News briefs – February 2011

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Plans for Replacing Jack’s Bar Proceeding

Jack’s Bar in Downtown Gainesville is gone, but a new establishment is planned in its place.

Owner Bill Chick plans to replace the demolished 130-year-old building at 24 S. Main St. that housed Jack’s Bar with a new structure.

“It will be a beer garden, operating under the same liquor license,” Chick says. “I hated to tear the building down, but the mortar was too soft to save.”

The new structure will have a large amount of outdoor seating. “I think we’ll be more successful than we were before,” Chick says.

He opened Jack’s in 1997 and purchased the building, shown as the Gainesville Grocery in historic photos, in 2000. “I’ve put a lot of money into downtown, and I want to stay in business there,” he says.

Chick has fenced off the site and is now seeking city approval of his plans.

UF Researcher Develops Inexpensive Night Vision

Cell phones with night vision? That might be the next major innovation, thanks to an invention by a University of Florida researcher.

Franky So, a professor of materials science and engineering, has created a nickel-sized imaging device that uses organic light-emitting diode technology similar to that found in cell phone or laptop screens for night vision. But unlike night vision goggles, which are heavy and expensive, the device is paper-thin, light and inexpensive, making it a possible add-on to cell phone cameras, even eyeglasses,

Standard night vision goggles use a process that requires thousands of volts and a vacuum tube made of thick glass. That is why the goggles tend to be bulky, heavy and expensive. So’s imaging device replaces the vacuum tube with several thin layers of organic semiconductor. If a version of his device was sized for cell phones, it would weigh just a couple of ounces and would be inexpensive to manufacture because factories could use the same equipment they use to make laptop screens or flat-screen televisions.

So said other applications could include night vision technology for car windshields, or even for standard glasses to use at night.

A UF startup company, NirVision, was recently formed to further develop and commercialize the technology. Do Young Kim, a postdoctoral associate in materials science and engineering, collaborated with So on the project.

Medical Malpractice Rates Drop for 6th Year

Insurers covering medical malpractice dropped their rates by 8.2% in 2009, the last period for which full-year figures are available. according to the state Office of Insurance Regulation. This marked the sixth straight rate decline since 2004, when the state limited malpractice awards.

Prior to 2004, malpractice rate increases were rising by double digits annually, and several malpractice insurance carriers had left the market.

Since the state limited punitive damages in malpractice cases, rates have fallen, malpractice insurers have increased in profitability and nearly a dozen malpractice insurance companies have entered the Florida market.

Banking Customers More Optimistic

Small business banking customers are more optimistic about the economy and their future than they were a year ago, according to a report by J.D. Power and Associates.

The satisfaction survey, which was released in late 2010, also found that business owners were more optimistic about their personal finances and the financial stability of their bank. However, in most cases, the small business owners were less satisfied overall with their banks and more said they were likely to move to a new institution than in the previous survey. Among the business owners’ major concerns was their bank’s inability to provide adequate credit.

Satisfaction was highest among small business owners who felt their banks collaborated with them by providing such services as an account manager who understood their business, error-free banking, convenient access and proactive communication.

SunTrust Bank ranked highest nationwide in small business customer satisfaction, according to the survey.

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