The Great Recession officially ended about five years ago. How much has badly bruised Florida come back during this belabored recovery? How far do we have to go? And how have we changed? Government number crunchers recently released new calculations. [Source: Tampa Bay Times]
Integrity Florida, a nonprofit Tallahassee-based research and watchdog group, says millions of dollars in campaign contributions and an army of lobbyists help keep corporate interests ahead of the public interest, and they are calling on lawmakers to make the power companies more transparent and more accountable. [Source: Times/Herald]
» A tale of two states' electricity rates
See also: Energy companies in Florida (a TopRank chart)
Just about everybody knows that college has gotten more expensive, but a comprehensive new analysis reveals that those costs are rising faster for some — mainly the poorest families who already face huge hurdles to higher education. [Source: Miami Herald]
A growing number of investors and entrepreneurs are lining up now to take advantage of a favorable vote on medical marijuana following a court-approved constitutional amendment. Polls currently predict the amendment will pass. If it does, Florida's medical marijuana market within a few years could approach California's, which last year had $980 million in sales. [Source: Sarasota Herald-Tribune]
It's become one of the perennial fights in the Florida Legislature. In one corner: cash-strapped school systems with aging facilities and billions of dollars tied up in debt service. In the other: charter schools looking to build and refurbish facilities of their own. [Source: Tampa Bay Times]
ALSO AROUND FLORIDA:
› Naturally attractive, Miami area is magnet for creative-tech [Miami Herald]
Music, visual arts, film, fashion. With Miami and Miami Beach already a magnet for the creative industries, adding tech should be a natural attraction.
› Former Florida Teacher of Year critical of reforms [Tampa Bay Times]
Florida's 2010 Teacher of the Year has left the state and couldn't be happier. Megan Allen, a one-time national Teacher of the Year finalist, is now a lecturer at Mount Holyoke College in Massachusetts. With her new outsider perspective, Allen said she has found many pitfalls in Florida's system of public education.
› Bahamas luxury developers target South Florida buyers [Miami Herald]
From New Providence, location of the Bahamian capital Nassau, to the outer Family Islands, new hotel and second-home projects are coming out of the ground or are expected to get underway soon. Established properties also are making significant upgrades. Although Florida has its own abundance of sunshine and sand, a number of the new resorts and residential communities are courting Florida residents.
› When retirement pays six figures [Fort Myers News-Press]
More than 550 public employees across the state scheduled to start retiring Tuesday, will receive more than $100,000 a year in pension benefits for the rest of their lives. In addition, when they retire they will, over the previous five years, have accrued a cash benefit averaging $609,000 to be distributed as a lump-sum or rolled over into a qualifying retirement plan.
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› Retail, apartment development booming on UCF's doorstep [Orlando Sentinel]
A wave of development near UCF is transforming the campus community with new restaurants, shops and apartments. A 4 Rivers Smokehouse, a Wawa and resort-style apartments are just the latest signs of how the gateway to the University of Central Florida campus is changing.
› UF Taps Firm To Launch Online Four Year Degree Program [CBS Miami]
In an effort to launch the state’s first fully online four year degree program, the University of Florida will pay the company Pearson Embanet an estimated $186 million over the life of its 11-year contract to set up and manage the program.
› As Beckham presses case in Miami, soccer deals a mixed bag for cities around the country [Miami Herald]
Miami-Dade County plans to charge David Beckham some amount of rent if he builds a Major League Soccer stadium on public land. But across the country, government hasn’t necessarily done well as professional soccer’s landlord.
› Tampa, Manatee ports eye each other warily [Tampa Bay Times]
The ports harbor similar ambitions, chase the same cargoes, pine for the same markets. Both open into Tampa Bay, separated by just a few miles. Yet Port Manatee and Port Tampa Bay could not be further apart. Part of it is natural rivalry. Lately, it has been more personal.