Breaking Ground newsletter: The DeSantis road going nowhere so far
Hit the road, DOT.
That's largely been the reaction at multiple online meetings being held to discuss toll highways the state Department of Transportation has been mandated to construct by Gov. Ron DeSantis.
Green flagged by the Florida Chamber of Commerce and fueled by the Republican governor, the legislature drove the projects through at the end of the 2019 legislative session. Unlike all or nearly all major transportation endeavors, the idea for these expressways didn't come from planners or engineers.
The southernmost freeway would connect the Everglades area and eastern Collier County to metro Orlando and may use the existing State Road 29 right-of-way for that route. SR 29 borders federal parks like the Big Cypress National Preserve and the Florida Panther Wildlife Refuge.
Many at the meetings said they're concerned about this Southwest connector because of environmental concerns, such as it cutting through the heart of the Florida panther breeding population.
“This project is bad for our water, wildlife, public health and rural communities," said Lindsay Cross, with Florida Conservation Voters. "Proceeding with the roads-to-ruin project as-is, in a time of unprecedented crisis, is an act of bad government and a waste of taxpayer dollars.”
Backers, like the chamber, say the new system would bring economic growth to local communities.
That concept has drawn mostly criticism from the very same people who live in those affected areas, at least the ones who have spoken so far at these digital gatherings.
Hertz debt adds up to $24 billion
After 102 years in operation, it has come to this.
Unable to secure another extension on its auto lease debt payments, Estero-based Hertz has filed for bankruptcy protection.
Hertz Global Holdings Inc. had racked up more than $24 billion in debt, according to court records.
Hobbling Hertz had announced a surprising leadership change prior to making its latest financial move as it struggles to survive.
New CEO Paul Stone's path to the car rental company took him through Sam's Club/Walmart, where he started as a store manager and moved through the ranks, and Cabela's, a leading outdoor and recreational retailer.
Going into 2020, the corporation had about 38,000 employees worldwide, with about 1,100 of them based in Southwest Florida.
Under former leader Kathryn Marinello, the organization has taken many steps to cut its costs over the past several months, including reducing its capital spending, canceling new fleet orders and shrinking its employee count.
Analysts have said the moves may not be enough to save the business, which has suggested it may not be able to live on for another year.
Taking a 'pause'
Area experts say that portions of the apartment market in Southwest Florida are on "pause."
The market was extremely hot in the region before the coronavirus crisis, with high-priced sales of complexes and many new projects coming out of the ground, according to reporter Andrew Wigdor.
However, the pandemic has helped bring much of that momentum to a halt, with financing becoming harder and harder to come by.
Storm Smart move
Storm Smart Executive Chairman and Founder Brian Rist recently was awarded $2.6 million in Paycheck Protection Program funds.
However, the founder of a growing Southwest Florida-based business decided that the money could be of more use to businesses that have struggled more throughout the coronavirus pandemic.
Storm Smart has actually grown employees and revenue during the outbreak.
More growth and development news
» Collier County leaders move to buy more than 900 acres of ranch land.
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