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

Patterson: Taylor Jewell/Invision/AP Meltzer: Michelle Watson, Catchlight Group

James Patterson and Brad Meltzer have scores of best sellers between them, but it’s not because of a strategic, business plan-like approach. Both say they are writers, not business or marketing experts. They write about what interests them, not to fill an opportunity in the publishing market.

Both Patterson and Meltzer work from South Florida. Patterson moved to Palm Beach County in the late 1990s. Meltzer came here as a kid in 1983.

The second largest home insurance company in Florida would have asked state regulators to raise premiums by 25 percent if it could have asked for a hike that big. Citizens Property Insurance, instead, wants regulators to okay an average increase of 8.2 percent.

 

"What we needed was 25 (percent)," says Citizens CEO Barry Gilway.

courtesy: CMX Cinemas

When the CEO of movie theater chain CMX Cinemas moved to Miami in October, he says the immigration officer at Miami International Airport did a double take when he looked at his passport. After all, the CEO’s name is Jose Martí.

 

No, the CMX Cinema boss says he is not related to the Cuban hero and writer.

 

But like his Cuban namesake, Jose Leonardo Martí is coming to America with big dreams. He plans to build a major American movie theater company in a few short years.

 

everydayplus / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Florida's largest health insurer has seen a 45 percent drop in opioid prescriptions since it stopped paying for OxyContin.

It has been almost a year since Florida Blue announced that it would no longer provide prescription payments for the popular painkiller and would require advanced permission for any opioid prescription lasting longer than seven days.

It replaced OxyContnin in its drug plans with a different opioid, Xtampza. That drug is designed to be more difficult to crush, making it tougher to snort or inject.

courtesy: George Schellenger

Guy Harvey’s art is more often worn then hung.

His watercolors and pen and ink drawings, of marlins, mako sharks and mahi, are on t-shirts, hats and even dog collars. He has been licensing his artwork to put on clothes since the late 1980s.

Illustration: WLRN

South Florida may have offered Amazon more than $500 million in job incentives to bring its HQ2 project to the region. 

We just don't know for sure.

Jobs, paychecks and taxes -- the usual issues for an election -- have given way to heated rhetoric, discord and divisiveness. How are the issues and the political environment impacting voters and their votes?

Tom Hudson / WLRN News

Water is what connects us in South Florida. No matter where we are from or how we got here, or where we live or work, water surrounds us. And this time of year, the rising seas, driven by the pull of the sun and moon, can spill over our edges, bubble up from below and seep into our lives.

Miami Dade County Public Schools Twitter

Two South Florida counties — Broward and Monroe — asked Primary Election voters to approve property tax increases to support public schools. Both questions passed.

Now it's time for round two: Both Miami-Dade and Palm Beach counties have similar questions on the General Election ballot; early voting began on Oct. 22.

Here are the details on each referendum:

Where is it on my ballot?

Referendum No. 362.

screenshot: Pennyfortransportation.com / Broward County

If you are an average commuter in Broward County, it takes you a little less than half an hour to get to work. Or it may take you almost an hour. The difference is how you get to work.

The usual trip to work in Broward has been steady over the past several years -- running about 27 minutes according to data from the Census Bureau. But if you ride public transit in Broward County the average commute has climbed from 48 minutes in 2009 to 53 minutes in 2016.

Andrew Milne / courtesy of The Related Group

Jorge Pérez has built hundreds of condominiums in South Florida since the last housing market collapse. In fact, he has built thousands of condos in his career. They have fueled a multi-billion dollar fortune for him and reshaped the region’s skyline.

His company, The Related Group, is not putting shovels in the ground right now though. He thinks real estate in South Florida is coming in for a soft landing, but not because the American economy is softening.

Joey Flechas / Miami Herald

Florida's 27th Congressional District has miles of coastline. The district stretches from near Black Pointe Marina in south Miami-Dade County to the Venetian Causeway, and all of Key Biscayne and Miami Beach.

"Whatever is going on in the rest of the country, we're not denying climate change," says Donna Shalala, the Democrat running for Congress in the district. "For us, it's life and death."

Miami Herald

In the battle over control of the U.S. House of Representatives, the race to replace the longest-serving member of the Florida Congressional delegation plays a big role. The campaign to succeed Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R) in Congress pits a veteran of Democratic politics and community leader against a political newcomer who is a former Spanish-language television news host.

 

Republican Maria Elvira Salazar and Democrat Donna Shalala are running in the 27th Congressional district in Miami-Dade County, but the outcome will echo across the region.

Tom Hudson

Gambling in Florida is a perennial issue for politicians and the public. It will be on this fall’s ballot for voters in two forms. One proposed constitutional amendment would ban greyhound racing. The other question is much larger: should voters have the exclusive right to expand gambling? If approved by at least 60 percent of voters, it would take that power away from state lawmakers.

Frost photo: Tom Hudson, Clayton photo: courtesy SEC

Miami biotech billionaire and philanthropist Dr. Phillip Frost says he was stunned by the stock trading fraud charges filed against him earlier this month by the Securities and Exchange Commission. Frost denies the allegations, saying in a statement, they "are belied by common sense, my history of supporting promising scientific technology, and the facts."

Frost declined WLRN's invitation for an interview.

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