Slow business travel to deliver $5.3 billion hit to Florida tourism
Florida’s hospitality industry expects to see a $5.3-billion loss in business travel this year, according to a Florida Restaurant and Lodging Association projection released Tuesday. The group estimates business trips to Florida will be down 61% this year compared to 2019 before the pandemic crippled the state’s economy. But the projections are better than the 66% drop in business travel nationwide, according to a new report by the American Hotel & Lodging Association. [Source: Florida Politics]
Legislators remain silent about repairing Florida’s tarnished redistricting process
When Florida legislators launch the once-a-decade redrawing of state legislative and congressional district boundaries next week, they will face new obstacles that include a compressed schedule because of a delay in the census process and restoring public trust after a court’s conclusion that the last process was secretly and illegally “hijacked” by Republican political operatives 10 years ago. [Source: Miami Herald]
Federal judge refuses to block DeSantis mask order
A federal judge Wednesday rejected a request by parents of disabled children to block Gov. Ron DeSantis’ efforts to prevent school districts from requiring students to wear masks during the COVID-19 pandemic. Federal Judge K. Michael Moore issued a 34-page ruling that denied a request for a preliminary injunction against an executive order that DeSantis issued July 30. The executive order led to the Florida Department of Health issuing a rule that required districts to allow parents to opt out of any student mask mandates. [Source: News Service of Florida]
Tropical storms Odette and Peter could develop; forecasters watch for new tropical wave
The 2021 Atlantic hurricane season is running well ahead of average pace and showing no signs of slowing. Forecasters are monitoring three areas for potential storm development, two of which are expected to become tropical depressions this week and could potentially form into Tropical Storm Odette and Tropical Storm Peter. An absence of significant storm-shredding wind shear and a lack of dry air are creating favorable conditions for storm development. Warm water temperatures, at 80 degrees or above, are also conducive at this time, experts said. [Source: South Florida Sun-Sentinel]
'It's looking very promising': Mote expands red tide research
Clams and shrimp have found new homes at Mote Marine's Aquaculture Research Park. In large tanks, they are the test subjects for the lab's latest red tide research. The experiment aims to use technology to eliminate excess nutrients while preserving the surrounding environment. Water goes through the entire system, located on a large trailer, and is virtually cleaned of excess nutrients within minutes. Researchers with the initiative are now testing patented technology from Prescott Clean Water called Ozonix, first used in oil and gas fields to treat contaminated fracking water. [Source: Sarasota Herald-Tribune]
ALSO AROUND FLORIDA:
› For high-flying founder of fintech firm Fast, Tampa’s a ‘great place to live’ [Tampa Bay Times]
Most CEOs don’t make their grand public debut in a new city by doing donuts in a speeding truck, then crawling out from the window to applause and wild screams. Even for Domm Holland, the wakeboarding, skydiving founder of online payment services startup Fast, that was a new one.
› Broward will reward vaccinated county workers and subject the unvaccinated to charges and testing [Miami Herald]
Broward County’s mayor announced Wednesday that the county will give bonuses to vaccinated employees and charge unvaccinated ones as part of a tactic to boost vaccination rates while navigating a state mandate that bars local governments from requiring COVID-19 vaccines. Mayor Steve Geller said during a news conference Wednesday that all fully vaccinated employees will receive a one-time $500 bonus, and that all unvaccinated employees will see a $20 surcharge on their biweekly paycheck and will be required to get a weekly COVID-19 test.
› Disney World looking to hire hundreds at job fair on Monday [Orlando Sentinel]
Walt Disney World is hosting a job fair next week to hire hundreds of people across custodial, culinary, housekeeping and food and beverage jobs, with several positions eligible for bonuses. The job fair on Monday, Sept. 20, at the Coronado Springs Resort is part of Disney’s efforts to hire 700 to 1,100 employees weekly by the end of the year, according to the company.
› Two new executives added at the Lakeland cannabis tracking company [Lakeland Ledger]
Metrc added two new executives last week in yet another sign the Lakeland-based cannabis tracking company is growing fast. Cannabis regulators from Colorado to Massachusetts have relied on Metrc, LLC to track and trace cannabis from seed to point of sale since 2012, when Colorado legalized recreational marijuana use.
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› Museum of the American Arts and Crafts Movement dazzles in St. Petersburg [Tampa Bay Times ]
For years, residents of St. Petersburg and beyond have been waiting for the Museum of the American Arts and Crafts Movement to open. On Sept. 7, it was revealed to the public — and it is stunning. Founded by collector Rudy Ciccarello, the museum is the world’s first dedicated to the Arts and Crafts movement, which happened between about 1890 and 1930 and revived and elevated handcraft in the wake of the Industrial Revolution.
› Polk County tentatively passes largest budget in history — with more taxes and higher fees [Lakeland Ledger]
The Polk County Commission tentatively approved the largest budget in county history Monday night, the first that exceeds the $2 billion mark. County Manager Bill Beasley calls it an “unprecedented" budget — one that reflects rising property values and increased tax revenue collected by all of the growth, but has also been padded by all of the federal COVID relief money the county received this year: more than $140 million worth.
› Seminole sees sharp drop in bear, human encounters [Orlando Sentinel]
The number of complaints of bears wandering through Seminole County neighborhoods, tipping over trash cans and scaring homeowners by plopping themselves down in yards has plunged by more than half since 2014 when the county was considered the “epicenter of human-bear conflicts,” according to a report presented by state wildlife officers to commissioners on Tuesday.
› Sarasota company receives premarket clearance on wound care product [Business Observer]
Omeza, a Sarasota-based skin science company, announced that its Omeza Collagen Matrix (OCM) product was cleared through the FDA 510(k) premarket notification process. The product is Omeza’s first medical prescription product. “No one has taken on the challenge of making advanced wound care products both effective and affordable, as a result preventable amputations are on the rise,” says Sarah Kitlowski, Omeza president, in a press release.