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

AP Photo/Kathy Willens

Henry Flagler’s railroad and Napoleon Broward’s pledge to drain the Everglades forged the beginnings of today’s modern South Florida. No two forces have been as influential on the economy as immigration and real estate. The two are intertwined with Flagler and Gov. Broward. Immigrants provided the labor, while the railroad and draining of the Everglades opened up real estate.

We asked for listener questions about the economy and several of them were focused on these two issues.

IMMIGRATION

AP Photo/Steve Cannon

By the time you read this, Florida lawmakers may have a proposed budget agreement. That's how fast multi-billion dollar decisions are made in the final hours of the Florida legislative session.

The state budget needs to land by late Tuesday in order for legislators to vote on it by Friday, the scheduled end of the regularly scheduled 2017 session. If there's a spending plan that passes the House and Senate and Gov. Rick Scott agrees to it, there won't be a need for a special session to come up with the budget before the beginning of the next fiscal year in July.

Claudia Muñoz/WLRN

Sometime before the end of this year, the state of Florida will have a new website with health care prices for patients. It's the result of a 2016 law and a five-year, $6.1 million  state contract that was finalized earlier this month.

 

The biggest health insurance providers in Florida are expected to contribute prices to the website: Florida Blue, Aetna, United Healthcare, AvMed and others. Under the law, these health insurers will have to share the prices they pay to Florida health care providers on behalf of their patients.

WUSF News

With three weeks left before the end of the regularly scheduled legislative session, the two chambers of the Florida Legislature are about $4 billion apart in their spending plans. While the gap is closing, the fundamental position of the top budget lawmaker in the House is to shrink state spending.

Tom Hudson

The South Florida economy is more than a $300 billion  engine with close to 3 million workers and 6 million people. Tourism, real estate, trade and agriculture are key industries driving the ups and downs.

 

Housing costs are high and pay is relatively low.

 

These were common themes to questions submitted to WLRN's new public-powered journalism project Palm Readers. We tried to answer some of these questions.

 

Tom Hudson

Brightline hasn't picked up a train passenger yet or even announced what fares will be when it does, but its former boss says the passenger train service won't lose money during its first full year in operation. 

 

Mike Reininger is executive director of Brightline's parent company Florida East Coast Industries. Until earlier this month he was the CEO of All Aboard Florida, which will operate Brightline.

 

"We expect that we will be break even or profitable in 2018," he told WLRN's Sunshine Economy.

Tom Hudson

Big cruise companies like Royal Caribbean Cruises and Carnival Corp. are increasingly turning to technology to step up their passengers’ on-board experiences and make boarding the ships more efficient in all aspects, including the design.

 

The lingering nature of water through the Everglades has been matched by the slow progress toward the massive goal of reviving the region with more water and cleaner water.

It’s been 17 years since President Bill Clinton signed into law the bill that included the Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan. That began the modern day effort to restore the Everglades after a century of draining and redirecting the water to create today’s South Florida.

More than half way through the expected time frame for the work only a half dozen projects are underway.

Tom Hudson

A Miami-based rapper. A second-tier English soccer club and a sports car racing team.

 

What ties them together is Visit Florida, the state group that markets Florida to tourists across the country and across the globe. What also ties these three together is they provided the ammunition for opponents of using taxpayer money to promote tourism.

 

Tom Hudson

Next year is almost here for American insurance companies wanting to sell plans on Healthcare.gov in 2018, assuming it survives the Obamacare repeal-and-replace effort.

President Donald Trump and Republican governors met Monday and the top topic was the Affordable Care Act. The president and congressional Republican leaders have pledged to repeal and replace the federal health insurance law known as Obamacare.

Amanda Rabines / WLRN News

Over the past year, Florida has been second only to California in the number of new jobs created with just over a quarter of a million new jobs. But California’s labor market is twice the size of Florida’s. The rate of growth of Florida's job market also ranked second in the nation at 3.1 percent. (Oregon was No. 1.)

 

Tom Hudson / WLRN

What started in part by a text in response to racial tension and police shootings of black men has turned into millions of dollars directed at economic development and investment in the black community. The bank black effort is an economic call to action as much as it is a social movement.

One local bank, OneUnited, has received millions of new dollars in deposits thanks to the bank black movement. The bank is based in Boston with branches in Los Angeles and in Miami's Liberty City neighborhood.

Tom Hudson

With record tourism comes big business, but you won’t find a front desk at one of the largest lodging groups in the state - Airbnb.

The home-sharing network has almost 33,000 hosts in Florida, generating millions of dollars for it and the hosts, basically property owners who rent a room, home or a condo for a few days to a visitor. The company calls it a short-term rental and insists it is not in competition with the hotel business.

The traditional hotel business is growing in South Florida. Here's what 2016 looked like for hotels in Miami-Dade and Broward counties:

Tom Hudson

South Florida home prices continued climbing in 2016 even as the pace of sales slowed, especially for condominiums.

Tom Hudson

As the 2017 state legislative session approaches, lawmakers and Gov. Rick Scott already have been talking about their shopping lists of new ideas about how to spend taxpayers' money. There’s a laundry list of big issues legislators will need to address during their session: the death penalty, concealed carry, gambling. But there is no larger issue than the budget. It’s an $82 billion-plus document that dictates how the state spends money.

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