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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.

Automation. Development. Citrus Greening. Florida’s agriculture industry is hurting, and Hurricane Irma is only the most recent blow. During this year's legislative session, lawmakers will be considering how to support the industry, which is second only to tourism.

Ag Commissioner, Congressman Decry Lack Of Funding For Citrus

Nov 19, 2017

Florida Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam and Congressman Dennis Ross on Friday criticized a lack of funding for the state's storm-ravaged citrus industry in the latest disaster-relief package proposed by the White House.

Putnam said a $44 billion request sent to Congress by the White House Office of Management and Budget “puts government reimbursement in front of real taxpayers and completely leaves out the citrus industry.”

“I am confident our delegation will modify this relief package into something meaningful for Florida farmers and ranchers,” Putnam said.

Steve Newborn / WUSF Public Media

A new report says Florida is leading the nation in solar permits for homes. This week on Florida Matters we're talking about the promise and prognosis of this type of renewable energy in the state.

In this preview, we look at why residential solar is becoming more popular - as well as at two new co-ops being formed to take advantage of the power of group buying.

Google Maps

The Mosaic Company has announced it will temporarily close its Plant City phosphate processing plant at the end of the year. That comes despite the company reporting increased profits.

VisitFlorida.com

Florida House Speaker Richard Corcoran, R-Land O'Lakes, is filing a lawsuit to stop what he calls an illegal tax being charged by the city of Tampa.

The Republican legislator announced the lawsuit on Thursday. The lawsuit is part of a series of moves Corcoran announced to go after local economic development and local tourism marketing agencies.

Flickr

Marketplace’s Kai Ryssdal is coming to St. Petersburg to tackle your toughest financial questions.

Even before Hurricane Irma arrived at Florida's doorstep scammers geared into action.

HSN

Home shopping giant and one of the largest employers in St. Petersburg, HSN, is being bought out by its main competitor.

QVC’s parent company, Liberty Interactive, already owns 38 percent of HSN shares. With the new deal, however, the business once known as the Home Shopping Network will cede control of the remaining shares to the rival retail outlet.

The deal is reportedly worth $2.1 billion.

Drivers got a taste of freedom from high prices at the gas pump over the long Independence Day weekend. But these low prices may soon be a thing of the past.

Gas prices have been flirting with going under the $2-a-gallon mark for a couple of weeks now, and were at their lowest price for the July 4th holiday in over a decade.  

Fl Power & Light Accelerates Plans To Add Solar Power

Feb 20, 2017
Photo Courtesy Florida Power & Light

Florida's largest electric utility intends to double its solar-energy plans for the coming year, leading solar proponents to praise the announcement --- and say they would like to see more.

A month after outlining plans to build four solar plants this year, Florida Power & Light on Monday said it will put up eight such facilities by early 2018.

The company anticipates the plants --- combining to create nearly 600 megawatts of power, enough for about 120,000 homes at peak production --- will save customers "millions" over the lifetime of each center.

Duke Energy Cleared Of Paying Big Tab In Nuclear Plant Dispute

Dec 24, 2016
Wikipedia Commons

In a dispute involving an ill-fated plan to build nuclear reactors in Levy County, a federal judge last week said Duke Energy is not required to pay hundreds of millions of dollars to a company that designs and constructs nuclear plants.

Quincy Walters / WUSF News

In November, Hillsborough County saw an increase in bed tax revenue--a five percent tax on hotel and resort stays. Nearly $2.5 million in bed taxes were collected last month. 

www.flickr.com

Some small businesses throughout the Tampa Bay area will be getting surprise visits this week, as part of the inaugural “Small Biz Support Squad”.

Steve Newborn / WUSF News

President Obama's decision to open the U.S. market to Cuban cigars could impact Tampa. Wednesday, U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio toured the city's sole remaining cigar manufacturer, J.C. Newman Cigar Co., and he has more than the island nation in his sights.

He also took aim at new U.S. regulations. Those include government approval of new cigar blends and requiring larger warning labels on cigar boxes. Rubio says that's something the Cubans won't have to do.

Kathy Putnam

October is Disability Employment Awareness Month. 

Florida kicked off its observance of the month Thursday at Grand Hyatt Tampa Bay.

Tampa restaurateur Richard Gonzmart, who was diagnosed with dyslexia and attention deficit disorder, said that everyone has some type of ability. Businesses lose out when they dismiss people with disabilities, he said. 

Incoming House Speaker: Scott Jobs Recruitment "Socialism"

Oct 13, 2016
Fl House of Representatives

Labeling the use of business recruitment incentives as "socialism," incoming House Speaker Richard Corcoran told a Texas audience this week he doesn't expect Florida lawmakers to give such money to Gov. Rick Scott --- or to Scott's successor.

Visit Tampa Bay

While Britain continues dealing with the fallout of its vote to leave the European Union, tourism experts are looking at the possible effects the decision will have on tourism here in Florida.

The M3 Center for Hospitality Technology and Innovation at USF Sarasota-Manatee hosted an online panel discussion on the subject Wednesday.

Tampa Bay Times Sells St. Petersburg Headquarters

Apr 24, 2016

The Tampa Bay Times has announced it sold its eight-story downtown St. Petersburg building for $19 million to a joint venture group: Convergent Capital Partners and Denholtz Associates.

Mark Schreiner / WUSF 89.7 News

According to a feasibility study released Friday, the Museum of Science and Industry would benefit greatly by moving to downtown Tampa.

The 171-page study, which was funded by the museum and Hillsborough County, did not discuss a specific location, size or cost of a new science center, nor possible funding sources.

However, it raised the possibility of a new museum being part of Tampa Bay Lightning owner Jeff Vinik's billion dollar renovation plan for the Channelside District.

Take a look at the next box of strawberries you find in the store. Depending on where in the country you happen to be, it may have come from Florida. But it won't for much longer.

Why?

Port Tampa Bay

The hardest part of getting a business off the ground is finding resources and money.

Downtown Tampa will become a hub for creators and investors to meet starting Monday, February 8. The goal is to make launching a startup easier in the Bay area.

Tampa Bay Startup Week will host workshops, panels and networking events centered on entrepreneurship. 

Tourism Leaders Challenge Change to Bed Tax

Feb 1, 2016
Christopher Collier

Leaders in Tampa Bay's tourism industry said they're concerned about a legislative proposal to designate part of the local bed tax for police services. 

The bed tax, formally known as the Tourist Development Tax, is $.05 on the dollar in most area counties – $.06 per dollar in Pinellas County --  for hotel rooms, timeshares and short-term rentals.

The proposal from Rep. Brad Drakes, R-DeFuniak Springs, would set aside 10 percent of the bed tax for police services. 

Roberto Roldan / WUSF

The excitement for Saturday's annual Gasparilla Parade is ramping up, but some local businesses along the parade route are closing down.

Two Americans laid off by Disney have filed lawsuits in federal court in Tampa, against Disney and two global consulting companies, which brought in foreign workers who replaced them. They claim the companies colluded to break the law by using temporary H-1B visas to bring in immigrant workers, knowing that Americans would be displaced.

Crystal River Nuclear Financing Plan Gets State Approval

Nov 17, 2015
Wikipedia Commons

Saying the move will save hundreds of millions of dollars for Duke Energy Florida customers, state regulators Tuesday approved a financing proposal for costs tied to the shuttered Crystal River nuclear plant.

The decision by the Florida Public Service Commission came after years of controversy about the damaged power plant, but the financing proposal drew support from Duke, consumer attorneys and business groups.

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