Florida Trend | Florida's Business Authority

Monday's Daily Pulse

Florida orange growers struggle to keep the juice flowing

Florida orange farmers are suffering devastating supply and labor issues. The state’s orange production is projected to hit historic lows in 2023, with the U.S. Department of Agriculture predicting 18 million boxes to enter the retail market, the lowest orange supply to come out of the Sunshine State since 1937. That’s an estimated 56% drop in Florida’s orange exports year-over-year, while peak orange production sits at 244 million boxes. [Source: Fresh Plaza]

COVID aftermath continues to affect Florida schools

The coronavirus pandemic is largely in the rearview mirror for Florida education. Its effects continue to impact the system. In the latest news, lawyers for students suing to get fees returned from when state university campuses closed down filed papers to get their case heard by the state Supreme Court. The move comes after a divided ruling from the 1st Circuit Court of Appeal. [Source: Tampa Bay Times]

Despite crypto carnage, Florida’s top venture investor sees enticing Miami startup prospects

Florida Funders is immersed in the state’s technology industry more than any other venture capital investor. Last year, Florida defied nationwide trends, posting a record amount of venture investments and Miami got a big share of that largesse — more than $5 billion, an all-time high and 15% more than in 2021. But economic difficulties abound, and the market is still grappling with the FTX-led fallout of cryptocurrency which hit Miami hard. [Source: Mimai Herald]

Invasive, airbreathing, frog-hunting fish found along Florida’s Gulf Coast

A pond in Manatee County was recently home to nearly 400 invasive fish known for their large size, their ability to survive in harsh environments and their “highly aggressive nature.” Oh, and they can also hunt on land. It’s the first time on record researchers documented a population of invasive goldline snakeheads on Florida’s Gulf Coast, according to a study published recently in Aquatic Invasions, an international peer-reviewed journal focused on aquatic invasive species. [Source: Tampa Bay Times]

Researchers play key role in Florida's $300 million strawberry industry

As far back as the early 1950s, the University of Florida scientists have been studying how to improve strawberry production and consumption in Florida and globally. To date, UF/IFAS-developed strawberry varieties that are grown in more than 50 countries and on every continent (except Antarctica). To help growers who generate $300 million annually for Florida’s economy, UF/IFAS researchers aim to develop strawberries that fight diseases and pests and also taste and smell delicious.  [Source: Fresh Plaza]


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› Brightline to begin testing 110 mph trains in Palm Beach County
Commuter train service Brightline is advising motorists and pedestrians in northern Palm Beach County to be aware of upcoming high-speed train tests in the area. The tests will run Brightline’s trains at speeds up to 110 mph compared to the 60 mph to 80 mph speeds the trains have been running between Miami and West Palm Beach. Brightline plans to run at the higher speeds as it phases in service to Orlando later this year, but only in less-densely populated stretches, the company has said.

› St. Petersburg’s mayor names a developer for Tropicana Field today. Then what?
Decision day has arrived. Today, St. Petersburg Mayor Ken Welch is expected to announce his pick for who gets to redevelop Tropicana Field and the 86 acres it sits upon. From the steps of City Hall, he will settle months of speculation as he gives his first State of the City address and outlines what’s ahead for St. Petersburg. It’s the latest chapter in a 37-year battle by St. Petersburg to lure — and more recently, to keep — a Major League Baseball franchise.

› SeaWorld promotes 8 executives in a bid for more growth
Orlando-based SeaWorld Entertainment Inc. announced Friday it is promoting eight executives within the company as it looks to grow even more. SeaWorld CEO Marc Swanson said in a statement that the transitions will help SeaWorld increase revenue, improve its theme parks and better manage operations and costs. Michelle “Chelle” Adams, appointed SeaWorld’s CFO and treasurer in June, will oversee SeaWorld’s reorganization, development and growth as the company’s first Chief Transformation Officer.

› Trendy Coral Gables set for retail, restaurant rush this year
Coral Gables’ population and business growth has made it a magnet for restaurants and retailers. Twenty-six more shops and restaurants are slated to open in the city this year. They’re coming to Giralda Plaza, Miracle Mile and Ponce de Leon and all corners of the Gables, said Belkys Perez, the city’s director of economic development. Gables’ retail scene continues to bloom, after a wave of openings in late 2021 and more commercial space available with the completion of the Plaza Coral Gables.

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› Backed by music vet Ted Lucas, Florida Memorial University debuts tech innovation center
To prepare Black students and entrepreneurs for their place in the growing Miami tech scene, Florida Memorial University opened its innovation laboratory Thursday in Miami Gardens. Accomplished music business veteran Ted Lucas and collaborator Chandler Malone are working closely with the lab to support Black tech education and investment through the Technolij Innovation Center on campus. Technolij is a nonprofit Lucas started to help close the racial wealth gap through tech education.

› Season of Sharing helps Sarasota teacher and family displaced by storm
For years, Chris Rhodes, a special education teacher in Chicago, felt stunted and overworked. With teaching prospects in Florida, Chris and his wife jumped at the chance to move. Before long, the couple and their kids left behind the flat prairies of the Midwest, gambling on paradise – not yet seeing another side to the land of the sun.

› St. Petersburg, Hillsborough net extra US aid for housing
The federal government is sending an additional $6.5 million to the Tampa Bay area for affordable housing units and to aid tenants facing evictions. The U.S. Department of Treasury announced this week it was allocating almost $2.55 million each to Hillsborough County and to the city of St. Petersburg, and nearly $1.4 million to Pinellas County. The money can be used to assist households with rent and utility payments or to develop affordable housing units..

› Jacksonville restaurant named to Yelp's Top 100 list
Seven months after cracking the Top 10 in Yelp’s first-ever guide to the Top 100 restaurants in Florida, a Jacksonville Italian restaurant has made Yelp’s Top 100 U.S. Restaurants for 2023. Catullo’s Italian, located at 1650-2 San Pablo Road S. in the city’s Intracoastal West neighborhood, is the only Northeast Florida restaurant to make Yelp’s annual list – and it’s one of just 13 from Florida on the list for 2023. The restaurant comes in at No. 64 on the list.