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Thursday's Daily Pulse

New tropical depression expected to become major hurricane

A new tropical depression formed in the far eastern Atlantic Ocean on Wednesday, and forecasters say it could be a major hurricane next week. Tropical Depression Eighteen was moving west at 15 mph with maximum sustained winds of 35 mph, according to the National Hurricane Center. It is forecast to move west-northwest by Friday. This general direction would take it toward the far eastern Caribbean. It’s too early to tell where it might end up. [Source: South Florida Sun-Sentinel]

Florida Trend Exclusive

Bitcoin and Florida law

Florida lawmakers attempted to define what qualifies as virtual currency and to limit who qualifies as a money transmitter, but the bill failed in the Senate. It remains murky territory today — and many in the industry are begging for clarity. The Florida Office of Finance Regulation has received 64 petitions over the past six years from bitcoin ATM operators and others wanting to know how virtual currency is regulated under state law. [Source: Florida Trend]

Texas-style abortion bill filed in Florida

State Rep. Webster Barnaby, R-Deltona, filed a proposal Wednesday that aims to follow Texas’ lead in blocking physicians from performing abortions if there is a “detectable fetal heartbeat.” The 40-page proposal (HB 167), dubbed the “Florida Heartbeat Act,” would require doctors to test for fetal heartbeats, which can occur six weeks into pregnancy. If heartbeats are detected, doctors “may not knowingly perform or induce an abortion” on pregnant women, under the proposal. [Source: Tampa Bay Times]

Florida flight schools train thousands of student-pilots, more than any other state

There are about 130 commercial and general aviation airports all across Florida. These small airports are doing big things for the world of aviation. It is an industry that has really taken off -- especially here in the Sunshine State. According to FAA data, about 23% of U.S. pilots are trained right here in Florida, more than any other state. Even in the midst of the pandemic last year, Florida churned out more than 24,000 student pilots. [Source: WTVT]

Coalition demands Florida lawmakers take a ‘Fair Districting’ pledge – few have

As post-Census reapportionment begins, a coalition of voters groups is asking Florida’s 120 state representatives and 40 state senators to sign a pledge to conduct the once-in-a-decade process in a transparent, fair manner. The Fair Districts NOW coalition, which spearheaded a 2010 ballot measure that requires the state’s Supreme Court to review reapportioned legislative districts to ensure they don’t favor incumbents or political parties, called on all 160 state legislators to conduct the process in public. [Source: The Center Square]


› Corporate giant setting up corporate offices in Naples. Could it be potential headquarters?
Ametek, one of Earth's largest industrial electronics companies with roots dating to the Great Depression, is setting up shop in Naples. But could those executive offices mean a corporate headquarters here? "They're a global manufacturer of electronics, and they have a $32 billion market cap," said Adam Palmer, principal and managing director of LandQwest Commercial, which was involved in a lease deal bringing Ametek here. "When you look at Southwest Florida as a whole including Naples, this region does not have very many $32 billion employers."

› Gift lets Jacksonville land trust buy Intracoastal Waterway islands for conservation
A Ponte Vedra Beach foundation’s donation has given a Jacksonville nonprofit the money it needed to buy a chain of Intracoastal Waterway islands near Butler Boulevard for conservation. “This is such a wonderful gift,” North Florida Land Trust President Jim McCarthy said of the donation from the River Branch Foundation.

› Big deals, dropped lawsuits show Orlando's I-Drive retail is bouncing back from Covid slowdown
A new wave of retail investment is sweeping through Orlando's tourism heart on International Drive as companies are bullish on leisure and business travel's return to Orlando. That said, not all parts of the 6,000-acre International Drive district are seeing retail investment, but the new shops and restaurants stand in contrast to the empty streets and attractions in the early pandemic days.

› Tampa Bay’s August home sales flat, prompting more predictions of normalcy
Tampa Bay’s competitive real estate market continued to follow the trends seen over the last year in August, as inventory remained low and median sales prices were double-digit percentages higher than a year ago. But there were also slight signs of change. Pinellas County had about 5 percent fewer single-family home sales compared to August 2020, Hillsborough had about 3 percent more sales, and Pasco’s remained close to level with just a 1 percent increase, according to new numbers released Wednesday by Florida Realtors.

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› National law firm expands services in Sarasota following the addition of a new attorney
A well-known law firm is in the midst of expanding its Sarasota office after announcing the addition of attorney Michael McKinley. The firm, Shumaker, will now offer public policy and government affairs services. It’s also expanding the real estate and development teams.

› Olympic icon Katie Ledecky joining Florida swim program as volunteer coach
A swimming legend is joining the University of Florida program as a volunteer coach. The Gators announced on Wednesday that seven-time gold medalist Katie Ledecky will train for the 2024 Olympics in Gainesville and will help the program as a volunteer alongside head coach Anthony Nesty. “I’m excited to be a part of the University of Florida’s world-class swimming and diving program and train for the 2024 Olympics with Coach Anthony Nesty, and the top-tier mid-distance and distance training group,” Ledecky said in a statement.

› Brightline parent lists marquee downtown real estate holding for half a billion dollars
Brightline’s parent company, Florida East Coast Industries, is listing its marquee downtown real estate holding for $500 million — believed to be the largest multifamily asset for sale in the southeastern U.S. The property, ParkLine Miami, comprises a 44-story north tower and 47-story south tower for a total of 816 luxury residential units, built above Brightline’s MiamiCentral rail depot.

› Scaled-back Tampa Bay Marina renovation plans get port approval
A decade after the owners of a marina near the Howard Frankland Bridge first announced plans for renovation — and more than two years after those plans started coming into focus — Port Tampa Bay has signed off on a revised version of the project. The Tampa Bay Marina, located just south of the bridge at 205 S Hoover Blvd., in the Westshore area in Tampa, downscaled its plans for all-new docks in part because residents expressed concern about the possible noise, traffic and impact on anglers and kayakers.