FREEDOM TOURS: The Freedom Tower will be open to the public every Saturday this month in celebration of Hispanic Heritage Month. Joe Garcia, president of the Cuban American National Foundation, will lead tours of the historic landmark that was a temporary home for many Cubans immigrants in the 1960s. Tours will run 9-11 a.m. The vacant tower has been closed to the public for many years and was recently renovated.
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MUSICAL SCORE: The New World Symphony has been awarded $102,200 by the National Science Foundation, the federal agency that supports science collaboration, research and education. The grant will support the group's pioneering research and experimentation with high-performance Internet connections in music education and interactive music collaboration. Symphony officials said the group would match the grant. "The additional bandwidth this funding will allow us to provide will have a dramatic impact on how musicians teach, learn and explore," said Michael Tilson Thomas, the symphony's artistic director.
HOME RESALES UP: Florida's housing market had a 19% increase in resales and a 13% rise in their median price in August from August 2002, according to the Florida Association of Realtors. A total of 19,787 single-family existing homes were sold in August, compared to 16,595 in the same period a year ago. The median price was $163,000 in August, up from $144,200. The median sale price for resales nationally was $182,000 in July, up 12.1% from last July's $162,400.
JOB SHIFTS: Port of Miami spokeswoman Trenae Floyd on Oct. 15 will become public-relations director for the Miami-Dade County Aviation Department. Ms. Floyd will fill the position left vacant by Lauren Gail Stover, who left the county earlier this year to become a spokeswoman for the Transportation Security Administration. The seaport has not named a replacement for Ms. Floyd.
FEWER JOBLESS: Metropolitan Miami had an unemployment rate of 7.4% at the end of August, down from 7.7% a year earlier, the US Bureau of Labor Statistics reported last week. There were 81,800 unemployed here, compared with 87,700 at the same time last year. Despite the drop in unemployment, Miami's percentage remained near top in the US - tied with New York for third-worst. The highest unemployment was in the Portland, OR/Vancouver, WA, area, 8.1%, followed by San Jose, CA, 7.9%.
PALM BEACH JOBS SOAR: The West Palm Beach/Boca Raton area had the third-largest jump in added jobs in the past 12 months, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported, with 18,700. Top was Atlanta, 42,600, followed by Las Vegas, 19,300. Orlando had the third-largest percentage jump, up 1.6% in a year, after Las Vegas, 2.4%, and Atlanta, 2%.
TRADE TALKS: An International Roundtable on Oct. 16 will focus on what to expect during November trade ministerial meetings in Miami that will target creation of the Free Trade Area of the Americas. Panelists are Carl A. Cira, director of the Summit of the Americas Center at Florida International University; Luis Lauredo, executive director of the FTAA Miami ministerial meetings and the Americas Business Forum; Coral Gables Mayor Donald Slesnick; and Miami Deputy Police Chief Frank Fernandez. The City of Coral Gables and Miami Today will sponsor the 5 p.m. session at Hyatt Regency Coral Gables, 50 Alhambra Plaza. Reservations: Techy Fernandez, (305) 358-2663.
PISA PARTY: Coral Gables Mayor Don Slesnick is to lead a city delegation to Pisa, Italy, Oct. 26-30 to formally unite the communities as Sister Cities, promoting cultural, educational and economic exchange. "The residents of Coral Gables will benefit greatly as a result of this partnership," he said. "The human and cultural interface will bring greater economic opportunities for both regions, positioning Coral Gables in the forefront of business prospects between Latin America and the historic commercial center of Tuscany."
SEA STUDIES: With a $3 million grant, the University of Miami will start work on an ocean-conservation institute. The Pew Institute for Ocean Science will be housed on Virginia Key at UM's Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science. The grant comes from the Pew Institute and will fund the study of ocean preservation, fishery management and marine research. Shark expert and conservationist Ellen Pikitch will be the center's director.
TOP OF THE SMALL-BUSINESS LIST: Florida's entrepreneurship-friendly environment outranks nearly every other US state, according to an annual survey by the federal government's Small Business Survival Committee. The Sunshine State is outranked only by South Dakota, Nevada, Wyoming and New Hampshire, which have more favorable policy environments for small businesses, the Small Business Survival Index 2003 said. The study ranks all 50 states and the District of Columbia based on 21 government costs that impact small businesses - such as personal, business and property taxes, health care and labor costs.
