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Thursday's Daily Pulse

Florida regains top-10 ranking in education report

Florida reestablished its top-10 ranking this year in a national education report that judges states by their education policies and performance. Florida had been in the top 10 since 2009 and rose as high as fifth place in 2011. But then it dropped to 11th place last year because student progress stalled on the National Assessment of Educational Progress, national tests in math and reading. Read more from the Orlando Sentinel and see the report.

State scales back Obamacare cost estimates nearly 90 percent

With Gov. Rick Scott facing accusations of using inflated numbers, the Florida Agency for Health Care Administration late Wednesday released a report that slashes the state's estimated costs for carrying out key parts of the federal Affordable Care Act. The report indicates Florida's costs could be as low as $3 billion over 10 years --- a huge drop from the nearly $26 billion figure that AHCA produced in a report last month. [Source: Jacksonville Business Journal]

SpaceX plans to launch humans into space in 2015

A top executive at SpaceX said Wednesday that the California-based rocket company hoped to launch U.S. astronauts into orbit as early as 2015 — with the twist that these space-farers would be SpaceX employees and not NASA personnel. [Source: Orlando Sentinel]

See also:
» NASA, partners discuss commercial crew progress

O'Brien family at their farm
At the O'Brien Family Farm: In photo, Tom O'Brien with wife Leanne and daughter Shannon 

Florida Trend Exclusive
Florida agriculture: Farmer's market

Three years ago, Tom O’Brien decided that he wanted something more to do than helping run his family’s C&D Fruit and Vegetable Co., a $20-million-a-year produce grower and distributor. Full story...

South Florida wages grow to new highs

South Florida wages have reached their highest levels in five years, according to the PayScale Index. Wages in the tri-county area jumped 3 percent in the fourth quarter compared to the same time last year. [Source: South Florida Business Journal]


› Private-equity firm snags fast-growing Orlando war-game developer
A New York-based private-equity firm has acquired controlling interest in the computerized-war-game developer Bohemia Interactive Simulations Inc., one of the top small-business defense contractors in Central Florida's training-simulation industry.

› Brevard businesses tell flu-stricken workers to stay home
Across the country, businesses are grappling with a flu strain that’s proving peskier than normal. Making matters worse is the tendency of employees concerned about job security to keep coming to the office despite their illness.

› Disney World to get new president amid theme-park-management shakeup
The Walt Disney Co. shook up its senior theme-park management ranks Wednesday, reassigning more than a half-dozen top executives — including a new president for Walt Disney World.

› MacDill won't get new refueling tanker planes
MacDill Air Force Base is no longer in the running to get the first of the Air Force's next-generation air refueling aircraft when Boeing begins delivering them in 2017.

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› Florida CFO Jeff Atwater urges Floridians to search $25 million in new unclaimed property accounts
Florida Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater wants Floridians to start searching through the 61,271 new unclaimed property accounts. The accounts total more than $25 million, according to a release from Atwater's office.

› N.C. environmental group sues to stop Progress Energy-Duke merger
A North Carolina environmental watchdog group filed an appeal Wednesday to revoke or modify the Progress Energy and Duke Energy merger, citing costly troubles with Progress' nuclear fleet in Florida.

› Sunrise stent maker to launch in U.S., add jobs
Bolton Medical has launched distribution of its stents in the U.S., and will add sales, manufacturing and engineering employees. The Sunrise-based company is a homegrown success story that already employs 110 after adding 30 positions last year. It has plans to add another 20 to 30 jobs in the next two years.

› Manatee deaths decline in Florida
Warm temperatures spared manatees in 2012 from the usual ravages of winter, with fewer dying in Florida than the previous three years. At least 392 manatee died in state waters last year, of which a quarter died from human-related causes.