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Written by on January 31, 2002

TRADE TALK UPDATE: The 10th trade negotiating round between the US and Chile aimed at creating a bilateral free trade agreement took place in Santiago last week. Chilean officials said two more rounds would be needed before a consensus could be reached. One is scheduled for March in Chile and the other for April in the US. During the ninth round at the University of Miami in October, both sides had said they hoped to hold their last meeting this month.

CHILEAN LOBBY: The president of the Chilean-American Chamber of Commerce in Chile, Kathleen Barclay, said Chile is committed to lobbying the US Senate for passage of trade promotion authority. The US House has passed a measure to empower the president to negotiate trade agreements abroad. Under that measure, Congress could approve or reject an accord but not amend it. Ms. Barclay said her chamber, divided about equally between companies from Chile and the US, is close to finishing a book with information on which US companies would benefit from doing business with Chile if a free trade agreement were signed. Before that pact can be sealed, the US Senate must approve trade promotion authority.

INTERIM POST: Assistant Sylvia Lowman was named by commissioners as interim city clerk effective Feb. 2 after City Clerk Walter Foeman leaves to become deputy supervisor of elections in Broward County. The city is accepting resumes for the permanent position. Commissioners plan to choose a clerk Feb. 28. Details (305) 250-5360.

FINANCE CHAIR: The City of Miami Finance Committee elected Candis Trusty chairman. Ms. Trusty, who over the years has served on three other city committees for debt collection, banking services and outside auditor, is a shareholder with the Miami law firm Markowitz Davis Ringel & Trusty. The city finance committee is charged with reviewing and making recommendations on the issuance of debt obligations and the management of outstanding debt. In her law practice Ms. Trusty said she focuses on civil and commercial litigation, probate, guardianship and elder law.

MAM OK: The Miami Art Museum, 101 W Flagler St., announced it has been re-accredited by the American Association of Museums, one of 42 museums in the US to be awarded that status after examinations and peer reviews in 2001. "We are honored," said Susana Ibargüen, president of MAM trustees. The next phase of the museum’s growth, she said, is to "secure a site for a new building and sculpture park."

HOME FRONT: The Florida Home Builders Association announced its legislative priorities for 2002, which include curbing the rising cost of housing, encouraging planning and agreements between local government and school boards as part of growth management and reforms to the state workers’ compensation system. "Combating the rising cost of housing," said Barbara Revels, association president, is at the center of every issue our association is concerned about." She said for every $1,000 increase in the cost of a home, 25,000 Floridians are priced out of the market. The price hikes, Ms. Revels said, are "due in part to increasing government regulations."

ORCHID RECOGNITION: The Greater Homestead Florida City Chamber of Commerce gave Robert Fuchs its 2002 Agriculturalist of the Year award. Mr. Fuchs is owner of RF Orchids in Homestead, a firm whose products have won more than 460 American Orchid Society awards. The award is in its 23rd year.

NORTHERN CENTER: The North Miami Public Library, 835 NE 132nd St., North Miami, announced it has opened a Lifelong Learning Center in collaboration with AmeriCorps. The center operates from 5-8 p.m. Tuesday & Thursday, 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Saturday and 2-4 p.m. Sunday, offering aid with literacy skills, English as a second language, keyboard use, resume writing, and storytelling and reading for children. Details: (305) 891-5535.

SOUTHERN ART: Organizers of the 18h annual South Miami Arts & Crafts Festival said the show, being held Feb. 23 & 24 along Sunset Drive in South Miami, has been "repositioned as a haven for serious art lovers interested in high quality works by nationally recognized artists." The program, said David Silver, president of the producing Red-Sunset Merchants Association, "has grown from 30 artists and a few thousand attendees" to where 70,000 people attended last year.

SCHOOL PLAYS: The Coconut Grove Playhouse announced it is taking productions of Louie the Lizard and The Parrot of the Caribbean to about 20,000 youngsters in kindergarten to 3rd grade classes in Miami-Dade through its "Theater for a Difference" program. Meanwhile, it will take a play called Romanza – under the direction of Christoher Bishop, director of education & special projects for the troupe – to South Florida high schools. Details: (305) 442-2662, ext. 128.

