Archive for the ‘Business’ Category

Expressway Authority Considering Rate Hikes

I’m continually astonished by how ignorant of remedial economic concepts like supply and demand our local government seems to be. As people’s budgets tighten in these economic times and we find ways to spend less and more wisely for things like entertainment and travel, the consistent mantra of public service providers has been “raise prices”. It’s as if they have no awareness of why people are scaling back on activities in the first place (here’s a hint: they have less money.)

First downtown parking rates increased (thanks to the Orlando City Council’s vote) and now the Expressway Authority is considering a hike of their own. I think the toll road increase is even more aggravating, because they at least partially understand the economics of the issue. They cite “11 months of dwindling ridership” as the reason for revenues being down. What do they think will happen as a result of increased costs of using the roads? If you guessed further decreases in ridership, then YOU are more qualified than everyone on the Expressway Authority.

Every day I face a choice of either taking traditional roads such as highway 50 or state road 436 to get where I am going for free, or jump on the 417 or 408 and save myself somewhere between 10-20 minutes. Under the proposed rates the routes I would usually take that comes out to $3 one way, so each day I would be spending $6, or $30 per week, or $120 per month. Currently that same activity costs me $90 per month. I make that decision to save that 20 minutes about 50% of the time (just mornings), because $90 a month is pretty steep, so say I am worth $45 per month to them. Let’s say that instead of raising everything a quarter, you actually lower the 2 plazas I hit by 25 cents each (keeping the off ramps at 25 cents). Now 100% ridership for me only costs $70, or I am contributing $35 per month at my usual 50%. Say because of the lower prices I decide to take the toll roads just one more day per week than I used to. Now I am spending $49 per month instead of $45. That’s how it works guys, lower prices, keep tolls out from under my personal budget cutting pen, and actually pick up a little extra revenue in the process. People do it everyday selling stuff like cereal and beans, why can’t we put at least as much brain power into transportation issues?

At $120 a month, I will just set my alarm 20 minutes earlier and spend nothing on tolls anymore. How many more people are going to do the same?

seen about town…

Maybe it’s just me, but I would think if you’re going to spend the money to put a gigantic static sticker on your van like this, you might want to proofread it for spelling errors first.

(Phone number blurred on purpose)

70 Jobs Cut at Universal Orlando

Following yesterday’s post about Disney’s voluntary lay-offs comes word via the Orlando Sentinel that Universal Orlando is also eliminating jobs.

From the OS:

Universal declined to identify the positions it eliminated. It described them as mostly management-level jobs, with some in administrative and support areas.

Yikes! For all that people gripe about tourists in Central Florida, this is proof positive that our local economy really needs them – now more than ever.

The park is set to open two new attractions within the next twelve months: “Hollywood, Rip, Ride, Rockit” roller coaster and “The Wizarding World of Harry Potter,” based on the famous literary wizard.

In related news, it appears that Universal has also started charging $3 for parking after 6pm in its garages. I can see where they might think that it’s a quick revenue source, but I wonder how that little nugget is affecting locals coming out to CityWalk at night for movies and entertainment. Not to mention they now have to pay employees to collect this extra toll all night, whereas before nobody manned the booths after 6pm.

Over 600 Executives Offered Buyout from Disney

In the ever-tightening economy, Disney is now making a cost-cutting move that will affect hundreds of people in Central Florida. According to the Orlando Sentinel, it is offering about 600 of its executives a buyout option, with more than half of those chosen working here in the Orlando-area.

Spaceship EarthMany of those are people that have been with the company for decades and are commanding top dollar salaries. Granted some may be near retirement, anyways, but the realities are that in this economy, many can’t afford to be without a job. And if they don’t take the voluntary leave, many of them will just be laid off in the next round of cuts – but without the severance package being offered now.

All of this is happening as Walt Disney World has several DVC building projects in various stages of completion, and is preparing to open the new “American Idol” attraction at Disney’s Hollywood Studios, which I would imagine involves some hefty licensing fees.

Last thing Orlando needs is less jobs and more people looking for work.  What are your feelings on all this? Are you affected by this move in some way?  Let us know.

Whole Foods to Sponsor New Orlando Farmer’s Market

Just a short note that if you live on the southwest side of town, it seems the new Whole Foods Market at the corner of Sand Lake Rd and Turkey Lake Rd is starting up a new farmer’s market.

According to the flyer, the first Sand Lake Farmer’s Market kicks off this Saturday, November 1, and it will run every Saturday after from 9am until 2pm at that Whole Foods location.

Not sure what the market will offer, but I think it’ll be a nice weekend companion to the Lake Eola Farmer’s Market. If anyone goes on Saturday, drop us your thoughts in comments section.

