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

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AP Photo/Alan Diaz

Arnold Donald says he planned to be in federal court on June third in Miami. That was the date of a hearing in front of a judge overseeing the probation of the company he leads -- Carnival Corporation.

 

AP Photo/Lynne Sladky

Arnold Donald admits there were gaps in how the world's largest cruise ship operator followed environmental rules.

"Clearly there were some gaps in this system," Donald told WLRN's Sunshine Economy during a recent interview in his office at Carnival's headquarters in Doral. It was Donald's first public comment since agreeing to pay a $20 million fine and plead guilty to six violations of the company's probation in June.

Jose Iglesias / Miami Herald

Kim Rivers' dad was a Jacksonville Sheriff's deputy while she was growing up. For a time, he was working with an undercover narcotics unit.

Today, Rivers leads the largest seller of legal marijuana in Florida, as the CEO of Trulieve.

The company was the first to have medical marijuana dispensaries in the state, and now has the most. Revenues grew 400 percent last year to more than $100 million and sales are expected to more than double this year. It has bought dispensaries in California and Massachusetts, and announced the purchase of a Connecticut dispensary this month.

Danny Rivero

Business from cannabis is growing fast in Florida; some of it regulated tightly, and some of it without rules. But all of it comes with cash that the banking industry is reluctant to touch. 

 

The first legal industrial hemp seeds in decades are growing now in South Florida soil.

CBD is showing up in ice cream, gummy bears and cocktails, but the state says the products are illegal.

And millions of dollars are being generated by the medical marijuana industry in Florida, but few banks want the money.

Timmy Gunz/C.M. Guerrero/Martin County Health Dept / Creative Commons/Flickr/Miami Herald

Florida lawmakers have finished their work for the year. The 60-day legislative session had to have a few extra hours on Saturday for them to okay a $91.1 billion state budget.

Mark Harrison

For several years, South Florida has been working on its technology credentials. Tech incubators, accelerators, pitch competitions and other efforts have worked to nurture and grow the technology industry, especially tech start-ups.

courtesy: AutoNation

Mike Jackson used to shovel horse manure for one dollar a stall. He wound up leading a company selling over half a million new and used cars and trucks a year.

In March, Jackson stepped aside from CEO of AutoNation, the position he held for 20 years. AutoNation is one of South Florida’s largest publicly traded companies -- worth almost $3.5 billion. And Florida is its most important market, with quarter of its revenues coming from auto dealers it owns here.

Tom Hudson

Republicans and Democrats in Tallahassee are in agreement on at least one thing as they forge a state budget that will total around $90 billion: Florida's economy is doing well. 

The state’s unemployment rate was 3.5 percent in February, and more than 25,000 jobs were added that month.

Still, the state forecast for money coming in from sales taxes is down a little bit from forecasting just a few months ago. While still growing, the incoming tax dollars are expected to grow slower in the years ahead.

Al Diaz / Miami Herald

After two and a half years of work, a comprehensive report on how to better prepare Miami for all kinds of threats -- economic, health and especially climate risks -- is expected to be released by the end of May.

The effort aims to better understand the risks to resiliency. That is the popular word used as a catchall for everything from dealing with housing affordability to recovering after a hurricane to protecting against and adapting to rising seas.

Tom Hudson

The Miami Marlins is one of the least-liked teams in Major League Baseball. More than $1 billion in public money will have been spent for their new stadium by the time all the loans are paid. The team's management hasn't been shy about getting rid of top players. It's been 15 years since a playoff appearance, and the Marlins have ranked near the lowest in attendance for six years.

But this season the Marlins hope to remake its business operations.

The business has a long way to go.

Frankel - AP Photo/Alex Brandon, Diaz-Balart - AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana

Lake Okeechobee may be a natural feature of the Florida landscape, but politics also come into play when it comes to it.

 

More than $1 billion of federal support has been spent to help restore the Everglades and fix the plumbing around the lake. That money, along with other money for the Army Corps of Engineers, starts flowing from the House Appropriations Committee.

Miami Herald

Eduardo Padrón's first role at Miami Dade College was student. In August, he will resign from the role he has played for the past 24 years -- president of the school.

As he prepares to leave in August, state funding for state colleges is under pressure, the low unemployment rate has reduced enrollment, the nation's debate over immigration has affected students, and the adjunct faculty is voting on whether to unionize.

AP Photo/Franklin Reyes

Odilon Almeida was 25 when he first walked into a Western Union. He was working for Colgate Palmolive in Toronto and wanted to send money to his nephew back in Brazil for his birthday.

Almeida wasn't impressed with the experience. "I have a very big Latin name," he remembers, "and they were not used to that."

Today, Almedia runs global money transfers for Western Union from Miami. The division generates 80 percent of the company's revenues -- over $4 billion per year.

Tom Hudson / WLRN Public Media

A year after the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting, Robert Runcie says he wants to make Broward County Public Schools the safest in the nation.

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