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Thursday's Afternoon Update

Gov. Scott seeks help from skeptical legislators

Florida Gov. Rick Scott, entering what could be a crucial make or break legislative session, is calling on state lawmakers to make what he's calling "smart choices." Scott argues that he and fellow Republicans made "hard choices" when they cut state spending over the last two years and now they can afford to boost spending on education and hand out tax cuts to help businesses. More at the Associated Press and see our 2013 Legislative Preview.

Hillsborough County tags $2M to nurture tech start-ups

Little-known fact: Florida is fifth in the nation in the number of people employed in high-technology jobs, 54,000 of them here in the Tampa area. Didn't know Tampa was a high-tech hot spot? It's not, and it's unlikely the Bay area will become the next Silicon Valley or Austin, Texas, anytime soon. More at TBO.com.

Chico's sees highest fourth quarter earnings since 2005

Education Trends

School's In For Summer

summer school
A pilot program in which students attend classes only during the spring and summer semesters is in its inaugural year at UF. Three hundred freshmen started college classes in January instead of last August like the rest of their peers.

The program is called Innovation Academy, and it’s unique to UF. The idea is to reduce crowding during the fall semester and maximize resources during the less-busy spring and summer semesters, all while promoting creativity, innovation and entrepreneurship.

» Miami Herald

Fort Myers-based clothing retailer Chico’s FAS Inc. today announced its highest fourth-quarter earnings since 2005. The net fourth-quarter income of $32.7 million was up 29.8 percent from the $25.2 million reported a year earlier, the company reported. More at the Fort Myers News-Press.

Office Depot would owe state millions if it moves

Boca Raton-based Office Depot, which last week announced plans to merge with Illinois-based OfficeMax, would be required to pay back several million dollars in economic incentives if it relocates the new company's headquarters after the merger. More at the South Florida Sun-Sentinel.

Miami-Dade economic development chief faces bruising fight

An organization charged with reviving Miami-Dade’s battered economy finds itself with some bruises, too. The Beacon Council, a non-profit that relies on tax dollars, is contending with a threat to its public funding, lukewarm support from County Hall and a rift within its own leadership. More at the Miami Herald.

Out of the Box
Mission to Mars

condoAmerica's first manned mission to Mars will be anything but glamorous. Two astronauts — preferably a married, middle-aged couple — crammed in a vehicle the size of a small Winnebago carrying 3,000 pounds of dehydrated food, drinking water recycled from urine and sweat, breathing the same re-filtered oxygen over and over and over again. Without ever leaving. For 501 days, 13 hours, and 47 minutes. More from Florida Today and Space.com.