Florida Trend | Florida's Business Authority

Monday's Daily Pulse

COVID surge on the wane in Florida: Here's why

It seems the worst of the current COVID-19 wave is ending across Florida. Hospitals statewide are discharging more COVID patients than they’re admitting. Infections are not rising. And there are now two Florida locales where coronavirus in sewage is disappearing. Medical staff statewide tended to 2,426 COVID-positive patients Friday, the U.S. Health and Human Services Department said. Hospitalizations declined by 131 from a week ago and 442 from the first full week of January. [Source: Gainesville Sun]

Florida jobless rate down to 2.5 percent

Florida’s unemployment rate dipped to 2.5 percent in December as businesses continue to struggle to fill positions. The Florida Department of Economic Opportunity released a report Friday that showed the December rate down from 2.6 percent in November and from 3.5 percent in December 2021. About 271,000 Floridians qualified as unemployed last month from a workforce of 10.76 million. Meanwhile, businesses in Florida are advertising for 442,000 positions, down from 455,000 in December. [Source: News Service of Florida]

Florida businesses open pop-up shopping area after being impacted by ian

Months after Hurricane Ian devastated areas in southwest Florida, the city of Sanibel is hoping a recently passed resolution will allow impacted businesses to get back on their feet. Rachel Pierce, the owner of a local art gallery in the city, helped start the area called The Island Market and invited local business owners to set up shop while they rebuild. The inspiration came after Pierce's own business was severely damaged by the Category 4 storm that made landfall September 28 on the southwest Florida coast. [Source: NBC Miami]

Hurricane Ian left derelict boats in its wake. That caused one marina's business to transition from recreational to recovery.

It's been nearly four months since Hurricane Ian made landfall on Florida's coast, leaving a terrible path of destruction in its wake. And the cleanup is nowhere near over. According to Florida's Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission, there are more than 700 derelict boats in the area, but only two-thirds have been removed. "It's still astounding how many vessels are completely displaced – in the mangroves, just pushed up in places they shouldn't be, on people's yards," said Staci Stevens, who runs Monroe Canal Marina in St. James City, Florida. Since Ian came onshore in late September, business at her marina has gone from recreational to recovery. [Source: CBS News]

Icon of the Seas dome an engineering feat for world’s next largest cruise ship

Royal Caribbean and the shipbuilders tackling what will be the world’s largest cruise ship performed a Herculean task to get the most prevalent feature in place for the Florida-bound Icon of the Seas. The massive AquaDome is a new neighborhood on board the 20-deck, 250,800-gross-ton cruise ship that will surpass the size of Oasis-class ships like Wonder of the Seas when it debuts out of Miami in just over a year. [Source: Orlando Sentinel]

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› Brightline, SunRail extension complicated by multiple ‘cooks in the kitchen’
When Orange County Mayor Jerry Demings tossed what the former top cop called a verbal penalty flag on recent developments in the proposed SunRail and Brightline rail corridor, his concerns pointed to a larger issue. With several private participants and the dozen or more government bodies involved, it’s hard to know who has their hands on the wheel of the region’s passenger rail future, as embodied in an ambitious proposal called the Sunshine Corridor. Also unclear is whether transparency for the public is appropriate or even doable under current arrangements.

› Immigration influx tests newcomers and organizations in Tampa
The arrival of new immigrants represents a challenge not only for government agencies but also nonprofit organizations, community groups, and even public schools. All are seeing a historic increase for social services and counseling among newcomers, who choose to leave their countries due to poverty and corruption, violence and extortion.

› Hedge fund billionaire turned philanthropist is behind Miami-Dade’s bail reform software
The man who bankrolled the criminal behavior predictor software at the center of Miami-Dade County’s long-awaited bail reform plan is a hedge fund billionaire turned philanthropist named John Arnold. Arnold, who lives in Houston, has been giving his sophisticated product away for free — which helps explain why it has become one of the most widely used criminal justice programs in the country.

› Mecum Kissimmee collector car auction breaks record with $234 million in sales
For the second year in a row, the Mecum Kissimmee collector car auction has surpassed $200 million in sales, marking the first time that threshold has been breached in consecutive years. This year’s auction also exceeded the previous sales record ($217 million in 2022) by tallying $234 million in total sales at the 2023 event, which ran for 12 days in January and saw a record 4,000 vehicles consigned. Nearly 3,200 of those vehicles sold, including 13 vehicles that reached seven-figure sales prices.

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› Big changes planned for Jacksonville concert venues Florida Theatre, Ponte Vedra Concert Hall
Some big changes are coming to Jacksonville-area music venues in the next year or so, with a new concert hall coming to town and major renovations planned at two others. Construction should begin in 2023 on a new venue in the Rail Yard District west of downtown and large renovation projects are planned at the Florida Theatre and Ponte Vedra Concert Hall that will force each to close down for several months. The Florida Theatre project is planned for the summer and fall of this year and the Ponte Vedra Concert Hall work will probably start in early 2024, so the two venues won't be shut down at the same time.

› Pensacola Federal Prison Camp, home of Todd Chrisley, deemed 2nd cushiest U.S. prison
The Pensacola campus is a minimum security institution that has dormitory housing, low staff-to-inmate ratios and limited or no perimeter fencing, and is located on Saufley Field, an outlying field of Naval Air Station Pensacola − home of the U.S. Navy Blue Angels. The Bureau of Federal Prisons categorizes this type of prison as "work- and program-oriented."

› Two ‘Selling Tampa’ stars to return to Netflix for dating show, ‘Perfect Match’
“Selling Tampa” may have been canceled, but two of its cast members are headed back to Netflix for a shot at love. Colony Reeves and Anne-Sophie Petit-Frere have joined the cast of “Perfect Match,” a new reality show. Both women are accomplished real estate moguls who work at Tampa Bay-based firm Allure Reality, but have yet to find success in the romance department.

› What’s next for Shuckers? See the fall and rise of a favorite Miami waterfront bar
Shuckers, the bayfront hangout good for a few drinks, a fish sandwich and a killer view, could be changing soon. Developers have their eyes on the property. Plans call for a 30-story building to replace a motel on the site and also the dockside Shuckers Waterftront Grill. The North Bay Village restaurant would be rebuilt with the new construction along the 79th Street Causeway, between Miami and Miami Beach. But will it be the same?