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Business briefs: Fed keeps interest rate near zero; Port OKs deal for state funds; HB home sells for $1.8M

WASHINGTON -- Federal Reserve policy makers on Wednesday kept the central bank's benchmark short-term interest rate near zero, opting against the first increase since 2006 after determining the economy still isn't strong enough to handle it.

Fed officials sharply downgraded their economic forecast for this year. They projected the economy would grow between 1.8 percent and 2 percent this year, well below the range of 2.3 percent to 2.7 percent in its last forecast in March.

If they're correct, annual growth would be the worst since 2011 and would be far from the breakout performance some economists had hoped for this year.

In a statement after its two-day policymaking meeting, Fed officials said the economy "has been expanding moderately" after having improved little during the first quarter.

While the housing market "has shown some improvement," central bank policymakers said exports and investments by businesses have been soft.

Annual inflation is expected to be between 0.6 percent and 0.8 percent this year -- the same as was forecast in March. That's well below the Fed's 2 percent target.

Port OKs deal to get state funding for warehouse

BRADENTON -- In an emergency meeting Wednesday afternoon, Port Manatee officials unanimously approved a deal that will bring almost $3 million in state money to the port's newest warehouse project.

One day after signing off on agreements that will have stevedoring company Logistech build the 148,000-square-foot warehouse, the Manatee County Port Authority held the emergency session to secure funding that ups the state's ante to $10 million. The joint participation agreement that governs the money had to be signed in a bit of a rush to complete the deal with Logistech and to get the agreement to the Florida Department of Transportation's Tallahassee offices by June 30.

Authority Chairwoman Carol Whitmore said the majority of authority members would have been unavailable to vote on the agreement after Thursday as many are going out of town for the authority's summer recess.

The refrigerated warehouse is expected to cost more than $17 million.

RASM awards five local students scholarships

MANATEE-SARASOTA -- The Realtor Association of Sarasota and Manatee has awarded five $2,000 scholarships to local students, each covering a full academic year.

They were chosen from 58 scholarship applications.

The students are: Victoria Thrall, Manatee High, attending Florida State University; Carter James Page, Riverview High, attending Northwestern University; Trista Lynn Campbell, Manatee High, attending State College of Florida; Amanda Shaffer, Venice High, attending

State College of Florida; and Khaleelah Elhajowi, home-schooled, attending University of North Carolina.

Holmes Beach home with a view purchased for $1.8M

HOLMES BEACH -- A New Jersey couple has purchased a Holmes Beach home with one of the best island views of Robinson Preserve available.

On June 5, Carmine and Mary Stella of Norwood, N.J., paid $1.8 million for a waterfront house at 604 Crestwood Lane. The sellers were Luigi and Tracy Cibischino, according to Manatee County property records.

The home, which has been extensively remodeled since 2011, according to records, comes with a dock and a pool with a cabana. The property is on the southernmost tip of Key Royale, which is connected via causeway to Anna Maria Island.

-- Herald staff and wire reports

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