Thinking of dining out? You might want to call ahead and make a reservation. It appears Florida's restaurants will be busier this year, as the industry is expected to grow 4.5 percent, according to the National Restaurant Association's 2014 Restaurant Industry Forecast. Sales are projected to reach $34.6 billion, up from $33.2 billion in 2013. More at the South Florida Sun-Sentinel and the Tallahassee Democrat.
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High-tech industry leaders are on a mission to keep "simulation world" in Orlando, and they want the Legislature's help. The region's $5 billion military-training industry and a coalition of political, education and business leaders plan to ask state lawmakers for millions of dollars to pay for new construction. [Source: Orlando Sentinel]
Lower expenses for private insurers should offer some relief to Floridians who pay the highest insurance rates in the nation, but premium reductions have been slow in coming to consumers, according to a new report by the state insurance office. [Source: Daytona Beach News-Journal]
Along with the aircraft parts, cell phones, computers and computer chips, medical equipment, and medicines — the backbone of trade in South Florida — there are some decidedly more exotic and unusual cargoes that are shipped through Miami International Airport. [Source: Miami Herald]
Foreign buyers accounted for $68.2 billion in real estate sales in the U.S. in 2013, down from $82.5 billion in 2012 but still the second-highest total on record, according to the National Association of Realtors Profile of International Home Buyers. Florida accounted for the largest share, with 23 percent of the U.S. total. [Source: Gainesville Sun]
ALSO AROUND FLORIDA:
› Manufacturers graduate first class of machinists [South Florida Sun-Sentinel]
Facing a shortage of machinists, the South Florida Manufacturers Association is solving the problem itself, with its first class of apprentices graduating Tuesday.
› Sales tax holiday a boost for retailers [Sarasota Herald-Tribune]
Following a relatively flat year for the retail industry and tepid back-to-school sales last August, Gov. Rick Scott's proposal for an extended sales tax holiday in 2014 came as good news for retailers in Florida.
› Forecast: Orlando employment to grow by 2.6% a year [Orlando Sentinel]
Employment in Metro Orlando is expected to grow annually by an average of 2.6 percent through 2017, according to the latest economic forecast from the University of Central Florida. That's the second-highest rate among the 12 metropolitan areas included in the UCF report.
› No. 1 Realtor working as hard as ever [Sarasota Herald-Tribune]
Roger Pettingell generated an impressive -- and nearly career best -- $50.7 million worth of real estate transactions in 2012. But rather than relax at the top of his game, the veteran Southwest Florida real estate agent expanded.
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› Businesses meet needs of robots [New York Times]
Even a robot needs a home. That is what companies nationwide are realizing as they shift more production to robotics. Many are expanding through additions or, in some cases, excavating to accommodate extremely heavy live-in machines.
› Huge outdoor entertainment venue taking shape in rural Charlotte County [Fort Myers News-Press]
Twenty-six miles of leisure trails for ATVs, go carts and motorbikes. Bike tracks for Motocross races. A 40-acre paintball park. A 15,000-seat amphitheater that will host major national musical acts. A man-made recreational lake complete with cabanas and white sandy beaches.
› More rooms full at South Florida hotels [South Florida Sun-Sentinel]
South Florida hotels closed out 2013 with fewer empty rooms and higher prices, buoyed by increases in international visitors, sports tourism and leisure business.
› Texas and Florida Lead Growth Among Large States From November to December [B2C]
The ADP regional employment report for December is out, and the news is great for the Lone Star State once again. Texas and Florida lead job growth among large states. Private sector employment increased in all nine U.S. Census Bureau Divisions during the month of December 2013.