Florida lawmakers have spent years likening their budget decisions to families at the kitchen table deciding which bills to pay. Now that economic tides are rising, those talks are sounding more like whether to upgrade iPhones and PlayStations, buy a new car or pad the college fund. Legislative budget writers expect a roughly $840 million budget surplus when they return to work in the spring 2014 legislative session beginning in March. [Source: Orlando Sentinel]
In the height of irony, the 16 days of federal worker furloughs and government disruptions may have helped, not hurt, the improved jobs picture. Because of the shutdown, the Bureau of Labor Statistics delayed the release of the jobs numbers by one week to allow more time to collect payroll and household data. That extra time resulted in an above average response rate for payroll data. [Source: AP]
Now that buyers are spending money, they want what they want. Items that were once rare expensive add-ons are now becoming more commonplace. And when buyers demand it, builders deliver it, often as part of the base price of a new home. [Source: South Florida Sun-Sentinel]
In Miami Beach, Greater Miami Skin and Laser Center patients who buy four high-priced and luxurious anti-aging treatments get the fifth for free. New research suggests the center’s patients won’t only value the complimentary treatment but — because it comes alongside a luxurious, high priced purchase — will consider them to be equally precious. Much more so than if they’d paid a discounted price. [Source: Miami Herald]
When Richard Simoes left the U.S. Army in 2006, after serving in Kosovo and Afghanistan, he immediately had to transition back to civilian life on his own. He left military life behind to start a lawn service. It wasn’t until after the business collapsed in a faltering economy and someone mentioned to him the GI Bill benefits to which he was entitled, that he thought of himself as a veteran. [Source: Florida Today]
» Chamber hosts job fair for veterans, spouses
ALSO AROUND FLORIDA:
› USF professor Yogi Goswami captures solar energy using salt balls [Tampa Bay Times]
To Florida's big utilities, the Sunshine State isn't as bright as its nickname indicates. Too cloudy. Too hazy. Too much darkness. It just doesn't have the pounding rays of, say, Arizona or parts of California. Enter Yogi Goswami, an internationally renowned mechanical engineer at the University of South Florida.
› Money pours in to entice business to Lee County [Fort Myers News-Press]
A regional effort to promote economic development is getting business donations behind it and may get tax dollar support as well. The new Southwest Florida Economic Development Alliance has collected pledges of more than $300,000 to promote the area as a business destination.
› St. Petersburg's Tropicana Field increasingly eyed for uses beyond baseball [Tampa Bay Times]
This summer, the Tampa Bay Rays and city officials quietly tried to find a way to let the team look for a new stadium site in Tampa. Those negotiations fell apart in September, amid an intense election season, but they did lay groundwork for keeping baseball in Tampa Bay.
› Bright idea bundles bulbs, biology [Florida Today]
Can a simple-looking light bulb be a cure for a country where people just don’t get enough sleep? The leadership at the Lighting Science Corp., a designer and manufacturer of LED lights, hopes so.
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› Engineer's firm still has no car on market [Florida Today]
In July 2011, it was hard for R.J. Scaringe to keep out of the headlines. NASA’s space shuttle program was coming to an end, and the then-28-year-old Scaringe, who had recently started a new automobile company called Rivian Automotive, was being described to media outlets all over the world as the next best thing on the Space Coast.
› What Florida’s Graduation Rates Say About Opportunity In Our State [StateImapct Florida]
Florida doesn’t offer as much opportunity to its young people as other states do. That’s according to new research from Opportunity Nation. The bipartisan organization compiles an index of community characteristics to measure how people’s zip codes affect their quality of life.
› Coconut Creek tech firm boosts online sales for multinationals [Miami Herald]
When Best Buy wanted to attract more buyers to its Spanish-language websites in the United States and Mexico, it turned to MotionPoint Corp., a technology company based in Coconut Creek. When Amtrak wanted to set up a U.S. website in German to serve the large flow of German tourists who like to travel by rail and plan their trips here ahead of time, it called MotionPoint.
› He's the new face directing Gainesville consultants ECT [Gainesville Sun]
New president Bob Kloepfer says Environmental Consulting & Technology is well-positioned to grow as it serves a growing U.S. power production industry and as it serves manufacturing that returns to the U.S. as energy costs drop.