PAY THEM: In his inaugural speech Tuesday evening, Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Alvarez, former police director, called for raising county commissioners' salaries to a level he did not define. Commissioners, now paid $6,000 a year, should be adequately compensated so they aren't required to spend time in pursuits that aren't legislative in nature, he said. "The current system serves only to fuel distrust in county government. We are in the need of change." Because commission salaries are specified in the county's charter, a raise could come only by referendum. Mr. Alvarez asked for procurement and lobbyist reforms and cited his vision for promoting a business-friendly environment. Predecessor Alex Penelas is to open a law practice in Miami Lakes.
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STATION CITATION: The design of the rail station to connect the northern end of Tri-Rail to the Miami Intermodal Center has drawn attention of local architects. Plans for the station won an award in the "unbuilt" category at this month's design awards of the Miami chapter of the American Institute of Architects. The design was the work of Earth Tech Miami Architecture Studio for the Florida Department of Transportation. The station is to become part of the intermodal center's central station, which transit officials say will connect all forms of ground transportation in Miami-Dade. The center is a $1.9 billion project now under construction near Miami International Airport.
HOMESTEAD FINALS: Sunday's NASCAR season finale, the Ford 400, is sold out at Homestead-Miami Speedway - the second sellout in the track's history, said Curtis Gray, track president. About 65,000 people will fill the grandstands, he said, and another 10,000 people are expected to work the nationally televised race. A new championship point system began this year with the hope of creating an exciting finish for the 36-race Nextel Cup series. Sunday's race will be the closest title chase and most anticipated championship in NASCAR history, he said. "That's exactly the way NASCAR wanted it to be."
ECONOMIC IMPACT: Weston-based Sports Marketing Research Institute will conduct an economic-impact and demographic analysis of the speedway's Ford Championship Weekend. The Ford 400 is one of three season-ending races scheduled at the speedway through Sunday. "We want to see who's coming to the event - how many Hispanics and other minorities are coming and where they're coming from," Mr. Gray said. Economic impact on local businesses and throughout South Florida, he said, is huge. Fans stay in hotels from Fort Lauderdale to the Keys. A 1999 study by Sports Marketing put the annual race weekend's economic impact at about $120 million. The number is expected to be larger this year, Mr. Gray said, because of the addition of a third race and the soldout status of Sunday's race.
ROAD TRIP AHEAD: All roads lead to Homestead this weekend. About 150 large transports will bring race cars to the speedway. About 1,200 recreational vehicles will be in the area filled with fans and race-crew members, according to track officials. They said about 400 private aircraft filled with race fans and officials will fly in and out of area airports.
MANUFACTURERS UNITE: The Enterprise Florida Manufacturing Advisory Council is to host a summit Dec. 1-2 in Orlando to focus on improving the state's manufacturing industry, whose 15,000 companies employ more than 380,000. "This event gives manufacturing professionals the opportunity to gather and discuss the state's business climate and share resources they need to be successful," said Darrell Kelly, Enterprise Florida CEO. Speakers will include Gov. Jeb Bush and John Engler, former president of the National Association of Manufacturers. Details: www.eflorida.com/summit.
OTTAWA BEACH: Monday's opening of the Consulate General of Canada on the 16th floor of 200 S. Biscayne Blvd. led to the promotion of three-year consul Anthony Knill to consul general. But growth adds work, he told guests at the Miami City Club, "so I'm going to have to pick up my socks. No more on the beach in Miami - well, a little, OK?" James Scott Peterson, minister of international trade, who flew in for just 81/2 hours with wife Heather, said he sees the upgrade from 10 consular workers a year ago to 30 today as a boost to Canada-Florida trade and investment, but "back in Canada, they would call it rampant inflation." As for beach time, he said, the Petersons hope to become Florida snowbirds.
TRADE AT THE PORT: The Miami World Trade Center has moved from 777 NW 72nd Ave. in Doral to the Port of Miami, at 1007 North American Way, Suite 500. "In addition to having more space, it just makes more sense to be at the port," said Ben Naji, Miami World Trade Center vice president. "Import and export companies are going to be more in the mix of trade, especially because the Port of Miami is one of the largest ones in the world."
SPEAKING ABOUT TRADE: Cesar Gaviria, former Colombia president and secretary general of the Organization of American States, is to speak next month on international trade. Mr. Gaviria will be the guest speaker at a meeting of the Association of Bi-National Chambers of Commerce, a non-profit group of 43 chambers whose members do business with Florida. He is set to speak at 7 p.m. Dec. 1 at the Ritz-Carlton Coconut Grove. The association awarded Mr. Gaviria its 2004 Award for Leadership in Global Trade. Details: email@example.com.
