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Wednesday's Afternoon Update

Forgivable COVID loans for Florida businesses are available again

Is your business still struggling because of COVID-19? Applications are live for a fresh round of Paycheck Protection Program loans worth more than $284 billion for businesses that need help paying their bills. Those who received funds in the first-go-around last year can reapply starting Wednesday if they meet select criteria. More from the Miami Herald.

What would Biden rejoining the Paris Agreement mean for Florida?

President-elect Joe Biden has vowed that one of his first priorities after taking office Jan. 20 will be to get the United States back in the Paris Agreement, a global pact to slow climate change. Practically speaking, the move is little more than a signal of collaboration to the rest of the world after President Donald Trump left the accord. But its message should guide the nation’s energy policy, environmental advocates say, potentially spurring investments in technology like electric cars and solar power. In Florida, that could mean key changes for a state imperiled by rising heat and seas but that has been slow to act on those threats. More from the Tampa Bay Times.

Amazon makes plans to build new 'last-mile' facility in Jackson County

Jackson County will be part of Amazon's massive expansion plans to build small operation hubs as the global e-commerce giant is slated to build a new last-mile delivery site in Marianna. Last year, media reports detailed the company's plans to open 1,000 small delivery hubs in cities and suburbs all over the U.S., according to people familiar with the plans, Bloomberg News reported. More from the Tallahassee Democrat.

Jacksonville City Council rejects deal to fund Jaguars' Lot J development

The Jacksonville City Council on Tuesday rejected a $233 million development deal with Jaguars owner Shad Khan to build his proposed Lot J development next to TIAA Bank Field, as the deal was unable to overcome a barrage of criticism that it required too much of taxpayers and offered too little in return. The surprising vote bookended a turbulent month for the effort to pass the deal, which faced increasing opposition and scrutiny that derailed a final vote scheduled before the end of the year. More from the Florida Times-Union.

Zoo Miami conservation center to open, immersing visitors

Zoo Miami’s Conservation Action Center is ready to connect guests with wildlife and nature conservation issues in Florida through storytelling and play. Set to launch Jan. 16, the center at 12400 SW 152 St. is an immersive, interactive experience that introduces guests to conservation stories, both globally and locally. The indoor exhibit educates on how everyday actions at home impact nature’s ecosystem and encourages visitors to take action to save all species on behalf of wildlife. More from Miami Today.

Out of the Box
Ernest Hemingway look-alikes urge mask-wearing in Florida Keys

 Ernest Hemingway look-alikes are being used by the Florida Keys tourism council to encourage visitors and residents to wear masks to protect against COVID-19. The men, a former winner and five regular contestants in Key West’s annual “Papa” Hemingway Look-Alike Contest, appear in a short video that debuted Monday evening on Keys’ social media outlets, urging compliance with coronavirus health protocols.

» More from the AP.


Veteran-owned businesses in Florida

florida After graduating from West Point in 1984, Gregory Celestan spent 20 years in the Army. During his last assignment at U.S. Central Command in Tampa, he focused on intelligence work, including “tracking high-value targets and doing counterterrorism work.” When he retired from the Army in 2004, he stayed in Tampa Bay and set up his own government consulting firm.

» Read more from Florida Trend.