UNEMPLOYMENT DIPS: Miami's jobless rate fell in July to 7.3% from 7.8% in June and from 7.6% in July 2002, the US Bureau of Labor Statistics reported last week. The dip in unemployment continues a pattern that began in February - each month Miami has had a lower rate than in the same month of 2002. But another continuing trend places Miami's unemployment two percentage points above the state's 5.3% average - a gap that also has held relatively constant for the year. Fort Lauderdale's jobless rate in July was 5.8%, and the nation as a whole had 6.3% unemployed in urban areas.
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SEPTEMBER SPICE: Miami Spice Restaurant Month, a summer promotion of restaurants by the Greater Miami Convention & Visitors Bureau, has been extended through September for the second year, said Michael Aller, Miami Beach tourism & convention director. The program intends to boost business in the off-season, Mr. Aller said. A three-course lunch or dinner at participating restaurants costs $19.99 and $29.99, respectively, on selected days. A few restaurants have opted not to continue the through September, but "the vast majority agreed," said Jean Sullivan, bureau spokeswoman. A list of participating restaurants is available at www.gmcvb.com/miami-spice/restaurants.asp.
NEW CEO: Ultimate Aircraft Composites, a Fort Lauderdale company that repairs aircraft, has named Aviv Tzur, former president of Miami-based Avborne, chief executive officer. He replaces Chris Sparadino, who purchased the company with David Goett and Eugene Scime.
POLICING THE FTAA: Downtown and Brickell business owners and workers can learn at a forum Friday how security for Nov. 17-21 free trade meetings may affect Miami. Organizers expect 20,000 to 100,000 demonstrators protesting creation of a free-trade zone among 34 nations of the Western Hemisphere during negotiations of the trade agreement. The forum, hosted by the Miami Police Department's downtown N.E.T. office, will be at 9 a.m. at the InterContinental Miami hotel, 100 Chopin Plaza. Details: (305) 579-6592.
A STAR IS GROWING: ASTAR Air Cargo added two charter flights between South America and Miami International Airport this summer. The company also plans to acquire 3,500 square feet at One Biscayne Tower for future corporate expansion, said ASTAR spokesman Ray Lutz. ASTAR, which contracts work with delivery service DHL Worldwide Express, has had three flights between Miami and the company's 40-aircraft hub in Cincinnati for many years. Formerly DHL Airways, ASTAR relocated 22 employees to its new headquarters in Miami this year from Chicago.
BANK SPOTLIGHTED: Alan Levan, chairman and CEO of South Florida-based BankAtlantic, will be featured in the September issue of Forbes magazine, which will point out the bank's marketing successes over the past year. Some of its strategies include giving top employees a Volkswagen Beetle for a month and free gifts to customers wearing red on Fridays and having branches open seven days a week.
WISE WOMEN: Naomi Wolf, author of the bestseller "The Beauty Myth" and "No Logo," will speak at the Fifth Annual Wise Women Weekend on Saturday at the Radisson Deauville, 6701 Collins Ave., Miami Beach. The weekend - hosted by CenterPeace with proceeds benefiting prevention of domestic abuse The Advocate Program Inc. - packages two days of workshops for women, by women, for balancing life, work and stress. Details: (305) 672-7759 or www.wisewomenweekend.com.
FLORIDA TO GROW: Six of the 10 largest metropolitan areas in the US with the strongest projected employment and growth in personal income are in Florida - with Miami ranked No. 10, according to a Global Insight study released this summer. The study ranked West Palm Beach second, Tampa third, Fort Lauderdale fourth and Orlando seventh. The research is consistent with Florida's first-place status in population migration and property firm Trammell Crow Co.'s Florida Overview, which said that housing starts in the state for 2003 outpaced those of California for the first time ever.
TOWN CENTER CRAZE: Trammell Crow's Florida Overview also found that more cities and towns in the state are willing to partner with development groups to build town centers and main street projects. But the report cautions that "some developers are responding to that offer by over-developing, by designing architecture and facilities that the market itself will never support just in order to capture the largest possible share of public investment." The group suggested municipalities and developers spend more time doing homework to determine the viability of these projects.
URBAN LANDING: Florida native Kim Liberty is the new executive director of the Urban Land Institute of Southeast Florida Caribbean District Council. She plans to connect the council with other regions and industry organizations as well as increase membership. For the past four months she was senior vice president of the Broward Alliance, working on international economic development. She also owns a real-estate and property-investment company and worked in New York as a professional actress.
BERTH FOR PORT CHIEF: Port of Miami Director Charles Towsley will lead a state-appointed group to advise the Florida Legislature and Department of Transportation on intermodal transportation. The 11-member body is comprised of representatives from railroads, trucking companies, airports and seaports. It is to focus on areas where multiple forms of transportation come together, like at the seaport and airport. Senate President Jim King appointed Mr. Towsley.
TRANSPORTATION WORKSHOP: South Florida Commuter Services, the Florida Department of Transportation's regional commuter-assistance program, will sponsor a free transportation workshop Tuesday at Wachovia Financial Center, 200 S Biscayne Blvd. Details: (800) 234-7433.
NOMINEES SOUGHT: The Greater Miami Chamber of Commerce is seeking nominees for its Entrepreneurial Spirit Award, which will be presented to the founder of a South Florida business Oct. 2 at Biltmore Hotel. Deadline for nominations is Sept. 10. Details: (305) 577-5442.
COLONNADE SALE: The Colonnade Office Tower in downtown Coral Gables has been sold by Bayview Financial Trading Group to Crescent Real Estate, a real estate investment trust based in Fort Worth, for an undisclosed amount. Crescent also owns 40% of Miami Center in downtown Miami, the Datran office buildings near Dadeland Mall, and 50% of The Ritz-Carlton hotel in Palm Beach.
THIRD TIME'S A CHARM? Cushman & Wakefield directors Jay M. Caplin and John F. Bell, who represented Bayview, said the Colonnade sale Aug. 26 was the third time they'd sold the 208,000-square-foot Class A building at 2333 Ponce de Leon Blvd. Tenants at the Colonnade, which is 95% occupied, include BAC Florida Bank, Texaco's Latin American division, AT&T. The sales did not include the 157-suite Omni Colonnade Hotel on the same site, which Bayview had sold shortly after its purchase of the mixed-used property in July 2001.
CHAMBERS LINK: The Association of Bi-National Chambers of Commerce in Florida has added three binational chambers as members - the American-Turkish Chamber of Commerce, the Togo-US Chamber of Commerce and the Congolese-American Chamber of Commerce. The cooperative association links international chambers in South Florida. Details: (305) 365-7247.