NEW OFFICE: South Beach Investment Realty is to open a downtown Miami office this month at 69th Street and Biscayne Boulevard. The new office is to include 10-20 agents and work on projects in the Biscayne corridor and residential developments from 79th Street to Downtown Miami.
OPENING NOTES: Sales have begun for Urbana Development's loft-styled project in the Design District. Designed by Chad Oppenheim, ARIA will be a 78-unit condominium with 10,000 square feet of retail and showroom space at 80 NE 40th St. Prices run from $200,000 to $800,000 for condos sized from 750 to 2,400 square feet. Majestic Collection is handling sales and marketing. Details: (305) 757-1400.
PAINTING RICKENBACKER: Rickenbacker Causeway to Virginia Key and Key Biscayne is to be cleaned and repainted starting next summer in a six-month $1.3 million Florida Department of Transportation project. Some lanes and sidewalks will be closed in off-peak hours, said spokeswoman Aymee Ruiz. Details: (305) 470-5349.
NEW RESTAURANT: Construction is under way on Emeril's Restaurant Miami Beach, owned by chef Emeril Lagasse, star of "The Essence of Emeril" And "Emeril Live" on the Food Network. The 8,000-square-foot eatery, to open Nov. 1, is to feature a dining room, an exterior café, a foot bar and a cocktail bar on the ground floor of Loews Miami Beach Hotel, 1601 Collins Ave.
BANK EXPANDS: BankUnited has signed a 10-year lease with Blumberg/Alhambra Partners to expand its 255 Alhambra Circle headquarters in Coral Gables from 18,767 square feet to 44,000. The added space offers the bank rights to drive-in lanes and a new ATM. Expansion is to be completed in February.
TRADE FIRM DEAL: Miami law firm Sandler Travis and Rosenberg has acquired Washington-based International Business & Economic Research Center from Fasturn Inc. of Redwood, CA, for an undisclosed sum. Both groups advise the apparel industry, each marketing interactive textile quota reporting and analysis to more than 100 subscribers. Sandler has seven US offices.
FRAUD FIGHTERS: The Florida Bankers Association said the California Bankers Association has joined its national fraud-reporting database, www.fraudnet.com. The database, which provides a platform for sharing intelligence about fraudulent activities and bank robberies, also includes the banking associations of Colorado, Illinois, Kentucky, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Puerto Rico and Texas. "Fraud knows no boundaries. As more states sign on, the industry will continue to heighten its capability to protect banks and their customers," said Jerry Smith, president of the Florida group.
LOFTS DISPLACE OFFICES: Developers of Coral Station at Brickell Way have replaced planned offices with 78 residential lofts within one tower because of market conditions, said project manager Jennifer Rademacher of Miami's Taylor Development and Land Co., which has partnered with BVT Development Corp. of Atlanta. The two towers at Brickell Way and SW 15th Road will offer 443 residential units and 1,094 parking units and ground-floor retail. Commercial space was cut from 208,986 square feet to 74,880. The Miami City Commission approved the changes Thursday. Groundbreaking is expected in fourth quarter 2004, Ms. Rademacher said.
RE-LEASED: Amerijet International has signed a 10-year lease renewal for its 210,000-square-foot primary cargo hub at Miami's Airport Business Center, 3401 NW 72nd Ave. The location, home to 240 employees, includes warehouse, refrigerated, frozen and hazardous material storage space as well as handling facilities, sales offices, meeting rooms and customer service space.
DORAL A 'CENTER': The YMCA of Greater Miami moved to 15,000 square feet in the Doral area from Coral Gables, citing Doral's central location as the 7,000-member organization supports nine branches and 130 locations from the Dade-Broward line to Key Largo. The new home at 1200 NW 78th Ave., Suite 200, is to house human resources, development, finance, marketing and communications, grants, training and administration in one spot. Formerly, administrative offices were at 1320 S Dixie Highway.