Written by Miami Today on March 16, 2006
Miami is a weekly feature of Miami Today, keeping readers ahead
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HEALTHY TOURISM: A sign of the area’s healthy tourism sector can be found in the 10.1% increase in Convention Development Tax receipts in January from January 2005. The 3% tax generated $4.6 million, up from $4.2 million a year earlier. The tax helps fund facilities including the Miami Performing Arts Center.
LABOR FORCE BLOSSOMS: As Miami-Dade County’s unemployment rate continued falling to 3.5% in January, its lowest in at least a decade, the labor force kept growing, the US Bureau of Labor Statistics reported. The county’s workforce stood at 1,114,472, up 12,921, more than 1%.
The unemployment rate in January 2005 was 4.7%.
CONSTRUCTION JOBS DIP: While employment in construction showed a healthy increase in Miami-Dade County in January of 5.8% from a year earlier to 47,500, it was the smallest annual increase in any month since September 2004. In January 2005, at the peak of the condo boom, the annual jobs growth rate was 10.9%, with 44,700 workers on the job. The peak in actual workers on the job came in December, at 48,500.
HISTORY REPEATS ITSELF: The Morningside Civic Association lost its fight before Miami’s zoning board to block a permit to build a nine-story, 92-foot building at 5301-5501 Biscayne Blvd. The zoning board voted 6-2 Monday to uphold its December 2004 decision denying the association’s appeal. Now the decision will once again go before Miami commissioners for a final review. Some Morningside residents appealed to commissioners in March 2005 after the zoning board denied the appeal and granted the building permit. The case then traveled to the 11th Circuit Court, where the ruling was quashed and returned to the zoning board.
NO LOCAL EDGE: Miami commissioners voted unanimously last week to suspend for a second year preferences to local contractors bidding for city capital-improvement projects. The suspended ordinance allowed local contractors whose bids came within 10% of the lowest bid to match the bid.
ON THE TRAIL: Virginia Key Beach is getting a nature-trail makeover now that Miami’s Department of Parks and Recreation has received approval from city commissioners to have City Manager Joe Arriola seek $200,000 from the Florida Department of Environmental Protection Recreational Trails Program to improve the Virginia Key Beach nature trail and add a new section.
PARKS AVENUE: Northwest Sixth Avenue from 62nd to 71st streets is now named Rosa Parks Avenue after Commissioner Michelle Spence-Jones asked the city commission last week to change the name in honor of the first woman who refused to sit at the back of the bus in the era of segregation.
RACKET OVER RACKETS: Some residents are vocally battling the City of Miami’s effort to bring a tennis center to William Jennings Bryan Park’s 2 acres of parkland at 2301 SW 13th St. Some area residents and civic associations want to preserve the park for use by youngsters. The city has appealed the ruling of its zoning board, which voted unanimously against the tennis complex. Commissioners are to vote on the future of the park March 23.
RIVER REVELS: The 10th Annual Miami Riverday celebration is scheduled for 11 a.m.-5 p.m. March 25 at Jose Marti Park, Southwest Fourth Street and Fourth Avenue. The celebration features riverboat tours, local artists and activities for children. Details: (305) 644-0544 or www.miamirivercommission.org.
AT&T MOVES WORKERS: A group of AT&T Inc. employees who had been working in Coral Gables were transferred to Fort Lauderdale recently, said company spokesman Aaron Bedy. He said there is "still a continent" of employees at the Gables office, 2333 Ponce de Leon Blvd. He would not say how many were transferred, citing company policy. He characterized the reshuffling as a "general restaffing process that goes on all the time in corporations," adding that there are no plans to close the Gables office. Mr. Bedy said the company employs 130 in South Florida.
ATLANTA BLITZES: Leaders from Atlanta will tour downtown Miami by bus this morning (3/16) as part of a three-day blitz to study regional priorities, challenges and innovative practices. The 112-member delegation – including Atlanta Mayor Shirley Franklin, regional commission chairman Sam Olens and City Council president Lisa Borders – were to arrive Wednesday night at the Loews on Miami Beach. They’ll attend a panel on diversity and cultural issues; visit Miami City Hall; tour the Art Deco District, Liberty City and Little Haiti; attend a Friday morning panel on water shortages; and hear Gov. Jeb Bush speak on state perspectives on South Florida regionalism. The annual tour has visited Boston, Seattle, San Diego, Chicago and more.
MASTERING EUROPE: Javier Perez, who has been based in Miami as president of MasterCard’s Latin America and Caribbean Region since 2004, last week was named president of MasterCard Europe with responsibility for 53 nations. Earlier in his career, he headed the Miami subsidiary of Banco Bilbao de Vizcaya Argentaria.
KING OF QUARTERS: Scott Simpson, who was director of finance for the City of Miami, has joined the Miami Parking Authority as chief financial officer. He joined the city in October 1998 as assistant finance director after serving as chief accountant for the City of Winter Park. The authority oversees five garages, 55 parking lots and 8,300 metered spaces.
HEALTH HEROES: Judge Steven Leifman, associate administrative judge of the 11th Judicial Circuit Court of Florida, received the Individual of Merit award in the Greater Miami Chamber of Commerce Health Care Heroes Awards last week. John G. Clarkson, outgoing dean of the University of Miami School of Medicine, received the Lifetime Achievement Award.
DEFENSE DOWN UNDER: Defense and aerospace companies with an interest in exporting to Australia will gather at 9 a.m. April 11 to learn about opportunities. Lincoln Parker of Australia’s Federal Investment Agency, will discuss an acquisition program that includes two air warfare destroyers, two amphibious ships and major equipment upgrades. The meeting will be at the Broward Alliance, 110 E. Broward Blvd., Suite 1990, Fort Lauderdale. Details: Stephanie Hecker, US Export Assistance Center, (954) 356-6640, Ext. 20.
TOURISM SCHOLARSHIPS: Tourism and travel scholarships are available for Miami Beach residents and graduates of Miami Beach High School who are interested in education in the food and hospitality industry. Deadline is April 14. Details: email@example.com or www.miamibeachfl.gov.
CORRECTION: A Dec. 22 report on new Holland & Knight partners misstated the background of Barbara Arco. She practices in commercial litigation, graduated from Florida International University and holds a law degree from the University of Miami.
CORRECTION: The article "Chamber contingent planning to renew DC lobbying efforts" last week did not credit Commissioner Jose "Pepe" Diaz as a participant of the county delegation to Washington.
CORRECTION: A March 9 story incorrectly reported the telephone number for details on the Florida Health Information Network’s health-care summit scheduled for May 18. The correct number is (305) 374-7200.