What you need to know about Florida Today
Visit Florida, the state's tourism agency, on Thursday reported that an estimated 22.1 million visitors came to the state in the second quarter of this year, maintaining a record pace for 2012. Based on preliminary estimates, the 1.3 percent quarterly increase over the same period in 2011 also comes amid increased direct tourism-related employment and visitor spending. [Source: Sarasota Herald-Tribune]
Nearly all Floridians – 95 percent – are worried that the nation’s severe drought will drive up food prices, and 88 percent fear it will raise their fuel costs, according to public survey results released on Thursday. Those are the highest percentages among residents of 10 drought-stricken states that were sampled in the nationwide survey. [Source: South Florida Sun-Sentinel]
Florida is chipping away at its reputation as an under-performer in creating clean energy jobs. Three projects announced statewide in the second quarter will create up to 7,375 jobs in environmentally clean energy areas like wind and solar power. That places Florida second to California (20,879 possible jobs) and far ahead of No. 3 New York (1,408 possible jobs) in a quarterly roundup produced by the national industry group Environmental Entrepreneurs. [Source: Tampa Bay Times]
Daniel Aboud walks down the line of boxes, stuffing a canvas bag with items ranging from a can of Coke to Mitt Romney's book, No Apology: The Case for American Greatness. It is one of 14,000 goody bags that he and fellow workers at MacDonald Training Center will fill with 144,000 items for delegates, VIPs and media coming to Tampa for the Republican National Convention, Aug. 27-30. [Source: Tampa Bay Times]
Leaders of Florida's 23 Gulf Coast counties said Thursday they want to stick together and fight for their share of a potential $5 billion to $20 billion windfall from fines levied against BP and other companies involved in the massive 2010 oil spill. [Source: AP]
ALSO AROUND FLORIDA:
› Lake Wales official woos 'green' business
Economic Development Director Harold Gallup plans to introduce city commissioners to a new business. Reneu Energy, a company that makes light-emitting diode street lamps, is making arrangements to move to Lake Wales from the province of Prince Edward Island in Canada, thanks in part to a tax incentive the Lake Wales City Commission approved.
› Hurricanes deliver more misery to some ZIP codes
Large and powerful hurricanes have frequently delivered widespread misery across Florida, yet their relatively small cores have battered some ZIP codes much more than others. The information comes courtesy of a National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration website that shows hurricane tracks since 1842, as they run through states, counties, cities and ZIP codes.
› 'Dolphin Tale' gives tourism a half-billion-dollar boost
Winter the tailless dolphin, star of a major Hollywood film, is now being touted as a tourism draw that is doing the same thing for Pinellas County that Lord of the Rings did for New Zealand's tourism industry.
› Sarasota cashes in on red-light cameras
Florida cities and counties handed out nearly $100 million in tickets generated by red-light cameras during the last year, and Sarasota has quickly become a statewide leader in fining red-light runners.
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