December 4, 2020

Tuesday's Daily Pulse

What you need to know about Florida today

| 11/17/2020

Fewer Floridians traveling for Thanksgiving

Travel over Thanksgiving will slump to a three-year low in Florida as more people choose to celebrate at home during the coronavirus pandemic. An estimated 2.8 million Floridians will travel during the Thanksgiving holiday next week, down by 150,000, or 5.4%, from last year, according to AAA. Air travel in Florida is forecast to plunge by 44% during the Wednesday-through-Sunday holiday. And those projections could be optimistic, AAA says, as wary Floridians monitor the public health landscape. [Source: Sarasota Herald-Tribune]

Post election wrap-up: Local tax referenda in Florida

On November 3, 2020, Floridians went to the polls (or voted by mail) to elect the next President of the United States, voted on numerous state and local races, and decided the fate of six proposed amendments to the Florida Constitution. As if that were not enough, voters across the state had to consider more than 200 local referenda, including some significant tax increases. Proving that 2018 was not a fluke, voters in many Florida counties again voted to raise their taxes in 2020. This taxpayer generosity follows the primary and general elections of 2018, where 22 counties passed 26 sales and property taxes worth $1.5 billion. [Source: Florida TaxWatch]

Multiple national franchise brands plan Florida expansion

Franchises are flourishing in Florida — and 2021 could be an even bigger expansion year for several national entities in the state and region. The list of franchisors targeting the Sunshine State ranges from upstart restaurant chains to a swimming lesson provider to a flooring company. Yet the projected growth comes at a contradictory time. In February, right before COVID-19, Florida ranked No. 2 nationally in franchise economic output growth, according to a survey from the International Franchise Association. Florida’s franchise-based businesses produced an economic output of $63.5 billion in fiscal 2020, up 5.3% from $60.2 billion in 2019, second in growth rate behind Texas. [Source: Business Observer]

'Keep calm and carry on': Lockdown unlikely as Florida sees spike in COVID-19 cases

As COVID-19 rates spike across the country, many states are imposing new shutdowns, restrictions and mask mandates to combat the spread of the virus. Though Florida is among the 47 states experiencing an uptick in COVID-19 infections, it's unlikely that Governor Ron DeSantis will respond with the types of restrictions implemented last spring. In September, DeSantis pledged to "never do any of these lockdowns again." [Source: WOFL]

Fried calls for halting new toll roads to help with COVID-19 budget crunch

Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried wants the state to put the brakes on a series of news toll road projects as lawmakers face budget shortfalls caused by the coronavirus pandemic. Three Department of Transportation task forces sent a report to lawmakers about the projects, including recommending a need for more economic and environmental-impact studies before the projects are built from Collier County in Southwest Florida to Jefferson County near the Georgia border. [Source: Orlando Sentinel]


› Despite pandemic odds, South Florida van vacation rental company amid successful comeback
Business is booming for South Florida’s van vacation rental company Ondevan as more and more locals seek auto escapes. When COVID hit, Ondevan’s original clients — international tourists — disappeared, eliminating all bookings. Eight months later, about 80% of the company’s vacation vans are booked — almost reaching pre-pandemic levels.

› Jacksonville Civic Council backs Lot J development 'with conditions'
The influential Jacksonville Civic Council on Monday gave its backing "with conditions" to the Lot J development that Jaguars owner Shad Khan and The Cordish Companies want to build with up to $233 million in taxpayer backing. "As Ross Perot once famously said, the devil is in the details," Civic Council Chairman John Delaney and organization CEO Jeanne Miller wrote in a letter delivered Monday to council members.

› Port of Pensacola to be featured in national TV show
The Port of Pensacola will soon be featured on the national television series "World's Greatest." The show highlights the port as one of the premier and most historic deep-water ports in the world. The "World's Greatest" episode will air on Monday, Nov. 23 and Monday, Dec. 7.

› Just like the famous London Eye, Miami gets its own mega Ferris wheel for sightseeing
Downtown Miami’s skyline has a major new $18 million player. The Skyviews Miami Observation Wheel debuted recently at the Bayside Marketplace. The 200-foot high Ferris wheel — or observation wheel, as it’s known in the tourism biz — allows you to take in spectacular views of Biscayne Bay and the city’s skyline. There are 42 climate-controlled gondolas with music and video features.

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