The Sunshine Economy

9 a.m. and 7 p.m. Mondays

The Sunshine Economy, takes a fresh look at the key industries transforming South Florida into a regional powerhouse. From investments in health care, storm preparedness, international trade, real estate and technology based start-ups, tune in to learn more about one of the worlds most vibrant and diverse economies.

Tom Hudson
Credit WLRN

Ways to Connect

AP Photo/Brynn Anderson

Jack McCabe is scared. 

McCabe was one of the earliest voices warning of the housing collapse 13 years ago. He runs a real estate economic consulting firm based in Deerfield Beach that bears his name. As early as 2005, McCabe was sounding alarms of a slowing housing market in South Florida. 


Of course, It didn’t just slow — it collapsed.


courtesy: Keys News Service

Fifty percent unemployment? 

That's the guess from Monroe County Administrator Roman Gastesi. 

Courtesy of Edgar Leal

The sounds bounced off walls in empty restaurant dining rooms and cafes.

Lynne Sladky / AP Photo

Some beaches have closed. Cruise ships are docked. Airlines have grounded some planes. Disney and Universal in Orlando are closed. Local attractions are shut down. Theaters are dark. Hotel reservations are cancelled. Restaurants and bars are closing early.

This business hasn’t slowed. In many cases it has stopped.


Florida’s large population of senior citizens and people without health insurance make the state vulnerable to the threat posed by an outbreak of COVID-19. The number of cases in the state remain relatively small, but it has been growing as testing for the virus has grown.

Marta Lavandier / AP Photo

Jay Foreman is no stranger to China and the global supply chain. He runs Basic Fun, based in Boca Raton. It imports toys like My Little Pony Classic and Pound Puppies from China. A dozen Basic Fun employees work in China and 65 work in Hong Kong.

Lynne Sladky / AP Photo

The quiet season is about half over. The time between Nov. 30 and June 1 is usually quiet in the tropics. The six months between June and November is hurricane season in the Atlantic Ocean. And the last few seasons have been reminders about the threats posed to Florida.


Michelle Zambrana feels like she is chasing the Miami lifestyle, but can't quite catch it. She and her husband, Oscar Rosenberg, recently had their second child right after Rosenberg lost his job at the bank where he worked 15 years.

When Marte Marello and her husband moved to Miami only about a year ago, they came without expecting to stay long. Her family is in Italy, and she says the risk of climate change may have them move to Europe in a few years.

Joan Marcus, courtesy of Arsht Center

The “'Hamilton' Bump” is not a dance move during the blockbuster musical. It is a financial move driven by the hugely successful show. 


John Locher / AP Photo

Daniel Wallach says he is not a sports gambler and hasn't been for decades.


"The one and only time in my life I've wagered on sports was in 1978 when I was in 10th grade," he said.

Wallach practices law in Fort Lauderdale now, but he grew up in New York. It wasn’t just one wager. He remembers being down $5,000 after betting on several losing teams. So, a lot was riding on one final bet on the Portland Trail Blazers against the Golden State Warriors.


Tom Hudson / WLRN Public Media

Great Abaco Island remains beautiful but scarred. It is scarred from the seemingly endless hours of winds and water from Hurricane Dorian in September. Its economy is quiet — quieted by the worst storm spawned from warm Atlantic waters ever to hit the Bahamas. And its residents are few. Thousands forced off the island because they have no homes any longer. 


Healing from a hurricane, especially one as strong and devastating as Dorian, will be measured in years. 


Tom Hudson / WLRN Public Media

Being in an autonomous vehicle can be a lot of work. 


It takes two people — one in the driver’s seat, a second in the passenger seat — each describing what they are seeing and what the car will be doing, and confirming it.


Randolph Watts has had tough times. He was a drug addict. He spent time in jail. But he’s been sober for more than 20 years and has had a steady job for the past decade at a deli in North Miami Beach. He considers himself "blessed."

Still, he's worried.

"What worries me? No health insurance and retirement, because we don't have any retirement. And I'm getting older."

Tom Hudson / WLRN Public Media

Tomas Esson's giant paintings will not be at Art Basel Miami Beach this year, yet he's hopeful this could be his break out year. "I have been close to that breaking point, but I never have made that crossover yet. So maybe this is my time. I am ready," he said.

Matias J. Ocner / Miami Herald

Florida's economy is booming by most economic metrics. The unemployment rate is near a record low. Over 125 million tourists will visit the state this year. And property values are still growing, even though the pace has slowed.