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Virgin Cruises

Virgin Voyages, the Virgin brand cruise company [“Virgin Berths,” May 2016], opened its Plantation headquarters. It employs 80 but expects to hire 125 more this year and eventually 400 at the office. It will base its first ship, capable of carrying 2,700 passengers, at PortMiami in 2020.


Tampa International Airport has opened its 2.6-million-sq.- ft. rental car building, which includes counter space, vehicle parking, maintenance facilities and covered pickup and drop-off areas. The airport also unveiled its new SkyConnect shuttle, which will transport passengers more than a mile between the new facility and the main terminal. The rental car building is one of a slew of construction projects, costing as much as $2 billion.

Port Debt Upgrade

Moody’s in December raised its outlook on the Port of Palm Beach’s debt to positive from stable and continued its Baa3 rating. Moody’s says the port’s finances improved because of a successful contract renewal with its largest customer, Tropical Shipping, and improving margins. The port gets a second, Bahamas-Palm Beach cruise ship this year. A “small port” in Moody’s classification system, the port gets most of its revenue from just a few tenants and commodities and sits in the highly competitive South Florida market. Its small scale makes it vulnerable in weak economic times, Moody’s says.

Big Bridge

Construction won’t start for another two years, but plans are underway to build an eight-lane span to replace the outdated, nearly 60-year-old Howard Frankland Bridge, which connects Tampa with St. Petersburg across Tampa Bay. The new bridge is projected to open by 2024. The project’s overall cost: $750 million.

Trucker Alert

The Florida Department of Transportation plans to launch a new service that lets truckers know in real time how many open parking spots are available at rest stops. The program, rolled out near Jacksonville, will be installed statewide, making Florida the first to go statewide with the system.

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Tags: Economic Backbone


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