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Updated at 2:21 p.m. ET

The Federal Reserve increased a key interest rate again Wednesday, which will trigger higher rates on credit cards, home equity lines and other kinds of borrowing.

On a cold December night last year, a meeting was called in the lobby of my apartment building. Concerned residents gathered to discuss a matter of great import: what to do about the swarms of packages jamming the lobby closet and overflowing into the entryway.

Unclaimed boxes were an eyesore and a nuisance. Finding the right package was starting to require gymnastic ability. And the boxes kept coming, by the dozens, maybe hundreds. Most of them were from Amazon: brown, with a smile on the side.

Seminole Hard Rock

The owners of Florida's biggest casino are starting a massive nearly $700 million expansion that will make it even larger.

Updated at 2:55 p.m. ET Friday

Sears Holdings Corp., which controls Sears and Kmart, says it has "identified approximately 100 non-profitable stores, 72 of which will begin store closing sales in the near future," in the latest sign of the retailer's struggles to stay afloat.

After a rise before the Memorial Day weekend, gas prices in Florida are expected to drop. AAA says oil prices are dropping and gas is expected to follow.

In Florida the average gallon of unleaded is $2.91. That’s compared to the national average of $2.97, said AAA spokesman Josh Carrasco.

“What we do expect is that gas prices should decline probably five to ten cents over the next few weeks,” said Carrasco.

Orlando has one of the lowest gas price averages in the state at $2.88 a gallon.

Spirit Airlines is a major economic force in South Florida: it is the second largest carrier at Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport; it is a top five employer in Broward County with more than 3,000 regional employees; and it is one of the largest South Florida companies with more than $2.5 billion in annual revenue.

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The Mosaic Company, which already has a large presence in the Tampa Bay area, is moving its corporate headquarters to Hillsborough County.

Busch Gardens

People who visited Busch Gardens in Tampa over a decade ago might remember receiving free samples of beer.

That program was discontinued in 2009 after then-owner Anheuser-Busch sold the theme park and its sibling park, SeaWorld, to the Blackstone Group.

WUSF Public Media

Florida’s tourism arm is touting marketing efforts that attracted an increase in travelers from America’s northern neighbor, less than a year after admitting the state had taken its Canadian visitors for granted.

Port Tampa Bay

The Port of Tampa welcomed the M/V Ireland, one of the largest ships to ever enter Tampa Bay Sunday morning. The Ireland will deliver materials needed for local construction.

Tuesday's tax day computer glitch at the IRS prevented the agency from accepting millions of tax returns and forced the IRS to extend the filing deadline for another day.

We now have a better idea of what happened to cause the snafu.

According to an IRS official, the problem arose at 4 a.m. EDT Tuesday, which was the day tax returns were due and the busiest day of the tax year for the IRS.

Updated at 5:15 p.m. ET

Going into Tuesday's arguments at the U.S. Supreme Court, it looked as though the court was headed toward reversing a 50-year-old decision that barred states from collecting taxes on out-of-state purchases.

But after the arguments, it looked as though a court majority just might preserve the status quo, and that would be a huge victory for online sellers.

The case presents a multibillion-dollar dispute, and the outcome will directly affect consumers, cash-strapped states and companies large and small.

http://www.newstpetepier.com/

The St. Petersburg Pier will undergo a name change and reconstruction over the course of the next year and the city is thinking about accepting bids for naming rights, according to the Business Observer.

A program to distribute federal disaster aid to Florida farmers hit by Hurricane Irma will be set up within the next 100 days, U.S. Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue announced Friday.

Kevin T. Houle/Flikr

Nielsen Media Research, Inc., which has measured television advertising and programing since 1950, is one of the largest employers in Pinellas County. But starting in May, they'll lay off 328 workers in Oldsmar, reports the Tampa Bay Business Journal.

FGCU Athletics/WGCU

Florida used to be the premier spot for Major League Baseball’s spring training, but a growing number of professional teams are heading to Arizona instead of the Sunshine State for their preseason workouts.

Southeastern Grocers

Southeastern Grocers announced plans to close 94 stores, including 10 Winn-Dixie stores in the Tampa Bay area.

The number of Floridians out of work is starting to rise.

Zillow

If you're looking to buy your first home, search no further than right here in the Tampa Bay area.

Real estate website, Zillow, recently ranked Tampa as the number one market for first-time home buyers.

Mark Schreiner / WUSF Public Media

Hillsborough County commissioners voted 6-1 in favor of spending another $61 million on maintenance of Tampa’s Amalie Arena.

Commissioner Stacy White was the only one of seven to vote against this plan Wednesday.

“I felt it would be premature to be spending such a large amount of the Tourist Development Tax revenues without knowing if they would become available in the future for critical County needs,” he said in a statement.

Flickr

Like a bear waking from hibernation, Major League Baseball teams are emerging from their cave-like dugouts to start a new season.

Steve Newborn / WUSF Public Media

Apple Computer co-founder Steve Wozniak spoke Tuesday at the Sun Dome on the University of South Florida Tampa campus. While he isn't as famous as Apple's other co-founder, Steve Jobs, Wozniak  did attract an audience of nearly 5,000 people.

Wikimedia Commons

Kumquat farmers in Pasco County were hit hard by the cold snap this week.

Dade City saw temperatures in the mid-20's for several hours on Wednesday night. Kumquats, which are citrus fruits that look like olive-sized oranges, don't deal well with sustained freezing temperatures. 

Bobbie O'Brien / WUSF Public Media

Florida has never been the perfect climate for growing strawberries -- it's usually too hot or too cold.

And the current cold snap has strawberry farmers in the Tampa Bay region on the defensive this week.

Florida's unemployment rate remained unchanged at 3.6 percent from October to November, according to numbers released Friday by the state Department of Economic Opportunity. The state's  jobless rate betters the national mark of 4.1 percent, which also remained unchanged in the month to month comparison.

Irma Insurance Claims Near 866,000 As Pace Slows

Dec 18, 2017

Estimated insured losses from Hurricane Irma have topped $6.55 billion, with the number of claims approaching 866,000, according to information released Monday by the state Office of Insurance Regulation.

The latest report showed that 865,974 claims from the September storm had been filed with insurance companies as of Friday, with 719,512 involving residential properties.

Florida Citrus Mutual

David Greene talks to GOP Rep. Dennis Ross of Polk County, who says he won't support a bill to keep the government open through the holidays unless Congress approves more disaster relief for his state.

Putnam: Citrus Industry Squeezed If Congress Doesn't Help

Dec 13, 2017
Florida Citrus Mutual

No “plan B” is available if Congress does not add citrus funding to the latest disaster relief package, Florida Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam said Wednesday.

A day after the U.S. Department of Agriculture further reduced a forecast of the post-Hurricane Irma orange harvest, Putnam reiterated the need for federal assistance to the struggling industry, which could see damages from the storm top $1 billion.

Citrus Forecast Drop Spurs More Calls For Federal Relief

Dec 12, 2017

Florida agriculture leaders say the latest projected decline in citrus production underscores a dire need for federal disaster relief after Hurricane Irma.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture estimated Tuesday that Florida will grow enough oranges to fill a decades-low 46 million 90-pound boxes, 8 percent less than in a November estimate. Meanwhile, grapefruit production held at 4.65 million boxes in the November to December estimates.

Roberto Roldan / WUSF Public Media

Some Seminole Heights business owners are expecting a record holiday shopping season in spite of the recent series of murders in the neighborhood.

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