The Sunshine Economy

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

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.

freedigitalphotos.net

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.

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.

freedigitalphotos.net

This story originally aired on Friday, Jan. 10, 2014.

Last year, U.S. consumers spent more than 11 billion dollars on CDs, books, seminars, and coaching all aimed at making some part of their lives better.

The particular field of one-on-one coaching has grown exponentially since the beginning of the recession in 2007.

Miami's Dan Silverman grew his coaching business out of something he was doing free at bars all over South Florida.

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.   

Karen Rundlet / Miami Herald

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.

Brew Askew: The Beer Business In South Florida

Mar 24, 2014
Maria Murriel / WLRN

Up until 2012, there was only one microbrewery in South Florida. But after Tequesta Brewing Company's first colleague, Due South Brewing Company, opened that summer, more have bubbled up all over.

And the newness of this industry partly contributes to the difficulties brewers face when trying to open their businesses -- local and state laws prohibit even beer tastings at storesmake even beer tastings difficult.

burgerduo/flickr

Half a dozen bills about beer have been filed in the Florida Legislature.

The proposals would essentially do two things: allow certain stores to offer beer tastings - like many already do with wine – and legalize 64-ounce containers of beer.

Florida’s weird packaging laws allow 32-ounce and gallon-sized containers, known as growlers. But 64-ounce growlers are illegal. The law dates back to the prohibition era.

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.  

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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