Wednesday's Afternoon Update
What you need to know about Florida today
Hemp holds promise and problems for Florida's timber industry
Hurricane Michael destroyed about 72-million tons of Florida’s timber, an estimated $1.3 billion impact. Though Michael has long passed, a new storm is on the horizon-- hemp. Loggers, mills and other livelihoods depend on trees and don’t want growers to plant something else. Florida is allowing the growth of hemp following a new law from the last legislative session. The highly versatile plant and marijuana relative lacks the high but has many uses. More from WPTV.
Tourism booms across Panhandle
Gulf Coast officials say the 2019 tourist season is shaping up to be a big one. The latest bed tax numbers as of Tuesday showed annual increases in Walton, Okaloosa and Santa Rosa counties. A lodging fee charged only to short-term visitors, bed tax is a clear indicator of tourism and plays a crucial role in a county’s development. According to David Demarest, communications director for the Walton Tourist Development Council, tourists spent more than $450,000 this May than last. More from the Northwest Florida Daily News.
Orlando tech firms get boost as Tampa investment fund expands
A Tampa-based investment firm will expand into Orlando, potentially providing local tech companies a new option when they seek funding. SeedFunders, which started in early 2018 as a way to attract more tech companies to Tampa and St. Petersburg, recently launched SeedFundersOrlando. More from the Orlando Sentinel.
Florida’s legislative leaders got richer last year
Florida legislative leaders don’t appear to have had financial hardships as they took charge of the House and Senate last year. House Speaker Jose Oliva, R-Miami Lakes, posted an 11.3 percent increase in his net worth as of Dec. 31, while Senate President Bill Galvano, R-Bradenton, recorded a 6 percent increase, according to financial-disclosure reports filed with the Florida Commission on Ethics. More from the Tampa Bay Times.
Opposition rises against potential shark fishing ban at Venice pier
If the city of Venice goes forward with a plan to ban shark fishing from both the Venice Municipal Fishing Pier and the three-miles of beach within city limits, it will likely face citizen backlash and a possible lawsuit. The fishermen may also publish a list of businesses, including local Realtors, that do business in the city and recommend a boycott. More from the Sarasota Herald-Tribune.
Knight Foundation’s Alberto Ibargüen receives top Beacon Council award
The Miami-Dade Beacon Council awarded Knight Foundation president and CEO Alberto Ibargüen with the Jay Malina Leadership award last week, recognizing him with its highest honor for promoting informed, engaged communities in Miami. Ibargüen has been head of Knight since 2005. During his tenure, Ibargüen has overseen Knight’s shift from supporting journalism to also transforming cities by bringing together cities and neighborhoods.
» More from the Miami Herald.
Freebee, the Miami-born on-demand service that gives free short-distance rides to travelers across three South Florida counties, will add a fourth county and at least one more Miami-Dade municipality to its service area this year, Managing Partner Jason Spiegel said. On July 22, he said, Freebee and Palmetto Bay will announce that the company’s vehicles will soon start rolling on the village’s streets – the southernmost service area yet for the company in Miami-Dade.
» Read more from Miami Today.
In case you missed it: