Last year was pivotal for Florida's economy as the pace of job creation picked up and the unemployment rate actually fell below the national average. Will the momentum last? It's a good bet, based on a reports and interviews with some leading bank, corporate and university economists who track the state. [Source: Tampa Bay Times]
Marian Johnson, senior vice president/ political strategy, Florida Chamber of Commerce
For many candidates, Marian Johnson’s office at the Florida Chamber is the first stop on the campaign trail. With 50 years of experience in Florida politics, Marian Johnson knows the voter registration statistics and demographics of practically every county in the state. Full story.
The folks behind Florida’s upcoming state-based health exchange say consumer interest is so overwhelming, they are yet again delaying opening it up for business. It’s not yet possible to buy health plans on the Florida Health Choices site. But web traffic from people just checking it out has increased tenfold since its chief executive officer announced Feb. 3 that the full launch was “just days away.’’ [Source: Times/Herald]
South Florida, it turns out, is pretty thirsty for craft beer. The brewers say they suspected that was the case, and it was only a matter of time before they started filling demand. Now, at least a handful of other hopeful brewers and their investors are planning to open soon in Miami-Dade County. [Source: Miami Herald]
Florida is home to 13 of the last 21 greyhound tracks in the nation, the most of any state. But what is left of the industry is losing its appeal as younger people prefer the lure of electronic games on slot machines. [Source: Tampa Bay Times]
ALSO AROUND FLORIDA:
› Beckham’s soccer plans conflict with PortMiami’s business plan [Miami Herald]
Of all the plans to inject more revenue into PortMiami’s strapped finances, none has the sizzle of David Beckham’s personal soccer team. But can the most indebted port on the East Coast afford the fun and games?
› Florida's economic rebound skips over long-term jobless [Tampa Bay Times]
Florida's jobs rebound has been nothing short of dramatic, with unemployment tumbling from the double digits to an impressive 6.2 percent. Yet, for the long-term jobless, the agony persists. Florida remains one of just two states where more than 45 percent of the unemployed have been looking for work for six months or more.
› Swordfish now can be caught in North Florida waters [Florida Times-Union]
Conforming to less-restrictive federal rules that went into effect in August, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission decided Thursday that commercial fishermen can catch and sell three swordfish per vessel, per trip, within the three-mile distance from shore that Florida governs.
› Laid-off tech workers finding new local opportunities [South Florida Sun-Sentinel]
Employment in South Florida's technology sector can be a roller-coaster experience, with workers riding the ups and downs of changing businesses and technologies. But the good news is the jobs lost are starting to be replaced by those at homegrown companies, as well as companies relocating to the area.
Go to page 2 for more stories ...
› University Of Florida Announces New COO [CBS Miami]
Charles Lane, a senior vice president from the University of Southern California, has been tapped to be the University of Florida’s new chief operating officer.
› Shotguns could be growth area for Cocoa's Kel-Tec [Florida Today]
Among many gun owners and collectors, Kel-Tec has positioned itself well in the past two decades, making a variety of lightweight, lower-cost pistols. But the latest Kel-Tec offering generating buzz isn’t so discreet.
› 5,000 buyers from 80 countries coming to bid on construction equipment [Orlando Sentinel]
Monday is the start of what is likely the largest annual sales event in Central Florida: Ritchie Bros.' annual February auction. The weeklong bidding war in Polk County is expected to draw about 5,000 people from 80 countries and each of the 50 U.S. states — all looking for bargains.
› Sports venue costs can scalp taxpayers [TBO.com]
Whether it’s the corporate welfare derided by opponents, or the public investment that team owners tout, this year’s line for state money to help build Florida sports complexes started at the Capitol.