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

Talking about sugar in South Florida is like talking about politics and religion in polite company. Few people are without strong opinions about the sugarcane farms stretching across the eastern Everglades south of Lake Okeechobee. The industry is a mix of government price policies, environmental regulations, trade practices and the demand for food.  

Courtesy of Don Peebles


When he was visiting South Florida in the winter of 1996, developer R. Donahue Peebles read an article in the Miami Herald about a rundown hotel on Miami Beach called the Shorecrest. Over the next several years, Peebles would combine that property with one next door and create the Royal Palm, the first convention-class hotel on Miami Beach owned by an African-American.   

Tom Hudson


In our 5 Questions series, we ask local entrepreneurs and CEOs how they got where they are and what they think of the business community in South Florida.

Arrests in New York and Florida in late January indicate the global virtual currency Bitcoin has the attention of federal prosecutors: A top executive with a Bitcoin trade organization was one of those charged. The second man arrested was Robert Faiella, at his home in Cape Coral.

Faiella was charged with conspiracy to commit money laundering and operating an unlicensed money exchange business.  They are accused of helping push money through the online drug marketplace Silk Road.  

Tom Hudson

Bitcoin may not sound revolutionary but to its supporters and users the digital global currency could be the future of payment. To regulators, it's a curiosity they're viewing with concern.  And for a growing number of individuals and companies in South Florida, it's an opportunity to experiment.  

What is it?

Emily Michot / Miami Herald staff

As a regular digital feature of The Sunshine Economy, we'll be asking local CEOs how they got where they are and what they think of the business community in South Florida.

Tom Hudson

The quartet pictured above own and operate their businesses.  Some may consider them black businesses.  Some may not.  But they all operate in a commerce climate in South Florida that has been partially shaped by an economic boycott 24 years ago. In 1990, South Florida’s tourism industry was boycotted by blacks for three years.

Tom Hudson

Between our finances, fitness, beauty, working -- even our souls. We can spend thousands of dollars on making ourselves better. The self-help business is booming: from personal trainers to plastic surgery, how are we spending money to help ourselves?

Americans spent almost $12 billion on the self-help industry in 2012, according to independent market research firm MarketData.  Diet, exercise, motivational speakers, help-yourself books and other strategies are aimed at making us feel better, eat better, be better.  It is the business of better.  And business is good.

The Reality Of Retail

Dec 23, 2013

This program originally aired on Aug. 26, 2013.  

If you've wandered the hallways of the Dadeland or Aventura Malls or walked down Lincoln Road in Miami Beach on a Sunday afternoon, you know shopping in South Florida can be a full contact sport.

South Florida is home to both the biggest outlet mall in the United States (Sawgrass Mills) and the shopping destination generating the highest sales per square foot in the world (Bal Harbour Shops.) The reality of retail is a reflection of two of our most important industries; real estate and tourism.

Tom Hudson

Squeezed between South Florida's neighborhoods and the Everglades is a multi-billion-dollar-a-year industry. Tomatoes, beans and avocados all sprout from the rocky South Florida soil along with one of the largest nursery industries growing trees, shrubs and other landscaping plants.

Agriculture generates a direct $700 million dollars a year in Miami-Dade County alone. The economic impact of the plowing, growing and picking of those crops is much larger.