Florida grapples with international tourism lag
Florida tourism leaders continue to fret over a lag in international visitors as the industry anticipates tourism numbers for the final three months of 2022. While Visit Florida, the state’s tourism-marketing agency, boasts that Florida is the top U.S. destination for overseas travelers based on market share, numbers of international visitors to the state and nation remain far below pre-pandemic totals. Visit Florida President and CEO Dana Young last week expressed concerns that global inflation and lengthy visa-processing times could affect the final numbers for 2022 and tourism in 2023. [Source: News Service of Florida]
Survey shows rising food insecurity in Florida
Parents and families living in rural parts of the state have been hit hardest, but according to the research, Floridians in median- or higher-income households are also experiencing symptoms of food insecurity. Parents and rural Floridians are really struggling. Nearly half of parents (47%) and rural Floridians (48%) experienced at least one symptom of food insecurity within the last year, ranging from not being able to afford the nutritious foods they’d like to feed their family, to skipping meals, going an entire day without eating or running out of food in the home. [Source: Florida Politics]
How to best protect what’s left of the Everglades? ‘We’re talking about survival’
Some of the most influential conservation and outdoor groups in Florida gathered with state and federal officials at the 28th annual Everglades Coalition Conference to discuss threats to Everglades restoration, as well as recent progress. The Everglades is essentially a broad grassy river seeping south from the Orlando area, down the spine of the state, to eventually drain into Florida Bay and the Gulf of Mexico. That historical flow was interrupted in the early 1900s as prospectors built roads across the southern tier of the state, dammed Lake Okeechobee and drained much of the interior for farming. Only 50% of the historic Everglades remain today and over 70% of its water flow has been lost, according to the Florida Museum. [Source: Orlando Sentinel]
South Florida home sellers made big profits in 2022
The typical profit from home sales in the Miami-Fort Lauderdale-Palm Beach area was $159,300 last year, according to figures released last week from real estate data insights firm ATTOM. That's up from $105,00 in 2021 and $95,000 in 2020. If you're planning to sell your property this year, don't expect more of the same. Researchers say Americans likely saw a peak in profits last year. [Source: Axios]
Florida leaders propose allowing concealed guns without permits
Calling the right to bear arms “central to our freedom,” House Speaker Paul Renner on Monday announced a measure removing Florida requirements for a permit and training to carry a concealed gun. The legislation, which supporters call “constitutional carry,” would eliminate the need to get a license to carry a concealed weapon as well as the required weapons training that goes with it. If signed into law, as expected, Florida would become the 26th state to allow permitless carry. [Source: Orlando Sentinel]
ALSO AROUND FLORIDA:
› Judge rejects city of Miami’s bid to block parking-surcharge case. Millions at stake [Miami Herald]
A judge has rejected the city of Miami’s bid to block a lawsuit challenging its 15% parking surcharge — a tax that has generated tens of millions of dollars in recent years. Circuit Judge Michael Hanzman’s decision on Friday paves the way for the suit’s class members to be certified later this year and possibly collect about $55 million in refunds — if they prevail on their claim that the city’s parking tax is “unconstitutional” under state law.
› NEFAR’S 2023 president says real estate is a people business [Jacksonville Daily Record]
The 2023 Northeast Florida Association of Realtors president believes the profession may be the most people-intense of people businesses. An associate broker with Watson Realty Corp. for 12 years, she has learned more about people during that time than about selling houses, she said. When asked about memorable sales, she does not talk about numbers. She remembers relationships.
› Why is an Orlando-based construction supplier expanding? Lake County homebuilders know. [Oralndo Business Journal]
Blackton Inc. plans to expand its Lake County operations due to a hot homebuilding market in the region. The Orlando-based homebuilding materials supplier now has has more than 17,000 square feet of warehouse space under construction near the corner of County Road 468 and Main Street in Leesburg.
› Hillsborough County hotels hit $1 billion in annual taxable revenue [Tampa Bay Times]
For the first time, hotels in Hillsborough County have hit $1 billion in annual taxable revenue. The county’s hotels saw a 43.1% increase over revenues in 2021, according to Visit Tampa Bay. The overall revenue, which sat just above $1.02 billion, is up from $700 million in 2020, the year of the pandemic. That billion-dollar figure translates into $61.3 million in bed tax money during 2022.
Go to page 2 for more stories ...
› North Port adapts to second-fastest growing city in US status [Sarasota Herald-Tribune]
The city of North Port, which now boasts a population of 80,000 was ranked as the second-fastest growing city in the U.S. by Quicken Loans, behind Cape Coral/Fort Myers. North Port posted a 5.5% year-over-year population growth while Cape Coral/Fort Myers, with a population of 92,245, grew by 6.8% Four other Florida municipalities also made the top 10: No. 3 Winter Haven, No. 5 Port St. Lucie, No 6 Daytona Beach, and No. 9 Palm Bay.
› Tallahassee Community College creates its own charter school in a first for Florida [Florida Trend]
Tallahassee Community College has become the first state college to be approved for its own charter school by the Florida Department of Education under a new state program, the college has announced. The Florida Department of Education approved the college’s application to open a charter school and college officials said this fall a high school with a focus on STEM curriculum will open and include a dual enrollment program that will allow students to earn their high school diploma and associate of science at the same time.
› Miami-Dade’s Beacon Council, which recruits companies to the area, names new CEO [Miami Herald]
Miami-Dade Beacon Council, the county’s public-private economic development agency, hired Rodrick Miller as its chief executive to replace Michael Finney, the group’s former leader who died in April 2022. Miller, 45, most recently led Invest Puerto Rico, the island’s nonprofit economic development agency. Before that, he was at the helm of similar agencies in Detroit and New Orleans.
› Tampa loses control of historic Black cemetery. A property flipper now owns it. [Tampa Bay Times]
The city of Tampa has been maintaining the 104-year-old segregation era Memorial Park Cemetery since its owner died in 2019 and the Black burial ground was abandoned. They hoped to officially take ownership of it earlier this month by placing a lien and foreclosing on the 20-acre property and then purchasing it at a county auction held about two weeks ago. But they were outbid in the blind auction process.