FloridaTrend.com, the Website for Florida Business

Friday's Daily Pulse

$10 billion in growth for Florida military and defense industry

Spending by the military and defense industry has a $95 billion economic impact in Florida. Gov. Ron DeSantis released the results of the 2020 Florida Military and Defense Economic Impact Study on Thursday. It showed a $10 billion increase in military and defense-related spending since the 2017 study. The defense sector also provides 914,787 jobs in Florida, an increase of 113,040 jobs during the past two years. More from WEAR and Space Coast Daily.

Florida Supreme Court issues setback for Amendment 4 supporters

In a setback to supporters of Amendment 4, the Florida Supreme Court on Thursday sided with Republican lawmakers who have argued that felons must pay back all court-ordered fees, fines and restitution before registering to vote. In a narrow opinion requested by Gov. Ron DeSantis, justices gave their answer on one of the questions at the heart of the historic ballot measure voters passed in 2018. [Source: Tampa Bay Times]

Corporate lobbyists, Florida House write $50 million tax break for a handful of big companies

Working directly with lobbyists representing some of the state’s biggest businesses, the Republican-controlled Florida House of Representatives has written a proposed tax break that could save millions of dollars for a small number of companies. But after the Orlando Sentinel began asking questions about it, the business group that helped draft the tax break -- the Florida Chamber of Commerce -- said it has decided to stop lobbying for the measure. [Source: Orlando Sentinel]

Fungus hits Florida strawberries

Growing organic strawberries has never been easy for Florida farmers, but the task got a lot more challenging in late December, when a fungus called Pestalotiopsis took hold in some of the state’s berry fields. It’s hard to say what the final impact will be industrywide, but as of Jan. 2, Gary Wishnatzki, owner, president and CEO of Plant City, Fla.-based Wish Farms, said he expected to lose at least one-third of the organic strawberries at his G&D Farms operation. [Source: The Packer]

As seas rise, your coastal home in Florida could lose value. One report says 15% by 2030.

Increasing sea rise is going to water down the value of some of the most coveted and expensive real estate in Florida, and insurance rates will go up too. That’s the conclusion of a pair of new reports calculating just how much of an impact climate change will have on Florida’s real estate industry. [Source: Miami Herald]

ALSO AROUND FLORIDA:

› Miami produce trade is en fuego
Miami may be most famous for its sunshine, steamy temps, beautiful beaches, and vibrant culture, but this sizzling city also is a produce powerhouse. Not only do growers across South Florida harvest an array of exotic fruits and vegetables, but international trade is big business for the Magic City.

› Tampa’s fast-growing Peerfit lines up another $10 million in investment
Fast-growing corporate wellness company Peerfit on Thursday filed details of its latest $10 million in investment, and most of the money is coming from two investors who know the Tampa startup well. Joining together to lead Peerfit’s latest round of fundraising are Tampa Bay Lightning owner Jeff Vinik, who led a round of investment totaling nearly $10 million two years ago, and Virgo Investment Group, based in northern California, which led an $18 million round last year.

› Jacksonville-based Pet Paradise plans 5 new sites
Pet Paradise announced it is expanding its footprint with five new properties, now close to 50 in operation or under development nationwide. The Jacksonville-based pet care provider offers boarding, day camp, grooming and veterinary services, “We continue to expand in high-growth markets throughout the country and expect to close on an additional eight to 10 sites in 2020,” said Pet Paradise President and CEO Fernando Acosta-Rua.

› Smugglers nabbed nearly 6,000 protected turtles from Florida to be sold as pets in China
Smugglers snatched 5,581 protected turtles from Florida and shipped them to Hong Kong, so the reptiles could be resold as pets in China, authorities say. One of the turtle thieves even joked that his turtle-poacher friend was so greedy, he had purloined a substantial part of the turtle population from Southeast Florida, prosecutors said. The men sent the turtles in at least 16 shipments abroad over the course of three years.

Go to page 2 for more stories ...

› Florida Aquarium celebrates 25 years by announcing new projects
The Florida Aquarium is celebrating 25 years in business with new projects and growth. The aquarium opened its doors on March 31, 1995. “The last 25 years have given us plenty of reasons to celebrate," said Roger Germann, President and CEO of The Florida Aquarium. “Today we ask, ‘What’s Next?’ The investment we are making in our Aquarium is an investment in Tampa Bay as a cultural attraction, an economic driver, a conservation leader, a pillar of the community, and a fun place to visit."

› Year ends with strong Jacksonville office space market
Jacksonville’s office space market in 2019 ended on a robust note, according to figures provided by Colliers International. There was a 10.7-percent office lease availability rate at the close of 2019. “This is the lowest availability rate our experts have ever seen in the Jacksonville office market,” Colliers said.

› Florida lawmakers weigh stiffer penalties for bear poaching
Florida lawmakers are considering stiffer penalties for killing bears, which were once imperiled but now a growing nuisance in some areas. While it's still illegal to hunt bears in the state, some lawmakers want to increase fines and other penalties because of poaching.

› Miami Beach cracking down on restaurant scams
Miami Beach has beautiful sunshine, captivating people and a fun vibe — all of which help draw 23.3 million visitors to Greater Miami each year. But certain parts of the city have developed a reputation for bars and restaurants that allegedly rip off tourists with bait-and-switch tactics, and local authorities are starting to crack down.