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Friday's Afternoon Update

Another Record Year For Florida Tourism

Governor Rick Scott today announced that according to preliminary estimates released today by Visit Florida - the state’s official tourism marketing corporation - 94.7 million visitors came to Florida in 2013, an increase of 3.5 percent over 2012. This represents a record year for visitation to Florida, exceeding the previous high of 91.5 million in 2012. More at WCTV.

Universal to hire 3,500 workers for expansions

Universal Orlando plans to hire 3,500 people this year for expansions of its theme parks, primarily the new Wizarding World of Harry Potter — Diagon Alley, Gov. Rick Scott announced this morning. "There are not many projects like this in the great state of Florida," Scott said during a visit to Universal. More at the Orlando Sentinel.

UCF’s new biz degree to shape top talent for small firms

Florida Lifestyle

Sarasota chef Paul Mattison keeps Florida rescue teams well-fed

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Feeding and sheltering the army of utility workers who assemble from around the country when disaster strikes is a crucial if unnoticed part of the response to massive outages. Chef Paul Mattison is one of the most high-end restaurateurs to answer the call.

» Full story

The University of Central Florida’s College of Business is designing an integrated business degree that would train students to work for small- to medium-sized firms, which make up the majority of Central Florida’s business community. More at the Orlando Business Journal.

Port wants deal to use railroad lines at KSC

Port Canaveral is seeking to work out a deal with NASA and Kennedy Space Center to use rail lines on KSC property to help form a rail link to the port that would boost its cargo operations, helping create thousands of jobs. More at Florida Today.

Hearts and flowers, boats and art in store this long weekend

Already one of the busiest weekends of the year in Miami-Dade, Presidents’ Day weekend starts with an extra kick this time around: Valentine’s Day. The good news is that sweethearts who haven’t yet made plans can surprise their loved ones with a new megayacht or a Monet. More at the Miami Herald.

Out of the Box
Vanilla Ice named citizen of year by Florida town

vanilla iceMusician-turned-reality TV star Rob “Vanilla Ice” Van Winkle will be named Wellington’s “Outstanding Citizen of the Year” during an event later this month. The Wellington Chamber of Commerce said it’s honoring Van Winkle for his “spirit of giving and dedication” to the village.

» Full story from the Palm Beach Post