Deaths of Florida's starving manatees surge amid winter chill
Manatees are suffering from starvation. Lush flats of seagrass they grazed on have been eradicated by a pollution-fueled ecosystem collapse. Mature males and females of nearly a half-ton and otherwise extremely resilient are perishing, taken down for good by the lethal synergy of cold and hunger, along with more vulnerable calves of barely 100 pounds. Manatees typically gather toward warmer water, but with temperatures in the 50s across Central Florida, environmentalists say they are staying far away from where the food is and as a result, starving. More from Phys.org, Fox 35, and WFLA.
Lawmakers look to boost broadband in rural areas
Florida lawmakers are looking to use at least $400 million in federal stimulus money to to help broadband providers expand services to mostly rural, underserved areas. But don’t expect to see the money reduce rates for customers. The Senate Commerce and Tourism Committee on Monday unanimously supported measures (SB 1800 and SB 1802) by Sen. Jim Boyd, R-Bradenton, that would fund a broadband program that lawmakers created last year within the Department of Economic Opportunity. [Source: News Service of Florida]
Florida rent hikes were "on another level" last year. Increases continue with no end in sight
“Florida over 2021 had the most rent growth of any state or general area in the country,” said Jeff Andrews, data analyst for the rental listing platform Zumper. “And I don’t think it was even very close.” In its 2021 rent report, Zumper – Zillow for apartments – said five of the top 10 highest rent increases in the country’s most populated cities were in Florida. Zumper ranked Miami in the top spot with a 38.2% increase followed by Tampa’s 38.1%. Orlando was third with a 32.8% jump. [Source: Palm Beach Post]
Ghost orchid proposed for protection as endangered species
The ghost orchid, the mysterious flower of South Florida’s deepest wilderness, faces severe threats and deserves protection under the Endangered Species Act, three environmental groups said Monday in a legal petition. The elusive plant, which rarely reveals its slender white petals, lives on trees in remote forests and swamps. Orchid poachers scale trees in swamps alive with snakes, alligators, panthers and mosquitoes to snatch them, and they’re threatened by climate change and the loss of habitat to the expanding suburbs of southwest Florida. [Source: South Florida Sun-Sentinel]
Florida ranks among worst states to raise a family
Florida is one of the worst places to raise a family in the United States according to the financial website WalletHub. The site ranked all 50 states in multiple categories on where is best and worst to raise a family in 2022. The survey used 51 different criteria across five categories: affordability, health and safety, education and child care, socioeconomics, and family fun in order to rank each state. [Source: WMBB]
Apopka: Central Florida's stress-free business address
What pops into mind when considering the ideal Central Florida address to live, work and play? For a growing number of executives, business owners and families looking to leave congested regions behind, the answer is Apopka. As Orange County’s second-largest city, the businesses and 57,000 residents who call Apopka home find an address teeming with opportunity on the leading edge of business and industry. [Sponsored report]
ALSO AROUND FLORIDA:
› Florida is shark bite capital of the world, according to International Shark Attack File [CBS 12]
The Florida Museum of Natural History released its International Shark Attack File statistics for last year, and says it investigated 137 “alleged shark-human interactions” worldwide in 2021. Of those, 73 were unprovoked shark bites on live humans and 39 were provoked bites. Provoked bites are when a human initiates interaction with a shark in some way, not necessarily maliciously.
› Duke Energy dispute goes to Florida Supreme Court [News Service of Florida]
A dispute about whether Duke Energy Florida customers should be required to pay $7.2 million related to an outage at a power plant has gone to the state Supreme Court. The Office of Public Counsel, a state agency that represents consumers in utility issues, filed a notice Friday that it is a first step in challenging a decision by the Florida Public Service Commission in the dispute. As is common, the notice did not detail arguments that the Office of Public Counsel will make at the Supreme Court.
› Tampa orthopedic firm, thanks to merger, saw explosive growth in 2021 [Business Observer]
Florida Orthopaedic Institute in 2021 became the largest orthopedic practice in Florida and the 12th-largest in the country, adding 12 physicians and expanding to 23 locations across the Sunshine State thanks to its partnership with MD Healthcare Partners. According to a news release, FOI now serves more than 145,000 patients and has 101 physicians, in addition to 750 employees at its central business office.
› Carnival adds record fourth ship to its Port Canaveral lineup, with Liberty coming onboard [Florida Today]
With Monday morning's arrival of the Carnival Liberty at Port Canaveral, Carnival Cruise Line now has four of its ships based there. That's the most any cruise line has ever had at Port Canaveral, and also brings to a record 11 the number of home-ported cruise ships at Port Canaveral. Those ships represent five cruise brands.
Go to page 2 for more stories ...
› South Florida needs more housing. But exactly how much vacant land is left? [South Florida Sun-Sentinel]
Very little vacant land is left for building homes in South Florida, but just how scarce are the options? As the region struggles with a housing shortage, the amount of vacant land zoned for residences is down to less than 1% in parts of the region. According to an analysis of the data, there are only about 20 square miles, or less than 1%, of land that remains vacant and zoned for residential use.
› Axe throwing on target to carve out a niche in Jacksonville area as sport grows nationwide [Florida Times-Union]
Thwack! The sound of a steel axe blade biting into the bullseye of a wooden target is being heard more and more often in the Jacksonville area. Once just a backyard or a barroom game, axe throwing is a growing sport with organized leagues as well as an avocation appealing to men, women, families and young urban professionals nationwide. Valhalla Indoor Axe Throwing Clay County on Fleming Island is among a half-dozen axe or hatchet throwing venues in the Jacksonville area.
› This spot in the Florida Keys was just named one of the best places to fish in the U.S. [Miami Herald]
If you love to fish, you already know that the Florida Keys is a great place to indulge your passion. But did you know it’s one of the best places to fish in the country? Probably. You’re no dummy. But FishingBooker, the world’s biggest online booking service for fishing excursions, is here to back you up, because it has rated Key West as one of the best places to fish in the United States.
› Sarasota Chamber of Commerce focused on smart growth, healthy business climate [Sarasota Herald-Tribune]
The Sarasota Chamber of Commerce for over 100 years has served and will continue to serve as a platform for connection, referrals and collaboration for our businesses. Building a network of relationships with our members is key to having a strong, united business community.