Florida lawmakers just passed a budget. Coronavirus will likely change it.
The virus has already shut down the state’s tourism-dependent economy, which could cost the state billions in sales tax revenues. During a surreal two-hour meeting of the Florida Legislature on Thursday, lawmakers tried to put a good face on the $93.2 billion budget they were about to pass. [Source: Tampa Bay Times]
21 Northeast Florida companies named Florida's fastest growing
Twenty-one Jacksonville area companies landed spots among Florida's 250 fastest-growing companies, a precursor to Inc.'s ranking of the 5,000 fastest-growing companies in the country. This is the first year Inc. has created state-specific rankings of the fastest-growing 250 companies. Rankings are based on growth rate over three years. Of the 21 companies represented from the Jacksonville MSA, 15 were in Duval. [Source: Jacksonville Business Journal]
Florida Trend Exclusive
Breaking the Cycle
Florida Trend’s Editor Mark Howard’s take on how the smartest initiatives address all the root causes of poverty. “There is no shortage of efforts and programs to try to help poor people, but most are oriented toward individuals or families in crisis or focus on a single aspect of poverty — food assistance or helping with childcare, housing or reducing crime, for example.” [Source: Florida Trend]
‘It’s scary.’ Miami members of Congress isolate, want remote votes due to coronavirus
Miami Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart’s positive coronavirus test on Wednesday—he doesn’t know how he contracted it— set off a frenzy among Floridians in Congress, with multiple lawmakers announcing plans to self-quarantine and calls for congressional leaders to implement remote voting. “I have family here and I’m just going to put myself in a different part of the house,” said Miami Rep. Frederica Wilson. “We don’t want to be carriers of the virus and not even know it. Since I found out about Mr. Diaz-Balart, [a positive test] has crossed my mind. It’s scary.” [Source: Miami Herald]
Coronavirus Florida: Publix, Winn-Dixie set senior shopping hours
Two of Florida’s major grocery stores have set aside specific shopping hours for elderly and at-risk customers. Southeastern Grocers, the parent company of Winn-Dixie stores, said Thursday that it would immediately dedicate the 8 a.m. to 9 a.m. hour Monday through Friday for elderly and at-risk shoppers. All pharmacy locations will open at 8 a.m. on weekdays for refills, flu and pneumonia vaccines and customer counseling. Starting March 24, shoppers ages 65 and over will also have exclusive access to Publix stores on Tuesday and Wednesday mornings from 7 a.m. to 8 a.m., the supermarket chain said Thursday. The company’s pharmacy will also open at 7 a.m. on those days to serve the senior population. [Source: Sarasota Herald-Tribune]
ALSO AROUND FLORIDA:
› Miami-Based Carnival Corp. offers cruise ships as temporary hospitals [WTVJ]
Miami-based Carnival Corporation said it will make cruise ships from four of its brands available to serve as temporary hospitals where needed.
› Embry-Riddle offers free online courses for K-12 students [Embry-Riddle]
With K-12 schools closing across the country, aviation institution Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University has ramped up free online course offerings on topics ranging from aeronautics and meteorology, to computer applications, history and more. No-cost options are available for the general public as well as Embry-Riddle employees.
› FSU graduate programs ranked among nation’s best by U.S. News [FSU News]
FSU’s graduate programs in clinical psychology, fine arts, speech-language pathology, real estate and engineering all made significant jumps in U.S. News & World Report’s annual rankings, released March 17.
› State prisons closed to new inmates [Health News Florida]
Florida prisons have temporarily stopped accepting new inmates, a move aimed at preventing the spread of coronavirus in state correctional facilities but that shifts the burden of housing offenders to local officials.
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› Top hotel CEOs seek urgent assistance to keep hotels from shuttering [AHLA]
Hotel leaders attend White House meeting to discuss solutions to protect millions of employees from losing jobs.
› South Florida’s businesses bear burden of helping to save lives during pandemic [WPLG]
Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos Gimenez has been gradually shutting down the local economy to help stop the spread of COVID-19. The only businesses that are allowed to stay open, for now, are grocery stores, pharmacies, gas stations, hardware stores, laundromats, auto repair shops and dealerships with service centers.
› Florida agency will use 150 agents and inspectors to enforce bar, club closures [Tampa Bay Times]
When Gov. Ron DeSantis on Tuesday announced sweeping new restrictions to close bars and night clubs across the state, he directed Florida’s Department of Business and Professional Regulation to enforce the emergency order.
› As coronavirus keeps people home, Central Florida businesses feel immediate impact [WMFE]
Local businesses are already feeling the impact of coronavirus as bars and restaurants shutter and residents stay at home.