With lawmakers mulling several options to overhaul Florida’s gaming system, campaign contributions from casinos, dog tracks, gaming opponents, and Indian tribes have flooded the political process. During the first 11 months of the 2014 election cycle, gaming interests have given $2.8 million to candidates and political committees. That doubles the $1.4 million the industry had given at this point through the 2012 election cycle. [Source: Florida Times-Union]
Young entrepreneur David Gornoski believes he can make buying Florida tangerines entertaining, patriotic and good for the environment. Gornoski and his partners — veteran Lake Wales citrus growers Vic Story and Marty McKenna, also chairman of the Florida Citrus Commission — have invested nearly $100,000 in the new venture to prove him right. [Source: Lakeland Ledger]
For now, flippers are raking in huge profits — averaging more than $100,000 in gross margins for their deals in some pockets of Southwest Florida. But with market-wide price gains generally expected to slow next year, many now fear these post-recession investors could default on millions of dollars in overvalued mortgages. [Source: Sarasota Herald-Tribune]
Increased consumer spending should help lift the holiday spirits of Florida’s small business retailers, according to the Florida Retail Federation. The federation this past week released its annual holiday forecast, projecting consumer spending will increase 3.5 to 4.5 percent over last year. [Source: Fort Myers News-Press]
» Stores pull out stops to woo holiday shoppers
Our coastal life as we know it is changing. Rising seas and coastal erosion from climate change are expected to wash away, alter or swallow many of the coastlines where we live, work and play. [Source: Pensacola News-Journal]
» Rising sea levels, falling real estate values
ALSO AROUND FLORIDA:
› New Office Depot leader Roland Smith a risk-taker [South Florida Sun-Sentinel]
As a corporate executive, Roland Smith is a fixer, repairing beleaguered companies. In his leisure time, he also embraces risk, climbing mountains and riding motorcycles. In the Army, he was a test pilot.
› Miami ‘Maker Faire’ celebrates creativity, draws plenty of future engineers [Miami Herald]
Rocket Rose, aka Rose Eigelberger, was explaining to a group of youngsters how rockets are engineered and how they fly. Rose is only 8. She’s part of the Jellyfish News, an informal “makers group” formed by three families to come up with creative science projects to do together.
› Cooking show superstars put talent on display at inaugural St. Petersburg food festival [Tampa Bay Times]
In the deep blue light of the nighttime Dalí Museum, Ace of Cakes reality show superstar Duff Goldman stood in front of his confection masterpiece, part Persistence of Memory, part The Elephants — all of it a jaw-dropping tribute to Salvador Dalí's work and the tremendous ambition of the first Enjoy Arts and Tastes St. Pete food, wine and arts festival.
› Alachua's economy is now diverse, high-tech [Gainesville Sun]
Forty years ago, the city of Alachua was largely a one-company town. Nearly 500 people worked at Copeland Sausage. Today, Alachua is home to three distribution centers in close proximity to Interstate 75, as well as a handful of electrical and industrial manufacturers.
Go to page 2 for more stories ...
› A city divided over Scientology for nearly 40 years weighs a fresh start [Tampa Bay Times]
Scientology has not forged a good-neighbor image in Clearwater after 37 years of occupying prime space in the city's historic core, says Mayor George Cretekos and other city and civic leaders.
› Will Ph.D. in economics become extinct at UF? [Gainesville Sun]
Doctoral students in economics are an endangered species at the University of Florida, and the entire Economics Department is under threat of extinction as well. Funding for the doctoral program has been cut, and enrollment is frozen.
› Investors focusing on downtown Pensacola [Pensacola News-Journal]
The increasing number of lifting cranes and steel I-beams punctuating downtown Pensacola’s skyline doesn’t necessarily herald a building boom. But they are tangible signs of progress, and, like exclamation points, denote a certain degree of investor excitement.
› Money stops SunRail train from making it to OIA [Orlando Sentinel]
One place the SunRail commuter train will not go when it starts carrying paying customers in May is Orlando International Airport, but officials are trying to come up with a way to make that happen eventually.