Create Chaos Recap

[blogger note: I meant to post this a week ago, but an unexpected throwdown with some heavy wood furniture left my dominant hand wrapped up and me unable to type well. So please pardon the lateness - I hope you still enjoy the post. :) ]

As you know, we blogged before about the massive Create Chaos web/graphic design conference and I actually attended the Wednesday panels, as well as poked around the expo hall. Beyond journalistic curiosity, I freelance in web design, so I was interested in hearing from people who do it full-time as a career. I figured I could pick up a lot of information and pointers – much as I did at other recent local tech events.

Unfortunately, my experience was rather mixed.

I started the morning with the Freshbooks panel, “Marketing for Creative Professionals,” which was so packed that I actually found myself sitting outside the room watching the presentation. Also enjoyed their next presentation, “How to Make Love to Your Customers! ” – there’s a real truth to exceeding expectations and thinking outside the box. I then poked my head into a few other panels, but nothing was really of interest to me so I went to check out the expo hall. Found a few interesting services to check out…and the Izea peeps (Ashley, I SWEAR I am NOT stalking you. LOL ), but was surprised there weren’t more exhibitors. I then hopped between two panels, one of which was titled “Designing Websites That Don’t Look Like Websites” when it should’ve been named “how to lead a panel that people walk out of.” Seriously folks, don’t spend the first 25 min of a panel showing pictures of your office and talking about your resume when people are there to learn. That’s all I’m saying.

Wrapped up my day at Create Chaos by taking in the intimate FreshBooks panel on what their company is all about. It’s an online invoicing and time tracking service that actually accomplishes more than that and it impressed me enough to give it a try, I think. Not just because it’s relevant to my work, but because I liked how informative their staff were at the earlier panels with ideas on building your business and customer service seems to be definite priority to them. It does have a free version if you want to give it a look over (if any of you run home businesses or are self-employed).

I would’ve taken photos but Create Chaos wasn’t allowing audio or cameras of any kind. Boo on them – especially at the prices they were charging. They did post photos of their own at Flickr, though.

Wandered around a bit in the conference center after everything wrapped for the day because running simultaneously at the Marriott with Create Chaos was the “industry only” ShowEast, a trade show for theater owners to see what films are coming out in the next six months and decide which ones to book, as well as see what items are available to enhance their theaters and attract customers. I couldn’t get into the actual panels, but the lobby was free to walk through and all the major studios had huge standees and posters up touting upcoming releases. Of course I took a few photos:

Movie Poster for Zack & Miri Make a Porno Movie Poster for Drag Me to Hell Movie Poster for The Spirit

Nobody at ShowEast seemed to mind my cellphone camera going off, and given a chance I would have gladly walked off with the huge multi-panel standee for Baz Luhrman’s upcoming epic, Australia, starring Hugh Jackman and Nicole Kidman. Couldn’t figure out a way to fit it in my car, though. Tried to take a photo of it, but was thwarted there, too, since it always seemed to have a group standing in front of it.

If any of you were at Create Chaos, would love to hear your feedback. Heck, drop us a line if you just want to talk upcoming films, too. :)

WPRK Fund Raiser at Park Ave CDS

This may be short notice for some, but I got an email from Park Ave CDs saying that tomorrow, October 12th, as part of WPRK’s annual fundraising efforts, the store will be hosting a sale with items starting at only $1.

The sale is only at Park Ave’s main store, located at 2916 Corrine Dr, and runs from noon until 4pm.

WPRK 91.5 fm broadcasts from Rollins College and uses this fundraising drive to raise money for station improvements, permanent Internet broadcasting, and educational resources.

While you have your calendars out, other unrelated upcoming events at Park Ave’s main store include instore performances by Copeland on October 14th at 8pm, Gaslight Anthem on October 23rd at 1pm and Rev Peyton’s Big Damn Band on November 1st at 6pm.

Visit the store’s website for more info on any of these events.

Upcoming Create Chaos 08 Conference Offers Plenty for Local Creative and Tech Professionals

With the recent slate of tech conferences that have rolled into Orlando, such as IZEAFest and BlogOrlando, one would think O-Town has become the new Silicon Valley. Well, there’s even more just on the horizon as Create Chaos 08 comes to town next week.

create chaos 08 in orlando floridaThe event, which runs October 13th – 17th at the Orlando World Center Marriott, is actually a conglomeration of ten different events, including a web and design conference, a job fair, a track by FreshBooks on billing and invoicing clients, the Annual Create Awards, and the Motion Graphics Festival, aimed at “creative” types ranging from photographers and graphic artists to web designers and more techy types.

