By Cecil G. Brumley
As 2012 was winding down, there was finally some good news on the jobs front. For the first time since June, the number of jobs reported by Volusia County employers was up from the previous year, according to statistics from the state labor department.
With 200 more jobs than last year, it wasn't up much, but hopefully it's a trend that will continue. The big drag on employment continues to be professional and business services, down 1,400 jobs from last year. Government and construction were both down 100 jobs. But retail trade, transportation and utilities, leisure and hospitality, education and health services, financial activities, manufacturing and other services were all up.
Finally Volusia County employers are aiding the decline in unemployment, which was at 8.3 percent in the county, down from 8.4 percent in October and 10.3 percent in November 2011.
Improvement in employment in Volusia was inevitable as taxable retail sales kept going up by a significant amount each month. In another recent report, sales were up 6.9 percent in October from October 2011. Taxable retail sales are audited and more reliable than gross sales.
With every business sector showing improvement over the past few months, apparently employers are starting to hire more workers to handle the increased business.
Commercial real estate activity continued at a hot pace in late December, led by Gator Investments purchase of the Winn-Dixie-anchored Riverwood Shopping Center in Port Orange for about $4.42 million. The North Miami Beach company also owns Kmart Plaza in Daytona Beach where it is getting a big new tenant, GFS Marketplace and adding another building.
The next largest deal was for land next to Lake Winnemisett in DeLand, which was bought by an entity named Lake Park Estate LLC for $4.2 million. The corporation was registered by DeLand attorney Astrid dePerry.
Huntington Realty Corp. of West Virginia bought the Applebee's Neighborhood Bar & Grill property in Port Orange for $2.77 million.
Eckall Development of St. Petersburg bought a condo site on South Atlantic Avenue in New Smyrna Beach for $1.135 million.
In restaurant news, businessman Archie Dodani wants to open Tower Bar & Grill at 601 Main Street in Daytona Beach. The property most recently housed the Daytona Dog House. Also, a McDonald's is now under construction in front of the Walmart Supercenter near the intersection of Howland Boulevard and State Road 415 in Deltona.
Associate Managing Editor Cecil G. Brumley has been tracking business news in Volusia County for more than 15 years. Contact him at email@example.com or follow him on Twitter @cecilbrumley.