REAL NEWS: Pat Dahne, regional president for Miami-Dade and international division chairman with Arvida Realty Services, said Arvida has an agreement to be the sole provider of real estate news for NBC 6-News Website, an online service. Arvida will also be the station’s e-news e-mail sponsor. Details: NBC6.net.

STATE OFFICE: The Florida Association of Realtors elected Maurice "Moe" Veissi president for 2002. Mr. Veissi is owner and broker for Veissi & Associates in Miami, a charter member of the association’s Commercial Society and has been treasurer for the Realtor Association of Greater Miami & the Beaches. Also, Frank Kowalski with Miami-s Metro Dade Realty was elected vice president of the organization, which bills itself as the state’s largest professional association. Other ’02 officers are Tom Salomone of Real Estate II in Margate and Coral Springs, president-elect, and Russell Grooms Jr. of Watson Realty in Jacksonville, treasurer.

E-LAW IN MIAMI: Miami attorneys Virginia Quijada with Oracle, Allison Kimberly Hift with Becker & Poliakoff and Darrell W. Payne with Shook Hardy & Bacon are among scheduled speakers at the first annual Law & Technology Conference Feb. 21-22 in the Hyatt Regency Miami, 400 NE Second Ave. Organizer Thomas Cotter, director of the University of Florida’s Levin College of Law, said the gathering will examine "cutting-edge issues" in software, e-commerce, US and international trademarks, and domain names. Cost is $320. Details: (352) 392-8070.

SMALL LOANS: The US Small Business Administration announced it awarded 411 startup and expansion loans in South Florida during the first quarter of its fiscal year ’02. That, said Francisco A. Marrero, district director, is 43% more than the agency approved in the first quarter of its previous fiscal year and ranks his office No. 4 of 70 nationwide in the number of loans approved. "We’re getting the message out," Mr. Marrero said, "to our customers and our partners that SBA is a viable small business financing option." Details: (800) 827-5722.

BAHAMIAN GABLES: Redevco Grand and LBW Homeowners Foundation of Coral gables announced acquisition of a 1.6-acre lot at US 1 and Grand Avenue for a mixed-use retail and residential project that would have a Bahamian theme. Spokesperson Debra Sinkle-Kolsky said designs for the project are now being finalized. Redevco is a Broward-based developer that in 2000 jointly built with Fannie Mae the Shoppes of Liberty City in Miami. The Lola B. Walker Homeowners Association of Coral Gables formed LBW. The price for the land and the projected cost of the project were not disclosed.

ARTS CENTER FUND HUNT: A delegation from the Performing Arts Center Trust is to go to Washington, DC, at the end of February to meet with Florida representatives about funding opportunities, said David Wilson, trust treasurer and chairman of its finance committee. "We’re going to meet with some of our representatives to discuss the possibility of if there is funding available. Other centers around the country certainly have received funding and we haven’t."

VIDEO DATES FOR TRADERS: A series of video-conferences to introduce Florida exporters to potential buyers overseas is planned in February and March at the Miami Free Zone, 2305 NW 107th Ave. Organizers said the series would cover a variety of industries and countries, including cosmetics and food products and production with Mexico and Costa Rica, respectively. Sponsors include the US Department of Commerce Commercial Service and the affiliated Florida District Export Council, Enterprise Florida, the Miami Free Zone, the Greater Miami Chamber of Commerce, Internet Coast and the City of Miami’s International Trade Board. Details: Ivonne Perez Suarez, (305) 445-8066, ext. 2340.

SAMPLE SALES: The Miami Design District is holding its semi-annual Sample Sale from 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Feb. 23-24. Organizers said more than 50 showrooms, galleries and design studios will display furnishings, art, design products and antiques. Floor samples and selected items will be marked at discounts of up to 75%, said John Protomaster, owner of Protomaster & Co., an event organizers. The district is between Miami Avenue and Northeast Second Avenue from 36th to 41st streets. Details: (305) 573-8483.

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