The Sunshine Economy

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

Tom Hudson
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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The Business of Big Events
12:17 am
Mon November 24, 2014

The Sunshine Economy: Books, Basel, Boats, Booze

A shot from the street fair at the 2001 Miami Book Fair International.
Credit Miami Book Fair International / Courtesy

South Florida knows how to throw a party. And it better, considering how important hospitality is to the regional economy. From conferences and conventions to fairs and festivals, the event business picks up as temperatures up north drop. Some are for out-of-towners exclusively, others celebrate South Florida for South Floridians.

To get a sense of the economics and local emotions involved, The Sunshine Economy spoke with the driving forces behind four big events that dot the South Florida map.

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Sunshine Economy
7:08 am
Mon November 17, 2014

Power of Price: Health Care & Health Costs

Does this sound like a top health care CEO?

Or this?

Those are the comments of Baptist Health South Florida CEO Brian Keeley. Baptist Health is the largest faith-based non-profit health system in South Florida. It delivers $2 billion of health care to South Florida through seven hospitals, more than a dozen urgent care centers and various other specialty health centers. The Baptist business has more than 1,700 beds and serves more than 1 million patients per year. Keeley has been with Baptist for more than 30 years.

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Business
9:17 am
Mon November 10, 2014

The Sunshine Economy: Work & Wages

Social worker Lionel Lightbourne works for a non-profit in Liberty City. He says he makes a "doable living."
Credit Tom Hudson

Lionel Lightbourne has been a social worker in Liberty City for four years. He says he is a "fish in water" with his chosen profession. He speaks with passion about empowering families and children in need.

If he were single, he says his income would put him just above the poverty line. "But together with my wife," he says, "we will actually be in the middle class."

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Politics
9:23 am
Mon November 3, 2014

The Sunshine Economy: Election Eve In Florida

The finger-pointing and mudslinging almost is over. There is an end to the negative ads. Floridians will choose their next governor and it's safe to say that man already has served as governor. And he has served as a Republican. 

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Sunshine Economy
8:58 am
Mon October 27, 2014

Amendment 1: The Price to Protect Florida's Land & Water

Amendment 1 would guarantee money to buy and restore land in Florida to protect the environment.
Credit Tom Hudson

Almost three and a half million acres of Florida are under the state's care. The federal government is responsible for another three million acres. County and local governments plus special districts such as water conservation and management areas have 3.4 million acres under their control.

From city and state parks to libraries, wildlife areas and the Everglades close to 10 million acres of Florida are public lands. That's about one in every four acres of Florida.  

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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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