Written by Miami Today on November 3, 2005
Miami is a weekly feature of Miami Today, keeping readers ahead
of the news. Here are highlights from the most current edition.
MEETING SHIFT: The Greater Miami Convention & Visitors Bureau’s annual meeting has been rescheduled from Oct. 25 to 4 p.m. Monday at the Hyatt Regency Downtown due to Hurricane Wilma. Details and tickets: (305) 539-3031.
TIE-DOWN DUTY: Six days before Hurricane Wilma battered South Florida, the Miami-Dade County Commission took a first step to beef up rules that force builders to secure construction sites before tropical weather hits. The commission voted unanimously to lower the threshold for duty to secure loose property from a formal designation by the National Weather Service to a time when a severe weather advisory is in effect and to require that sites be secured in tropical storms as well as hurricanes – the current requirement is for hurricanes only. The commission scheduled a Nov. 9 hearing on the proposed rules.
GOVERNMENT JOBS GROW: Government employment in Florida hit a record high in September, with almost 1.1 million persons employed by government at all levels in the state, up 1.9% from September 2004, the US Bureau of Labor Statistics reports. Ten years earlier, 920,800 in Florida worked in government. Miami-Dade had 154,300 in government in September, up 0.7% in a year. Ten years ago, the county had 131,800 government workers.
JOBLESS BENEFITS: South Florida Workforce is helping those who lost their jobs due to Hurricane Wilma. Victims not covered by state unemployment are eligible for Disaster Unemployment Assistance benefits, a federally funded program that covers the self-employed, farm owners, small businesses, nurseries, ranchers and fishermen. Apply at any of the Workforce’s 14 one-stop career centers. Details: 1-877-872-5627 or (305) 573-7301.
CHURCH BUYS IN DORAL: Iglesia Casa de Alabanza has purchased 4.3 acres next to the Doral Golf Course for $4.1 million, or $21.89 per square foot, to build a church. Seller Edward Caron’s broker, the Allen Morris Co., got a $4.4 million offer for the land at Northwest 58th Street and 97th Avenue from another buyer 30 days before the church’s closing, but the church declined to sell its contract.
PRINTING MONEY: Colonial Press International Inc. has been approved for $158,240 in county funds as an incentive for adding a web printing press and 14 jobs. The Miami-Dade County Commission unanimously approved the Targeted Jobs Incentive Fund award for the company, based at 3690 NW 50th St. in Miami, to make a $6.3 million capital investment at its 13,000-square-foot plant. The incentives are to be paid out equally over six years beginning in fiscal 2007.
ACADEMIC VISITOR BONANZA: More than 68,000 out-of-town visitors to University of Miami academic events spent an estimated $62 million in Miami-Dade County in the year ended May 31, 2004, according to a university-funded study by Coral Gables-based Washington Economics Group. The study puts the overall economic impact of those visitors at $105 million and says they supported 1,573 jobs here.
HOSPITAL-ITY: Aventura Hospital, running on generator power, found itself feeding a community immediately after Hurricane Wilma. When people realized the hospital had power and hot food, they flocked to the cafeteria. Spokeswoman Luz Weinberg said the hospital gave away 13,549 meals, 15,000 bottles of water and 3,000 pounds of ice on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday following the storm. "We couldn’t charge," she said. "The register didn’t work."
DOWNTOWN REDEVELOPMENT: The regional arm of the Urban Land Institute is to hold a conference on architectural design trends this month in Fort Lauderdale. The Southeast Florida/Caribbean District Council is to host the affair 8 a.m.-3:30 p.m. Nov. 16 at the Hyatt Regency Pier Sixty-Six. The forum will investigate mixed-use projects, downtown redevelopment and density. Details: (954) 783-9504 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
BACK TO WORK: A Coral Gables hotel has empowered the community by supplying computer and Internet services to businesses that lost electricity in Hurricane Wilma. Starting Saturday, the Biltmore Hotel set aside the Marbella Room 9 a.m.-5 p.m. for those who needed power to get businesses up and running. The facility offered 14 workstations – 12 with plug-in connectivity for laptops and two with computers with Internet access. Staff provided two telephones for business owners to make local calls. Hotel Vice President of Sales Ben Mollere said, "We’ll continue to provide the facility until demand fades."
