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Thursday's Afternoon Update

Disaster readiness may be at risk, Florida warns

State officials are sounding the alarm that federal budget cuts have depleted the line of defense against powerful storms just when Florida faces the busiest part of hurricane season. Federal budget cuts, known as a sequester, have forced about 1,000 Florida National Guard members to take 11 furlough days through September. More at the Orlando Sentinel.

Obama's return to Jacksonville gives the city a national spotlight in economic recovery

President Barack Obama’s appearance Thursday in Jacksonville to talk about his vision for the nation’s economy will shine a national spotlight on how Jacksonville stands in its recovery from a painful recession. When Obama came to Jacksonville for a campaign speech in the heat of summer 2012, the Jacksonville area’s unemployment rate was 8.7 percent that June. Since then, the area’s unemployment rate has dropped to 7 percent in June 2013. More at the Florida Times-Union.

Talks divided on focus of Brevard tourism marketing

Business Profile

If the Shoe Fits

shoes for crews
The Stanley and Arna Smith family’s “aha!” moment came nearly 30 years ago, as their New York nursing uniform business struggled. Searching for a new market for nurse shoes, Arna Smith called Burger King. The corporate safety director didn’t want nurse shoes but said that shoes that would grip on a slippery kitchen floor would be a great product. As anyone who’s ever worked in a restaurant knows, “it’s like ice skating in the kitchen,” says their son, Matt.

» Shoes For Crews

Local hotel operators are divided over a proposal to place more emphasis on Cocoa Beach in marketing Brevard County to tourists. On Wednesday, the Brevard County Tourist Development Council began discussing whether the tourism industry focuses too much on “Space Coast” in its advertising, even though many people outside Florida don’t know where the Space Coast is. [Source: Florida Today]

South Floridians racing to take out car loans

In a sign consumers are cautiously optimistic about their finances, more South Floridians are financing car purchases while also keeping a lid on other debt. Average car loan balances in Broward and Miami-Dade counties grew 5 percent in June compared with a year earlier, to just over $17,000. More at the South Florida Sun-Sentinel.

State to set rules for where legislators can live

The Florida Legislature is going to draw up new rules that spell out where legislators have to live. Senate President Don Gaetz and House Speaker Will Weatherford on Wednesday spelled out their plan after getting asked to investigate whether a half-dozen legislators were flouting existing state laws. More at the AP.

Out of the Box
Where the Bison Roam: Charlotte County

florida bisonIt may seem somewhat out of place against Charlotte County's waterways and wide-open spaces, but the largest bison herd in Florida is on a 5,700-acre ranch half an hour east of Punta Gorda. With new owners in place, this former beef cattle spread off Highway 31 is also a grand experiment in sustainable agriculture.

» Full story from the Sarasota Herald-Tribune