgiven in a short sale, foreclosure or loan modification from counting as income on their taxes. [Source: Palm Beach Post]
ALSO AROUND FLORIDA:
› Catching the wave of marina reconstruction in the wake of Sandy [Florida Times-Union]
TDI Products never really invents its products per se, but it does take product lines and turn around the value of the devices. That has led the Atlantic Beach company to help in the recovery after Superstorm Sandy.
›Fort Lauderdale business owner rewards good Samaritan [South Florida Sun-Sentinel]
For three days, Walter LaFreniere's stolen work truck sat idling on a city street before an observant passer-by called the phone number on the side of the truck.
› Orlando's construction industry shows signs of life [Orlando Sentinel]
Tucked in the thicket of numbers produced each month by government analysts is a note of hope for an industry battered by the Great Recession. The past three months of employment data hint that construction hiring in Central Florida may be shuffling toward recovery.
› TECO stock making a comeback? [Tampa Bay Times]
Sometimes you have to look to the mangiest dogs to find the next leader of the pack. At least that's stockwatcher Seeking Alpha's strategy in naming Tampa's TECO Energy Inc. as one of its "2012 Dogs of the S&P 500 to Buy Now."
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›Cruise industry veteran Pamela Conover named CEO of SeaDream [Orlando Sentinel]
SeaDream Yacht Club, a niche cruise operator with two small ships, announced the appointment of Pamela Conover as CEO on Wednesday.
› Two Tampa Bay area tech firms merge promising broader services [Tampa Bay Times]
In a new year's deal that will create an area technology firm with more than 200 employees and $140 million in annual revenues, Oldsmar-based Vology has acquired Tampa's Bayshore Technologies. Terms were not announced.
› Virginia company spins off fast-growing Florida simulation-training unit [Orlando Sentinel]
In a move designed to boost its business, Virginia-based Zel Technologies Inc. said Wednesday it has spun off its fast-growing Central Florida training simulation unit to be a wholly owned subsidiary known as ZelTech Training Solutions LLC.
› Two Plantation office buildings sold for $17.5M [South Florida Business Journal]
Two related companies sold a pair of Plantation office buildings for a combined $17.5 million to a buyer from Massachusetts.