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Friday's Daily Pulse

Florida workers comp rates fall, lessening legislative battle's urgency

Crisis, what crisis? Just a year after dire predictions that the state's economy was in peril due to rising insurance costs, Florida businesses could see an average 9.3 percent reduction in workers' compensation premiums in the coming year. [Source: Orlando Sentinel]

Gov. Scott declares storm emergency in 29 Florida counties

Gov. Rick Scott has declared a state of emergency for 29 counties in north Florida and the Panhandle as Tropical Storm Nate approaches the Gulf coast. The governor said in a news release Thursday that the order helps ensure that federal, state and local governments can work together easily. See the executive order from the governor, here. Also read more at First Coast News and the Miami Herald.

Florida Trend Exclusive
How to reach economic development agencies in Florida

contacts

Who you gonna call? At BusinessFlorida.com, you will find the points of contact you'll need when ready to relocate or expand your business. Regional, county and city economic development professionals stand ready to assist. Find phone numbers, websites and more for all of Florida's economic development agencies here. Also browse lists of business incubators and venture capital firms and read the entire special report.

School districts hit by Irma ask Florida to postpone testing

Three Florida school districts are asking the state to push back standardized testing dates after they lost considerable class time to Hurricane Irma. Miami-Dade, Collier and Lee counties have requested that the Department of Education revise the state testing calendar to account for school closures during and after the storm. [Source: Miami Herald]

Lake Okeechobee hits highest level since 2005, raising concerns its dike could fail

Rainfall from Hurricane Irma has pushed the water level in Lake Okeechobee to its highest point since 2005. Now, with yet another hurricane possibly headed toward Florida, nearby residents fear a collapse of the 80-year-old dike around the lake. [Source: Tampa Bay Times]

Earlier, from Florida Trend:
» Addressing Lake Okeechobee's pollution run-off crisis (Video interview with engineer Tom MacVicar)
Quick poll
» With the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers releasing large amounts of water from Lake O, how concerned are you there will be another toxic algae bloom?

ALSO AROUND FLORIDA:

› Siemens giving large grant to Florida Tech to help advance students STEM careers
The German-based industrial and manufacturing conglomerate Siemens is expected to announce today it's giving the Florida Institute of Technology the biggest in-kind contribution in university history. Also read more at Florida Today.

› Big employers explain why they’re choosing Jacksonville
Three major Jacksonville employers say better air service, such as international flights, would bring more people to Jacksonville — both literally and figuratively.

› Florida production per capita lags pre-recession highs... by a lot!
In 2006, Florida's per capita gross domestic product was $44,000 per person. From 2006 to 2012, it fell to just under $38,000. By 2015 we had barely clawed our way back to $39,000 in production per capita, short of the high by $5,000.

› Former astronaut tells Polk business leaders of high-flying future
About 300 people at the Central Florida Development Council’s annual meeting and dinner on Wednesday heard from former astronaut Winston Scott about flying high. Then they saw two examples of organizations that have.

Go to page 2 for more stories ...

› Lee County Port Authority authority hires new executive
Laura Rhoad joined Lee County Port Authority as director of human resources. According to a press release, she will oversee all activities related to employee matters at Southwest Florida International Airport and Page Field in Fort Myers.

Python

› Researchers: Pythons changed mosquito's diet in Everglades
University of Florida researchers have more data showing invasive Burmese pythons decimating populations of native mammals in the Everglades. As a result, one of the only mammals left in the Everglades for mosquitoes to bite is the hispid cotton rat, a rodent which hosts a mosquito-borne virus called the Everglades virus. “As far as I am aware, this is the first time that researchers have found that an invasive predator (such as the python) has caused an increase in contact between mosquitoes and hosts of a human pathogen,” said Nathan Burkett-Cadena, a UF/IFAS assistant professor of entomology.

› 16th Annual Black Expo Florida organizers hope to draw 14,000 to Jacksonville weekend event
The 16th annual Florida Black Expo weekend is set to envelope downtown Jacksonville this weekend as organizers are expecting as many as 14,000 people to attend.

› Florida's closed primaries confuse voters, Broward elections head tells state committee
As Florida's population grows and more residents shun traditional party affiliations, voters are befuddled, if not angry, about the state's closed-primary system, including the use of write-in candidates, three local elections supervisors testified.