Florida Trend | Florida's Business Authority

Thursday's Daily Pulse

Florida Senate takes aim at 20-minute recess rule, high-stakes exams

The package of three bills, which aim to deregulate Florida’s public schools, got a first favorable vote from the Senate’s education committee Wednesday. They were prompted by legislation (HB 1) passed in the spring that made all school children eligible for private school vouchers and also required the state to consider ways to reduce the bureaucracy imposed on public schools. [Source: South Florida SunSentinel]

South Florida braces for ongoing rain rounds; advisories and closures remain in effect

South Florida faced a relentless storm, unleashing heavy rain, thunderstorms, and whipping winds throughout Wednesday. The aftermath reveals a region grappling with the impact of widespread flooding and record-breaking gusts. The widespread flooding has left many cars stranded across Miami-Dade County and Broward County. [Source: WSVN]

Scientists find ethyl vanillin in a specially-bred strawberry

Finding ethyl vanillin in a strawberry may prove valuable for the flavor and food industries in the quest of offering consumers more natural flavors, said Yu Wang, an associate professor of food science and human nutrition at the UF/IFAS Citrus Research and Education Center. Vanilla beans contain the character-impact compound vanillin, which imparts vanilla flavor. Ethyl vanillin provides an even more powerful vanilla-like flavor. It is synthesized in labs and is one of the most widely used artificial flavors in the food, beverage, food supplements and pharmaceutical industries. [Source: Phys.org]

» Related - A new strawberry developed at UF with a distinct pale color becomes a national sensation.

Plan targets 'perfect storm' in prisons

Leaking roofs, corroded doors, broken windows and crumbling stucco were among the facility problems identified in the report by the consulting firm KPMG, which spent a year developing a “master plan” for the state corrections system. Florida is facing “a bit of a perfect storm,” Jeff Goodale, a subcontractor who worked on the report, told the Senate Criminal and Civil Justice Appropriations Committee on Wednesday. [Source: News Service of Florida]

Florida cuts its workers comp rate

The state Office of Insurance Regulation said Monday it has approved an overall 15.1% rate decrease, which will take effect in January. That matches a 15.1% decrease requested in August by the National Council on Compensation Insurance, or NCCI, which makes rate filings for the industry. The NCCI filing said it was based on claims experience in the 2020 and 2021 policy years. [Source: Orlando Business Journal]


› Pinellas County reports record year for tourism in 2023
Tourism is the biggest economic driver in the Tampa Bay Area, and tourists recently broke records in Pinellas County. According to Visit St. Pete Clearwater’s President and CEO Brian Lowack, more than $98 million in bed tax was collected for the fiscal year 2023, from Oct. 1, 2022, to Sept. 30, 2023. That’s the most in Pinellas County tourism history.

› After mass layoffs, pharma company considers another merger or sale
TherapeuticsMD could consider another merger or sale nearly a year after terminating its entire staff. On Nov. 14 the pharmaceutical royalties firm revealed it is considering a variety of "strategic alternatives," including a possible merger, business combination or sale of assets. The Boca Raton company was a developer of pharmaceutical drugs specifically for women, including birth control and medications that treat symptoms of menopause, until it sold off the commercialization rights of its products for $153 million.

› Florida Poly students build solar race car from scratch
Students are putting what they learned in the classroom to the test while working to build a solar race car for a competition next spring. Ten years ago, the campus was just starting to take shape. That signature building you see off of Interstate 4 while driving through Polk County is the Innovation, Science and Technology Building at Florida Polytechnic.

› Top exec on how to recruit large employers to Florida despite limited incentives
Mel Meléndez recently spoke with Rodrick Miller, president and CEO of the Miami-Dade Beacon Council, for the latest segment of the Florida Business Minds podcast.

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› Pink gave away 1,000 banned books at Miami concert.
Pink concertgoers in Miami not only soaked in the international pop star’s music, they lined up to take home copies of four books banned by some school districts. Pink teamed with PEN America to give away 1,000 books at her concert Tuesday night at the Kaseya Center in downtown Miami, including Amanda Gorman’s “The Hill We Climb” and Toni Morrison’s “The Bluest Eye,” all of which she purchased from Books & Books in Coral Gables. She also gave away “The Family Book,” by Todd Parr, and a book from Girls Who Code, the nonprofit founded by Reshma Saujani.

› Cherrytop: Northwest Florida’s first woman-owned AI marketing firm opens doors
Cherrytop, a woman-led agency, unveils its national presence as Northwest Florida's pioneer in transparent AI-driven marketing and PR solutions. Led by Michelle Hayes Uhlfelder, a 20-year industry veteran, the firm innovatively merges brand strategy, marketing, and public relations, leveraging AI technology.

› Aurora Health picks up senior facility portfolio for $30M
Affiliates of New York-based Aurora acquired a nursing home in Pompano Beach and two rehabilitation centers in West Palm Beach, according to records and Vizzda. Omega Healthcare Investors, a real estate investment trust based in Hunt Valley, Maryland, sold the properties.