Florida Trend | Florida's Business Authority

Wednesday's Daily Pulse

Most COVID deaths in Florida came after the vaccine was widely available. Why?

It didn’t have to be this way. Though COVID vaccines have been available across Florida for more than a year, the majority of the more than 74,000 people who have died statewide of the disease succumbed in the past 12 months. Most chose not to get the free shots. More than half of Florida fatalities came after June 1, 2021, months after adults ages 18 or older could get the shots, figures from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention show. Nationwide, it was just the opposite. [Source: Florida Today]

Pandemic cost state’s farmers $895 million, UF professor says

The pandemic continues to cause issues across multiple industries, but agriculture has faced several unique challenges — from crops rotting on the vine during shutdowns to having to find new ways to sell their produce. Dr. Christa Court, director of the Economic Impact Analysis Program at the University of Florida, is an expert in regional economics and works in the school’s Food and Resource Economics Department. Court has been studying the impacts of the pandemic on the state’s growers and farmers. [Source: Click Orlando]

Cannabis tourism is now a $17 billion industry -- and it’s just taking off

Looking ahead, Florida has the potential to be a game changer for cannabis tourism on the East Coast. After California, the Sunshine State is second in the nation for overall tourism, hauling in $99 billion in visitor spending in 2019. Florida also boasts the country’s largest medical marijuana market at $1 billion (annual sales). But so far efforts to legalize recreational weed have been met with opposition from state leaders. [Source: Forbes]

High gas prices could impact residents' decision to evacuate during hurricane, AAA survey says

Hurricane season starts Wednesday, and high gas prices could affect whether or not Florida residents evacuate an approaching storm. About 42% of respondents to a recent AAA survey said that high prices and the availability of gas would make them less willing to evacuate their homes if recommended to do so. The survey found that about one in four Floridians would ignore hurricane evacuation warnings altogether. [Source: WPTV]

How a Florida power project flew under the regulatory radar

As Florida Power & Light described it, the plan seemed sound: a 176-mile transmission line allowing the utility to better handle peak electricity demand. Such projects can take a decade to get from proposal to completion. This one was different. The company cut the time to about two years, seemingly a promising sign in the push to strengthen America’s energy infrastructure to distribute more solar and wind power and help wean the nation from fossil fuels. But to others, the effort was a sly end run that avoided consideration of whether the project was needed at all. [Source: NY Times]


› Tampa tops nation in housing price increases
After nearly three years of Phoenix leading the nation in the most-rapid growth in housing prices, it has been topped by the Tampa area, an analysis released Tuesday showed. The Tampa area had a 34.8 percent price increase in March when compared to a year earlier, according to the S&P CoreLogic Case-Shiller U.S. National Home Price NSA Index. Tampa was followed by the Phoenix area at 32.4 percent and the Miami area at 32 percent.

› Advisers tell Spirit shareholders to reject Frontier bid
A firm that advises investors on proxy voting said Tuesday that Spirit Airlines shareholders should oppose Frontier Airlines’ bid to buy Spirit, saying that a competing offer by JetBlue is better. Institutional Shareholder Services Inc. conceded that Spirit’s board might be correct in concluding that the Frontier offer has a better chance of winning approval from antitrust regulators. However, the firm said, both bids carry regulatory risks but only the JetBlue offer includes a $200 million breakup fee in case regulators reject it.

› Orlando Fringe Festival’s 2022 Critics’ Choice Awards announced
A show mixing strength, balance, spoken word and mime while cleverly and visually exploring the uneven power dynamic between men and women in society took the top award at the 2022 Critics’ Choice Awards at the Orlando Fringe Festival. “Generic Male: Just What We Need, Another Show About Men” by Push Physical Theatre of Rochester, New York, was named the Fringe’s best show on Monday night at the closing ceremony of the two-week festival in Loch Haven Park. The Critics’ Choice Awards are selected by Orlando Weekly theater critic Seth Kubersky and myself.

› Despite years of repairs, work to make Jacksonville ready for hurricanes isn't finished
Even before hurricane season 2022 started, attention focused on forecasts of powerful storms hitting Florida. One estimate placed the chance of a named storm reaching the state this year at 96 percent. But the odds this year of Jacksonville completely addressing the vulnerabilities spotlighted by the area’s last run-ins with hurricanes — Irma in 2017, Matthew the year before — are all but nil.

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› UCF Board of Trustees approves naming deal for football stadium
The “Bounce House” is once again just a nickname for the UCF football stadium. The UCF Board of Trustees approved a 10-year, $19.5 million deal between the UCF Athletics Association and FBC Mortgage that renames the football stadium to “FBC Mortgage Stadium” on Tuesday. With the approval, the deal goes into effect July 1.

› After five months, Consiglio out at Rayonier Advanced Materials
After just five months on the job, Vito Consiglio is out as president and CEO of Rayonier Advanced Materials Inc. The company said May 31 that Consiglio left with the mutual agreement of the board of directors but gave no other details. De Lyle W. Bloomquist, who had been serving as nonexecutive chairman of the board, was appointed to succeed Consiglio as president and chief executive.

› Work begins on fire-gutted Carnival Freedom funnel after passengers make it back to Port Canaveral
Carnival Cruise Line got to work on its Port Canaveral-based ship Carnival Freedom after fire gutted part of its funnel in a headline-grabbing incident in Grand Turk last week. The inferno destroyed the starboard side of the iconic red-white-and-blue funnel on board the ship that had been on a five-night sailing that had departed Port Canaveral on May 23. The more than 2,500 passengers were rescued from Grand Turk by the Carnival Conquest, which arrived alongside Saturday and returned the passengers two days later than expected.

› Gas prices over Memorial Day weekend the highest on record
Gas prices over the Memorial Day holiday were more than $1.71 higher than they were the year before. With average prices at $4.57 a gallon, Floridians were paying the highest at the pump over the holiday on record, according to the weekly briefing issued Tuesday from the AAA-The Auto Club Group. This year’s average price is well above the previous Memorial Day record of $3.98 set in 2008. The average cost to fill a 15-gallon tank is $68.