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

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:

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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

May 8, 2014
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.

The technology industry remains small in South Florida, but it attracts a lot of attention. The promise of high-paying jobs, a highly educated community and a more diversified economy are powerful pulls to develop the tech industry.

WLRN revisits the effort to grow and attract the technology industry to our region. It's the Sunshine Economy with "The Future Emerging: The Technology Industry in South Florida.”

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

Apr 14, 2014
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.

Charter Schools CEO Started As A Janitor

Apr 3, 2014
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.   

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. 

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.

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.  

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.

Got Water?

Mar 10, 2014
Tom Hudson

 

The good news from last summer's rains is that South Florida's water supply is running above average. But that doesn't ease the concerns of those responsible for finding, protecting, cleaning and distributing freshwater to the more than six million people from Pam Beach County through Key West.

They tell us there is no "average" year for water supply. It's either too wet or too dry. And while it's technically the dry season, there's plenty of water.

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