South Florida knows how to throw a party. And it better, considering how important hospitality is to the regional economy. From conferences and conventions to fairs and festivals, the event business picks up as temperatures up north drop. Some are for out-of-towners exclusively, others celebrate South Florida for South Floridians.
To get a sense of the economics and local emotions involved, The Sunshine Economy spoke with the driving forces behind four big events that dot the South Florida map.
Those are the comments of Baptist Health South Florida CEO Brian Keeley. Baptist Health is the largest faith-based non-profit health system in South Florida. It delivers $2 billion of health care to South Florida through seven hospitals, more than a dozen urgent care centers and various other specialty health centers. The Baptist business has more than 1,700 beds and serves more than 1 million patients per year. Keeley has been with Baptist for more than 30 years.
Lionel Lightbourne has been a social worker in Liberty City for four years. He says he is a "fish in water" with his chosen profession. He speaks with passion about empowering families and children in need.
If he were single, he says his income would put him just above the poverty line. "But together with my wife," he says, "we will actually be in the middle class."
The finger-pointing and mudslinging almost is over. There is an end to the negative ads. Floridians will choose their next governor and it's safe to say that man already has served as governor. And he has served as a Republican.
Just over two dozen people in South Florida hold more than $100 billion in wealth. These 25 individuals make up South Florida's Wealthiest, a list from the Miami Herald, compiled by Global Governance Advisors, an executive pay consulting group. You can see the list below, or here.
There's a voyeuristic quality of these kinds of "richest" lists.
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:
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.
All of these songs, either in whole or part, were recorded at Criteria Studios in Miami. It began as a small studio in the late 1950s and grew into six studios with a global reputation for making hits.
The light at the end of the tunnel. After 55 months of construction the Miami Tunnel is due to open to traffic before the end of May. The tunnel is designed to move cargo trucks and cruise passenger traffic out of downtown Miami and under Government Cut between Watson Island and PortMiami.
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.
Before he went into the beer business, Funky Buddha co-owner KC Sentz (second from the left) was an electrical engineer at Motorola, though his first taste of the working life was at a McDonald's when he was 14.
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.
Miami is a magnet for entrepreneurs in fashion, film, and visual arts. So it makes sense then that a creative technology sector could and would grow from the intersection of those disciplines. In the last couple of years, a small video-game industry has developed in South Florida.
Some of the players include Dark Side Studios in Sunrise, Magic Leap in Hollywood, Shiver Entertainment, whose bosses just leased space in South Miami’s Sunset Place, and Skyjoy Interactive on Brickell Avenue.
Hundreds of entrepreneurs, technologists and executives come to South Florida May 5 and 6 for the first eMerge Americas technology summit. The conference aims to highlight Miami's growing tech prowess.
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.”
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.