The Sunshine Economy

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

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.

Tom Hudson
Credit WLRN

Tom Hudson

A month after Hurricane Irma filled his mobile home with 17 inches of flood water, Brian Branigan received a permit from Monroe County to replace his home's drywall and flooring. By early December, the drywall had been replaced and new plywood had been laid. He expects to start putting in the linoleum floor this week with the hopes of moving back into the home before the end of the month.

"My home is modest," he said. "It's just a mobile home, but it's home. It's not a house."

AP Photo/Steve Cannon)

The state’s economy may be booming, but money coming into the state government is less than expected and costs are higher, at least in the short-term, thanks primarily to Hurricane Irma. That is the financial environment as Florida lawmakers gather in Tallahassee for the 2018 legislative session.

Tom Hudson

It’s just over a year since Florida helped deliver the presidency to Donald Trump. The feelings among voters still range from anxious to excited, disgusted to “we got what we voted for.”

Another year of Art Basel and Art Week is history, but will the growing number of art museums in South Florida experience a Basel bump?

 

courtsey of David Fine/Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta

Raphael Bostic is not a familiar name.

That is unless you work deep inside the financial industry or operate inside academic circles researching the economy. Bostic is the president of the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta. His territory includes South Florida.

He says he worries a lot about economic mobility. He thinks all business owners should be concerned about paying their employees enough to afford a decent quality of life, and he's comfortable with the Fed's approach to slowly raise interest rates.

Tom Hudson

This year is six weeks shorter than last year.

Not on the calendar, or course, but there are six fewer weeks this year for people getting their health insurance through the Affordable Care Act -- otherwise known as Obamacare or ACA-- to sign up for 2018.

This year’s open enrollment period to sign-up for the coverage is six weeks long and it’s already underway. It ends December 15th. Last year, participants had three months to buy the health insurance or face a fine.

  

screenshots of C-SPAN videos

This week in Congress, the most significant rewriting of the U.S. tax code could take a big step toward becoming law. The U.S. House of Representatives may vote on a big package of tax changes as soon as Thursday. The decision would come less than two weeks after the initial legislation was introduced by House Republican leaders and only a week after the House Ways and Means Committee debated the bill, eventually passing it through on a party-line vote.

 

Tom Hudson

Construction cranes may dot the South Florida skyline. Construction zones may occupy our streets. Cement trucks and tractor trailers carrying bulldozers may mingle in our traffic. But there are fewer people working in construction in South Florida than there were a decade ago when the real estate boom came crashing down.

This building boom doesn’t have unbridled activity like the last one, and it doesn’t have the workforce either. Sixteen percent fewer people are working in construction today compared to the beginning of 2006, even though pay has jumped 15 percent.

Vaguely Artistic / Flickr/Creative Commons

Early voting is underway in Miami, Miami Beach, Hialeah and Homestead.

Voters in Miami and Miami Beach are deciding the fate of borrowing and booze. Miami wants to borrow hundreds of millions of dollars for the environment and other items. Miami Beach will decide if there should be an earlier last call for alcohol on a stretch of Ocean Drive for outdoor bars.

Hurricane Irma at 8 a.m. on Sept. 10, 2017.
National Weather Service

In the six weeks since Hurricane Irma first made landfall in Florida, almost 750,000 property insurance claims have been filed. Almost one out of every three of those have been filed by property owners in South Florida. And most of those insurance claims remain open.

"So far, I am satisfied," said Florida Insurance Commissioner David Altmaier about the process. "We do have ways to go, so that's a preliminary assessment."

Tom Hudson

Richard Sasso is a salesman. He punctuates a conversation about the cruise industry with a library of stories he has gathered over more than 40 years selling cruises. Hurricanes? He's experienced them. Business cycle changes? He's led companies through them.

 

Tom Hudson

Hurricane Irma dealt a blow to the agriculture industry in South Florida. Local damage estimates are still being calculated, but initial figures put it at around $250 million in Miami-Dade County alone. It’s too early to tell what the price of the storm will be for Palm Beach County farmers. The sugarcane harvest begins this month and crop loss will become more apparent.

Tom Hudson and Katie Lepri

Jerry Lieberman / Keys Energy Services

Even though the Lower Florida Keys took a direct hit from Hurricane Irma, the storm did not disconnect the Keys power line to the mainland.

Much of Key West, at the end of the line, had power within days of the storm — much faster than many places on the mainland, which had much weaker winds from Irma.

Tom Hudson / WLRN

When Phil Waynick returned to his home on Little Torch Key after Hurricane Irma, he said it was "like a kid at Christmas." His home had survived some of the worst of Irma's wind, rain and storm surge. Many others were not as prepared or lucky.

Pages