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Friday's Daily Pulse

Economic report on job growth in Florida shows largest improvement since 2005

Building on the increases seen in the 2012 job numbers, Florida’s economy shows continued job growth, with an estimated 192,900 jobs created during 2013. All of the major private sector categories experienced job gains, with only total government employment experiencing losses. The 2013 jobs report shows more than a 42 percent net job increase over the 2012 numbers.

Job gains by industry
  Report includes charts on job gains by industry
  and sector. Story here

"With increased investment in important industries, such as manufacturing, logistics and tourism, Florida's economy is growing jobs at the highest rate in the last eight years," said Dominic M. Calabro, President and CEO of Florida TaxWatch. The full Florida TaxWatch report is here.

» Related: Jobs rebound in Florida, but wages do not

Florida's starring role fades without incentives

Since its inception in 2010, the Entertainment Industry Financial Incentive Program paid tax credits to 297 film, television and video productions that qualified, chiefly for hiring Florida-based workers and vendors. In return, those projects pumped nearly $1.6 billion into Florida's economy, mostly in wages, lodging and rental fees. [Source: Tampa Bay Times]

U.S. Senate approves delay in flood insurance rate hikes

With flood insurance rates — and homeowner outrage — continuing to rise in Florida, Louisiana and other states, the Senate on Thursday passed a bill that would block parts of a law that forced the increases. But significant challenges remain. [Source: Tampa Bay Times]

Realtors look for upbeat 2014 after encouraging '13

Statewide, the FloridaRealtors reported an 8.6 percent annual increase in single-family homes sales, with 19,497 closed sales vs. 17,959 in December 2012. The median sales price statewide was $172,630 vs. $154,900 in that period, an 11.4 percent increase. [Source: Florida Today]

State Leaders Pitch Aggressive “GI Bill”

The hefty proposals, which include spending $14.5 million a year for an expansion of free tuition for members of the National Guard, would create a non-profit to market Florida to former members of the U.S. military. Also, they would upgrade state armories, ease professional licensing for veterans and offer a waiver for all honorably discharged veterans from having to pay out-of-state tuition charges at state colleges and universities. [Source: CBS Miami]

» Related: Pentagon cuts could cost Florida National Guard 1,000 troops


› Melbourne's Highland Mint has already won the Super Bowl coin toss
Michael Kott, head of The Highland Mint in Melbourne, doesn’t really care who wins the Super Bowl coin toss. As the manufacturer of the coin that is used in the Super Bowl toss, deciding which team kicks off and which team receives, Kott just wants plenty of sales — and exposure — for The Highland Mint.

› OUC sells power to frozen nation for $1.4 million profit
Extraordinarily frigid weather in much of the nation has brought $1.4 million in unexpected warmth this month to Orlando through electricity sales. Orlando Utilities Commission's gain is also good for consumers as the city-owned utility plans to use the windfall to maintain its current electricity rates.

› UF researchers find genetic cause for citrus canker
Researchers from the Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences at the University of Florida are closer to finding a possible cure for citrus canker after identifying a gene that makes citrus trees susceptible to the bacterial pathogen.

› Baptist Health building new $400 million cancer center
Baptist Health South Florida, the largest non-profit hospital network in Miami-Dade, announced plans this week to build a new, $400 million cancer treatment and research center to open in 2016 at Baptist’s main campus in Miami.

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› Florida voters back minimum wage hike
In what could be an emerging political issue, Florida voters overwhelmingly support an increase in the state’s minimum wage, according to a Quinnipiac University poll released Thursday.

› Darden CEO should have less power, hedge fund says
Chief Executive Officer Clarence Otis shouldn't also be chairman of Orlando-based Darden Restaurants, a hedge fund targeting the company said Thursday.

› State lawmaker continues push for repeal of 'utility tax' for new nukes
Backed by a handful of supporters, Dudley, D-St. Petersburg, urged state leaders to stop the "utility tax" that has allowed Duke Energy to collect money from its 1.7 million customers for new nuclear power they will never receive.

› Surf's up for freewheeling visions of Cocoa Beach
A giant replica of a surfboard, as tall as a cellphone tower, and a huge Ferris wheel may one day greet visitors to Cocoa Beach. Trees would line State Road 520 to provide shade for wide sidewalks and curbside cafes. That's just one of the ideas Cocoa Beach residents and businesses gave urban planners to develop the city's beach gateway.