Florida population growth continues

Florida continues to grow as it attracts people from other parts of the U.S., but that growth is projected to slow in the coming years as groups that have been moving to Florida in droves get older, according to state economists.

The Legislature’s Office of Economic and Demographic Research released a report this week that showed the state’s estimated population in April was 22,634,867, an increase of nearly 359,000 people, or 1.61%, from a year earlier.

The increase was bolstered by the number of people moving to Florida from elsewhere in the U.S. being “the highest number it’s ever been,” according to Stefan Rayer, population program director with the Bureau of Economic and Business Research at the University of Florida.

“Population growth is still growing strong in the state. Slightly more than the year before, but still, if you compare long-term averages which have been just under 300,000, it’s been really remarkably strong,” Rayer said during a Nov. 28 meeting that led to this week’s report. Tampa Bay Business Journal

First U.S. lunar landing mission since 1972 to launch from Cape Canaveral, Fla.

Christmas Eve is expected to mark a major milestone: The U.S. will launch its first unmanned soft lunar landing mission since 1968, the final year of the Surveyor program. The last American manned mission to make a soft landing on the moon was NASA’s Apollo 17.

The lunar lander is called Peregrine, and it will be the primary cargo on the United Launch Alliance Vulcan Centaur V, which is scheduled to head to space at 1:49 the morning of Dec. 24.

Peregrine looks a lot like the Apollo Lunar Module, though it’s smaller. It’s an Astrobotic Technology product, one of two lunar landers the Pittsburgh company makes. Orlando Business Journal

Orlando Economic Partnership partners with Stetson to track local business opinion

Stetson University and the Orlando Economic Partnership are working to gather data that has not been collected from businesses before.

The DeLand-based college’s Center for Public Opinion Research and the public-private organization are partnering on a 12-month pilot to survey all businesses in Orange, Osceola, Seminole and Lake counties.

Neil Hamilton, vice president of market intelligence for the Orlando Economic Partnership, said the goal is to bring in data that can supplement existing economic data, some of which is up to a year behind. Orlando Business Journal

Morale down after DeSantis takeover of Disney special district, ex-employees say

ORLANDO — Morale and trust within the Walt Disney World government has deteriorated since allies of Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis took it over earlier this year, according to many employees who have departed in recent months saying the governing district has been politicized and cronyism now permeates the organization.

More than 40 out of about 370 employees have left the Central Florida Tourism Oversight District since it was taken over in February, raising concerns that decades of institutional knowledge is departing with them, along with a reputation for a well-run government. Tampa Bay Times

Florida ranks high in 2024 U.S. News & World Report best cities to retire. Here’s the list

Looking for a place to retire? Florida is waiting for you.

In the U.S. News & World Report’s “2024 Best Places to Retire in the U.S.” list, 10 of the top 30 ranked cities are in the Sunshine State.

The top place to retire in Florida? Daytona Beach, which came in at No. 8 out of the 150 metropolitan cities that made the list.

Pennsylvania dominated the list for retirees this year, with Harrisburg, Reading, Lancaster, Scranton and Allentown taking the first five spots. New York City was No. 7, then back to Pennsylvania with York at No. 7 and Pittsburgh at No. 10. No. 9 was Youngstown, Ohio. That’s something of an upset over last year when there were four Florida cities in the top ten, but rising housing costs may have cost us some points.

Here are the Florida cities that U.S. News & World Report named as the best places to retire in 2024. Pensacola News Journal

Centibillionaire Jeff Bezos moves to Florida, where his parents live—and capital gains are not taxed

After launching Amazon from a garage in Seattle in 1994, centibilllionaire Jeff Bezos is leaving the Pacific Northwest behind and setting sail for Florida.

In an Instagram post, the world’s third wealthiest person—with a net worth estimated at $160 billion—said he wanted to be closer to my parents after they recently moved back to Miami. Fortune

2 big orders for F-35s from Lockheed mean business for Orlando

Lockheed Martin Corp. (NYSE: LMT) will score two contracts that involve foreign governments and the defense contractor’s Orlando operations, according to statements made Sept. 26 and 27 by Romania’s defense ministry and Czech Republic’s Prime Minister Petr Fiala, respectively.

While the contracts have yet to be signed, Romanian and Czech governments have approved the deals to buy the latest models of F-35s in government-to-government deals. Romania will spend about $6.5 billion and Czech roughly $5 billion.

Here’s the Orlando part: Both contracts will include training services and flight simulators, which are designed, developed and made in Orlando at the company’s Rotary & Mission Systems’ Training & Logistics Solutions location at Global Innovation Circle, which supplies the “F-35 Training System to all nations currently operating the F-35 Lightning II,” said Cristina Vite, a media relations employee for the company. Orlando Business Journal

Duke Energy to bring unique green tech solution to Volusia County, Fla.

Duke Energy Corp. (NYSE: DUK) plans to build a first-of-its-kind green hydrogen system at its existing facility in DeBary. The combustion turbine will be the first such system deployed anywhere.

The hydrogen system is part of Vision Florida, a program that also includes the company’s first floating solar array, a pilot underway at the Hines generating station in Polk County. Vision Florida tests innovative projects such as microgrids and battery energy storage, among others, to prepare the power grid for a clean energy future, according to the company’s website.

The technology for the new hydrogen system was developed through a collaboration between Charlotte, North Carolina-based Duke Energy, Chicago engineering firm Sargent & Lundy, and General Electric subsidiary GE Vernova, based in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Orlando Business Journal

Study: Jacksonville, Fla. workers have one of the worst commutes in the nation

Jacksonville’s lack of walkability and its frequent storms make it one of the worst cities in America for commuters, according to one study.

A research team at Forbes Home crunched the numbers and discovered that Jacksonville drivers have the third-worst commute in the country.

“The city also happens to have the worst drivers in the U.S., according to a study by Clever Move,” per the Forbes report. “Some 531,037 workers live in Jacksonville and 3% have no access to a car.” Jacksonville Business Journal

Japanese bank opens big office in Tampa, to employ up to 500 people

Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group is opening an East Coast hub in Tampa that will eventually employ up to 500 people.

MUFG, which is based in Tokyo and has U.S. headquarters in New York, has subleased 80,000 square feet of PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP’s campus in MetWest International, the Tampa Bay Business Journal has learned.

MetWest International is a mixed-use development in Tampa’s Westshore business district. MUFG is taking the third, fourth and eighth floors in MetWest III at 4050 W. Boy Scout Blvd.

The bank did not previously have a presence in the Tampa Bay area. While it has locations throughout the U.S., the Tampa office is the bank’s first Florida location. Tampa Bay Business Journal