BROWN OUT: Financial advisor Evensky Brown & Katz invited clients to a Thanksgiving dinner Nov. 11 in the Omni Colonnade Rotunda in Coral Gables - but when guests arrived, they discovered they had a different host. The day of the event, the 20-year-old firm changed its name to Evensky & Katz Wealth Management, for principals - and husband and wife - Harold Evensky and Deena Katz. Former partner Peter Brown had been gone for five years.
HIGH-TECH LABS: St. Thomas University broke ground on the 32,000-square-foot, two-story Carnival Cruise Lines Science and Technology Building. The $6 million project, to open in 2006, will contain labs and classrooms geared to biology, chemistry, physics, mathematics, computer science and general science programs. It will also have a media center, an atrium for exhibits and a rooftop observatory. "This building is the blueprint for the future," said Bob Dickinson, president of Carnival, which made a $1 million gift to the project. Details: www.stu.edu.
BUSY SEMESTER: Miami International University of Art and Design is launching two bachelor's degree programs and expanding its campus. In October, the university began two programs in fashion design and fashion merchandising. The university, which has a 60,000-square-foot campus in the Omni, a former retail mall in downtown Miami, opened a classroom and library on the second floor. In 2002, the university, one of more than 31 campuses of the Art Institute in the nation, leased 100,000 square feet at the mall. Education Management Corp., parent company of the Art Institutes has plans for the remaining 14,000 square feet that could include a training center for computer technology, accounting or paralegal work. The school is also looking to establish a master of fine arts online program in 2005. Details: www.aimiu.aii.edu.
DEGREE ACCREDITED: In addition, the university's interior-design bachelor's degree program received accreditation from the Foundation for Interior Design Education Research, a non-profit organization. "Only the most recognized and prestigious schools are FIDER accredited," said Greg Hoffman, chairman of the university's interior-design department.
AZTEC DEALS: Aztec Group Inc President Tom Duncan and Managing Director Christian J. Johannsen announced that they have secured $22.5 million in financing for three buildings known as the Las Ramblas complex along Lincoln Road at Lincoln Lane in Miami Beach. Mr. Duncan said the structures have a combined 235,000 square feet of retail and office space. The loan was placed on behalf of borrower Las Ramblas Associates Ltd., an affiliate of The Dacra Cos. Aztec also announced placement of $4.8 million in acquisition construction financing on Universal Self-Storage Facility, 2771 W. 76th St., Hialeah. The 38,000-square-foot warehouse is being converted to 508 self-storage units within 71,125 square feet on 2.15 acres of land. Aztec Group Director Jason Shapiro, who represented the borrowers in the transaction, said Universal's owners anticipate completion of the conversion next May.
LOGISTICS MOVE: Cargo Connection Logistics is moving from Medley to Miami's Airport West area after signing a lease to occupy 36,017 square feet of industrial space in Beacon Centre, 8501 NW 77th St.
CONDO CONVERSION WAVES: The developers of The Waverly at Surfside, a Collins Avenue hotel converted to condominiums, have secured $36 million in financing for the project. Margolias Realty Group closed the multimillion-dollar deal with Bank of America, Atlanta, which provided $31.5 million, and its affiliate, South Charles Investment of Maryland, which loaned $4.5 million. Seventy percent of the Surfside development's planned 111 condos are sold, developers said.
BRAZIL WEEK: The Broward Center for the Performing Arts will host a business and cultural forum next year focusing on Brazil. The March 7-11 event, called State to State: Focus Brazil 2005, is to feature a two-day binational business forum sponsored by the Broward Center, Florida FTAA Inc., Enterprise Florida and the Brazilian American Chamber of Commerce. "This unique combination of culture and commerce is particularly significant, not only because Brazil is the state's No. 1 economic trading partner but also because of the substantial number of Brazilians who live in South Florida," said Broward Center President and CEO Mark Nerenhausen. CORRECTION: In coverage of Miami Today's Book of Leaders recognition event last week, a comment by David Wilson, head of Financial Services Organization Inc. and a 1998 Book of Leaders honoree, was incorrectly attributed to David Lieberman, senior vice president for business and finance at the University of Miami and a 2000 honoree.