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

courtsey & Tom Hudson

There is a big gap between $635 million and $1.6 billion. Yet, those are the two estimates of how much extra money state lawmakers may have when they meet in January for their next legislative session. The lower estimate is the official figure from the Legislative Office of Economic and Demographic Research. The higher figure is from Gov.

Tom Hudson

Talking with people who make their living based on boats and many quickly mention what they think is the biggest threat to their livelihood -- a bridge.

That single bridge crosses the New River near downtown Fort Lauderdale. Florida East Coast Railway operates the bridge, which handles freight traffic now.

However, with All Aboard Florida's plans to run passenger rail service from Miami to Orlando over the same tracks, South Florida's marine industry worries what that rail traffic could mean for the flow of its business on the water.

Chabeli Herrera

Manny Miranda and R. David Paulison both grew up in South Florida. They grew up with the threat and reality of hurricanes. Both were here in 1992 when Hurricane Andrew cut a deadly swath through Miami-Dade County,  Paulison as the chief of Miami-Dade Fire Rescue and Miranda overseeing the electrical power restoration in the communities devastated by Andrew.

Chabeli Herrera

Cuba is not foreign territory to American Airlines. It's been flying there from South Florida since 1991, though technically not as American Airlines. It flies an average of 22 of charter flights a week to the island from Miami and Tampa. It plans to launch another charter from Los Angeles before the year is over. And it wants more.
Don McDougall / flickr Creative Commons

  Howard Kass, Ubaldo Huerta and Hiram Centelles already are doing business in Cuba. They hope to do more next year as relations thaw and the Communist island opens itself up to more commerce with the United States. 

Chabeli Herrera

  Carnival Corporation is one the largest publicly traded companies calling South Florida home. Its market value of more than $38 billion is eclipsed only by NextEra Energy, FPL's parent company. About 3,000 people work for Carnival in South Florida making it one of the top 20 employers in the region.

    Becoming an adult holds the promise of new freedoms -- no curfew, driving, maybe living on your own -- but as everyone who has been a teenager knows, it comes with more responsibility, financial responsibilities in particular, whether you are ready or not.

For the first time, WLRN led a summer program teaching six high schoolers how to tell their own stories through sound. Working with them provided unique insights into what they’re thinking about their economic futures -- a future that is statistically challenging.

Tom Hudson

Between a neighbor's leaf blower and planes overhead taking off from Miami International Airport, it's hard to hear Jorge Artiles describe the home on Northwest 34th Street.

Chabeli Herrera

How South Florida gets around, or doesn't, is increasingly a matter of public debate. Climbing commuting times, more tolls and long-promised but never delivered public transportation projects like BayLink are pushing our collective patience. It costs commuters money and costs the economy lost productivity.

As the region has grown across political boundaries, transportation planning has not kept pace.

Lightblb on Flickr

"Hmm?" answered Sean Spicer to whether a Republican presidential nominee has to win in Florida in order to win the White House.

Spicer is the chief strategist and communications director for the Republican National Committee. The RNC is not picking a favorite among the growing list of Republicans vying for their party's presidential nomination. But the party, like its Democratic counterpart, knows Florida's growing importance to the 2016 presidential race.

Flickr Creative Commons

The debate that's been raging in Florida for five years: to expand Medicaid as envisioned under the Affordable Care Act or not?

Florida lawmakers have consistently decided "no." As other states with stiff opposition to Medicaid expansion, like Iowa and Indiana, have forged modified expansion plans that have been approved by the federal government, Florida has steadfastly rejected any change. 

Lawmakers return to the capital for a 20-day special legislative session today. They have to pass a budget by July 1 or risk a state government slowdown or shutdown.

Nancy Klingener

When Bill Lane visits Cuba, he looks at the roads. It's not that he's a veteran traveler to Cuba even though he's visited three times since 1998. Lane works for Caterpillar. His company sells paving machines, road graders, bulldozers and other heavy equipment used to build and repair roads.

Tom Hudson

In Florida, flight is the number one export. In 2014, almost $4.8 billion worth of aircraft, engines and aircraft parts made in Florida were shipped out of state, putting it in the top 10 for aviation.

Toya Henry wants to enter the family business, but she's not sold on staying in Miami. She's in the adult powerplant program at George T. Baker Aviation Technical College in Miami. The school is a Miami-Dade County Public School that has been training aviation workers since the early days of the industry.

Tom Hudson

This is a sign in a second floor avionics classroom at George T. Baker Aviation Technical College in Miami. It's a Miami-Dade County Public School with 550 high school students and 800 adult students taking FAA-certified classes on airframes, power plants and avionics. The sign serves as a clear reminder this is more than a classroom.

This is what it looks like when five insiders write letters to the South Florida technology industry of the future. 

For several years now the tech industry here has been a mix of promise and proclamations. Miami has been listed among the places to become the next Silicon Valley even while many in the industry here resist that kind of hype.