FloridaTrend.com, the Website for Florida Business

Monday's Daily Pulse

All political eyes on Florida's special election

It's for just one congressional seat for about eight months, but Tuesday's special election in Florida has taken on huge political significance. The suburban St. Petersburg district is considered a proving ground for each party's political messages and a possible bellwether for the midterm elections. More from WFMZ and the AP.

See also:
» Florida Could Be Bellwether State For Obamacare Election Strategies
» Obamacare’s Ground Zero
» Florida Election a Crash Course for Midterm Races

Earning an MBA Online
Paul Online MBA programs, once solely the product of for-profit schools, have gone mainstream.

Florida Trend Exclusive
Earning an MBA online

All across Florida, public and private universities with highly regarded and nationally accredited business schools have begun offering MBAs online that are comparable to the MBAs they have long offered on campus. Access full story here.

Florida remains spring break hotspot

Though Florida's spring break hotspots evolve, with some cities dropping off students' radar and others popping back on, statewide tourism continues to grow during January, February and March. Out-of-state visitors during those months have increased from 19.4 million in 2000 to an all-time high of 26.3 million last year. [Source: USA Today]

Trend of pay-to-play medical training worries critics

With a growing number of health-related colleges, many of them for-profit, competition for essential training spots has become increasingly fierce. In nursing, the Florida Legislature directly encouraged this heightened competition, thanks to laws passed in 2009 and 2010 that made it easier for colleges to get new nursing programs approved. [Source: Miami Herald]

What would pot's passage mean to Florida?

If voters amend the state’s constitution in November to allow the use of medical marijuana, Florida could witness the birth of an $800-million-a-year industry. In short order, Florida would become the second-largest marijuana market in the nation, behind only California. [Source: Sarasota Herald-Tribune]

See also:
» Medical marijuana poised for ad-war win


› Comcast 'doubling down' on theme park business
Comcast Corp., hungry for revenue and profit growth beyond its core telecommunications business, is investing hundreds of millions of dollars into theme parks in California and Florida and doing what few other U.S. companies have the financial muscle to do - challenge Walt Disney Co.'s tourism business.

› Cuban cultural exchange in Key West draws ire from some exiles
But while most of Key West has welcomed the the two-country exhibit “Una Raza/One Race” — including host sites The Studios of Key West, the Hemingway Home & Museum, the Oldest House & Garden Museum, The Florida Council of the Arts and the Mel Fisher Maritime Museum — a strong minority voice has criticized the exchange from the start.

› CEO Clarence Otis feels the heat as Darden struggles
No stranger to uphill battles, Clarence Otis is now facing what may be the biggest one of his career. Otis is under pressure as the company he leads, Orlando-based Darden Restaurants, struggles with plunging profits and declining sales at Red Lobster and Olive Garden, its two biggest chains.

› Simulated slice of Mars could land in Titusville
Plans to build the world’s largest Mars simulation are back on track in Titusville. Interspace, a space-themed attraction and research facility, could open as early as 2016 and employ 200 workers.

Go to page 2 for more stories ...

› PNC Bank heating up with Florida economy
Vacationers flock to South South Florida for the sunshine; banks come for the hot economy. PNC Bank is one of the latest, opening 10 branches last year and expecting to add four this year, all of them in Broward County.

› Florida spent millions on flawed fingerprint system
The Florida Department of Law Enforcement’s troubled 5-year-old automatic fingerprint identification system (AFIS) is experiencing technical problems that are causing delays in investigations and arrests across the state. It has also cost far more to maintain than it did to design and build.

› Active adult communities keeping Baby Boomers busy
In the 1960s and '70s, retirees from the Northeast were drawn to low-cost condominiums at such South Florida communities as Kings Point and Century Village. But Boomers today want more room offered in a single-family home, analysts say.

› Volusia worried no one knows SunRail is coming
Most weekday mornings about 30,000 cars head southwest on Interstate 4 from Volusia County to downtown Orlando, the Maitland office complexes or Winter Park. SunRail aims to pick off some of those motorists but Volusia officials worry that the people in charge of the train are not reaching out enough in their county through advertising and public relations events.