Wednesday's Afternoon Update
What you need to know about Florida today
Florida shoppers are buying holiday gifts earlier this year
Florida Retail Federation spokesperson Amanda Bevis says shopping early for holiday gifts has been a growing trend for years. This year, she says retailers are seeing shoppers even earlier than before. "Part of that may be that people are just ready for the holiday season and want to start marking gifts off their list. Another reason for that may be the supply chain disruptions," Bevis says. [Source: WUSF]
Lawmakers look at proposal to address toxic algae
Florida lawmakers Tuesday started moving forward with an effort to direct money in the fight against toxic algae toward long-term solutions and freshwater bodies. The Senate Environment and Natural Resources Committee unanimously backed a proposal (SB 834) by Chairman Jason Brodeur, R-Sanford, that, in part, would require the Department of Environmental Protection to give preference to technologies intended to reduce nitrates and toxins that can spur harmful algae blooms. The technologies also would be aimed at improving freshwater bodies. [Source: News Service of Florida]
Florida still has five SpaceX and ULA missions before the end of this year
Despite a slowdown in Florida's rocket launch cadence in recent months due to supply chain issues and shortages, teams are hoping to squeeze in up to five more missions before the year is out. From a Space Force mission to a resupply run to the International Space Station, both SpaceX and United Launch Alliance have requested time on the Eastern Range this holiday season. NASA's high-profile, multibillion-dollar James Webb Space Telescope is set for launch in mid-December as well, though not from Florida's shores. [Source: Florida Today]
DeSantis’ law enforcement border mission racks up $1.6 million bill
Gov. Ron DeSantis over the summer sent dozens of Florida law enforcement officers and equipment to the southern border in Texas, and racked up a taxpayer-funded bill that so far amounts to at least $1.6 million but is expected to keep growing. The seven-week trip, led by three state agencies, was cast by the Republican governor as a needed measure to beef up security at the border amid the failures of President Joe Biden’s administration, while critics saw the effort as a state-funded political errand used to further DeSantis’ national footprint ahead of a potential 2024 White House bid. [Source: Tampa Bay Times]
Cruise ships just returned to Key West after the COVID shutdown. Are more coming?
Two cruise ships arrived in Key West over the weekend, ending a 20-month absence during the COVID-19 pandemic that brought the industry to a halt. The Crystal Serenity docked Saturday morning at the privately owned Pier B at the Opal Key West Resort and Marina. The smaller Azamara Quest arrived at the nearby city-owned Mallory Pier. The return marked a milestone in Key West, where the relationship between cruise ships and local people is complicated. [Source: Miami Herald]
ALSO AROUND FLORIDA:
› St. Petersburg-based First Home Bank parent debuts on Nasdaq
The parent company of St. Petersburg-based First Home Bank began common stock trading on the Nasdaq Capital Market under the symbol “BAFN” Tuesday. BayFirst Financial Corp. became the only bank holding company headquartered on Florida’s west coast and one of only seven in the state to be Nasdaq listed, according to a news release. Shares were priced at $25.
› Strawberry picking season slowly starts in Central Florida
It’s that delicious time of year. No, not Christmas, but strawberry picking season. Farms across Central Florida will soon be flooded with delicious strawberries that you can pick yourself. One local farm has already opened a few days for picking. Pappy’s Patch U-Pick Strawberries, located in Oviedo, opened its farm Tuesday at 10 a.m. for the first time of the season.
› SCF goes all in on innovation and entrepreneur hub
A small college in Bradenton is turning some of it focus to sparking innovation. The school, State College of Florida, recently renovated its former library into a space meant to inspire budding entrepreneurs and small businesses — a $4.4 million project. Even though the center just celebrated its grand opening at the end of September, the 40,000-square-foot space is already flowing with possibilities.
› Space Coast officiials cautiously optimistic about return of international visitors
International tourists are expected to return to the Space Coast in relatively large numbers during 2022 — as long as there are no surges in COVID-19 cases that would negatively impact travel. Space Coast Office of Tourism Executive Director Peter Cranis said four factors will help bring international travelers there.
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