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.
The number of microbreweries in South Florida could triple by the end of 2015. More brewers are well on their way to setting up shop locally, and from a business perspective, it’s about time: Craft beer has been popular in the U.S. since the mid ‘90s. Brewers know South Floridians have a taste for it and they’re excited to bring their flavorful suds to underserved local customers. But it’s not just brewers who recognize these specialty brews as good business.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Sugar is one of the biggest special interests in Tallahassee. More sugar comes from Florida than anywhere else in the country.
It’s grown in a 700,000-acre region between Lake Okeechobee and the Everglades known as the Everglades Agricultural Area. (Actual farming acreage, which includes other crops, is 470,000 because of conservation areas and other projects.)
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.
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.
Suzan McDowell is the President and CEO of Circle of One Marketing, a public-relations and community-outreach firm. A Jamaican-American, Suzan was named one of South Florida’s top 50 Most Powerful Black Business Leaders of 2013 by Legacy Magazine and the Miami Herald.