Citrus crop forecast continues to sour
Florida's struggling citrus industry continues to see a decline in the crop for the current growing season, with the harvest on track for the lowest yield since before World War II. With the latest sign of trouble for the industry attributed to a recent cold snap, the U.S. Department of Agriculture on Friday dropped its Florida orange forecast by more than 7 percent from the March update, pushing the decline since the first forecast was issued in October to nearly 19 percent. Meanwhile, grapefruit production has been cut nearly 8 percent from earlier predictions. [Source: News Service of Florida]
Florida officials appeal federal ruling that struck down parts of 2021 election law
As promised, the state of Florida is appealing the federal court ruling that struck down some changes to the state’s election law crafted in 2021. The one-page notice of appeal was filed late Thursday in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit in Atlanta just seven days after Chief U.S. District Court Judge Mark Walker issued his 288-page ruling that lambasted the election code changes in 2021 as tactics to suppress Black votes. He struck down tightened regulations for using ballot drop boxes and new rules for third-party registration groups. [Source: Florida Politics]
Florida Film Festival celebrates its 31st year
The 31st Florida Film Festival is underway in Maitland. Hundreds of filmmakers are screening their projects throughout a 10-day-period that’s back in person this year. “We have an incredible amount of world premieres this year,” explained Deanna Tiedtke, the director of public relations for Enzian Theater. This year is special for Tiedtke - it’s her first time running the show with a new title for Enzian, but it's a venue she fell in love with a decade ago. [Source: Spectrum News 13]
Out of Office: Northeast Florida attracts remote workers, sees community growth
Florida has seen an influx of remote workers due to its low cost of living, with Jacksonville and Northeast Florida in particular seeming to be popular spots for remote work. Remote working has really taken off during the COVID-19 pandemic, said Aundra Wallace, president of JAXUSA Partnership, the regional economic development arm of the JAX Chamber. [Source: Florida Times-Union]
After SpaceX launch from KSC, Axiom-1 private-astronaut mission docks with space station
Beginning as a Friday morning picture-perfect launch of a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket at Kennedy Space Center, the Axiom-1 first all-private mission culminated about a day later by docking with the International Space Station about 258 miles above the Atlantic Ocean. Mirroring a perfect launch, the trip for the first all-private astronaut mission to the ISS was incredibly smooth, however, docking procedures experienced one slight hiccup that caused about a forty-five-minute delay. [Source: Florida Today]
ALSO AROUND FLORIDA:
› Congressional redistricting fight: New maps could shake up Broward, Palm Beach counties [South Florida Sun-Sentinel]
There’s a battle royal raging over Florida’s congressional districts, with most most of the focus on whether a map should or shouldn’t be drawn to maximize the chances for electing a Black member of Congress along the state’s northern border. But the outcome of the special legislative session on congressional redistricting that begins April 19 could also impact who wins two Broward-Palm Beach county congressional districts.
› Power lines and power plays in Jacksonville's quest to attract biggest cargo ships [Florida Times-Union]
If "river deep" has been the rallying cry of Jacksonville and other East Coast ports battling to win the business of big ocean-crossing cargo ships, the related question of "how high up" has also emerged in that costly race. The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey completed a $1.7 billion project in 2019 that raised the Bayonne Bridge to 215 feet so the biggest cargo ship to ever call on the East Coast could sail under its historic arch.
› As pandemic subsides, Alachua County's workforce is back but employers still staffing up [Gainesville Sun]
Last summer, when the deadly delta strain of COVID-19 was sweeping the country, local employers were struggling to find workers to fill openings after many had reopened from the earlier shut-downs. Even after raising wages and offering incentives, many customer-service jobs in restaurants, convenience stores and retail shops went unfilled. “Help Wanted” signs were everywhere.
› Seattle tech firm to expand to Tampa Bay region, hire 500 workers [Business Observer]
Avanade, a leading provider of Microsoft solutions for businesses, has announced plans to open an engineering hub in Tampa and hire 500 people, over the next three years, to staff it. According to a news release, Seattle-based Avanade will work with the Tampa Bay Economic Development Council to recruit and hire 500 software engineers. The firm says it’s looking for both entry- and senior-level applicants.
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› Motorcoach company adds stop in Sarasota [Business Observer]
In-state travelers, within the Sarasota and Bradenton areas, won’t have to drive themselves anymore with RedCoach announcing a new stop. The Florida-based luxury motorcoach company is adding an extra stop in Sarasota at 5820 Commercial Way, with ticket prices starting at $15 one way.
› Proposal to build Cocoa Village hotel in former City Hall location moves forward [Florida Today]
Cocoa's Planning and Zoning committee this week approved a proposal to build a Radisson hotel the heart of Cocoa Village's historic downtown area, moving the project a step closer to construction. Developers hope to build a seven-story, 87,000-square-foot hotel with 107 rooms and a rooftop bar at 603 Brevard Avenue in the location of the old City Hall. Developers also plan to put retail space on the ground floor with public access that would be separate from the main hotel entrance.
› Insurers can now offer reduced levels of roof replacement coverage. What this means to you [South Florida Sun-Sentinel]
Turns out there’s still such a thing as a “free roof,” much to the dismay of Florida’s insurance industry and homeowners who want insurance prices to stop increasing. Last month, Florida’s Legislature failed to weaken incentives for roofing contractors who canvass neighborhoods offering to get homeowners “free roofs” paid for in full by their insurance companies. This practice, insurance companies say, results in in higher insurance costs for all homeowners.
› St. Petersburg’s American Stage theater announces its 2022-23 season [Tampa Bay Times]
American Stage has announced the lineup for its 2022-23 season. Themed, “This is America, This is American Stage,” the season marks the theater company’s 45th anniversary. To celebrate, single-ticket prices for mainstage performances will be lowered to $45. The lineup includes Tony Award-winning musical Green Day’s American Idiot and The Colored Museum, winner of the 1998 NAACP Image Award.