November 29, 2023
ATS Central Dec 2020
Specially designed trucks dispose of waste collected in underground vaults.
ATS Central Dec 2020
Carnival Cruise Lines' mega cruise ship, Mardi Gras, departed on its sea trials in September and is set to sail from Port Canaveral next February.
ATS Central Dec 2020
SkyWater Technology Foundry, a Minnesota computer chip manufacturer, is negotiating with Osceola County to take over University of Central Florida's role as a partner within BRIDG and the Center for Neovation.
ATS Central Dec 2020
The North Florida Land Trust has acquired 25 acres in the Ocala National Forest to protect the habitat of the Florida scrub-jay.

Central Florida Roundup

Florida cities experiment with underground waste containers

Amy Keller | 11/25/2020


Out-of-Sight Trash

Three years ago, Kissimmee installed its first underground waste containers behind city hall. Today, the city has 11 such systems around town and recently added four subterranean bins at the Hamilton at Lakeside apartments, making it the first apartment complex in North America to use the underground waste infrastructure, which was developed by an Italian company. Other Florida cities are also experimenting with the method. Clearwater is in the process of designing and installing several units near the beach and will also add one outside of Spectrum Field, where the Philadelphia Phillies hold their spring training.

Users deposit trash or items to be recycled into small mailbox-like collection units. The concrete vaults underneath hold the equivalent of one dumpster. Specially designed trucks pick up the trash when a sensor alerts the truck operator.

“It can replace a dumpster. It can replace a street can. It’s intended to be used wherever a city wants to improve space and doesn’t want overflowing trash, doesn’t want animals and wants to get parking spaces back,” says Jay Wheeler, who markets the technology through his Kissimmee-based company, Underground Refuse Systems.

Clearwater and Kissimmee each paid more than $1 million for the systems, but Wheeler says it’s economical because drivers pick up trash only when the containers are full instead of on a fixed schedule, and cities can own and operate the trucks that pick up the trash instead of signing expensive waste contracts. The approach also is more aesthetic. “This is the next step forward to improve the cleanliness of cities,” he says.


  • Former UCF President Dale Whittaker has joined the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation as a senior program manager. He’ll manage the process by which the foundation identifies opportunities and challenges in higher education and work with colleges and universities to “increase opportunity and equity for first-generation students, students of color and low-income students,” according to his blog.
  • JP Morgan Chase awarded $325,000 to the Orlando Economic Partnership to fund the work of the Foundation for Orlando’s Future. The money will help fund a regional talent strategy called UpSkill Orlando and BRACE, the Business Recovery Assistance and Collaborative Engagement, which helps small businesses find resources to survive during the COVID-19 pandemic.


  • Universal Orlando is moving forward with a plan to build 1,000 affordable housing units on 20 acres it donated along Destination Parkway east of the Orange County Convention Center. The company plans to select a developer during the first quarter of 2021 and break ground during the first half of 2022.


  • Eaton Vance Investment Counsel has purchased the assets of WaterOak Advisors, a Winter Park-based wealth management firm with $2 billion in assets under management.


  • 13 Golf Channel employees have filed a personal injury suit against Lockheed Martin. The employees, who developed multiple sclerosis and other serious illnesses, worked approximately 1½ miles from the defense company. The complaint alleges the company improperly disposed of hazardous toxins at its Missiles and Fire Control facility on Sand Lake Road. A separate class-action lawsuit seeks to halt the disposal of heavy metals and other toxic wastes at the site and pay for medical monitoring for those potentially exposed. Lockheed Martin does not comment on pending litigation.


  • Marlowe, an Iowa call center operator, has opened an office in Melbourne with 200 employees.


  • Vocera Communications acquired Orlando-based EASE (Electronic Access to Surgical Events) Applications for $25 million. The cloud-based service, created in 2013 by a group of Orlando Health physicians, allows health care providers to send Snapchatlike texts to families of patients to update them about their care.
  • Echelon, a Chattanooga, Tenn.- based exercise equipment company founded by two University of Central Florida graduates, launched a testing facility at UCF’s Research Park Innovation District and plans to hire up to 24 developers over the next two years.


  • Universal Orlando will open the Jurassic World VelociCoaster, a high-speed roller coaster, next summer in Islands of Adventure.
  • Harris Rosen has rebranded his 640-room Clarion Inn Lake Buena Vista near the Disney theme parks as the Rosen Inn Lake Buena Vista.


  • Disney is cutting nearly 18,000 jobs — roughly 23% of its Central Florida workforce. The majority of the positions are at its theme parks, which have been operating with limited capacity since July. Disney, Central Florida’s largest employer, announced in September it will let go a total of 28,000 employees across the country.
  • In a partnership with Heart of Florida United Way, Orange County has launched a $2.8-million program funded with the county’s portion of federal Cares Act money to reimburse social service nonprofits in Orange County up to $5,000 in COVID-19-related expenses.
  • Darden Restaurants, the parent company of LongHorn Steakhouse, Olive Garden and six other casual dining chains, plans to eliminate approximately 225 jobs at its restaurant support center in Orlando and elsewhere. The restructuring — which includes eliminating the position of COO — will save between $25 million and $30 million a year.


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