HOMELESS SHRINE: The Mahi Shrine, 1480 NW North River Dr., is looking for a home now that Miami Rivertown, a mixed-use three-tower development, is moving in. "We still don’t know where we will move," said Shrine spokesman Richard Lynn. "Our concern now is cleaning up after the hurricane." Built in 1972, the Shrine auditorium is home to a branch of the Freemasonry secret society. The building has deeper significance to Mr. Lynn – it hosted his wedding reception in the ’70s.
AFTER WILMA, SUNSHINE: There’s no sunshine after Hurricane Wilma forced cancellation or postponement of celebrations around South Florida. The 11th Annual Sunshine Awards Luncheon hosted by the South Florida Hispanic Chamber of Commerce is no exception. It’s been rescheduled to noon Nov. 15 at the Sheraton Mart Plaza Hotel, 711 NW 72nd Ave. Details: (305) 534-1903.
TICK, TICK, TICK: Parking garages, lots and meter parking around the City of Miami are back in business after the Miami Parking Authority resumed normal operations this week. Operation was suspended after Hurricane Wilma. Parking fees are in effect, and all facilities are charging regular rates.
BOND ADVICE: Miami commissioners are to vote today (11/3) to accept First Southwest Co. and RBC Dain Rauscher as city financial advisors, the top two ranked of six bidders. The agreement is for advice for up to a year, with the option to extend for four one-year periods. Services are to include financial advice for special obligation debt transactions and issuances of bonds.
SPORTSMANSHIP: Millennium Partners, which developed the Four Seasons tower on Brickell Avenue, has acquired The Sports Club/LA operation in the building in a package deal with the Sports Club Company Inc. that also brought Millennium six other sports club operations nationally. Millennium said it would create a Mind/Body Center in each of the seven clubs to expand yoga and pilates programs.
BIG SPLASH: The Miami-Dade Water and Sewer Department has received the Association of Metropolitan Water Agencies’ Platinum Award for sustained competitive achievement.
BIGGEST SPLASH: The largest individual gift ever made to St. Thomas University is to be announced today – $3 million from Miguel "Mike" Fernandez, chairman of Coral Gables firm MBF Healthcare Partners. The money will create six-week summer programs for high-potential high-school students and provide fellowships at St. Thomas for successful graduates of that program. All will be based in the new Fernandez Leadership and Wellness Center, a building that will house high-tech classrooms and the university’s wellness and athletic activities.
PARENTAL RELIEF: Miami-Dade County public schools, shuttered by Hurricane Wilma, are to reopen today (11/3), Superintendent Rudy Crew announced.
LEARNING BY EXPERIENCE: Coral Gables is holding a town meeting at a city-owned country club to assess how the city responded to recent hurricanes. Topics include planning, recovery, rescue, debris removal and damage assessment. The 7:30 p.m. meeting Tuesday will be at the Coral Gables Country Club, 997 North Greenway Dr. Details: (305) 460-5202.
LEARNING PAYS: Any student of Miami Dade College can get a Metropass for Miami-Dade County Transit at a steep discount under a deal between the college and the transit system designed to cut fuel consumption and traffic congestion. The $56.25 monthly pass price is being slashed to $37.50 for students with a college ID at the college’s bookstores.
LATIN BANK SUMMIT: The Florida International Bankers Association is hosting the largest gathering of senior Latin American bankers outside meetings of the International Monetary Fund and Interamerican Development Bank. The Federation of Latin Banks Annual Assembly is scheduled for Nov. 20-22 at InterContinental Hotel Miami. The association says nearly every bank from Latin America will be represented, as will major banks from Europe and the US that do business in Latin America. Details: www.fiba.net, www.latibanking.com or www.felaban.com.