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

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.

 

The story of South Florida’s economy is more than statistics. Behind the well-known data on income disparity, housing affordability, and low average pay are the voices of people grappling with its adversities and those thriving from its opportunities. These stories are from people who are struggling to make ends meet, and the experiences of others enjoying prosperity. These are personal portraits of real people sharing the role money plays in their lives in South Florida.

AP

Teacher pay and fiscal discipline. 

Those are two of the top priorities from leading Republicans as state lawmakers and Gov. Ron DeSantis prepare to spend more than $90 billion in the next fiscal year beginning in July. Over $30 billion of that is collected from state taxes and fees.

  "This coming legislative session really needs to be the year of the teacher," DeSantis told reporters in the Capitol late last month.

Miami-Dade Water and Sewer Department

“I have become the water and sewer system,” said Kevin Lynskey. “Apparently, I am the water and sewer system.”

This isn’t a statement of ego exactly. Rather, it is how Lynskey feels about the job he’s held for almost two years — director of the Miami-Dade County Water and Sewer System.

“At a certain point, as you take a new job, you become the human representative of everything that happened for 50 years,” he said.

AP Photo/Elaine Thompson

The list of names reads like a busy rest stop on the Turnpike.

7-11. Circle K. Thortons. Sunshine Distributors. RaceTrac. Cumberland Farms. Wawa. 

Add Buc-ee's to the list of convenience store chains expanding in Florida.

When the Texas company broke ground on its first store in Florida last month, it was deemed an important enough addition to the Florida economy that Gov. Ron DeSantis was there with shovel in hand, hard hat on his head and the Buc-ee beaver mascot next to him.

Buc-ee's enters a competitive landscape.

AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee

Ask any consumer — good credit goes a long way.

It works the same for local governments. Increasingly investors in the bonds of local governments want to know more about the risks those cities and counties face from climate change, and how those risks could affect the governments’ ability to repay their debts.

Tom Hudson

A yellow line on the floor in one of Andres Ochoa's warehouses is the difference between struggling with higher costs and competing for new customers.

The line denotes a Foreign Trade Zone inside the warehouses of SAP USA Truck and Auto Parts in Miami. The zone has shielded SAP from the trade war between the U.S. and China.

"A free trade zone means that product has entered the country without having duties or tariffs paid, and it's being held in a bonded facility," Ochoa said. "There's that line that separates everything."

"If you're a full time student, about $2,400 a year."

"Roughly, $3,400 a semester."

"All in, it's about $50,000."

That’s just the range of tuition across three schools in South Florida — Broward College, Florida International University and the University of Miami — as described by their leaders.

 

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.

 

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