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Thursday's Daily Pulse

Forty percent of Florida small business owners plan to hire

Nearly 40 percent of small business owners plan to hire more employees during the next six months, according to a Florida Chamber of Commerce survey released Wednesday. That's up 7 percent from July 2011. "When four out of five jobs are created by small businesses, this is excellent news," said Tim Giuliani, small business staff director for the Florida Chamber. Only 3 percent said they plan layoffs. Read more from the South Florida Sun-Sentinel and the Tampa Bay Business Journal and see survey results from the Florida Chamber of Commerce and PNC Financial Services.

More dine out for the holidays as budgets improve

In a down economy, many South Florida residents observed Passover or Good Friday at home to save money. This year, that may not hold true. Some restaurants in Palm Beach and Broward counties are preparing for what they think will be a busy Friday night out for many Jewish and Catholic families. The two holidays happen to fall on the same day this year. [Source: South Florida Sun-Sentinel]

Tampa company looks at end run around new PIP law

A Tampa company has sent fliers to chiropractors suggesting ways to capitalize on potential loopholes in new legislation aimed at denting the runaway fraud plaguing Florida's mandatory motor vehicle no-fault law. The legislation (HB 119) - which hasn't yet reached the governor's desk - still requires all Florida drivers to carry $10,000 in coverage for accident injuries, although it also created a lower ceiling of $2,500 in coverage for non-emergency treatment to cut down on abuses. Florida leads the nation in the number of staged accidents. [Source: AP]

Florida Dining
Winter Park Wonderland

Park Avenue, the Rodeo Drive of central Florida, has new glitter, Italian-style. Not the same old veal chop posh; here in Winter Park, the pasta Bolognese is sauced with duck ragu and foie gras butter. Not the same pizza either; the “Widow Maker” is topped with braised kale and a farm egg as well as sausage and cheese. More...

Prato in Winter Park

Companies encourage employees to join wellness programs, get healthy

Increasingly, our health has become much more than just our own personal business. Employers are plunging deep into wellness programs, gauging just how far they can go to get their employees to make lifestyle changes that could reduce soaring health insurance costs. [Source: Miami Herald]


› Florida paying Miami commuters to carpool
Want to make an extra $25? How about $50? Or even $75? In a first for the Florida Department of Transportation, the state is paying commuters to carpool in an effort to ease traffic congestion.

› Scripps Florida scientists awarded $1M to study hepatitis C virus
Scripps Florida scientists have won $1 million from the National Institutes of Health for a three-year study to develop tests to find compounds that disable a protein essential to the hepatitis C virus.

› Sarasota officials ask: Can we afford a police force?
New projections show the city's pension woes could be worse than previously thought, a factor intensifying bad blood between belt-tightening officials and city employees hanging onto dreams for retirement.

› For SeaWorld, record earnings and no income tax
SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment had a banner year in 2011. Attendance and guest spending rose across its U.S. theme parks. Earnings set a company record. But SeaWorld won't have to pay a dime in federal income tax. It will not have to pay any Florida corporate income tax, either.

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› Miami Beach scrambles to keep convention center development on track
With longtime Miami Beach Procurement Director Gus Lopez suddenly out of a job, dogged by what are still vague allegations of professional misconduct, officials are hoping to keep on track one of the city's largest public-private development projects in many years.

› Suit alleges biomass talks violated Sunshine law
Gainesville’s biomass battle continues. On Wednesday, a local anti-biomass group filed a lawsuit arguing that the negotiations on the contract for Gainesville’s biomass plant violated Florida’s Sunshine Law and the agreement should therefore be declared null and void.

› Mystery business could bring high-wage jobs to Clearwater — for tax refunds
For the first time in six years, a business is looking to move to downtown Clearwater with the help of state tax refunds encouraging high-wage jobs. Yet we can't know who's leading the business, what it's called or where exactly it's planning to move. In fact, the few details we know from city officials are that the company is coming from out of state and is "relatively new."

› Publix ranked as a top grocer by Consumer Reports
Consumer Reports ranked Publix as one of the top grocers in the nation whereas Walmart ranked low on the list, according to a press release. Publix ranked among other national grocers like Trader Joe’s and Wegmans with high ratings in clean shopping environments, good prices and quality products. The report surveyed 52 grocers total.

› City to reconsider stadium-rental policy after mayor got freebies
Two days after it was revealed that North Miami’s mayor and a group of his friends were getting free use of the city’s stadium, the city says it may make the same deal available to most everyone else.