By Cecil G. Brumley
The persistent problem of unemployment didn't go away in August in Volusia County.
While the unemployment rate dropped to 9.1 percent from 9.5 percent in July and 11 percent in August 2011, the cause was people dropping out of the workforce, figures from the state labor department show. The workforce was at 251,640 in August compared to 253,995 the previous month and 257,350 a year ago. The number of employed workers hasn't changed that much. It was at 228,658 in August, 229,965 in July and 229,049 in August 2011.
The non-agricultural jobs survey wasn't too good either. The county was down 2,800 jobs from a year ago with much of the loss in retail and business services.
Of course, these are all estimates. Actual numbers for the first quarter will be out soon with the Census of Employment and Wages, which is based on employer reports filed with unemployment insurance payments. While that's a little dated now, we can compare to the actual numbers to the estimates.
One of the more surprising developments popped up recently. CBL & Associates, owner of Volusia Mall and The Pavilion at Port Orange, is teaming with property owner Consolidated Inns to demolish the Ramada Inn Speedway and replace it with two restaurant buildings.
CBL isn't sharing what the restaurants will be at this point, the permitting process just began, but my guess is a Bonefish Grill and Texas Roadhouse. My guess is based on the fact that those are two restaurant chains that are expanding. With the Ramada Inn gone, the other lodging properties in the area around Daytona International Speedway definitely will fill up during race weeks in February and July, as well as for Bike Week and Biketoberfest.
After a mostly quiet summer, Brown & Brown Inc. has gotten back on the acquisitions trail, buying Texas General Security Insurance, which is a fairly large operation with $5.8 million in annual revenue. The move not only expands Brown & Brown's presence in Texas, but also its wholesale insurance division.
O'Reilly Auto Parts apparently plans to hit Volusia County hard. It already is planning to put a store where the old Quincy's restaurant was near the intersection of Nova Road and West ISB in Daytona Beach. Now it has bought a site for a store in DeLand, which will be on North Spring Garden Avenue, just south of Plymouth Avenue.
A couple of projects are moving forward. Mullinax Ford is seeking approval of a storm water drainage system for a new dealership at State Road 44 and Colony Park Road in New Smyrna Beach. Racetrac has bought the land for its newest store - at Deltona Village. The company paid $1.6 million for the property.
Reddy Ice has begun work on replacing its building in New Smyrna Beach that was destroyed in an explosion in May. Apparently neither bankruptcy nor explosions can melt this business.
D.R. Horton must think the number of available cheap foreclosed houses on the market in Deltona is dwindling. The company paid $384,900 for 18 lots in the Live Oaks Estates subdivision off Doyle Road. Home building has picked up in Deltona. There were only 19 homes built there in 2011. Through July, 24 houses have already been started in the city.
Associate Managing Editor Cecil G. Brumley has been tracking business in Volusia County for more than 15 years. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter @cecilbrumley.