April 24, 2024

Tuesday's Daily Pulse

What you need to know about Florida today

| 2/20/2024

Less visitors traveled to Florida in 2023

Visitors to Florida last year fell short of 2022’s record numbers, as a post-pandemic rebound in international travelers couldn’t overcome a noticeable drop-off in domestic tourism late in the year. The Visit Florida tourism-marketing agency Friday reported that Florida had an estimated 135.02 million tourists in 2023, down from 137.4 million in 2022. Visit Florida, however, pointed to increases from 2019, the last year before the COVID-19 pandemic disrupted global travel, and improved international tourist numbers. More from the News Service of Florida and NBC Miami.

New or retooled Cape Canaveral launch pads considered for SpaceX Starship

The Department of Defense is looking for a new home for SpaceX’s Starship launching the process to determine what the environmental impact would be to allow the world’s most powerful rocket to launch from the Space Coast. Led by the U.S. Air Force, which includes the Space Force, but working with NASA, the Federal Aviation Administration and the U.S. Coast Guard, what is officially called an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) has the most rigorous requirements when weighing the detriments a project might have on its surroundings. [Source: Orlando Sentinel]

In the ‘Gunshine State,’ Florida lawmakers say too many kids are packing heat

Both the House and Senate are moving forward with proposals that would make a minor’s first illegal possession of a firearm a third-degree felony instead of a first-degree misdemeanor. The legislation also increases the amount of time a child could have to spend in detention. The full Florida House will hear the bill on Wednesday. More from the Tampa Bay Times and the Miami Herald.

Florida retirement community uses virtual reality. Here’s what seniors think.

John Knox Village was one of 17 senior communities around the country that participated in a recently published Stanford University study that found that large majorities of 245 participants between 65 and 103 years old enjoyed virtual reality, improving both their emotions and their interactions with staff. [Source: AP]

$10,000 grant to stormproof your home won’t be ‘first come, first served’ anymore

Looks like the free money party is over for many Florida households. The popular My Safe Florida Home program is expected to resume taking applications on July 1, but many homeowners might find it more difficult to secure grants of up to $10,000 for such improvements as hardening windows and doors and replacing roofs to improve water and uplift resistance. [Source: Tampa Bay Times]

ALSO AROUND FLORIDA:

› This Palm Beach County city is betting on pickleball's popularity to make it 'a destination'
A private pickleball complex will do more for Greenacres than redevelop 5 abandoned acres along Haverhill Road, Mayor Joel Flores said. "This makes us a destination," Flores said after the City Commission voted Feb. 5 to approve The Pickleball Club's plans for a 19-court complex. "It will be a place that people beyond Greenacres will come and visit." Friendly to all ages, pickleball is a mix of tennis, table tennis and badminton and is considered one of the fastest-growing sports in the United States.

› Sarasota business task force tackles childcare crisis, as state bill offers hope
Amid an escalating crisis in childcare, local leaders are looking for novel solutions within the business community as they keep a close eye on a proposed state bill that could help thousands of families and employers impacted by the problem. “That is going to be a big game changer for us, if we can get that passed,” said Brittany Lamont – who heads the new Childcare Business Task Force.

› NeoCity nabbed a half-billion in federal funds. But its impact on Osceola County is years away.
Since late 2022, NeoCity — a collection of multiple, fledgling tech firms — has laid claim to an impressive half-billion dollars in federal funding. It’s created nearly 100 jobs and is on pace for 200+ within its first five years of operation. Still, a full-scale chip manufacturing effort, and the thousands or even tens of thousands of jobs that would bring, is not yet on the horizon.

› St. Petersburg leaders raise idea to break off from Duke for utilities
Two members of the St. Petersburg City Council have raised the idea of breaking off from Duke Energy to form a municipal utility, a potential major shift that would alter who is in charge of the city’s electricity.  It’s been 30 years since the last time the city renewed that contract.

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