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Wednesday's Daily Pulse

Home starts are erupting

The U.S. Commerce Department said housing starts increased nearly 7 percent in May, to a seasonally adjusted 914,000. Both locally and nationally, the surge has put contractors back to work, boosted tax revenues for local governments and improved sales for housing-related retailers. [Source: Sarasota Herald-Tribune]

» Home builders across US asking: Where have all the good carpenters gone?
» Florida Home Sales Gaining Momentum
» How to find 'hidden gems' in real estate

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Furloughs could impact Florida National Guard's storm readiness

Hurricane season is here and it looks as though the national sequester budget cuts could hamper the ability of the Florida National Guard to respond to storm damage. Starting July 8th, the Guard will have to begin furloughs for 1,000 soldiers. [Source: First Coast News]

Most workers hate their jobs or have "checked out"

Seven out of 10 workers have “checked out” at work or are “actively disengaged,” according to a recent Gallup survey. In its ongoing survey of the American workplace, Gallup found that only 30 percent of workers are “were engaged, or involved in, enthusiastic about, and committed to their workplace.” [Source: LA Times]

Greg and Marnie Frost
The USDA shipped Greg and Marnie Frost 150 tung tree seedlings. Frost launched Gulf Coast Tung Oil after becoming impressed by a tung-based wood finishing. » Story here

Florida Trend Exclusive
Agriculture: Tallahassee tung oil

Tung oil was first produced in the United States in Tallahassee 100 years ago, derived from the fruit of seedlings brought from China by a U.S. ambassador. Over the following three decades, tung trees became regional insignia— their salmon-pink petals adorning murals, sports regalia and postcards — and tung nut oil became an industry. Full story...

Restaurants blend old rules of fast, casual, fancy

America once had very specific kinds of restaurants. There was fast food for a quick bite, casual dining for a fun night out and fine dining for that really special occasion. But now those lines are getting fuzzier. As they struggled to lure more customers during the Great Recession, some chains began looking to broaden their appeal. [Source: Orlando Sentinel]

Related Florida Trend Video Content
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› More AP classes could cost districts millions
County school superintendents told the state Board of Education on Tuesday that a recent legislative bill allowing high school students to take as many advanced placement courses as they can handle will cost districts millions of dollars that their budgets can't support.

› Alachua County approves QTI Incentive for Encell Technology Inc.
The Alachua County Board of Commissioners has approved a motion to offer a qualified target industry incentive for Encell Technology, an Alachua-based company that designs battery storage and management systems.

› JaxPort's pick for CEO says Horizon Lines agreement won't be conflict of interest
Brian Taylor resigned from Horizon Lines last November and is receiving $370,000 a year over a two-year period from the company, which uses the JaxPort-owned Blount Island terminal for shipping cargo to Puerto Rico.

› Lakewood Ranch to host major music fest
A Country Music Hall of Famer, a Rock and Roll Hall of Famer and two classic rock stars will help launch what could easily become a major annual music festival at the 140-acre Premier Sports Complex in Lakewood Ranch. Schroeder-Manatee Ranch Inc. is producing Winterfest, which debuts March 29-30, at its master-planned community in East Manatee.

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› Executive headhunting firm gets easy payday from Tampa Port Authority
Last year the Tampa Port Authority's governing board voted to hire Boyden Global Executive Search to help it look for a new CEO to lead the port. Boyden helped the board select and hire Paul Anderson, the former CEO of the Port of Jacksonville, to take over the Port of Tampa at the start of the year.

› Discrimination against pregnant workers rising, report says
Thirty-five years after Congress passed a federal law to protect pregnant women from discrimination on the job, these workers are instead denied reasonable accommodations that other workers receive and often wind up losing income, benefits or their jobs or suffering pregnancy complications, according to a report released Tuesday.

› Darden CEO lobbies against California Medicaid fines
A California bill that would fine large companies whose employees rely on Medicaid has Darden Restaurants so worried that the company's chief executive officer recently visited state lawmakers to lobby against it.

› Lennar makes foray into Nashville market
Miami-based Lennar Corp. said it has expanded homebuilding operations into the Nashville, Tenn., market, acquiring control of about 40 homesites in the Tollgate Village community.