5 things to know about All Aboard Florida and Brightline

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(Provided)

As the new year begins, we’re betting All Aboard Florida’s plans for an intercity rail system in Florida will continue to be one of our top business stories.

Here are five things you need to know about the massive project.

1. It’s truly massive. The downtown Miami station is slated to have a footprint that spans six city blocks. The West Palm Beach station will be 60,000 square feet, and it’s paired with a plan for a rail-side apartment complex.

Read more about the planned stations.

2. You could ride a Brightline train by the end of 2017. The company plans to run 32 trains a day between Miami and Orlando with stops in West Palm Beach and Fort Lauderdale. Service between Miami and West Palm Beach is set to begin in 2017, with the West Palm-to-Orlando route set to open by the end of 2017.

3. Station construction already is happening. This month, engineers tested lighting for the signature V’s that mark the facade of its stations. Above-ground work is underway in Miami, and Florida East Coast Railway, All Aboard’s sister company, has been adding a second line of tracks along its route to accommodate both freight and passenger trains.

4. All Aboard Florida didn’t change its name to Brightline. Rather, Brightline is the official brand name of the rail line.

5. The project has its detractors. Citing safety and economic concerns, groups including Florida Not All Aboard and Citizens Against Rail Expansion have launched campaigns against All Aboard Florida. Martin and Indian River counties have pledged money to fight the rail line. Opponents also have fought to block the company from issuing bonds to pay for the project.

Get more details on All Aboard Florida and Brightline.

Hoffman’s Chocolates opens its ninth location

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Greenacres-based Hoffman’s Chocolates has opened its ninth retail location.

The new store — in the Weston Town Center, 1727 Main St., Weston — is 1,000 square feet and has eight employees, the company said in a news release.

» RELATED: Hoffman’s makes list of top small businesses to shop during the holidays

Included in the Weston store is an ice cream counter serving 32 flavors, in addition to Hoffman’s Chocolates’ selection of more than 70 types of treats.

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“We are thrilled to join the Weston community and continue expanding our legendary brand in Broward County,” Jarett Levan, president of Hoffman’s parent company BBX Capital and CEO of BBX Sweet Holdings, said in the news release.

Hoffman’s began its expansion into Broward County in late 2014 and now has four stores there.

The chocolatier also celebrated its 40th anniversary this past summer.

The new store will be open 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Sunday through Thursday, and 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Friday and Saturday.

Looking for last-minute gifts? Try these local small businesses

The Roe Green Uniquely Palm Beach Store in Lake Worth is just one of the small businesses on our Small Business Holiday Gift Guide. (Provided)
The Roe Green Uniquely Palm Beach Store in Lake Worth is just one of the small businesses on our Small Business Holiday Gift Guide. (Provided)

Stumped on what to get for the last person on your list?

Check out our Small Business Holiday Gift Guide. It features gift ideas from small retailers throughout the county, from locally made jewelry and linens to fresh produce.

Not only are you guaranteed to find something unique, but you’ll also help support a local business.

View the Small Business Holiday Gift Guide.

Report: These were 2015’s biggest travel trends

A plane comes in for a landing at Miami International Airport. (Getty Images)
A plane comes in for a landing at Miami International Airport. (Getty Images)

This has been a huge year for travel — in particular for Florida, which is expected to receive a record number of tourists by the year’s end.

CNN has put together a list of some of the top travel trends for 2015. Here are two of the ones we think had the biggest impact:

Frequest flier miles based on dollars spent instead of miles traveled

This year, three airlines switched up their frequent flier programs in a big way: issuing rewards based on the amount of money spent, instead of how many miles were traveled.

And American Airlines, Delta and United Airlines might be leading a bigger charge, CNN reports.

“We saw some of the first hints globally from international carriers,” Skift.com co-founder Jason Clampet told CNN.

The rise of Uber and Airbnb in business travel

With the addition of Uber for Business, the increasingly popular ride-hailing app made it easier for companies and employees to expense trips. Companies now can set up corporate accounts, set rules and monitor rides more closely.

Airbnb also has risen in popularity for corporate travel, CNN reports. Instead of booking costly hotel rooms, for example, a company might book a large condo through Airbnb.

Read more from CNN.