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GOLD FIELDS: Employment in financial activities in Miami-Dade County surged to a record 70,200 jobs in November, according to the latest data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics in the US Department of Labor. The number of workers in the sector grew at a 3.7% annual rate, the highest growth rate for financial jobs here in more than a decade. In October, the sector passed the 70,000-jobs mark for the first time, reaching 70,100. A decade ago employment in the sector stood at 68,300.
SERVICE WORKS: Growing even faster than financial jobs in Miami-Dade is employment in unspecified services. In November, those jobs grew 4.1%, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reports, hitting a record of 45,900 workers in the county. A decade ago the county had 39,700 persons working in services fields.
FILL 'ER UP: otel occupancy in Miami-Dade County the first three weeks of December averaged 66.6% of all rooms, an increase of 8.5% from the same period in 2004.Hotel occupancy in Miami-Dade County the first three weeks of December averaged 66.6%, up 8.5% from a year earlier, according to Smith Travel Research. The greatest growth year over year was in Coconut Grove, Coral Gables and South Miami, a 12.6% increase to 71.7% occupancy.
WITHOUT NOTICE: The Community Empowerment and Economic Revitalization Committee of the Miami-Dade County Commission is to hear a staff recommendation Jan. 17 to streamline the procedures involved in applications for non-emergency medical transportation and passenger motor carrier certificates. Notice provisions would be eliminated in circumstances where the county historically has received no protests - but notice requirements would remain for jitneys and fixed-service route applications. The commission passed the measure 12-0 on first reading Dec. 20.
X-RAYS GO DARK: X-ray films are passČ at Mt. Sinai Medical Center now that its radiology department has gone digital. Thanks to this process, all types of imaging - including X-ray, CT and MRI scans - are now made with digital technology. The images are read "within 4 seconds of the image being taken" and instantly transported to other departments over the center's intranet, according to Michael Plitnikas, the medical center's picture archiving and communications system administrator. The process greatly reduces the need for storage and some personnel. It also increases patients' accessibility to their records, which is another reason many hospitals and health centers are adopting it, said Linda S. Quick, president of the South Florida Hospital & Healthcare Association.
RECOVERY FUNDS FLOW IN: Partnership for Recovery, created in November to resettle about 5,000 Miami-Dade County residents displaced by Hurricane Wilma, has raised almost $4 million of its $25 million target. Contributions that have yet to be tallied have arrived at the Greater Miami Chamber of Commerce. "We have been receiving checks care of the chamber," said Executive Vice President Barry Johnson, "which we are passing along to the county." Assessment of need together with fundraising remains a priority of the initiative, said one of the partnership leaders, attorney Ron Book, following a staff meeting Tuesday. "There has been very little rainfall since the hurricane," said Mr. Book, "which has been favorable to our cause. But that good fortune is unlikely to continue." Details: (305) 935-1866.
FIRST COURSE: Codina Group has broken ground on the first phase of a Coral Gables project that will house Burger King Corp. headquarters in 2008. The Gables development company began work last week on a four-story property on a parking lot at 2855 LeJeune Rd. that is to house City National Bank when it is completed this year. Codina Group will then tear down the bank's premises at 2701 LeJeune Rd. to make way for Burger King's 15-story home.
BAL HARBOUR DEVELOPMENT: The Bal Harbour Village Council is to review in a special meeting today (1/5) a proposed development agreement and planned development zoning for the three-tower St. Regis project that would replace the 655-room Sheraton Bal Harbour resort. The development agreement was to be transmitted to village council members Friday, said Merrett Stierheim, a former county manager who has been working for several weeks as a consultant to the village government on the project. The 9 a.m. hearing at the village hall council chambers, 655 96th St., will be the first reading of the agreement with property owner Starwood Hotels and the Related Group, which is to develop the $400 million condominium-hotel project. Latest plans call for 297-foot towers. The center tower would be the 240-room hotel while the others would have 271 condominium units.
FONTAINEBLEAU ASKS VARIANCES: The Fontainebleau goes before the Miami Beach Board of Adjustment on Friday seeking 10 zoning variances as it moves to renovate the classic Morris Lapidus hotel design including the demolition of its north tower and the construction of a 21-story hotel tower on the north portion of its property at 4441 Collins Ave. One variance would be to waive the requirement of pitched roofs to be made of only barrel or cement tile to instead build a metal roof on the dome roof of the proposed Tropigala Theater.
EDEN ROC DOES, TOO: The Fontainebleau's next-door neighbor to the north and longtime rival, the Eden Roc Hotel, joins it before the Board of Adjustment with its own list of eight requested variances to permit construction of its own 21-story hotel tower on the south portion of its property - the side nearest the Fontainebleau - and the partial demolition of its existing 14-story hotel, including demolition of the ballroom and sports center.
SMALLER BITE OF THE APPLE: In the smaller hotel category, 100 Ocean Drive Land LLC comes before the Board of Adjustment seeking to build the three-story, 16-unit Apple Hotel on Ocean Drive. It wants five zoning variances.
GOING UP: Three proposed new buildings come before Miami Beach's Board of Adjustment on Friday. The developer of a seven-story mixed-use building seeks variances at 500-550 Alton Road and 517-547 West Ave.; First Ocean Residence Realty wants a variance to build a four-story, 24-unit residential condo at 1475 Collins Ave.; and Italbuilding Inc. seeks a variance to build a five-unit residential building at 8021 Harding Ave.
BRIGHTSTAR IN INDIA: Brightstar Corp. has opened a headquarters for India in Mumbai for its Brightstar Telecom India subsidiary with plans to open branch offices across the nation. The Miami company, with 2004 sales of $1.7 billion, has operations in 20 nations in the Americas, providing fixed and wireless products and supply chain management, integrated services and inventory control to network operators, distributors and retailers.
CAPITAL GAINS: Two Miami companies will be among 25 private high-growth Florida companies making presentations at the Florida Venture Capital Conference. Latin Node Inc., active in the Voice over Internet Protocol market, and Visible Assets, which provides market intelligence and supply chain management in healthcare, will be among presenters Jan. 31 and Feb. 1 at the Sawgrass Marriott Resort & Spa in Ponte Vedra Beach. Presenters at the conference, sponsored by the Florida Venture Forum, are seeking funding. Last year, 14 of the 19 that presented received funds: more than $80 million in capital.
REPLACEMENT SOUGHT: The Florida Association for Volunteer Action in the Caribbean and the Americas is seeking a replacement for its president, Julietta Valls, who left to become a private international consultant. The new president would oversee all aspects of the organization, a state-run non-profit that provides volunteer missions. "This is a one-of-a-kind opportunity," said Jeffrey Sharkey, serving as interim president. The deadline for applications has been extended to Jan. 31. The organization has offices in Miami and Tallahassee. Details: (305) 377-5500.
TALKING BUSINESS: A New York-based marketing company is to help Miami-Dade County's economic development organization drum up business. The Beacon Council has signed Development Counsellors International to a year's contract to organize tours of the county for journalists from throughout the world. The agency signed up the economic development and tourism promotion specialists after Hurricane Wilma hit at the end of October.
PARK ON THE WAY: The Virginia Key Beach Park Trust is to meet at 6 p.m. Jan. 9 at Charles Hadley Park, 1350 NW 50th St. "We have so many things happening at the park, especially with the opening of our museum," said Judi Hamilton, trust marketing director. Park trust members expect Virginia Key Park to open in November.
RITZY WEEKEND: The 29th annual Art Deco Weekend Jan. 13-15 has a Puttin' on the Ritz theme sponsored by Miami Design Preservation, the world's oldest Art Deco society. The 85 events include music, films, lectures, parades, antiques and collectibles, and architecture tours. The theme celebrates the 1930s hotel and restaurant architecture of Miami Beach. Films from the 1930s will be shown, coupled with theatrical performances and an opening night parade. Art Deco Weekend is held along Ocean Drive between Fifth and 15th Streets. Details: www.artdecoweekend.com.
BIG PLANS: With three sites in the works, developer Leviev Boymelgreen has more than $1.5 billion in projects planned in South Florida. The Marquis, in Miami, is a 67-story tower combining 306 luxury condos with 56 hotel suits and a 10,000-square-foot spa. Soleil, in Miami's Art District, is to be a 288-unit mixed-use condo. Vitri, in South Beach, is to have 66 loft condos in two buildings fronting Alton Road and West Avenue. Leviev Boymelgreen also owns a 96,000-square-foot office building at 3050 Biscayne Blvd.
DORAL OFFICE TOWER: With Eurosuites - a 10-story, 368-room condo-hotel - under construction in Doral, Concalpro Group Corp. is taking another giant step. The Venezuelan developer is building a mixed-use Class A office building on 5 acres at Northwest 107th Avenue at 33rd Street in downtown Doral. "We are still in initial stages," Vice President Leonardo Ambard said of the building, projected to be 14 stories, the maximum in Doral's master plan. "We already received approval from the airport authority, which said there shouldn't be a problem with height."