7 things to know today and Orlando moves up on best-performing cities list

Good morning, !

Metro Orlando jumped up two places in an annual ranking released Wednesday by California-based Milken Institute that measures economic growth.

The City Beautiful came in at No. 7 on the institute’s list of the top 200 large U.S. metro areas — up from No. 9 last year.

The only other Florida metro to best us was North Port-Sarasota-Bradenton, which saw a huge leap from No. 26 last year to No. 6 this year.

Milken Institute’s index looks at how well the country’s metro areas create and sustain jobs as well as each’s economic growth. Published since 1999, the index looks at nine metrics to evaluate the growth of a metro area, including changes in jobs, wages and salaries in addition to technology output.

Milken Institute said its results can be used as an “objective benchmark for examining the underlying factors and identifying unique characteristics of economic growth in metropolitan areas.”

See the full rankings here.

And be sure to check out these other Thursday headlines:

$89M downtown Orlando luxury apartment tower to break ground in Q2

Another high-end apartment complex soon will dot Orlando’s skyline near Lake Eola, joining a roster of projects such as the under- Modera at Mills Creek and Aspire. More here on the 300,000-square-foot project.

Johnson & Johnson changes hiring plan for regional HQ in Lake Nona

Here are five Walt Disney World projects to follow in 2018

2018 of Sports

Jan. 19

Disney Springs lands among NY Times’ top 52 places to visit in 2018

Disney Springs is among several U.S. spots on a newly released New York Times list of the 52 Places to Go in 2018. The list was selected based on suggestions from regular contributors to the Times’ Travel section that are then narrowed down based on why 2018 is the time to visit a particular place.

12 tech firms hiring 300 Central Florida workers

Attention all job seekers: Video game, data analytics, IT and rocket firms all have high-wage, high-tech jobs available — some paying more than $77,000 a year. To see a quick lineup of which firm firms are hiring, how many positions are available and a few of the job titles, click here.

Feds drop plan to allow drilling off Florida coast

Florida waters were removed Tuesday from White House plansto open previously protected parts of the Atlantic Ocean and eastern Gulf of Mexico to offshore oil and gas drilling. The move spurred questions about whether the quick decision and manner of announcement by the Trump administration were done to further Scott’s political career.

Coca-Cola launches Diet Coke ‘brand rejuvenation,’ adds 4 new ‘bold’ flavors

The Coca-Cola Co. (NYSE: KO) said Wednesday that it was re-launching the 35-year-old Diet Coke with a “bold new look, a fresh attitude” and four new flavors: Diet Coke Ginger Lime, Diet Coke Feisty Cherry, Diet Coke Zesty Blood Orange and Diet Coke Twisted Mango. The all new packaging and flavors hit store shelves this month. More here.

Sears will consider ‘all other options’ after dismal holiday season

Sears and Kmart store sales plummeted almost 17% during the holiday season as it considers “all other options” to stay in business. The company plans on renegotiating $1 billion in debt by extending due-date on some loans and altering terms on other loans. The retailer said it expects to return to profitability this year. More here.