The year is off to a record start for Florida’s tourism industry. In the first quarter of 2013, the state welcomed more visitors than in any other quarter in history, according to preliminary numbers released Wednesday by Visit Florida. Travel-related employment also hit a record, growing 3.4 percent to nearly 1.09 million jobs. More from the Miami Herald and WTXL.
Baby boomers preparing for retirement are driving a surge in small business sales, as they find more and more buyers confident enough in the improving economy to expand their own businesses through acquisitions. Retirement was the No. 1 contributor to business sales in the fourth quarter of last year and the first quarter of 2013. [Source: AP]
Florida is heading into the 2013 hurricane season in good financial shape. A draft report released Wednesday showed that a state-created fund that would help insurers pay off claims in the event of a massive hurricane like Andrew or Katrina is in its best financial condition since its 1993 creation. [Source: South Florida Sun-Sentinel]
GrowFL's mission is to spot companies capable of tremendous growth -- and then help them to blossom. But while the program provides research and consulting services tailored to individual businesses, it has had difficulty finding companies that meet some of the strict criteria established by the Florida Legislature. As a result, GrowFL could use more applicants. [Source: Sarasota Herald-Tribune]
"Burn Notice," the spy drama that garnered top ratings and became synonymous with Miami, will end when the filming of its seventh season wraps up this summer, and its departure will create a void, industry sources said. [Source: Miami Today]
ALSO AROUND FLORIDA:
› Broward scores well for helping small businesses [South Florida Sun-Sentinel]
Broward County took home better grades from small business owners and entrepreneurs than did Miami-Dade County and the Orlando metro area, according to a website polling of small business leaders.
› Harris lands $26M contract with Marine Corps [Florida Today]
Harris Corp. announced it has received a $26 million order to help the U.S. Marine Corps expand its wideband tactical networking capabilities and deliver the tactical Internet down to the individual warfighter.
› Tower of Light getting $50,000 makeover [Orlando Sentinel]
After more than 20 years weathering under the Florida sun — and apparently suffering a gunshot or two — the much-maligned "Tower of Light" sculpture in front of Orlando City Hall is getting a $50,000 makeover.
› Low inventory forces hotel investors north [Miami Today]
Greater Miami is running so low on hotel inventory that attorney Daniel Marinberg of Greenberg Traurig says it isn't meeting demand. The extreme undersupply of hotels, he said, is forcing people trying to buy into the hotel industry to go farther north than they would like.
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› Credit Union buys Tampa amphitheater naming rights [Sarasota Herald-Tribune]
First, it was Ford Amphitheatre. Then the widely mocked 1-800-ASK-GARY Amphitheatre, and for a short time, Live Nation Amphitheatre. Now the Tampa venue at the Florida State Fairgrounds bears the name of MIDFLORIDA Credit Union Amphitheatre, after the Lakeland-based financial institution signed a three-year agreement with Live Nation for the rights.
› Ripley's: Eight-city hunt for more oddities starts in Orlando [Orlando Sentinel]
Ripley's wants to take your odd stuff off your hands. Orlando-based Ripley Entertainment, which operates 32 "odditorium" attractions, will visit eight cities throughout 2013, in an attempt to add more oddities to its eclectic collections. The first stop of its Bizarre Buying Bazaar will be at the International Drive museum in Orlando on June 7-8.
› 23 companies earn FPL rate cuts [Miami Today]
It's been about a year and a half since Florida Power & Light Co. decided to try its hand at economic development. So far, there have been victories large and small, but FPL hasn't been swamped by companies taking up its offers.
› Late North Florida potato volume brings higher prices [The Packer]
As north Florida begins spring volume up to two weeks late, buyers can expect lower red potato supplies to keep demand high and prices above normal.