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Friday's Daily Pulse

Momentum builds around commercial solar energy use

Solar power installations have been common in Florida’s residential real estate market for several years, but commercial uptake of the energy source has been slower to materialize. That trend could change, however, as more big-name companies begin to realize the value of putting solar panel arrays in underutilized spaces such as the roofs of buildings and parking garages. [Source: Business Observer]

Business BeatBusiness Beat - Week of February 3rd

Get top news-to-know with Florida Trend's headline-focused video newsbrief, hosted by digital content specialist Aimée Alexander.

No storms? What hurricane hunters and forecasters do the other 6 months of year.

The public is hyperaware of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s work during the hurricane season. But the offseason can at times be even busier. In December, the National Hurricane Center’s forecasters begin reviewing hurricanes from the past season. The team of about 10 forecasters chronicles the life of a hurricane — where it tracked, how strong it was, how long it lasted and the destruction it caused. Ultimately, the reports allow forecasters to scrutinize themselves. The Hurricane Center wants to know what it got right and wrong. [Source: Tampa Bay Times]

Florida receiving millions to help improve roads, address deadly crashes

To help save lives and make our streets safer, the federal government is awarding communities across Florida about $67 million to plan for the future and work on infrastructure. This is part of $800 million in federal funding that’s been awarded to hundreds of communities across the country. Transportation officials say the trends are heading in the wrong direction, and roads are getting more dangerous. [Source: News4Jax]

As Florida fentanyl deaths surge, state leaders and advocates disagree how to fight overdoses

In Florida, the number of fatal overdoses continues to increase year over year. According to the latest figures, 8,257 Floridians died from accidental drug intoxication in 2021, a 10% increase over the 7,575 who died in 2020. While state GOP leaders continue to push zero-tolerance, law-and-order legislation to curb overdose numbers, drug-user advocates and some Democrats are backing harm reduction methods, like fentanyl test strips. Both sides agree, however, that the most alarming trend in overdoses is surging deaths among children and teens. [Source: Gainesville Sun]


› Tampa startup Slide buys 91,400 homeowners policies from UPC Insurance
A fast-rising Tampa insurance technology startup has acquired more than 91,400 Florida homeowners insurance policies from St. Petersburg’s UPC Insurance, which decided last summer to withdraw from the Florida marketplace. Slide, founded in 2021 by a former executive of Tampa’s Heritage Insurance, will take on what amounts to $272 million in annual premiums, bringing the value of all its premiums to $560 million.

› Port Canaveral cruise business ends 2022 with huge spike. Here’s what’s ahead.
Port Canaveral ended 2022 with a surge of cruise ship business, which hints at good news ahead for 2023. The sea hub, which accommodates several major cruise operators, saw 243 cruise ship calls — ported and visiting — for the final quarter of calendar 2022 from October to December. That accounted for more than 1.7 million multi-day passengers through the port, according to a Canaveral Port Authority presentation on Jan. 25.

› Brevard County gets $19.5 million to stop nutrients from flowing into Indian River Lagoon
A windfall of federal money could give Brevard County a major boost in staunching the flow of harmful nutrients into the Indian River Lagoon, with funding promised for more than 30 stormwater-related projects across the county. As part of the American Recovery and Protection Act, the Florida Department of Environmental Protection has been distributing grant money to municipal governments for projects that curb the flow of nitrogen and phosphorous into intracoastal waterways.

› Pricey Brickell office rents push six firms to cheaper digs in downtown Miami tower
A downtown Miami office tower has reaped the benefits of Brickell’s sky-high rents, signing six new tenants — and five more coming — to move into a coveted commercial building next to Bayfront Park. Six local and outside firms recently leased space at Citigroup Center at 201 S. Biscayne Blvd., said Brett Reese, the managing director for real estate investment and management firm CP Group, co-owner of the tower.

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› Tesla to build 3rd Central Florida dealership in Kissimmee
Electric carmaker Tesla is planning to build its second new dealership in as many years in Central Florida, this time in Kissimmee, according to a report in GrowthSpotter. The Elon Musk-led company currently operates one dealership in Maitland/Eatonville and is building a second on State Road 50 in Clermont. The third would go on South Orange Blossom Trail near Osceola Parkway in Kissimmee. The location is nine miles south of The Florida Mall, where Tesla has a showroom.

› University of Florida students, faculty plan to protest Monday as Sasse begins presidency
Incoming University of Florida President Ben Sasse will be greeted by protestors Monday afternoon outside the school's administration building as he officially takes the helm of the top-5 public university. In a press release announcing the protest, which is planned for 2 p.m. outside Tigert Hall at 300 SW 13th St., the coalition of UF students, faculty, staff, alumni and community members are demanding that Sasse commits to a series of initiatives.

› Miami Herald executive editor named to oversee all large newsrooms for parent company McClatchy
Monica Richardson, executive editor of the Miami Herald and el Nuevo Herald, has been named vice president of news for large markets for parent company McClatchy. Richardson will oversee all news operations for McClatchy’s six largest newsrooms, including the Herald. Kristin Roberts, McClatchy’s chief content officer, made the announcement Wednesday.

› Mount Dora Arts Festival returns for 48th annual event
The streets of downtown Mount Dora will soon be filled with artists’ booths and thousands of visitors as an annual art tradition returns. The Mount Dora Arts Festival is back for its 48th annual event Feb. 4-5 with around 300 artists showing painting, sculpture, clay, mixed media, photography, jewelry and more. The event also features a kid zone, festival food, adult beverages and live entertainment throughout the weekend. What has become a nationally-ranked festival drawing tens of thousands of visitors and artists from around the country started with humble beginnings in 1975 with a group of art-loving citizens.