Florida Trend | Florida's Business Authority

Wednesday's Daily Pulse

Floridian sentiment reverses course as future economic outlook drops

After three consecutive monthly increases, consumer sentiment among Floridians dropped one point in April to 68.7, from a revised figure of 69.7 in March. In contrast, national consumer sentiment increased 1.5 points. “Despite challenges such as elevated inflation, hikes in interest rates, and turmoil in the banking sector, consumer sentiment remained resilient in the first quarter of 2023. However, in April, Floridians' expectations about the national economy took a downturn, resulting in the first drop in consumer confidence for the year,” said Hector H. Sandoval, director of the Economic Analysis Program at UF’s Bureau of Economic and Business Research. [Source: UF News]

Environmental groups sue the federal government to protect Florida's manatees

Four environmental groups announced Tuesday that they are suing the federal government for failing to protect the West Indian Manatee. The manatee's numbers have dropped precipitously in the past two years. The biggest amount of deaths took place in the Indian River Lagoon along Florida's Atlantic coast, where too many nutrients in the water from human use spurred the growth of algae, which smothered seagrasses that manatees eat. [Source: WUSF]

Florida lawmakers pass a sweeping elections bill

The Florida House has given final approval to a sweeping elections bill that would place more restrictions on voter-registration groups. Gov. Ron DeSantis is expected to sign the measure, which would ensure he could run for president in 2024 without having to resign his current post. Current Florida law requires anyone seeking office to resign from the one they already hold after qualifying as a candidate. The bill heading to DeSantis would exempt officeholders who run for U.S. president or vice president from having to resign. [Source: WLRN]

Op-Ed: Florida’s Senate Bill 262 will harm consumers and small businesses online

While it bills itself a “Digital Bill of Rights,” the Florida Senate Bill 262 could actually harm consumers and businesses online by substantially raising the costs of targeted advertising. For consumers, this would mean less “free” stuff online, as publishers switch from advertising-based to subscription-based models. For businesses, it would mean having less ability to target advertisements to consumers who actually want their products, resulting in less revenue. [Source: The Center Square]

Recreational pot proposal nears ballot threshold

Backers of a proposed constitutional amendment that would allow recreational use of marijuana are close to meeting a key petition-signature requirement. The state Division of Elections website Tuesday listed 841,130 valid signatures statewide, with 891,589 needed to put the proposal on the 2024 ballot. The proposal also needs to meet certain signatures thresholds in congressional districts. [Source: News Service of Florida]


› Giant offshore wind farms may power the future. Gables firm designs next generation
In a Coral Gables office, engineers are drawing up plans to build massive floating platforms the size of U.S. Navy destroyers that may hold the key to the country’s green energy future. The platforms are designed to hold the newest generation of offshore wind turbines, goliath structures that stand taller than the Golden Gate Bridge and generate so much energy that a single rotation of their nearly 400-foot blades could power a house for two days.

› Orlando to bid for WWE Royal Rumble 2024
Hoping wrestling fans will pump up visitor numbers, Orange County commissioners today pledged $850,000 from tourist tax revenue toward a bid to bring WWE Royal Rumble 2024 to Camping World Stadium. The board followed the unanimous recommendation of the Sports Incentive Committee, a panel created in 2017 to study funding proposals to attract marquee sporting events to Orange County stadiums and arenas.

› SBA administrator talks Jacksonville, 7(a) expansion and what she sees on horizon
Small businesses are an important part of the First Coast economy — and throughout May, the Business Journal will focus on these entrepreneurs who make up an ever-growing portion of the local business community. To mark Small Business Week, the Business Journal sat down with Isabella Casillas Guzman, the administrator of the U.S. Small Business Administration, for a conversation about SBA programs, including the expansion of the 7(a) lenders, and what else she sees on the horizon.

› Pasco charity ran up $1.2 million deficit. Now it cuts aid to seniors
For 50 years, the Community Aging and Retirement Services in Pasco County has provided in-home care, health services, meals, adult day care and other essential resources to low-income senior citizens. Supporters laud it as a savior for the county’s most vulnerable. But now it’s being called something else: Financially troubled.

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› Expansion of $10,000 home-hardening grant program approved, awaits DeSantis’s signature
Homeowners who delayed applying for a home-hardening grant program out of concern that state funding would quickly be depleted should soon get a second chance. Expansion of the My Safe Florida Home program, which makes up to $10,000 available to protect their homes from damaging windstorms, now only awaits Gov. Ron DeSantis’ signature.

› Boca Raton offers one of the best mixes of city and suburban living, new study suggests
Boca Raton is one of the cities offering the best mix of urban and suburban living, as it boasts a booming downtown and city-like environment, a new study concludes. The city of Boca Raton ranked 12th nationally out of almost 1,000 cities across the country due to its ability to provide the privacy and safety of suburban life as well as access to lifestyle and amenities, according to the study from Storage Cafe, a division of Yardi Matrix, a provider of research and data on housing, real estate, apartments and commercial properties.

› Weeki Wachee River dredge begins again
Nearly 10 months after the long-awaited dredging of the Weeki Wachee River stopped because of water quality issues, work is scheduled to begin again on the $2.1 million project with a new contractor and a different technique. To provide space for workers to stage equipment and begin the job, Hernando County will close Rogers Park on Shoal Line Boulevard on Monday, May 8, through Friday, May 12.

› JEA reviewing service availability for $65 million Danone expansion in Northwest Jacksonville
Danone North America continues laying the groundwork to start construction late this year for completion in summer 2024 on its $65 million production line addition at its Northwest Jacksonville plant. City utility JEA received a service availability request for the project April 20. RTM Engineering Consultants of Schaumberg, Illinois, is the civil engineer.