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Transportation in Florida: Ticket to ride

All Aboard Florida
All Aboard Florida is Florida East Coast Industries new venture into private passenger rail service. » Story here [Photo: FECI]

All Aboard Florida aims to be the first private intercity passenger rail service in America since 1971, when government-subsidized Amtrak took over passenger train operation nationally. For decades, fast passenger rail has been the stuff of presidential State of the Union wish lists and the dream of those who want to see Americans out of their cars and into mass transit. All Aboard Florida tickles those fancies and stokes the passions of free-market advocates as well. Read the full story here and see also:

» FECI: Old assets, new organization -- How Florida East Coast Industries manages their hard assets, employees, and railroad rights of way.

Why middle-class jobs are disappearing

Construction, teaching, transportation and manufacturing are driving forces in the disappearance of the middle class. The lack of job growth in those industries is a key reason why middle-class jobs are vanishing, while demand for low-paid and high-paid jobs grows. More from the South Florida Business Journal and the Washington Post.

Rise in U.S. Home Prices Matches 7-year High

U.S. home prices rose 12.1 percent in June from a year earlier, nearly matching a seven-year high. But month-over-month price gains slowed in most markets, a sign that higher mortgage rates may weigh on the housing recovery. [Source: AP]

See also:
» South Florida posts 18th month of rising home values, best since 2006

Businesses, nonprofits hurt by rain, floods can get help

Low-interest disaster loans are available from the U.S. Small Business Administration for businesses and nonprofits that suffered financial losses as a direct result of excessive rain and flooding between June 4 and Aug. 1. The loans are available to small businesses, small agricultural cooperatives, small aquaculture businesses and private nonprofits. [Source: Ocala Star-Banner]

Safety net for school grades may get extended

Florida may be keeping a safety net provision that kept more than 150 schools from getting an F grade this year. Interim Education Commissioner Pam Stewart said Tuesday that state officials will discuss in October whether to keep in place a rule that would limit a school grade from dropping more than one letter at a time. [Source: Tampa Bay Times]


› How Publix uses social media — and you should, too
“Where shopping is a pleasure” is being translated to “where engaging online is a pleasure” at Publix Super Markets, as the company has adopted and executed strategic social media goals in the past year.

› Rumors of an Apple store buzzing in Sarasota
With a new 880,000-square-foot mall in the works here, Apple may have a renewed interest in opening a store in the Southwest Florida market. Although Apple Inc. employees would not confirm if the electronics company is looking into the Sarasota-Bradenton market, local retail sources are buzzing about Apple and the possibility of a new store here in one of our regional malls.

› Flood insurance 'crisis' may pummel St. Pete Beach real estate market
City officials are worried that rising federal flood insurance costs for home and business owners will pummel the local real estate market and property tax revenue. "There is a looming flood insurance crisis that is about to hit us," Vice Mayor Marvin Shavlan told the City Commission this month.

› Fort Myers, county officials to fly for Nationals meeting
Lee County and Fort Myers officials will accompany a developer to Washington D.C. for a meeting with the Washington Nationals. The downtown Fort Myers venue has been without a tenant since the Red Sox headed to their new home at JetBlue Park in 2011.

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› After seven seasons, Burn Notice turns to fans for help on a liquidation sale
How much would a fan pay to own the spoon Jeffrey Donovan used for eating yogurt on Burn Notice? At the moment, $70, but stay tuned. As Burn Notice nears its series finale next month, the show has begun auctioning off its props, wardrobe and set furniture, a liquidation that marks the end of one of the most successful television runs in Miami’s recent history.

› Two home-grown jeans companies expand in Tampa Bay
These are good days for fans of denim who take their jeans very seriously. Two new jeans shops have opened up in Ybor City, each one targeting those who consider $100 to $300 as just what’s necessary for a fine pair of pants.

› Fort Lauderdale company offers alternative to lunch lines in Broward schools
Viviana Sanchez surveyed the long lunch line at Northeast High School last week and pondered her options. And she was glad she had options. Instead of waiting forever in the cafeteria line for a less-than-appetizing meal, the sophomore strolled over to a vending machine and had her lunch within seconds.

› Legoland Florida: Free admission for police, firefighters, EMS in September
Legoland Florida again will give one day of free admission to police officers, firefighters and EMS workers during the month of September. The Winter Haven park's Police, Fire and EMS Appreciation Days are available to those employees working in the United States.