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Wednesday's Daily Pulse

Retail sales slow, but growth outlook still upbeat

U.S. retail sales braked sharply in April after strong gains in the prior two months, but that did little to change views the economy was poised for faster growth this quarter. The Commerce Department said Tuesday that seasonally adjusted retail sales rose just 0.1 percent last month, after surging 1.5 percent in March. More from Reuters and the AP.

Consumers losing doctors with new insurance plans

Before the law took effect, experts warned that narrow networks could impact patient's access to care, especially in cheaper plans. But with insurance cards now in hand, consumers are finding their access limited across all price ranges. [Source: AP]

Medicaid rolls grow in states resisting health law

States that thus far have refused a federal offer to expand Medicaid are still seeing significant sign-ups for the safety-net program that serves the poor, according to a report Tuesday that raises political and budget implications. [Source: AP]

First citrus greening funds allocation to benefit Florida

U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack on Tuesday announced that more than $1.5 million in funding has been allocated to expand efforts to fight citrus greening in Florida, Texas and California. [Source: Orlando Business Journal]

‘Motivation enhancement’ key for success in job training programs

Freshly minted college graduates, take note: Buying a new suit may be No. 1 on your list for landing that first big job, but new research shows picking the right job training program could give you the real winning edge. [Source: UF News]


› Amazon hits construction milestones at Ruskin facility
Amazon has finished installing the exterior walls and roof of its distribution center under construction in Ruskin, two milestones along the way to completing the 1.1 million-square-foot facility, company officials said Tuesday.

› BBX Capital Corp. reports strong first quarter
BBX Capital Corp.'s investments in real estate and well-run companies are paying off. The Fort Lauderdale finance company, formerly known as BankAtlantic Bancorp, on Tuesday reported $1.3 million in net income from January through March.

› Florida expecting another strong year of avocados
Florida avocado grower-shippers are expecting another normal season with production similar to last year. Because the green-skinned fruit typically produces alternate-year bearing crops, growers rarely expect consecutive strong growing seasons.

› First quarter Southwest Florida tourism is red-hot
The numbers are in: Southwest Florida's tourism and hospitality industry had a sizzling first quarter. "Probably our greatest season on record," said Bruce Seigel, sales and marketing director for The Ritz-Carlton's Naples resorts.

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› FGCU names dean of business school
FGCU has named a New Jersey administrator as dean of its Lutgert College of Business. Robert Beatty, 52, comes to Florida from Rowan University, where he was business dean and a professor.

› Duke announces plans to build $1.5B gas plant in Citrus
Continuing a series of major changes, Duke Energy Florida on Tuesday said it plans to build a $1.5 billion natural-gas power plant in Citrus County while also shutting down two old coal-fired generating units.
» See also: Florida leaders approve FPL nuclear plans

› Conference offers crash course on Florida politics
Some of the hottest issues surrounding the way Florida runs elections will be dissected Friday. More than 40 speakers are on tap for the event put on by the Miami-Dade Commission on Ethics & Public Trust and the St. Thomas University Center for Ethics.

› One Spark 2014 had $1.8-million impact on Jacksonville tourism industry
An economic study on the impact of the second annual One Spark festival in downtown Jacksonville last month has been released this week and it shows the five-day festival had a $1.816-million impact on the local economy.