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Historic Kress Building in Tampa to be Redeveloped

Nov 10, 2014

The Tampa Bay Business Journal is reporting a group of Tampa real estate veterans has teamed up with an Atlanta hotel developer to redevelop the five-story Kress, which was the home of five-and-dime store S.H. Kress & Co. The Tampa team includes father-and-son construction executives Sam and Casey Ellison; Anthony Italiano, a partner with the Ellisons in EWI Construction; and Tampa developer Alex Walter.

Gary Morse, a visionary property developer, transformed a Florida mobile home park into the nation's largest retirement community. The billionaire died Wednesday at the age of 77.

Under Morse's direction, The Villages, northwest of Orlando, redefined retirement living. It's a community that is remarkable most of all for its size — home to nearly 100,000 residents living in dozens of communities, spread over an area the size of Manhattan.

 A craft brewery on the Treasure Coast is fighting Florida's growler ban in federal court. The owners, along with a national legal group, filed a civil rights lawsuit Tuesday with the U.S. District Court in Fort Pierce.

The $137 Million Sarasota Deal That Got Away

Oct 28, 2014

Since its inception, Sarasota County's business growth plan — like many around the state — has had mixed success luring employers like this. But in the competitive world of economic development, where job-starved communities use promises of cash incentives and tax breaks to reel in corporate spending, this was kind of prey that local officials could not help but chase. This was one that got away.

www.blendspace.com

Florida regulators are signing off on new rates for three of the state's biggest power companies that will result in some customers paying less.

The Public Service Commission on Wednesday approved cost recovery charges for Florida Power & Light, Gulf Power Company, and Tampa Electric Company. The new rates will take effect in January 2015.

These charges include the amount of money that utilities are expected to pay for fuel in the coming year.

Last Friday, Spanish language TV station Telemundo aired the first of Florida’s gubernatorial debates.  But Telemundo chose not to include Libertarian candidate Adrian Wyllie. 

This is a three-part radio series produced in partnership with The Florida Center for Investigative Reporting.

www.pennenergy.com

State regulators are ordering one of Florida's largest power companies to refund $54 million it collected from ratepayers to pay for a failed nuclear plant.

The Florida Public Service Commission voted Thursday to require Duke Energy to credit customers for equipment intended for a plant in Levy County. The company never received the equipment and is suing the vendor.

Duke announced last year it was abandoning plans to build the plant in the small county on the Gulf coast.

Utility, Foes of 'Smart Meters' Square Off

Sep 30, 2014

State regulators Tuesday took up a dispute about a Florida Power & Light plan to collect extra money from thousands of customers who refuse to allow "smart" meters to gauge electricity use.

The dispute involves only a fraction of FPL's customers, but it is part of a broader controversy in which critics say they worry the new meter technology could pose threats to their privacy or health.

State Senator Seeks to Rein in Utility Bill Extensions

Sep 29, 2014
File photo

State utility regulators would have to give formal approval before Duke Energy Florida or any other power company could again hike customer bills through a temporary billing-cycle extension, under a measure being worked on by Sen. Charlie Dean, R-Inverness.

Dean's office announced Monday that the senator is planning a pair of utility-related proposals for the 2015 legislative session, including one that would require approval by the state Public Service Commission before the start of any billing-cycle extensions that are not emergency-related.

State-Backed Citizens Insurance May Put Early End to Storm Tax

Sep 20, 2014

A 1 percent charge imposed on most homeowners' policies to help the state-backed Citizens Property Insurance Corp. cover losses from the last of the 2005 hurricanes may come off the books two years early.

Citizens' Board of Governors will be asked Wednesday to put an end date of July 1, 2015, on the storm assessment, which has been slated to continue until June 30, 2017, according a proposal on the board's agenda.

August Unemployment Numbers Up Slightly

Sep 19, 2014
fr.wikipedia.org

The August unemployment rates for Florida were released today. Changes were minimal from July to August.
Florida’s unemployment rate for August is 6.3%, slightly higher than the rate for July.

Florida has a higher unemployment than the U.S., with the national rate coming in at 6.1 percent. In the bay area, Hernando county has the highest unemployment rate at 8.8 percent.

The disease is called citrus greening and is carried by a tiny, invasive bug called the Asian citrus psyllid. The disease attacks a citrus tree’s ability to take in nutrients and retain fruit. “It’s the biggest challenge we face as an industry right now,” said Andrew Meadows, director of communications of Florida Citrus Mutual, which markets and lobbies for the state’s $9 billion citrus industry.

Low-Wage Workers Protest in Temple Terrace

Sep 4, 2014
Lucielle Salomon / WUSF

 Across the country and in Florida, low-wage workers protested on Thursday at lunchtime for higher pay. One of the places they gathered was at a McDonald's in Temple Terrace.

They want to be paid at least $15 per hour, and they also want the right to form a union.

Mandy Spencer works at the fast food restaurant in Temple Terrace. She said was nervous to go outside  and protest, but said her manager gave her permission.

Steve Newborn / WUSF News

First, it was the Ice Palace - a homage to its main tenant, the Tampa Bay Lightning hockey team.

Then, the then-St. Petersburg Times shelled out $30 million in 2002 for a 12-year deal to rename the palace the St. Pete Times Forum. That name shifted to the Tampa Bay Times Forum when the newspaper rebranded itself.

Now, it's the Amalie Arena.

In 2011, after Lightning owner Jeff Vinik purchased the Lightning, the naming rights deal was extended to 2018. Vinik announced today the Times is becoming the "exclusive print sponsor" of the 19,204-seat arena.

Wikimedia Commons

Busch Gardens' Falcon's Fury is finally open. After testing that took months, the tallest free-standing drop tower in North America is now giving people the chance to fall face-down towards the ground at 60 miles per hour.

Falcon's Fury is the main attraction of Pantopia - the new area of the theme park that opened in April.

Labor Day was created to celebrate the country’s labor movement and its social and economic achievements, but a new study from FIU’s Research Institute on Social and Economic Policy (RISEP) may dampen some of this year’s celebration.

Duke Energy Called Before State Regulators to Explain Billing Change

Aug 25, 2014

Duke Energy Florida will have to explain to state regulators an ongoing change in its billing process that two lawmakers say is spiking costs.

Public Service Commission Chairman Art Graham on Monday asked Duke Energy Florida President Alex Glenn to appear at a Sept. 4 meeting to address concerns raised by state Sens. Jack Latvala, R-Clearwater, and Jeff Brandes, R-St. Petersburg, about billing-cycle adjustments and related increased customer payments.

Glenn will be at the meeting, a company spokesman said.

Lynne Sladky/AP

The tourists stream to Florida in their cars, intent on a week at Disney or a sugar-sand seashore or a nonstop party on South Beach. Road weary and thirsty, they pull over at one of the state’s five official welcome centers. They walk inside, and then they look up.

“The best start under the sun,” reads a big sign. “FLORIDA ORANGE JUICE.”

Behind a counter, a woman sits with a stack of paper cups. “Welcome to Florida,” she says with a big smile. “Orange or grapefruit?”

The juice is cold and sweet. It tastes like the Sunshine State.

Florida had a record number of visitors during this past spring.

Gov. Rick Scott announced Tuesday that 24 million tourists visited the state during the second quarter of 2014.

That's a three percent jump over the same time period a year ago, and the largest second quarter ever for the state.

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