Wednesday's Daily Pulse
What you need to know about Florida today
Florida gig workers wait on state for federal jobless aid
A huge swath of Florida’s workforce continue to be stuck in limbo as state officials establish a new system that would allow gig workers and other independent contractors to collect weekly $600 checks promised by the federal government in the wake of the coronavirus outbreak. The Florida Department of Economic Opportunity, which operates the state's unemployment system, has been under pressure to revamp its online benefits application portal — which officials have acknowledged was ill equipped to handle the deluge of applications. More from the AP and Bay News 9.
Farmers gamble on blueberry season in Florida
It’s short-but-sweet blueberry season in Florida. “It’s a gamble every year” says Stephen Gran, Hillsborough County Extension Director, as farmers bet on a good growing season plus a profitable market. Florida blueberry plants are a variety called southern highbush, as opposed to northern highbush grown north of the state. They’re characterized by a sweet, large berry with a silvery blush, and require fewer hours of chilling, so they’re able to tolerate Florida’s heat and mild winters. [Source: WUSF]
Fort Lauderdale restaurant sues insurer over failure to pay business interruption claim
Owners of Fort Lauderdale restaurant IT! Italy Ristorante Café & Bar filed suit Monday against global insurance giant Chubb Limited and its subsidiary Westchester Surplus Lines over the insurer’s failure to pay a business COVID-19-related interruption claim. The suit by the restaurant’s parent company, Cafe International Holding Company LLC, is an opening salvo in what insurance experts predict be a long, hard legal fight by businesses across the nation that might have to be resolved in the U.S. Supreme Court. [Source: South Florida Sun-Sentinel]
Meet the people who will help Gov. DeSantis decide how to re-open Florida for business
Amid growing unemployment claims, Gov. Ron DeSantis has tasked a group of state elected leaders, county mayors and officials from businesses including Disney World and Universal to help shape the plan to re-open the Sunshine State for business after the coronavirus pandemic. While officials say the statewide stay-at-home order and social distancing are working to flatten the curve -- a decrease in new cases and deaths -- of the respiratory illness Florida’s death toll reached 839 on Tuesday. [Source: Click Orlando]
Changes to Florida’s bridge loan program allowed some businesses to get multiple loans while 37,000 received nothing
Changes made to the program before the coronavirus outbreak that allowed business owners to ask for more than the typical $50,000 maximum and apply for multiple loans. In fact, just 170 businesses received $20,579,000, state figures show. About 100 of the loans that were given out were for more than $50,000, totaling about $10 million. That translates into an additional $5,150,000 that could have gone to other businesses if a $50,000 cap had been enforced. [Source: Orlando Sentinel]
ALSO AROUND FLORIDA:
› All plop, no fizz: Miami’s event companies, workers can’t get relief
As Congress bickers over when and how to get out additional stimulus money to state governments, hospitals and businesses, Alexsandar Salé has a message: You forgot about us. His company Funkshion Productions is a well-known and indispensable part of Miami Beach’s fashion scene. It puts on an annual swimwear show on Miami Beach, but it also does a lot of the build-out work for a range of fashion-related and charity events at beach-area hotels, sporting events and conferences.
› Tampa-based Kforce’s first-quarter revenues grow to $335 million
Professional staffing firm Kforce said Monday its revenues for the first quarter of 2020 were in line with its expectations despite the headwinds created by the COVID-19 pandemic. The company reported $335 million in first-quarter revenues — up from $327 million the same quarter last year — and earnings of 42 cents per share.
› Orange tourist tax projected to drop by nearly $100 M followed by slow recovery
The coronavirus pandemic will cost Orange County $100 million in anticipated tourist taxes this year, possibly a lot more, according to the county financial chief. The projections outlined Tuesday by Randy Singh, deputy county administrator for financial services, aren’t worst-case scenarios. “It could even get worse depending on what happens over the next seven months,” he said.
› Hertz cuts 10,000 employees amid coronavirus pandemic
As the hurt continues from the coronavirus pandemic, Hertz has been forced to let go thousands of employees. In a regulatory filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission Monday, Hertz Global Holdings, headquartered in Estero, reported workforce reductions in all departments affecting about 10,000 employees across the United States.
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