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Florida was a poster child for all the familiar excesses of the housing bubble -- the bad loans, the overheated market, the frenzied development. Although the party ended in 2007, the hangover continues. Recent numbers show the state has the highest foreclosure rate in the country.

There's more good news about the housing market this morning.

Half of all tomatoes eaten in the U.S. come from Mexico, and tomato growers in Florida aren't happy about that. In fact, they're willing to risk a trade war to reverse the trend.

At JC Distributing In Nogales, Ariz., one misstep and you're likely to get knocked over by a pallet full of produce. Forklifts crisscross each other carrying peppers, squash and especially tomatoes from trucks backed into the warehouse loading dock.

"This is a Mexican truck being unloaded," says JC President Jaime Chamberlain. "He's just waiting for his paperwork to get back."

Florida No. 3 for Bank Branch Closings

Jan 23, 2013

Following a nationwide trend of bank closings, Florida had a net loss of 18 bank branches in last year's fourth quarter. That's according to new figures from SNL Financial. Only Indiana and Pennsylvania fared worse. Experts attribute the closings to low interest rates and expect the decline to continue. Bank of America had biggest net loss -- 47 branches nationwide. JPMorgan Chase & Co. added the most offices -- 16 -- and is focusing on expanding in Florida and California, the SNL report said.

Deadliest Job in America: Fishing

Jan 23, 2013

For more from Planet Money, see What America Does For Work

Here's a look at the rate of work-related, on-the-job deaths in 2011 for U.S. workers. We included the three deadliest occupations, along with a handful of other jobs. (Here's the complete list, which comes from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.)

Wish Farms

Strawberry growers in California have been hit with unusual, freezing temperatures while Florida’s strawberry fields have been bathing in 80 degree temperatures.

Gary Wishnatzki is the owner of Wish Farms, the largest strawberry distributor in Florida. He said California growers are not equipped to handle freezing temperatures.

“They don’t have overhead irrigation to utilize to protect the crop and there’s usually some bloom and small berry damage,” Wishnatzki said.

PSTA Increases Bus Ridership Despite Low Gas Prices

Jan 9, 2013
PSTA

One of the things that increases bus ridership is a rise in gas prices. But gas prices were lower in December than they have been in awhile. 

PSTA's increase in bus ridership last month may have been for another reason.

Bus ridership increased 8 percent last month for the Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authority compared to December in 2011.

For all the reasons for flight delays, 130 unlucky Vision Airlines passengers at St. Petersburg-Clearwater International Airport were the victims of a new, rather unusal issue: their plane was seized right off the runway because of a legal dispute.

Ten of the nation's major mortgage servicing companies, including household names such as Bank of America and Citibank, have agreed to pay $8.5 billion to resolve claims that they abused some homeowners when they foreclosed on mortgages during the recent housing crisis, the Federal Reserve and the Comptroller of the Currency announced late Monday morning.

How Twitter Can Help Find You a Job

Jan 7, 2013

Update: Here are the the six questions we'll be addressing during the #NPRTwitterChat at 5-6pm EST on Thursday, January 31. To join in, just follow the #NPRTwitterChat hashtag on Twitter. Then check back on the This is NPR blog next week for a post recapping the conversation and the tips shared.

#NPRTwitterChat Questions

LeBron James, the best basketball player in the NBA, makes $17.5 million a year. He is the most underpaid professional athlete in the world today.

On today's show, we explain why LeBron is getting hosed — and why that's probably a good thing for NBA fans, team owners, other pro players, and even LeBron himself.

The nasty weather in the Midwest is taking its toll on flights here. Several flights have been canceled at Tampa International Airport. Airport communications manager Christine Osborn:

Former Publix President Mark Hollis Dies at 78

Dec 7, 2012

Mark C. Hollis, retired president of Publix Super Markets Inc. and the company’s director emeritus, died early this morning at Lakeland Regional Medical Center, according to Publix officials. He was 78.

St. Pete City Council to Vote on "Lens" Pier

Dec 5, 2012

The battle over a new St. Petersburg pier continues.

worradmu / freedigitalphotos.net

For the first time since the Great Recession, incomes are up in every major U.S. metropolitan area – including Tampa Bay.

That’s according to figures released this week by the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis. From 2010 to 2011, the Tampa-St. Petersburg-Clearwater area saw a 3.2 percent jump in per capita personal income -- that's the region's total personal income divided by its total midyear population. Nationwide, incomes went up 4.26 percent.

Here's what folks earned on average in 2011, with 2010 wages in parentheses:

HART / HART

Merging Hillsborough and Pinellas Counties’ public transit systems does not make financial sense.

That's the initial report from a consulting firm hired by the Hillsborough Area Regional Transit Authority and Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authority. The findings were discussed Monday in a meeting that included board members from both groups, according to this article in the Tampa Tribune.

Here’s the financial breakdown:

HART

October was a record-setting month for public transit in Pinellas and Hillsborough counties, according to figures released Friday. Continuing a trend a increased annual ridership, both Hillsborough Area Regional Transit Authority and Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authority gave the highest number of monthly rides in their respective 33- and 28-year histories:

  • HART: 1,344,854 rides (up 11 percent from October 2011)
  • PSTA: 1,287,301 rides (up 14 percent from October 2011)

The man who many hoped would purchase the struggling Channelside shopping and entertainment complex says he is suspending his efforts to do so.

Jeff Vinik, owner of the Tampa Bay Lightning, was seen as the most likely suitor for Channelside, which is in bankruptcy. Several businesses there have either closed down or said they planned to leave.

In a statement, Vinik and his partners cite an unnamed "significant legal hurdle, beyond our control."

When St. Petersburg Mayor Bill Foster asked the Tampa Bay Rays for some feedback on a proposed new stadium in Carillon Business Park, he apparently opened the door for Rays management to look elsewhere for a new ballpark location.

Media General sells Tampa Tribune, TBO

Oct 8, 2012
Courtesy of Todd Chapel / Tampa Tribune

The Tampa Tribune was purchased by a private equity investment group, and beginning today will be operated by a newly created, locally based company called the Tampa Media Group.

The Tribune's longtime corporate owner, Virginia-based Media General Inc., announced the transaction this morning, transferring ownership of the Tribune, its affiliated newspapers and TBO.com to the Los Angeles-based Revolution Capital Group

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