Photo: Tampa Bay Times
Monday's Daily Pulse
What you need to know about Florida today
Florida saw a pandemic coming and prepared. Then state leaders started to cut.
Fifteen years ago, Florida braced for a pandemic. Officials knew as early as 2005 that an outbreak could devastate the state and infect much of the population. They wrote reports predicting a crisis remarkably similar to the one playing out now: a virus that could infect more than a million Florida residents. And they responded in force, bolstering the state health department with resources and specialized workers to combat a potential crisis. But that operation was dismantled by governors and lawmakers more worried about the bottom line. [Source: Tampa Bay Times]
Florida Trend Exclusive
Florida Icon: Quint Studer
The health care executive, philanthropist, author, cand ommunity consultant tells us: "In leadership, you have to be able to handle failure, and you have to be very resilient, and I think having a speech impediment really has had a huge impact on me and helped me be more resilient and able to handle some failure." [Source: Florida Trend]
Small business loan program hits roadblocks as banks write their own rules
Small businesses depending on promised federal money to keep them afloat are now finding themselves locked out of much-needed support, thanks to bureaucratic government tangles and confusion at the banks designated as conduits for the stimulus support. As a result, many small businesses in desperate need of cash are unsure when they’ll receive their funds. [Source: Miami Herald]
Florida electric utilities cutting bills temporarily
The state’s largest utilities such as Duke Energy and Florida Power & Light Co. and some municipal utilities such as Mount Dora’s are reducing power bills temporarily in response to the COVID-19 hit on the economy. Participating utilities are able to do so by tapping cash put aside as a result of relatively lower costs for natural gas that runs electric generators. [Source: Orlando Sentinel]
AutoNation furloughs 7,000 and cuts executive pay
AutoNation can’t sell cars if its customers stay home to avoid the corona virus, so the Fort Lauderdale-based auto dealer giant is furloughing 7,000 employees, imposing a hiring freeze and drastically cutting the pay of top executives. Management disclosed the decisions Friday in a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission and suggested it could not continue paying its current expenses after year-over-year sales plunged by 50%. [Source: South Florida Sun-Sentinel]
ALSO AROUND FLORIDA:
› Someone bought the prized $20K bourbon Tampa’s Datz was selling — for $40K
Remember the 25-year-old Old Rip Van Winkle bourbon that Tampa restaurant Datz put up for sale last week to help its staff during the coronavirus pandemic? Well ... someone has taken the $20,000 bottle of Pappy Van Winkle off the market — for twice the asking price.
› Medical supplier to expand in Pasco County
Soule Medical, a maker of disposable foam and other surgical products, plans to expand its operations here with a new 106,000-square-foot manufacturing plant and warehouse. The company filed plans with Pasco County last week to construct the building in the ComPark 75 industrial and office park, southwest of the Interstate 75 interchange at County Road 54.
› Florida salon owners and nail artists feeling the pain
Hair salons, nail salons, spas and eyelash and massage studios are not mentioned in Gov. Ron DeSantis’ Wednesday executive order of “essential” businesses, which allows entities like restaurants, grocery stores, gas stations, golf courses and dry cleaners to remain open but shuts down everything “non-essential.” But even before any government guidance was issued, many personal care businesses decided to close on their own.
› Ballet commits to financially support dancers through COVID-19
The Sarasota Ballet has committed to financially supporting its dancers through the COVID-19 crisis. With six weeks until the end of The Sarasota Ballet’s season, on March 17, the dancers were informed the rest of the season had been cancelled due to the coronavirus, according to a press release.
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