NOKIA ON THE WAY: After the Miami-Dade County Commission last week voted 13-0 to approve $81,000 in tax refunds to an unnamed cellular-phone manufacturing company for job creation here, Nokia ended the mystery by announcing that it would move its Latin American mobile-phone headquarters to Miami this year and would have 85 workers here by year's end. The company had said it was also considering locating headquarters in Sao Paulo and Mexico City.
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HOW GOOD ARE WE?: A five-person task force surveying Miami-Dade County government's efficiency and effectiveness has been given six months to wrap up its work and report to the county commission. County Manager George Burgess noted before last week's unanimous commission vote setting the deadline that the group was formed "in December 2004 as a response to media and community concerns regarding governmental structure and processes." The commission's mandate requires the task force to quantify the number of times and value of contracts in which the commission rejected the manager's recommendations, a focus of citizen concerns. Four of the task force's members are commissioners; the mayor is invited to be the fifth. After its report, the task force is to be dissolved.
ZONING POWER SHIFT: The Miami-Dade County Commission will be able to hear zoning applications in municipalities in some cases, the commission agreed 13-0 last week. Generally, municipalities have that power within their boundaries, but commissioners decided the county should take control when zoning regulations, municipal charter provisions or agreements with municipalities permit it.
TRAIN FOR THE KEY: Miami commissioners last week approved the master plan for Virginia Key Beach Park. The design by Wallace Roberts & Todd includes a shoreline promenade, picnic sites, canoe launchings, nature trails and a minitrain like the one used when the beach was colored-only in the 1940s.
UNSPOILED NATURE: The City of Miami's Dinner Key spoils islands and the Watersports Complex Facilities, 2620 South Bayshore Dr., are to be renovated by CMC Construction Corp. after city commissioners last week approved a resolution by the city's Department of Capital Improvements and Transportation to pay $1.4 million to renovate the complex and clean up the islands.
THANKS, A LOT: Miami commissioners agreed last week to hand over land at 240 NW 11th St. to the Department of Off-Street Parking to build a public parking lot for local businesses. City documents say the department has 12 months to develop the parking lot.
WILMA'S AFTERMATH: Miami commissioners last week asked City Manager Joe Arriola to accept $289,096 from the State Housing Initiative Partnership Fund for disaster-relief efforts from Hurricane Wilma.
OLD MONEY: Resolutions funding service to Miami's elderly were passed last week by city commissioners. Miami's Department of Community Development is now granting $22,000 for Allapattah Community Action Inc. to provide meals to the elderly, and the rehabilitation facility for the elderly at 5617 NW Seventh St. is receiving $99,200 of US Department of Housing and Urban Development funds.
EXPRESSWAY AUTHORITIES: Miami-Dade attorneys Justin Sayfie of Blosser & Sayfie and Jorge Vigil of Rasco Reininger Perez Esquenazi & Virgil have been named by Gov. Jeb Bush to four-year terms on the board of the Miami-Dade Expressway Authority. Mr. Sayfie is a former chief speechwriter for the governor.
SAFER TOWER: A new control tower is on the way for Opa-locka Airport, which handles general-aviation planes. The Miami-Dade County Commission last week unanimously voted to provide about $5 million for the task, with $2.4 million more from the Federal Aviation Administration and $3.5 million from the Florida Department of Transportation. The Federal Aviation Administration owns the top of the present tower and the county owns the bottom, a World War II hangar cited five years ago by the county's Unsafe Structures Board that is now vacant. A temporary building is being used as a control tower.
IN THE BOARDROOM: The board of neighborhood shopping-center developer and operator Equity One Inc. appointed Neil Flanzraich lead independent director and added Cynthia R. Cohen. Mr. Flanzraich, elected as a director a year ago, was until early this year vice chairman and president of Miami-based pharmaceutical manufacturer IVAX Corp. Ms. Cohen is president of Miami-based retail consulting firm Strategic Mindshare, which she founded in 1990. Shares of Equity One, a North Miami Beach real estate investment trust, are listed on the New York Stock Exchange.
OPERA IS GRAND: The Florida Grand Opera, which is to move into a new home at the Miami Performing Arts Center this fall, recorded record ticket-sales revenue of more than $5.2 million for this past season, up 20% from the prior season, the company announced this week. Officials said 91,321 seats were filled in the past season in performances in Miami-Dade and Broward counties.
ATLANTA HO: Miami-based Avisena, a high-tech medical billing and collections company, is expanding into the Atlanta market this month and plans to utilize that city as a hub for expansion throughout the South and Mid-Atlantic regions. "The Atlanta area will be a tremendous source of growth for our company," said Albert Santalo, Avisena president and CEO. "The challenges with the health-care industry are as real across the country as what we have encountered in Florida. We are looking forward to providing a more comprehensive solution for health-care providers in the Atlanta area." The company services more than 500 physicians with more than $400 million in accounts receivable.
MOVING UP: Greater Miami Investments, a full-service commercial and residential boutique real estate firm begun as a two-person operation in 1990 by owners Orlando and Iliana Abella that grew into a 38-associate company, recently celebrated its move into Coral Gables offices at 50 Aragon Ave. in the Ten Aragon Building with a party that drew 400 guests. "We compete with companies with multibillion-dollar budgets, so we have to struggle as small business owners to stay in the limelight," Ms. Abella said. "We wanted people to know that we've moved but that we are still here and we have the same service."
GLOBAL ARTS TIES: Miami Today's International Roundtable will focus on arts and culture and how we exchange them globally in a 5 p.m. June 8 session sponsored by the Miami Parking Authority and the Olympia Theater at Gusman Center, 174 E. Flagler St., where the program will be held. RSVP: Jannina Roman, (305) 358-2663.
CORRECTION: This column last week incorrectly reported the affiliation of Alvin West, who will be among Leadership Miami alumni honored May 20 by the Greater Miami Chamber of Commerce. He is chief financial officer and senior vice president of administration of the Greater Miami Convention and Visitors Bureau.