A year after Michael, Florida community still in crisis
A year after Hurricane Michael, the Florida county hardest hit by the Category 5 storm is still in crisis: Thousands in Bay County are homeless, medical care and housing are at a premium, domestic violence has become a problem and severely diminished mental health services are overwhelmed with backlogs.
Michael, among the strongest hurricanes ever to make landfall in the United States, barreled onto the Florida Panhandle on Oct. 10, 2018, with 160 mph (257 kph) winds, ripping homes from their foundations, flattening others and utterly devastating Tyndall Air Force Base, home to 11,000 airmen. It left 22,000 of Bay County's then-180,000 residents homeless and resulted in total insured losses of almost $7 billion. [Source: Daily Herald]
State ponders workers' compensation rate cut
Florida's insurance commissioner is considering whether to sign off on an average 5.4 percent reduction in workers' compensation insurance rates despite an ongoing debate about the effects of a state Supreme Court ruling that allowed higher attorney fees in workers' compensation legal battles.
A 2016 ruling, in a case known as Castellanos v. Next Door Company, tossed out a restrictive cap on what attorneys for injured workers could be paid. [Source: WJXT]
'Grandkids-on-demand' startup raises $10M
Papa, a technology platform that connects seniors with college students who can help them complete tasks, announced the close of its Series A funding round.
The Miami-based startup secured $10 million in investments led by Silicon Valley-area venture capital firm Canaan.
Seattle-based Pivotal Ventures, an investment firm created by Melinda Gates, also joined in the round. Los Angeles-based Sound Ventures and Silicon Valley's Y Combinator reinvested in the company as well, according to a Wednesday announcement from the companies. [Source: South Florida Business Journal]
Gov. DeSantis, Enterprise Florida bring back commercial property search tool
“Find It Florida! is a robust, public database for viewing and uploading available commercial building and site properties across the state. The relaunch includes updates to the functionality of the site and a new layer featuring Opportunity Zones,” the governor’s office noted. [Source: Florida Daily]
The number of apartments in South Florida is up. Does that mean rents are dropping?
Luxury rentals will likely take longer to lease. But the demand for moderate and workforce housing will likely continue to grow, according to a new report by Berkadia, which specializes in multifamily and commercial realty services.
Rents rose by just 1.8% in the tri-county area in the third quarter of 2019, according to Berkadia’s latest South Florida Multifamily report. In comparison, rents rose by 2.8% in the third quarter of 2018.
The slowdown makes sense, said Charles Foschini, senior managing director and co-leader for Berkadia, given the increased number of units in the market, which covers Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach counties. “There’s competition for a renter pool that is vibrant but selective. [Source: Miami Herald]
ALSO AROUND FLORIDA:
› Tampa tech startup CoLabs raises $6.2 million [Tampa Bay Times]
The company makes an AI-enabled software tool that’s been adopted by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Rays and Lightning.
› SpaceX to launch 2nd batch of satellites from Cape Canaveral [Orlando Business Journal]
SpaceX plans to take its next step this month in building a constellation of satellites capable of providing high-speed internet around the world.
› Florida cities dominate best places to retire list, report says [WOGX]
Maybe it's the sun, sand, or Disney World, but Orlando is one of the top cities in the entire country to retire, according to the U.S. News & World Report list of Best Places to Retire in the U.S. Nine Florida cities came in the Top 25, including The City Beautiful, which ranked 22nd.
› 23 percent of Hurricane Dorian insurance claims came from South Florida [South Florida SunSentinel]
Hundreds of South Floridians filed insurance claims for damage from Hurricane Dorian— even though it didn’t make landfall in the state and barely had tropical storm force winds.
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› Guides, chamber object to water-entry fee [The Key West Citizen]
A regulatory squall over boating fees imposed in Florida Bay waters of Everglades National Park has not abated.
› Commentary: Bad deal by Groveland jeopardizes water supply [Orlando Sentinel]
This is a tale about what bad public management looks like — not to mention what it costs — when a community wants something so badly that it goes outside the bounds of good judgment to get it.
› Palm Beach Gardens OKs $43 million indoor rec facility [Palm Beach Post]
The new facility, which still requires county approval, will be built at The Gardens North County District Park.