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Florida's space tourism industry

While some early space-tourism flights may start in Texas or New Mexico, Florida will be at the forefront of the industry; it already has four commercial spaceports and more are coming, says Frank DiBello, president and CEO of Space Florida, the state’s aerospace economic development agency. Tourism companies are at work creating a total family experience, he says. “We have all the accoutrements to make space flights an experience not only for the citizen astronaut but for his or her family. When you come to Florida, you get the whole package.” [Source: Florida Trend]

Number of Florida hospitality jobs on the rise, but still far short of pre-pandemic rates

Employment in the hospitality and leisure sector of Florida has increased the last few months, though not as much as one might think. After about a year of sitting on the sidelines, waiting to go back to work, Koko Monroe is back to her old job at the Outback Steakhouse inside Orlando International Airport. “The first week I was back, I worked almost 50 hours,” Monroe said. “Thats how insanely busy it was, I couldn’t believe it.” Monroe has been taking orders once again for about a month now. The tips are great, but said she needs help now more than ever. [Source: Spectrum News]

‘Not at all surprising:’ New climate normals show Florida is getting even hotter

For seasoned Florida natives, your memory isn’t shot. Florida is hotter on average in 2021 than decades past. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration releases new climate normals every 10 years in order to establish what weather patterns are “average.” The agency uses “normals” to judge how daily, monthly and annual climate conditions compare to what’s normal for a specific location. NOAA released new climate normals last week, which now measures from 1991 to 2020. [Source: Tampa Bay Times]

Tampa Bay marks 41 years since Sunshine Skyway Bridge disaster

Sunday marks 41 years since the Sunshine Skyway Bridge disaster that killed 35 people and rocked the Tampa Bay area. On a stormy day, May 9, 1980, the 19,734-ton Summit Venture freighter, got lost in fog and slammed into the bridge, tearing away a large part of the span, which collapsed in the water below. Kentucky Derby winner Medina Spirit failed postrace drug test, trainer says Thirty-five people were killed, most of which were aboard a Greyhound bus that toppled into the water. Six cars and a pickup truck also plunged into the water. The driver of the pickup, Wesley MacIntire, was the only one to survive. His truck fell onto the freighter’s deck before hitting the water below. More from WFLA and the Miami Herald.

Citizen initiatives will be harder to get on Florida ballot

Florida Republicans have succeeded in making it more difficult for voters to change the state constitution under a bill Gov. Ron DeSantis signed Friday. The new law limits contributions by groups promoting ballot initiatives. Political committees seeking to change the constitution are now limited to $3,000 individual contributions until their proposal is approved for the ballot — a limit that could have made it impossible for medical marijuana and an increase in minimum wage to get before voters. [Source: CBS Miami]

Pioneering simulation that saves lives

Gordon Center trains doctors, nurses and paramedics on the front lines. Today, the Gordon Center uses advanced multimedia, mobile, and simulation technology to train health professionals for acute trauma, disaster response, advanced life support, and emerging diagnostic applications. Its programs are used by 2,000 medical and nursing schools, residency programs, public health departments, and hospital systems in 70 countries. [Sponsored report  

Trend Mention

Mention ImageUF research spending at record $942.2 million in 2020 despite pandemic

UF Research spending reached a record $942.2 million in fiscal year 2020, despite a two-month pause in most operations due to the pandemic. According to a new report to the National Science Foundation, research expenditures supported by the federal government increased to $397.2 million, while state and local expenditures increased to $169.2 million. Learn about ongoing UF research in areas such as Alzheimer’s, early childhood learning and agriculture.


› PortMiami wins $2M EPA grant, one step closer to reducing air pollution from cruise ships
PortMiami is one step closer to reducing its pollution from cruise ships. Last week the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency approved Miami-Dade County’s request for $2 million to build a shore power hookup at PortMiami that will allow cruise ships to plug into the local electrical grid when they are docked instead of idling their engines. The hookup will be up and running at Carnival Cruise Line’s Terminal F by October 2023, the grant application said.

› Players Centre will use Sarasota mall as temporary home for new shows
As demolition crews tear down its former theater building near downtown Sarasota to make way for a residential high rise, the Players Centre for Performing Arts announced Thursday it will create a temporary new home in a Sarasota shopping mall. CEO William Skaggs, who joined the theater last fall, said the area’s oldest performing arts organization will move into a former Banana Republic store inside The Crossings at Siesta Key, the new name of the shopping center that was previously known as Westfield Siesta Key and Southgate Plaza.

› Nuts, bolts and memories of an independent family business in Tampa
Bay to Bay Hardware has been a fixture for fixtures, nuts, bolts and whatnot for South Tampa homeowners and repair people since 1947. So when Lisa Jacobson put up a “liquidation’' sale sign May 1 after nearly 50 years as a family business, worried customers flooded her with questions. Jacobson said the store isn’t going anywhere. She is leasing it to an Ace Hardware franchisee. She will continue to run the separate Bay to Bay Pool Service, Inc.

› Disney Cruise Line wants to base one of its ships in Fort Lauderdale
If you’ve been dreaming of setting sail on a Disney cruise closer to home, next year could be the year your wish comes true. Disney’s cruise line wants to bring its magic, beloved characters and cute towel creations to Fort Lauderdale year-round starting in 2022. Magical Cruise Company requested the agreement with Port Everglades — now it’s just up to Broward County to approve the deal.

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› Big Cat Rescue’s Carole Baskin announces new cryptocurrency and NFTs. Here’s what that means.
She’s launched a line of cheetah-print face masks, strutted on Dancing With the Stars and sold personalized videos of herself to fans via Cameo. Now Big Cat Rescue founder Carole Baskin is getting into cryptocurrency. Or as she calls it, “purr-ency.” Baskin announced the launch of $CAT, a new digital fan token for supporters of Big Cat Rescue. NFTs, or non-fungible tokens, are coming in a few weeks.

› Vendors optimistic about business as South Florida Fair kicks off
The South Florida Fair is back for the second time in just a few months. Local businesses hope the fair gives them a nice rebound from the pandemic. It’s the second time the fair has been hosted in less than six months and many vendors believe this run will be better than ever. The South Florida Fair has been hosted in January for more than 100 years, but for the first time, it's being held in May.

› Benderson Development buys a 28-store portfolio of grocery stores
East Manatee County-based real estate company Benderson Development, one of the largest retail landlords in the country, has acquired 28 Fred Meyer stores located throughout the Pacific Northwest and Alaska. The acquisition adds nearly 4.5 million square feet of properties to the company’s growing portfolio, which now totals over 45 million square feet, according to a statement.

› Area Businesses Looking To Benefit From Fort Lauderdale Air Show
The Air Show soared back into Fort Lauderdale this weekend and it’s expected to boost South Florida’s economy. “We feel this event will infuse money into the economy. People are starved for entertainment and the fact it is outside makes it more positive. We are expecting great weather and big crowds at the beach,” says Air Show spokesman Chris Dirato.