The Sunshine Economy

9 a.m. and 7 p.m. Mondays

Tom Hudson
Credit WLRN

The Sunshine Economy, takes a fresh look at the key industries transforming South Florida into a regional powerhouse. From investments in health care, storm preparedness, international trade, real estate and technology based start-ups, tune in to learn more about one of the worlds most vibrant and diverse economies.

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Business
12:22 pm
Mon October 20, 2014

The Sunshine Economy: Medicine, Money & Marijuana

Boston ferns grow under one of Alpha Foliage's 80 acre shade houses in Homestead. Alpha is one of the more than six dozen Florida nurseries that may qualify to grow medical marijuana.
Credit Tom Hudson

John Demott has been growing palm trees, hibiscus flowers, ferns and any number of plants from the rocky South Dade County soil for more than 40 years. He never traveled to Tallahassee for a Florida legislative hearing until this spring, when Florida lawmakers were considering legalizing a certain kind of marijuana for a limited number of diseases.

Lawmakers did approve the bill and Gov. Rick Scott signed it into law in June, making growing pot legal in Florida, but with lots of rules.

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Sunshine Economy
1:39 pm
Mon October 13, 2014

Affluence & Affordability: See South Florida's Wealthiest

Credit Tax Credits/ Flickr

    

Just over two dozen people in South Florida hold more than $100 billion in wealth. These 25 individuals make up South Florida's Wealthiest, a list from the Miami Herald, compiled by Global Governance Advisors, an executive pay consulting group. You can see the list below, or here.

There's a voyeuristic quality of these kinds of "richest" lists.

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Sunshine Economy
8:32 am
Mon October 6, 2014

Where Money In Florida's Gubernatorial Race Is Coming From

Credit University of Maryland Press / Flickr/Creative Commons

Close to $50 million has been spent buying airtime in Florida through the end of September by Florida's gubernatorial candidates and their political parties.

While some of the messages include bright pictures of Rick Scott and Charlie Crist touting their economic and education plans, most of the messaging features ominous sounding narration and dramatic music telling an audience what's wrong with the other guy. 

  According to the Center for Public Integrity at least half of the ad money spent in Florida has been spent on negative ads like these:

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Sunshine Economy
1:00 pm
Mon September 29, 2014

Trade Winds: Exporters in South Florida

Two Super Post-Panamax Cranes await cargo and ships at PortMiami (Oct. 2013).
Credit Tom Hudson

    

It's a familiar saying among exporters -- South Florida is the shopping cart for Latin America.

From cell phones to gold, medicine to aircraft parts, it all leaves the United States from South Florida destined for overseas markets. While the pace of trade is down from a year ago, according to trade media company WorldCity, the seaports and airports here maintain a trade surplus.

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The Sunshine Economy
6:55 pm
Fri September 12, 2014

Power Of Price: A Special Hour On Health Care's Complexity, Secrecy And Cost In South Florida

Patients can know what health care costs them, but can they really know what it costs?
Credit phasinphoto / freedigitalphotos.net

  Almost a year and a half ago, Mt. Sinai Medical Center CEO Steve Sonenreich pledged on WLRN to make public what insurance companies pay his hospital.

He later told us that because of non-disclosure agreements between the hospital and the region’s insurance companies, he legally couldn’t share that information after all.

It turns out these secrecy agreements are standard practice between South Florida insurers and hospitals.

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The Sunshine Economy
10:34 am
Mon September 8, 2014

How Finance Keeps South Florida Industries Together

Hanming Rao at his firm's trading desk in Boca Raton. Rao moved his fund, Global Sigma Group, to Palm Beach County in 2014.
Credit Tom Hudson

When Hanming Rao was setting up his commodity trading fund, he began the process in Stamford, Conn. After all, Rao had worked for hedge funds in Connecticut after graduating with his doctorate in engineering sciences. But he knew he would move his operations to South Florida soon. This spring, he did becoming another investment professional attracted to the region's weather, source of wealthy investors, global location and no state income taxes.

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Sunshine Economy
11:18 am
Mon June 9, 2014

The Sunshine Economy: Common Challenges, Changing Classrooms

Credit FlickR/Clover Autry

The school year may be over, but the next chapter in public education begins in less than three months: Common Core State Standards.

However, Florida public school kids won’t follow Common Core, at least not in name. The state legislature this spring eliminated references to Common Core from state education policy. Still, the principles of Common Core remain: more rigorous education standards to better prepare students for college and careers.

