The Sunshine Economy

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.

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.”

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.

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.

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.


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.