October 3, 2022

Thursday's Daily Pulse

What you need to know about Florida today

| 6/16/2022

How expensive has food gotten? See how the costs of grocery items have changed in Florida

Increasing prices are hitting nearly every consumer category, but your bill at the grocery store may be more painful than anything else except gas and energy. In southeastern states — the region that includes Florida — the cost of grocery items overall has increased nearly 12% over the past year, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Some food categories are being hit harder than others. Meat, poultry, fish and eggs have seen the sharpest year-over-year increase with a 14.2% jump. The average cost of 16-oz bag of potato chips in the south has increased by more than a dollar since February 2019. [Source: South Florida Sun-Sentinel]

The state of black businesses in Florida two years after the shutdown

It’s been two years since businesses had to shut down because of the pandemic, and that hit many black businesses pretty hard. WMFE’s Talia Blake spoke with Glen Gilzean, the president and CEO of the Central Florida Urban League, about how black businesses are doing now. Black business are still in challenging times, according to Glen Gilzean. “UC Santa Barbara put out a report at the beginning of the pandemic that showed that 40% of African American businesses closed,” said Gilzean. “And when you look at the disparities of the number of African American businesses that received the PPP loans, that number was very small.” [Source: WMFE]

As tourists flock to Central Florida this summer, experts fear COVID surge

As tourism skyrockets in Orange County, there’s another trend that isn’t something to celebrate: COVID-19 cases have been creeping up for months in Central Florida, health experts say. Visit Orlando officials have previously told the Orlando Sentinel they expect this summer’s tourism numbers to nearly reach pre-pandemic levels. Epidemiologists such as Aileen Marty, professor of infectious diseases at Florida International University, have said they also expect COVID-19 cases to increase over the summer. [Source: Orlando Sentinel]

Election 2022: Candidate qualifying period for Florida elections ends Friday

Potential mid-term matchups are taking shape as this year’s candidate qualifying period gets underway. Anyone planning to run this fall has until Friday to submit their paperwork. The biggest change this year involves Florida’s congressional districts. Earlier this month the state supreme court essentially locked in a map backed by governor DeSantis that would dramatically change several North Florida districts. One of the most closely-watched races could involve two incumbents. [Source: WJXT]

How the bipartisan gun deal in the Senate could affect Florida

A rare bipartisan gun reform deal struck by a group of U.S. senators following the mass shooting in Texas that killed 21, could bring less change to Florida than other states. It’s unclear what the bill will look like in its final form, if passed. But as the deal stands now, according to the Senators involved, a key provision mirrors an existing Florida “red flag” gun law, passed after the 2018 Parkland school shooting that killed 17. [Source: Tampa Bay Times]


› Another Florida homeowners insurance company goes under
Saddled with financial losses and lacking reinsurance for this year’s hurricane season, another Florida property-insurance company is headed toward receivership. The Florida Department of Financial Services late Monday filed a petition in Leon County circuit court to be appointed as a receiver for Southern Fidelity Insurance Co. The petition described Southern Fidelity, which has about 78,000 policies in Florida, as “insolvent.”

› Sarasota area job growth is fastest in nation for mid-sized markets
Sarasota-Bradenton's economic recovery from COVID-19 has been the strongest of any mid-sized metro area in the U.S., and local stakeholders are ready to make the most of it. According to an analysis of U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics data by Alabama-based Filterbuy, employment in the North Port-Sarasota-Bradenton metropolitan area grew by 7.1% between March 2020 and March 2022, the largest growth in employment of any mid-sized market in the U.S.

› Tampa beverage company raises $70M, attains $1B valuation
Cirkul, a Tampa beverage company that makes environmentally friendly flavor cartridges and reusable water bottles, has raised $70 million in a Series C round led by SC Holdings, a New York private equity firm. According to a news release, Cirkul — founded in 2018 by Garrett Waggoner and Andy Gay while they were students at Dartmouth College — has also reached a pre-money valuation of $1 billion.

› Orlando Science center lands NASA grant for Grand Avenue STEM project  
Orlando Science Center has received a three-year $795,000 grant from NASA that will be used to implement STEM engagement with youth in underserved Orlando communities. The science center has created Neighborhood Services, which will provide education in after-school programs and community centers. It will begin with a STEM lab in the Grand Avenue Community Center in the Holden Heights area.

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