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Trade And Logistics
8:17 am
Tue May 20, 2014

Sunshine Economy: Going Through The Miami Tunnel

The light at the end of the tunnel. After 55 months of construction the Miami Tunnel is due to open to traffic before the end of May. The tunnel is designed to move cargo trucks and cruise passenger traffic out of downtown Miami and under Government Cut between Watson Island and PortMiami.
Credit Tom Hudson

I'd been asked a lot of things in advance of an interview with a source, but the text from Chris Hodgkins was my first wardrobe question: "What size shoes do you wear?"

Hodgkins is a vice president with MAT Concessionaire, the conglomerate formed to build, and eventually operate, the Miami Tunnel.  More than four years after beginning construction, the $1 billion tunnel is scheduled to open to traffic by the end of May.

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Sunshine Economy
1:08 pm
Thu May 8, 2014

Burgers Before Beer: 5 Questions For Funky Buddha Brewery Co-Owner

Before he went into the beer business, Funky Buddha co-owner KC Sentz (second from the left) was an electrical engineer at Motorola, though his first taste of the working life was at a McDonald's when he was 14.
Credit Courtesy of Funky Buddha

KC Sentz and his brother Ryan opened the Funky Buddha Brewery in June of 2013. It was the first production microbrewery in Broward County, and the best known in South Florida. The brewery added a bottling line recently, a milestone for craft breweries, and this May the Sentz brothers announced plans to expand.

Before seeing success as a brewery owner and manager, KC Sentz worked in engineering. But before that, he got his paycheck from Mickey D's.

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Beer Trends
10:45 pm
Mon April 14, 2014

Head To Your Local Brewery For... A Yoga Class?

Maria Murriel WLRN

Click through the photos above.

This story originally ran on April 14, 2014.

Shelah Davis is a professional yoga teacher who spends her 9-to-5 at a fitness studio in Florida City. But since the fall of 2013, she's been hauling her mats to microbreweries from Homestead to Oakland Park.

She founded Om Brew Yoga -- so far the only yoga classes offered at South Florida breweries -- after learning of the practice in an established craft-beer state.

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Sunshine Economy
6:00 pm
Thu April 3, 2014

Charter Schools CEO Started As A Janitor

Credit Courtesy of Jon Hage

Jon Hage heads the for-profit charter school management company, Charter Schools USA (CSUSA), based in Fort Lauderdale. The company operates 58 schools in seven states across the country, including Florida.

Hage grew up in middle-class Oakland Park near Fort Lauderdale. He served in the United States Army, Army National Guard and Army Reserves as a commissioned officer in the Special Forces (Green Berets). After then doing policy work in Washington D.C. and Tallahassee, he founded CSUSA in 1997.   

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Sunshine Economy
2:13 am
Thu March 20, 2014

From Farm To Brewery: 5 Questions For Craft-Beer CEO Mike Halker

Credit Tom Hudson

Before making beer in Palm Beach, Mike Halker served on a bomb squad with the U.S. Army. That cool under pressure has served him well as the founder and head of Due South Brewery, a craft-beer company based in Boynton Beach. 

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The Sunshine Economy
8:03 pm
Mon March 17, 2014

Redland's Schnebly: From Wine To Beer To Spirited Expansion

Customers usually show up at the tasting bar just before lunch hour at Schnebly Redland's Winery.
Credit Karen Rundlet / Miami Herald

 

Florida’s southernmost winery is located in the heart of Miami Dade’s farm country, Redland. It’s called Schnebly Redland’s Winery and it’s been up and running over a decade. For me, the trip to Schnebly Redland’s Winery meant a couple of hours in the car, heading south on U.S. 1, with a view of Miami Dade slowing down.

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Sunshine Economy
9:31 pm
Sun March 16, 2014

Bottoms Up: The Liquor & Wine Business In South Florida

Miami Club Rum began distilling in the Wynwood neighborhood in 2012. Founder and CEO Matt Malone uses Palm Beach County sugarcane byproducts and Miami-Dade County public water to make his rum.
Credit Tom Hudson

South Florida may not have the valleys and vineyards of Napa Valley nor the hollows and oak barrels of Kentucky but the wine and liquor industry is here in its own unique way.  Think mango wine not chardonnay, rum not bourbon and you've got the idea.  

South Floridians can talk about rum the way oenophiles go on about wine. There are the aromas of the rum, the notes and the finish. There may be hints of chocolate, berries or citrus.  For many outside of South Florida rum means one company: Bacardi.  

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Sunshine Economy
3:35 pm
Wed March 12, 2014

Interviewing By Eating: 5 Questions for CEO Felecia Hatcher

Credit Tom Hudson

Felecia Hatcher is co-founder and “chief popsicle” of Feverish Pops, a gourmet popsicle company based in Miami. Hatcher says she is “obsessed with desserts” and, as proof of that passion, she points out that she was married at a donut shop in Portland, Oregon.  

Hatcher began the popsicle company after getting fired from her marketing job with Nintendo.

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