Florida Trend | Florida's Business Authority

Friday's Daily Pulse

Florida costs for contact tracing services skyrocket

Florida’s ongoing struggle to slow the spread of the COVID-19 virus through contact tracing is getting far more costly to taxpayers. In less than three months, Florida’s $6 million contract with Virginia-based government contractor, Maximus Inc., has ballooned to $50 million and could reach up to $75 million according to a Maximus spokesperson. [Source: WFLX]

Goodbye, Big Apple. Billionaire Carl Icahn relocates headquarters to the Miami area.

Billionaire Carl Icahn has moved his headquarters from New York to Sunny Isles Beach. Icahn, the founder and majority shareholder of the conglomerate Icahn Enterprises, relocated his firm from the General Motors Building in Manhattan to the 14-story Milton Tower in Sunny Isles Beach. More from the Miami Herald and the New York Post.

Eviction and foreclosure hearings will be held virtually, raising questions over whether that’s fair

With eviction and foreclosure filings expected to start pouring into Florida courts, the way hearings will be conducted is going to be vastly different than before the coronavirus pandemic upended normal life. Under an emergency order from the state’s Supreme Court that largely suspended in-person proceedings, renters and homeowners will plead their cases not from inside a courtroom but, in most situations, in front of a computer screen. [Source: Orlando Sentinel]

U.S. suspends private charter flights to Cuba. Some flights to Havana are authorized.

In the middle of a pandemic, the United States suspended private charter flights to Cuba as a measure to increase pressure and cut off funds going to the Cuban government, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced Thursday. “I requested that the Department of Transportation suspend private charter flights to all Cuban airports, including Havana,” Pompeo said in a statement. [Source: Miami Herald]

Negative review didn’t doom unemployment website vendor’s bid for a new $110 million Florida contract

Florida’s health care agency forged ahead with a deal to give a consultant a nine-figure deal to revamp its Medicaid system despite warnings from another agency that the company had bungled the state’s unemployment website. The Florida Agency for Health Care Administration announced last week it intends to hire Deloitte Consulting for a multiyear project worth at least $110 million. That decision outraged laid-off workers who had spent weeks trying to get their benefits through the dysfunctional CONNECT website Deloitte designed. [Source: Orlando Sentinel]


› Should Florida host campaign rallies this fall? Republicans, Democrats are split
President Donald Trump won’t be coming to Jacksonville this month for the Republican National Convention. As for whether he should hold any rallies in Florida before election day? Floridians are split on what they’d like to see. Eighty-eight percent of Florida residents say campaign rallies in the state should be limited in scope this fall, according to a survey released Thursday by the University of South Florida.

› Florida Blue upgrades could reach $45 million
Florida Blue continues to renovate the office buildings at its Deerwood Park campus in an investment that could top $45 million, although COVID-19 is delaying work on the remaining two structures. The city is reviewing a permit application for a $5.3 million renovation of Building 800 at the insurer’s 100-acre property at 4800 Deerwood Campus Parkway.

› SeaWorld security guards want to form theme park’s first union
SeaWorld security guards are seeking to form the first union at the Orlando theme park. First, they need an election date to vote on it. The 65 security guards at the park are waiting for the National Labor Relations Board to schedule an election, a process that has been slowed down by the coronavirus pandemic, said David Hickey, president for SPFPA, or the International Union, Security, Police and Fire Professionals of America that would represent the SeaWorld employees.

› Tamarac supports businesses during COVID-19 with ‘buy local’ campaign, grants
The city of Tamarac recently launched efforts to support businesses during COVID-19. It began the Tamarac Together: Support Local Business campaign in late July and recently announced a Small Business Stabilization Grant program that offers $5,000 grants to eligible small businesses. Using CARES Act emergency funds, the city is accepting grant applications Monday, Aug. 24 to Friday, Aug. 28.

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› Sarasota technology company to acquire firm for $5.35 billion
Diversified technology company Roper Technologies Inc. has reached a definitive agreement to acquire Vertafore in an all-cash transaction valued at approximately $5.35 billion. Sarasota-based Roper anticipates funding the transaction using its cash on hand, revolving credit facility and new debt, according to a press release.

› ‘Getting Down To The Wire’: Census Workers Hit South Florida Streets As Deadline Looms
Census workers hit the streets this week, heading to homes that have not filled out the census. The deadline to respond is the end of September. In South Florida, response has been low. It’s at just 58% in Miami-Dade. The numbers aren’t much better in Broward, where it’s at 59%, and in the Keys, where it’s just shy of 44% filled out the census.

› AMC, Regal to reopen theaters next week, including Tampa Bay screens
AMC Theatres, the nation’s largest movie chain, is reopening next week, including five locations in the Tampa Bay area on Aug. 20, with 15-cent movies for opening day. And Regal Cinemas, the second largest chain, is to reopen some U.S. locations on Aug. 21, including movie theaters in Pinellas Park, Largo and Tampa.

› Red Lobster faces its ‘most challenging time,’ as big loan payment looms amid pandemic
Orlando-based Red Lobster is facing the “most challenging time” in its history during the coronavirus pandemic, CEO Kim Lopdrup says, at the same time that outside analysts worry about a looming $355 million loan the company has due next summer.