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Wednesday's Daily Pulse

Land deals could aid the Florida Wildlife Corridor

Gov. Ron DeSantis and the Florida Cabinet on Tuesday approved $17.8 million in land-conservation deals that include protecting two properties that are part of an envisioned wildlife corridor stretching from the Keys to the Panhandle. With support growing for the corridor, which is expected to cost billions of dollars and take decades to complete, DeSantis and the Cabinet approved two conservation easements in Osceola and Marion counties linked to the plan. Conservation easements shield property from development, but allow activities such as ranching to continue. [Source: News Service of Florida]

Space Florida touts more jobs in 2023 with 150 projects in the pipeline

Florida’s burgeoning aerospace industry will grow at a juggernaut pace in the coming years, adding more jobs and other financial benefits to the state, according to the agency whose job it is to attract such enterprises. “We expect in the next five years to be making an economic impact on average of over a billion dollars a year to the state’s economy,” said Frank DiBello, President and CEO of Space Florida, the state’s aerospace economic development agency, during a quarterly call with reporters this week. [Source: Orlando Sentinel]

With demand soaring for heart transplants, Florida hospitals ramp up

With heart disease the No. 1 killer in the United States, heart transplants hit record highs in 2022. In Florida, demand has never been higher. Ten hospitals in the state perform heart transplants, each with their own criteria. As the year kicks off, more than 200 people are on the wait list, according to the Organ Procurement Transplantation Network. Some Floridians will not live long enough to replace their failing heart, but innovation is giving more of them a chance. [Source: South Florida Sun-Sentinel]

Florida gas prices fall, but not likely to drop more in coming days

Florida gas prices recently decreased, but the drop is expected to be short-lived, officials said. As of Tuesday, the average price per gallon fell 6 cents in Florida to $3.26. “Pump prices may not go much lower this week, thanks to a rebound in oil prices,” AAA spokesman Mark Jenkins said in a news release. “Crude prices strengthened last week on various news reports, causing investors to grow optimistic about global fuel demand." [Source: Click Orlando]

Florida among the best states to start a business: report

Florida was ranked second among the best states to start a business in a report by WalletHub. According to the personal finance website, about 1 out of 5 new businesses fail after their first year, and half of them fail to stay open by the five-year mark. With this in mind, WalletHub took a look at which states were friendlier to startup businesses amid the fallout of the COVID-19 pandemic and rising costs due to inflation. The study figured out which states were the best using 27 metrics focused on three main areas: business environment, access to resources, and business costs. [Source: WFLA]

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› Statewide capital firm looks to invest $50M fund in startups
Not too long ago, starting a venture capital fund in Florida that focuses on companies here and neighboring Southeast states was widely considered a longshot for success. Conventional wisdom held Florida was a tourism and real estate development state, not a Silicon Valley or Route 128 in Boston dotted by tech entrepreneurs. But with the success of Tampa-based Florida Funders and several other venture capital entities, that theory has been rapidly shifting.

› Miami-Dade agrees to Medley’s annex plan, but budget worries on sheriff, police grow
Medley agreed to pay about $2 million to annex commercial land from Miami-Dade County, resetting the cost for municipal growth as the county leaders warn of budget challenges ahead from new expenses and the ending of federal COVID relief. The cost of annexation has divided county commissioners in recent months, sparking a rare veto fight with Mayor Daniella Levine Cava as she pressed for temporary relief to county coffers for giving away the 1,500 acres Medley wants to add to the 5,000 acres already within the municipal boundaries of a town with about 1,000 residents.

› Lakeland denies permit needed to convert former church to special events venue
After more than an hour of passionate debate, Lakeland commissioners voted 5-2 to deny a conditional use permit that would have allowed a former chapel to be transformed into a special events venue and bar downtown. Commissioner Samuel Simmons led the motion to deny Lakeland businessman Stewart Simm, former owner of The Federal Bar, a conditional use permit needed open up a special events venue — initially dubbed The Chapel, which he offered to rebrand The Garden Room.

› High prices, sliding sales marked Orlando’s 2022 housing market
Orlando’s hot housing market cooled in the second half of 2022, with sales and prices dropping and inventory rising, capping off a historic run on homes that began in the last months of 2020, according to a new report. The median home price in metro Orlando in 2022 was $365,000, a record high for a year, according to the recap report by the Orlando Regional Realtor Association. Home prices hit a peak in June of $387,000 before falling to $353,200 in December.

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› Darryl Shaw to lead $40 Million Capital Campaign for The Florida Aquarium
The Florida Aquarium announced today that developer Darryl Shaw will lead the non-profit’s upcoming $40 million capital campaign, called Sea Change. The campaign is the Aquarium’s largest since its opening in 1995. Last year, the Aquarium unveiled plans for a major expansion that will include several exciting new experiences, most notably a grand outdoor California sea lion habitat.

› Florida's Gold Coast is getting a new luxury resort
Florida's notoriously beautiful and vacation-perfect Gold Coast will welcome a notable addition to its impressive lineup of resorts geared toward luxury travelers. Shell Bay, located along the Intracoastal Waterway north of Miami, will open its doors in 2025, treating guests to luxe amenities such as a private yacht club with a 48-slip marina and a Greg Norman–designed championship golf course. The forthcoming Auberge Resorts Collection property, set on 130 acres, will also have 108 upscale residences.

› Jay’s Sandbar Food Boat, a Fort Lauderdale floating restaurant, returning to Intracoastal after major wreckage
After his floating restaurant capsized last spring on Fort Lauderdale’s sandbar, Jay Lycke sat inside his dark houseboat, brokenhearted, dreaming of the water and the jalapeño-stuffed gator bites he’d once served to hungry boaters. His loyal customers didn’t let Lycke wallow in self-pity for long. Days after Jay’s Sandbar Food Boat sank on May 8, 50 volunteers rushed in and helped dredge his twisted hulk of a wreckage off the sandbar. They hauled up ruined stoves and motors, busted deep-fryers and chest freezers brimming with spoiled food. Next, they donated $12,000 via GoFundMe as seed money toward a replacement.

› Sarasota-Manatee home appreciation still well above nation average, but now past the peak
For the first time in 21 months, national home appreciation figures did not increase by more than double digits late last year, posting a year-over-year increase of 8.6%, according to the CoreLogic Home Price Index. Sarasota-Manatee area's home price growth, according to data released in January by CoreLogic on November sales, came in at 19.6%, more than double the national average, but 1.16% below the housing market's peak price.