Florida Trend | Florida's Business Authority

Thursday's Daily Pulse

DeSantis releases proposed $114 billion state budget, a record

Gov. Ron DeSantis is proposing a record $114.8 billion state budget for 2023-24 that includes a request to spend another $12 million to move migrants from around the country. DeSantis is also proposing year-round tax cuts on everyday items, including baby cribs and strollers, pet food and medication and gas stoves. The governor’s budget is just a proposal. The state Legislature ultimately crafts the budget, and the governor can veto parts of it. [Source: Tampa Bay Times]

Florida Trend Exclusive
Florida's new strawberry variety is white hot 

In 2020, the University of Florida’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (UF/IFAS) unveiled a new strawberry with a distinct white color that ripens to a pale pink blush. The cross-bred berry was the work of Vance Whitaker, a professor of horticultural sciences and a strawberry breeder. Last year, the berry hit the U.S. and European markets in a big way, garnering huge social media attention with posts generating more than 50 million views. [Source: Florida Trend]

New bill would make it riskier to sue to protect undeveloped lands

Floridians would be on the hook to pay when they lose lawsuits that oppose building new homes on undeveloped lands, under a newly filed bill. Environmental groups fear that if the bill were to pass, it would deter people from filing lawsuits limiting development — and lead to greater sprawl. “The intent of the legislation seems to be to chill people from filing these sorts of challenges,” said Gil Smart, Policy Director for the Friends of the Everglades. “These are often situations that are controversial — development is such a huge issue statewide.” [Source: Orlando Sentinel]

Pass rates continue to fall at Florida nursing schools, data shows

Fewer than two-thirds of Florida nursing students passed the national licensing exam in 2022, according to a new report from the Florida Center for Nursing. The National Council Licensure Examination is the final step for graduates to become licensed health care providers in a state that is desperate for nurses. Nursing staffs at Florida hospitals have been plagued by high turnover and a large number of vacancies, with projections that the state will be short nearly 60,000 nurses by 2035. Yet Florida has had the lowest exam pass rate in the nation since 2017. [Source: Tampa Bay Times]

Governor ‘anticipates’ special session on Disney’s Reedy Creek next week

Gov. Ron DeSantis is expecting a special session next week to consider the proposed state takeover of Disney World’s Reedy Creek Improvement District, a spokesman said late Tuesday. Bryan Griffin, the governor’s press secretary, confirmed that “the governor’s office anticipates a special session next week on Reedy Creek and other items,” but he would not disclose what those other items would be. [Source: Orlando Sentinel]


› Orlando tourism and sports sectors forecast a solid year
Central Florida’s travel, entertainment and hospitality markets are close to firing on all cylinders again — less than three years from the start of the Covid-19 pandemic. Air and drive-in travel activity is high and hotel rooms are being booked. Fans in the sports world once again head to games and there’s growth in some of the region’s athletic programs. In addition, area theme parks are cracking open their wallets for major expansions, new rides, shows and more.

› Living in Miami drains your wallet. See where area’s cost of living ranks nationally
In the three years since COVID-19 reached the United States, South Florida has stood out, drawing new residents and newfound wealth. In January, it received another distinction confirming that living here really does cost an arm and a leg. The Miami metropolitan area posted the highest cost-of-living increase among major U.S. cities, according to the latest Consumer Price Index report by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. It reflects the tough daily reality for many locals who work outside of technology, finance or law — sectors paying many workers six-figure salaries and head-spinning annual bonuses on top of that.

› Why Kaseya keeps growing, despite widespread tech layoffs
Here's something you may not have read about recently: A technology company that's still hiring. Miami-based Kaseya is in the process of hiring 1,000 employees to staff a 35,000-square-foot office it opened in Orlando last year, including software and security engineers. It is part of a larger company expansion that saw the information management firm go from 800 to 5,000 employees over the past five years.

› Bradenton powerbrokers launch new commercial real estate brokerage
Some of the most prominent names in development and real estate in Manatee County have joined forces, with the launch of a new commercial real estate brokerage under the NDC Cos. umbrella. Longtime Manatee County sales and leasing leader Ben Bakker will oversee the unit, NDC Commercial Real Estate. In leaving Michael Saunders & Co. to join NDC, Bakker will work with peers and friends Ron Allen and Jason Bartz. Allen, president of NDC, has overseen dozens of the company’s notable projects in the area, from the Manatee County Administration Complex to renovations of the spring training home of the Pittsburgh Pirates.

Go to page 2 for more stories ...

› ‘We continue to invest in the campus,’ Johnson & Johnson Vision executive says
Johnson & Johnson Vision faced challenges in 2022, including supply issues that limited growth in sales of its Acuvue-brand contact lens. However, the Jacksonville-based subsidiary of the medical products giant still increased contact lens revenue by 9.6% last year, excluding the impact of currency fluctuations on international sales. “We’re a growth engine for J&J,” said Peter Menziuso, company group chairman of Johnson & Johnson Vision, in a Jan. 31 interview at the company’s Southside campus.

› Hollerbach’s team launches weed-themed Sanford eatery ‘The Joint’
The team behind the popular Hollerbach’s Willow Tree Café is launching a new eatery with a weed culture theme inside a downtown Sanford bar and live music venue. The Joint at West End is testing out the menu on regulars and has a soft opening planned for Super Bowl Sunday inside West End Trading Co. in Sanford, Hollerbach’s CEO Christina Hollerbach said. As for its name, Hollerbach believes The Joint fits the vibe of West End, where she said there are reggae concerts. The name and theme are also a play on words, due to the “joint venture” with West End.

› University of Miami, Miami Beach struggle hunting pollution source
Ultra-high pollution in Parkview Island Canal, “a canal within a canal, within a bay,” is associated with freshwater that floats on the surface, entering during storms through the area’s stormwater system and containing animal and human feces, a University of Miami study has found. Enterococci – the bacteria found in the samples carrying concentrations of human and animal fecal waste – was said to come from a combination of “a whole ecosystem of animals,” human waste, and leaking garbage bins.

› Feeding Tampa Bay breaks ground at site of new service center
A new facility to help tackle food insecurity in the Tampa Bay region is one step closer to becoming a reality. During a ceremony on Wednesday, Feeding Tampa Bay broke ground on its new service center that will be built off of Causeway Boulevard in Tampa. The 217,000 square foot center will double the organization’s ability to provide fresh produce and perishable goods to the more than one million people struggling with food insecurity in the region, while also reducing meal costs by about 25%.