For a journalist who wants to keep readers informed about changes in the economy, the latest unemployment report from the state was no help.
Unemployment in Volusia County in July was 3.7%, in June it was 3.7% and guess what it was a year ago. Of course, a steady job market isn't a bad thing. When unemployment gets under 4%, you've pretty much hit the sweet spot for a labor market. Business closings and other events affecting employment are going to happen no matter what. So when the market absorbs those events without unemployment going up, you're in an extremely stable economy.
There was job growth since last year. The state labor agency estimates about 5,500 more workers living in Volusia were employed this year than last year, but there was a corresponding increase in the labor force, so the 5,500 workers are new to the workforce. The number of unemployed workers stayed at slightly above 9,000 this year, last month and last year.
As usual, it helps the Volusia/Flagler area is sandwiched between the big markets of Jacksonville and Orlando, so there are lot of people with long commutes. That's a good thing, because the state estimates non-agricultural jobs in the two-county area were up just 1.7% or 3,400 jobs.
If you're a chaos junkie who likes big changes, either good or bad, Volusia's economy is kind of boring. For business owners and managers who like a nice steady business climate, it's paradise.
Rooms to Go wants to put a store at Tomoka Town Center on Cornerstone Boulevard in Daytona Beach. If it's a relocation, joined a rash of other businesses that have moved from West International Speedway Boulevard and other areas, and not a second location, it would be nice if the city could just say no. But it can't, because it falls within the city's comprehensive plan. In this case, though, it does provide the furniture store's behemoth next door neighbor a chance to get more premium parking.
A few commercial real estate deals to report include an Alafaya group buying the Roomba Inn, 133 S. Ocean Ave., Daytona Beach, for $3.88 million. Starlight Homes bought another batch of lots in Coastal Woods in New Smyrna Beach for about $1.38 million. Dream Finders Homes bought vacant land at Halifax Plantation in Ormond Beach for $1 million. Jacksonville developer has bought access property from Indigo Development at LPGA International in Daytona Beach for $300,000.
It's back to the drawing board for Consolidated-Tomoka Land Co. as the second attempt to sell a 1,600-acre parcel of land for $27 million fell through. Originally planned as the second half of Latitude Margaritaville, the second potential buyer was never identified.
Construction is starting on Max Daytona, the luxury condominium at the border of Daytona Beach and Daytona Beach Shores. That means Bayshore Capital has pre-sold enough units that it is comfortable building it. If you're wondering about the level of interest in luxury, oceanfront condos, consider that one at the new Tydemark condo in New Smyrna Beach just sold for $2 million.
Country Club Corners, the retail complex at South Woodland Boulevard and Orange Camp Road in DeLand, continues to grow. The next two businesses apparently are Checker's Drive-In and Heartland Dental.
Under the never say die effort to find the right business, the troubled restaurant spot at 3510 S. Nova Road in Port Orange is becoming Agave II, joining the original Agave Fresh Mex & Cantina in Ormond Beach. Also in restaurant news, signs are going up on Crabby's Oceanside at the former Cocina 214 site next to Landshark Bar & Grill.
On a final note, construction may be starting on Liberty Industrial Park at 500 Fentress Blvd. in Daytona Beach, or the developer may have just applied for the building permit to meet a city-required deadline.
Managing Editor Cecil G. Brumley has been tracking business and the economy in Volusia County for more than 22 years. Contact him at email@example.com (no hyphens) or follow him on Twitter @cecilbrumley.