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The family of late baseball slugger Roger Maris filed two lawsuits against Anheuser-Busch involving a beer distributorship that Maris and his brother Rudy founded and that the Maris family operates. The Marises claim Anheuser-Busch is trying to unfairly terminate its franchise agreement and force the Marises to sell the business to the brewery. A second suit alleges that restrictions in the franchise agreement amount to restraint of trade.

Barnett Banks is acquiring Oxford Resources Corp., the country's largest independent auto leasing company, for about $570 million in stock. Oxford provides leases and loans for new and used cars through more than 2,000 dealers in 21 states.

Santa Monica, Calif.-based Tradelink International Limited, an interactive communications company, agreed to acquire a controlling interest in Jacksonville sportscar manufacturer Vector Aeromotive. Tradelink also agreed to acquire Stewart 51 based in Vero Beach. Tradelink will merge Stewart, which manufacturers a replica of the WWII Mustang fighter plane, into Vector.

Winn-Dixie Stores Inc. is fighting the IRS over estimates of "shrinkage" - loss from theft, spoilage, breakage and accounting errors. The agency says Winn-Dixie is claiming too much shrinkage and wants an additional $393,000 in taxes for 1992. Winn-Dixie says it's entitled to a $135,250 refund. This controversy and another for the years 1988-1991 involve about $6 million in taxes.

American Tire Recyclers is selling $1 million in treasury stock to raise capital. The city recently gave the company $500,000 in state grant money to purchase equipment that turns discarded rubber products into raw material for new products. In exchange, the city gets five years of free recycling of tires collected in its curbside pick-up program.

Warehouse space in Jacksonville fills up fast these days, and developers are responding: More than 1 million square feet of speculative warehouse and industrial space is under construction, according to the Florida Times-Union.

Regency Realty Corp. purchased two shopping centers - one in Atlanta and one in Stuart - for $10.1 million. The company bought 13 centers in 1996 for a total of $107 million.

AccuStaff Inc., a provider of employee leasing and outsourcing services, has acquired four firms: CGS Services Inc. in New Britain, Conn.; Executives Monitor Inc. of Pittsburgh; The Placers Inc. of Christiana, Del., and Ames/Standby of Philadelphia.

St. Augustine
GeoWaste Inc. acquired solid waste collector Air Sweep A Lot of Valdosta, Ga., for cash, a promissory note and assumption of debt totaling $1 million altogether.

Black-Owned Businesses ...

... can and are succeeding in the inner city but still face formidable obstacles, according to a University of Florida researcher who surveyed 102 businesses in Jacksonville and Daytona Beach.

UF grad student Russell Benjamin, who's studying political science, found many black-owned businesses defy stereotypes that assume they are in traditional fields such as retailing, nightclubs and beauty or barber shops. Many, according to the survey, are in emerging areas such as law, medicine, real estate and insurance. "Not all of the inner city is an entrepreneurial and social wasteland," Benjamin says.

Nearly two-thirds of the businesses in both cities said they got no help from government agencies in starting up. Entrepreneurs in Daytona Beach found black officials even less helpful than white officials, and two-thirds of the entrepreneurs said public officials did nothing to reduce failure rates for black-owned businesses.

Other obstacles? Exclusion from "good old boy" networks and difficulty getting loans. School desegregation and the exemption of some high-profile construction contracts from set-aside programs threaten progress in Jacksonville, Benjamin found. Last April, the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights gave Jacksonville the lowest grade in Florida in race relations.

"Black-owned businesses have the potential for long-term survival and growth," Benjamin says. "However, issues such as financing and a deep lack of black entrepreneurial confidence in local officials and institutions could hurt their ultimate success."