COUNTER-TREND JOBLESS: As the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported last week the highest US jobless rate in nine years, 6.1%, it cited figures in Miami that were down 0.5% from the previous year and in Fort Lauderdale down 0.3%. Miami's unemployment in April was 7.3%, the bureau reported, down from 7.8% in April 2002 but up from 7.2% in March. Fort Lauderdale, at 5.7%, was down from 6% a year earlier. The national figure was for May. Local breakdowns for the month will be released later. Miami had 80,900 unemployed in April, Fort Lauderdale 49,000 and the state 408,300. The statewide unemployment average was 5.1%.
Miami is a weekly feature of Miami Today, keeping readers ahead
of the news. Here are highlights from the most current edition.
ADDING JOBS: Fort Lauderdale's 14,000-job employment increase in the 12 months ending in April was the nation's second-largest, after a 27,100-job gain in Washington, DC, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported. Orlando and Las Vegas had the highest percentage gain, 1.5%, and Miami was at 1.1%. Miami had a little more than 1.1 million persons at work in April.
HOMELAND HEADQUARTERS: The Greater Miami Chamber of Commerce and area leaders should push to get the regional office of the Department of Homeland Security in Miami-Dade County, said Coral Gables Mayor Don Slesnick. He noted during the chamber's 2003 Goals Conference on Friday that while efforts are underway to bring a major free trade area headquarters here, local leaders shouldn't miss this opportunity or stop fighting to hold onto the US Southern Command. Discussions are underway in Washington for a regional concept for the Department of Homeland Security, though regions have yet to be officially established, said Lauren Stover, interim Southeast public affairs manager for border and transportation security, which falls under the Department of Homeland Security.
MORE FLIGHTS: Dutch Caribbean Airlines has begun flying out of Miami International Airport three times a day, up from 10 times each week. The Curacao-owned airline, which began flying out of Miami in April 2002, offers one flight to Curacao and two to Haiti each day. It has connections out of those destinations to Aruba, St. Maarten, Jamaica, and Venezuela. General manager Hubert La Croes said the airline carries about 1,800 passengers a week in and out of Miami with the additional flights, which began June 1.
BIG GETAWAY: Former County Manager Steve Shiver, who announced his resignation Friday, didn't lose any time making tracks. According to county staff, he's cleaned out his office and is already on a cruise to Alaska with his family.
DIAZ APPOINTMENT: City of Miami Mayor Manny Diaz has been named chairman of the US Conference of Mayors' Arts, Parks, Entertainment and Sports Committee, which develops urban policies on arts and leisure. The announcement was made Tuesday at the conference's annual meeting in Denver.
LIQUOR LAW: Miami commissioners will consider giving final approval to changes in the city liquor law that would create three types of business categories - cafeterias, sandwich shops and coffee shops - previously regulated as restaurants. If approved today (6/12) in the commission's meeting at City Hall, the law would take effect in 30 days. Those kinds of businesses would have to apply for new occupational licenses. According to city commissioners and the administration, the old code didn't adequately define food and beverage establishments, creating a confusing licensing system that is difficult to enforce.
ON THE MOVE: Law firm Baker & McKenzie will move this month into 21,000 square feet at Mellon Financial Center, 1111 Brickell Ave. The move is an effort to consolidate 85 attorneys and staff on one floor instead of the two the firm currently occupies at Colonial Bank Centre, 1200 Brickell Ave. The firm will keep furniture and computer equipment left behind by the former tenant, accounting firm Arthur Andersen.
HEALTH-CARE HEARING: The public can provide feedback on a new health-care plan proposed by the Health Council of South Florida at a hearing Tuesday. The plan can be viewed at the council's office at 8095 NW 12th St. It contains information on health status, health-care resources and utilization, financing of health care and barriers to accessing health care. The hearing will begin at 4 p.m. at Miami-Dade Community College's Medical Center Campus, Room 1175, 950 NW 20th St. Details: (305) 593-1452, Ext. 106.
NEW VISTAS: After 10 years with Vista Health Plan - formerly HIP Health Plan of Florida - Pat Morris is leaving his post as vice president of community and public affairs to become CEO of Hands on Miami, a volunteer group that works with people and environments in need. "I believe it's time to take hands on Miami to the next level and truly help to impact many of Miami's problems by engaging more members of our community directly in service," he said.
GLOBAL BANKING: How global changes are affecting international banking in Miami will be the focus of a June 19 breakfast session of the International Roundtable. Panelists are Bowman Brown, head of financial services practice at law firm Shutts & Bowen; José Valdés-Fauli, president and CEO, Colonial Bank, South Florida Region; Thomas P. Noonan, president and CEO of BAC Florida Bank and first vice president of the Florida International Bankers Association; and Peter R. Wallin, head of organization of Standard Bank Group. Colonial Bank and Miami Today will present the roundtable at Colonial Bank, 1200 Brickell Ave., 10th floor. Details and reservations: Techy Fernandez, (305) 358-2663.
MIAMI INVESTOR: An independent Miami investor, Heather Glen 234 LLC, bought the 234-unit Heather Glen apartment complex in Sunrise last week for $25.5 million. Formerly owned by J&P Construction of Palm Beach Gardens, the complex includes 17 three-story buildings totaling about 280,000 square feet of living space on 10 acres. The Miami office of Apartment Group, a Cushman & Wakefield company, brokered the deal.
ISLAND NAMESAKE: Once called Causeway Island, Miami's Watson Island was later renamed after commissioner and activist John W. Watson Sr., who also served as mayor from 1912 to 1915 and again from 1917 to 1919. So said Miami City Commission Chairman Johnny Winton at a Greater Miami Chamber of Commerce breakfast. The 86-acre island between the mainland and Miami Beach was created in 1931 to create a turning basin when the Port of Miami was at the current Bicentennial Park. The island's quirky history includes use for a lion- and tiger-training facility, the former base for the Goodyear blimp and current headquarters for the world's oldest airline, seaplane operator Chalk's Ocean Airways.
GOING UP: The median cost of a single-family home in Miami will rise 9.8% between June 2002 and June 2003, according to a forecast compiled by Case Shiller Weiss for Money Magazine. The prediction is based in part on historical date showing a gain of 56.10% in Miami over the past five years. The report sets the median price of a Miami home now at $150,000.
NEW NAME: Florida International University's International Hurricane Center has changed its name to International Hurricane Research Center. The center focuses on the impact hurricanes have on people, the economy, infrastructure and the environment. The project, led by Stephen Leatherman, works to help the nation diminish hurricane exposure and damage.
READY TO FLY: Tickets priced from $17.50 to $22.50 are available for the opening of Parrot Jungle Island, the nearly completed Watson Island attraction, on June 28. Details: (305) 400-7211 or www.parrotjungle.com.