There will also be several keynote speeches, including one by Lee Cockerell, the former executive vice president of operations at the Walt Disney World Resort, who has just released a new book titled, Creating Magic, 10 Common Sense Leadership Strategies From A Life At Disney. In it, he draws from his experience with the company to discuss how we all can become better leaders not just in business, but in our personal lives in general. If you want to know more about the book, visit Cockerell’s site and receive a free chapter when you sign up for his mailing list.

Tickets for Create Chaos 08 range from $45 to visit the expo hall, to full week passes for $995. Individual day passes range from $295 to $395.

There are also two free events during the week worth noting – “BarCampChaos,” a Monday-night session that invites participants to control the programming by preparing a 20 minute talk on any creative topic and presenting it to other conference attendees, and doterati’s “Juggling Creativity and Business,” on Wednesday night, where local business leaders Ted Murphy of IZEA, Sterling Raphael of NFi Studios, Scott Allen from MonkeyFoot.com and Chuck Southworth of the Southworth Group will all speak on starting creative businesses from the ground up. I highly recommend both of those events to anyone interesting in networking with locally-minded tech and creative minds. As a bonus, pre-register for either event via the above links and you’ll get a free pass to visit the expo hall on the day of the event.

I’ll definitely be there on Wednesday for the FreshBooks track, as I’ve been interested in learning more about their online invoicing and time tracking service (not to mention their Twitters mention something about candy…), and most likely both the BarCampChaos and the doterati sessions. I’m also told that using the codes FRESHBOOKS or BARCAMP when registering for Create Chaos 08 online will offer a hefty discount off passes.

WaMu Bankrupt and Bought Out

So those who have bank accounts with Washington Mutual – aka “WaMu” – woke up this morning to find out their bank had gone under and was bought up by JPMorgan Chase for $1.9 billion.

Holy cow right??

Reportedly JPMorgan Chase won’t close many Florida branches because they view us as a growth market, but accounts will be transitioned over to the new ownership, which means in coming months, customers can expect everything to be rebranded and most likely anyone with an ATM, debit or credit card issued by WaMu will be issued a new card during the process. But for now, the new owners say everything from account numbers to customer access to their accounts will remain the same.

Thankfully I don’t have an account with them, but I can’t imagine a scarier feeling than to wake up and find your bank isn’t your bank anymore. If you have a WaMu account, what are your feelings on this sudden change?

IZEAFest is Coming to Orlando in September

Got a blog? Want to know how to market it and maybe make some money off of it in the process? Then you’ll want to be a part of the upcoming IZEAFest in downtown Orlando.

What is IZEAFest, you say? Well, if you attended this spring’s BarCamp Orlando, you’re probably already familiar with local social media marketing firm IZEA, which sponsored an amazing after-event party.

Now they’re taking it a step further by bringing in a slew of influential bloggers and internet advertisers to Orlando for a three-day event designed to allow everyone from newbies to experts in the blogging world access to information and panels on such subjects as improving your content, growing traffic to your blog, and, of course, how to make it more profitable.

Among the panel guests will be such people as money-making gurus like John Chow and keynote speaker Jeremy Schoemaker, both of whom make five-figure incomes monthly off their blogs. Joining them will be other movers-and-shakers in the blogging world like Merlin Mann (another keynote speaker), Orlando Sentinel‘s Etan Horowitz and internet marketing consultant Tamar Weinberg, who writes for sites like Lifehacker and Mashable. Even Metblogs head honcho Sean Bonner will also be on hand as a panelist, if you’ve had any questions you wanted to ask him about this site.

The event starts on Thursday, September 11, with an evening social event, then gets down to business on Friday, September 12 and Saturday, September 13, with panels from 9am until 6pm each day.

Of course, it’s not an IZEA event without the closing party, which this year is a scavenger hunt that promises to be “messy” and fun. Um…messy?? Anyways, the hunt is timed and the winning team gets $500 in Home Depot cards. Even if you don’t participate, I’m sure the blackmail pictures will be worth attending this shindig. (Sean…pay no attention to that last sentence…)

Similar events like this are normally priced at several hundred dollars a ticket, but IZEA wants this to be accessible to everyone who has a blog, so they’re pricing their tickets at only $65. Seriously, as someone who attends quite a few blogger conferences, I can tell you that’s really a steal for the amount of information you’ll be able to take away from this event. Not to mention all the opportunities to network with the people attending.

All the details you could want to know about the event can be found at IZEAFest.com. Already know you want to go? Skip ahead to the ordering panel and get your tickets before it sells out.

And if you are going, I’ll see you there!

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