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Central Florida, Space Coast Business Briefs - Feb. 2009

BREVARD COUNTY —

» Port Canaveral officials will spend more than $4.7 million in enhancements to accommodate two additional Disney Cruise Line ships in 2011 and 2012.

LAKE COUNTY —

» The Lake-Sumter Metropolitan Planning Organization has agreed to support the Central Florida commuter rail project, which would run through Volusia, Seminole, Orange and Osceola counties — as long as future plans include bringing the service into Lake County.

ORANGE COUNTY —

» Succumbing to protests from parents, the school board decided to reverse last year’s schedule flip between high schools and middle schools that was designed to save millions of dollars in transportation costs.

» Lake Buena Vista Resort Village & Spa near Walt Disney World is the first federally designated EB-5 regional center in Florida. The immigrant investor program created by Congress grants residency to foreigners who invest $1 million in a project and create at least 10 jobs. Phase one of the resort’s EB-5 program will involve selling 70 existing condo-hotel units to 35 investors who contribute $1 million each. Phase two will target an additional 35 investors contributing $1 million each toward financing a 152-unit building at the resort.

» Hilton Hotels plans to open its new Waldorf-Astoria Orlando and neighboring Hilton Orlando Bonnet Creek near Walt Disney World in October on the 78th anniversary of the original Waldorf-Astoria’s opening in New York.

» Green Flight International reportedly is looking for space to build a $100-million algae-based biofuel plant in central Florida.

ORLANDO —

» Florida Hospital’s children’s emergency department includes virtual reality technology that lets young patients choose different calming scenery and sounds in their treatment rooms.

» Orlando Health, parent company of Orlando Regional Medical Center, has partnered with the University of Central Florida and cardiologist James Rippe to create the nation’s first lifestyle medicine department at the hospital, where preventive healthcare will be integrated into patient care and resident education. Rippe and his clinic in Celebration formerly partnered with Florida Hospital.

» The Professional Culinary Institute, a chef-owned school based in Campbell, Calif., plans to open an Orlando campus this month on Orange Avenue.

» Orlando technology company Perceptive Technologies has introduced Phishing Phoiler, an online tool that counterattacks web-based scam operations known as “phishing” within 24 hours.

» University of Central Florida professor James Turkson has patented two compounds that show promise for destroying the STAT3 protein that causes breast cancer and is working on a similar drug for pancreatic cancer.

» UCF researchers brought in a record $122.8 million in grants in 2007-08 — up $1.4 million from the previous year.

» Dow Jones & Co., publisher of the Wall Street Journal, has closed its Orlando printing plant and eliminated 59 jobs, citing the weak economy.

» Darden Restaurants (NYSE-DRI) plans to open its eighth Seasons 52 restaurant early this year. The Cherry Hill, N.J., restaurant will be the company’s first outside the Southeast.

OSCEOLA COUNTY —

» St. Cloud attraction Florida EcoSafaris has added the state’s first “zipline safari,” which takes guests on an $85, 2½-hour nature tour that includes a hike and a scenic course along high-tension wires elevated as high as 55 feet. The company donates 30% of its tour revenue to conservation.

» Florida State University is partnering with two developers — Harmony Development and Starwood Energy Group Global — to create a 100-acre technology park in the “green” community of Harmony that will include a research facility for testing sustainable-energy technologies.

SEMINOLE COUNTY —

» Seminole Community College ranks as the 11th-fastest-growing community college nationwide with 10,000 or more students, tying with Schoolcraft College in Michigan, according to Community College Week magazine. Enrollment increased 9.4% in the fall of 2007 to almost 32,000.