PRICES INCH UP: The Consumer Price Index for Miami-Dade and Broward counties rose to 180.6 in April from 180.3 in February, the US Bureau of Labor Statistics reported Tuesday. The index represents the cost of goods and services that in 1982-84 would have cost an average $100; in April, the price was $180.60. The average in US cities for April was 183.8 but in the South just 177.4. Highest in the nation among major cities was New York at 196.7; lowest was Houston at 162.5.
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DOWNTOWN DEAL: Colliers International has a signed contract for a 2-acre downtown development site that went on sale last month, said broker Allan White, who marketed the property. The site, a full block at South Miami Avenue and Southeast Second Street, just west of the Bank of America Tower, is now a parking lot. The full asking price was $9.5 million, Mr. White said, but the seller, a private investment group, chose a discounted deal because "it had the fewest contingencies, including no financing contingencies." He said the buyer has not decided on a use for the property.
HAITIAN BUSINESS: The Florida Association for Volunteer Action in the Caribbean and the Americas will stage a seminar June 25 at Hyatt Regency Miami, 400 SE Second Ave., to help build relationships between Florida buyers and Haitian exporters of processed foods, fresh produce, industrial goods and other products. J. Antonio Villamil, chief executive of Coral Gables-based Washington Economics Group, will be keynote luncheon speaker. Details: (954) 924-3865.
ELECTION CONFIRMED: Constance Kaplan will become Miami-Dade County supervisor of elections July 1 after county commissioners Tuesday approved 6-2 a guarantee of at least a year's salary and benefits if she's fired without cause. A national search found the 30-year Chicago election official who is now deputy chief officer of training and special programs for the Chicago Board of Election Commissioners.
NEW DIRECTOR: Jack L. Stephens is the new deputy executive director for the Tri-County Commuter Rail Authority. He was deputy general manager for the Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority, the sixth-largest public transportation system in the US.
CLEARING THE SMOKE: Building owners are gearing up for a state constitutional amendment that takes effect July 1 to limit places where smoking is permitted. A seminar June 20 will discuss confusion about the prohibition on smoking in an "enclosed indoor workplace" to define both "enclosed indoor" and "workplace." Also to be discussed are mandatory and optional signage requirements. Speakers at the session, sponsored by the Building Owners and Managers Association of Miami-Dade, are Murray S. Greene, association president, and Kerri Barsh, attorney with Greenberg Traurig. The 8-11 a.m. seminar at 800 Brickell Bay Drive, second floor conference room, is $50 for association members, $70 for others. Details: (305) 530-8467.
PORT PARTNERS: The Panama Canal Authority will work with the Port of Miami and seven other East Coast ports in an effort in improve trade. The independent body that manages the Panama Canal will work with the US ports to exchange data on trade and market studies, conduct joint marketing campaigns and exchange technology. Because 60% of Panama Canal traffic comes from the East Coast, the authority said, it hopes better cooperation and understanding between the region will lead to economic development, job growth and increased trade.
HAPPY LANDINGS: An Urban Land Institute seminar June 27 will look at conflicting needs of civic and governmental leaders to balance housing shortages with no-growth attitudes, shrinking budgets and a development industry facing strict underwriting standards. Speakers include state House Majority Leader Marco Rubio, Beacon Council President Frank Nero, Miami Commissioner Johnny Winton and Neisen Kasdin, the institute's district council chairman. The 7:30-10:30 a.m. session at Miami City Hall, 3300 Pan American Drive is $35 in advance, $45 at the door. Details: (954) 522-0570.
HOME TRUTHS: According to statistics released Tuesday by the US Commerce and Housing & Urban Development departments, the number of building permits issued nationally in May for single-family homes was up 3.7% from April and 3.9% from May 2002. In the South, permitting rose 3.3% from April and 5.3% from the previous May. Housing starts went up 6.1% nationally and 7.4% regionally in May from April but are lower than the previous year by 1.1% countrywide and 3.9% in the South. The Department of Commerce does not track housing data by county.
BLOWOUT: Batten down the hatches. Hurricane Freddy is to hit South Florida on June 25 - but only from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., and only for the South Florida Water Management District. The district will go through its annual hurricane exercise that day, coordinating with local, state and federal agencies to prepare for natural disasters.
CHILE TARGETS INVESTMENT: Chile's minister of housing and public assets, Jaime Ravinet de la Fuente, will present a seminar on Chile's bicentennial and investment opportunities in real estate and tourism projects at 3 p.m. today (6/19) at the JW Marriott Miami Hotel, 1109 Brickell Ave. One of his targets is to involve the South Florida construction industry. Details: (305) 447-0908.
BATTLING CORRUPTION: The Association of Bi-National Chambers of Commerce will hold a luncheon with Miguel Schloss, executive director for Transparency International, at noon June 23 at InterContinental Miami, 100 Chopin Plaza. Transparency International works with governments to implement and reform anti-corruption laws. Details: (305) 365-7247.
GROVE PARKING FREEBIE: At the request of local businesses, the Miami Parking Authority has created a pilot program to offer free parking at two Coconut Grove parking lots through Aug. 15 to shoppers who buy at least $25 in goods or services from 38 participating merchants. "We are working together with the Coconut Grove merchants in an effort to facilitate parking for our customers and draw business to the area," said Art Noreiga, authority executive director. The lots are the Oak Avenue Parking Plaza and Lot 6 on Main Highway.
FRIENDLY TAXES: The Tax Foundation ranked Florida as one of its most business-friendly states. Florida's business-tax climate ranked seventh based on an analysis of corporate income tax, individual income tax, sale or gross receipts tax, the state's fiscal balance and the conformity of the state's tax system with other state's systems. Wyoming has the most business-friendly tax climate and Mississippi the worst, according to the foundation, a Washington-based organization that educates policy makers and the public on tax-related issues.
TRADE SYMPOSIUM: The Foundation for Democracy in Africa will sponsor its sixth annual Africando Trade and Investment Symposium July 22-26 at Renaissance Miami Biscayne Bay, 1601 Biscayne Bay Blvd. The event is expected to draw thousands of African, Caribbean and American businesspeople, organizers said. Details: (305) 751-1471.
GRAPE NUTS: The largest wine trade and consumer show in Florida returns for a second year Oct. 2-4 at James L. Knight Center downtown. Last year at the Miami International Wine Fair, 345 wineries from 18 nations showcased nearly 1,000 wines for Florida, largest wine import market in the US and second-largest in wine sales. There will be free tastings and an industry seminar for trade professionals, restaurateurs and food and beverage directors, including sales and marketing strategies for the Florida market. Details: (305) 777-2255.
EXPANDING WINGS: The Greater Miami Convention & Visitors Bureau is teaming up with Miami International Airport, Jay Malina International Trade Consortium and the Beacon Council, Miami-Dade County's economic development agency, to develop relationships with airline carriers abroad. Bureau President and CEO William Talbert III reports this week that bureau, airport and trade representatives are meeting with officials in Brussels, Portugal and Ireland to discuss the establishment of direct air passenger and cargo routes to Miami.