Vaccine Passports, Bustling Airports: Top 2021 FL Business News –

FLORIDA — With the new year upon us, let’s take a look at the top business headlines from 2021.

Tampa Bay Businesses Discuss Vaccine Passport Ban, Masks

In April, Gov. Ron DeSantis signed an executive order banning vaccine passports — documentation that indicates whether an individual has received the COVID-19 vaccine or not — in Florida.

Find out what’s happening in Sarasota with free, real-time updates from Patch.

This executive order prohibits businesses from asking customers to see proof of their vaccination status before providing services or allowing them entry. Some Tampa Bay-area businesses shared their thoughts about the vaccine passport ban with Patch.

Mayor’s Trop Redevelopment Pick Has Affordable Housing Commitment

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Midtown Development has been chosen by Mayor Rick Kriseman to serve as the developer to the 86-acre Tropicana Field site in St. Petersburg.

Affordable and workforce units will be between 1,000 and approximately 1,900 depending on density of the development.

Political Pie? Sarasota Residents Devour Profane Joe Biden Pizza

A Sarasota pizzeria is getting political with its toppings. In October, Solorzano’s Pizzerias, which has six locations throughout Sarasota County and a few opening soon in Tennessee, added the “FJB” pizza to its menu as an insult to the president.

The pizza features a large “FJB” written in pepperoni. That stands for “F— Joe Biden,” said the outspoken local pizza chain’s founder and owner, Phil Solorzano.

Solorzano’s Pizzerias is selling a new menu item — a pizza with “FJB” written on it in pepperoni. That stands for a slur aimed at President Biden. (Courtesy of Solorzano’s Pizzerias)

Rumble, A Conservative YouTube Alternative, To Open Florida HQ

Online video-sharing platform Rumble will open a U.S. headquarters in Longboat Key.

The platform, a YouTube alternative, is based in Toronto and popular among conservative influencers and right-wing viewers. As of August, Rumble has more than 40 million monthly average users, the company said.

Tampa Becoming Magnet For National, Global Tech Companies

Tuesday’s announcement that advanced technology start-up Genesis Systems is moving its headquarters from Kansas City to Tampa underscores the Tampa’s growing reputation as a national technology hub and incubator.

Florida Firm Oversees AZ’s Controversial 2020 Election Audit

Cyber Ninjas, the Sarasota-based firm hired to lead Arizona’s 2020 election audit, was founded by a “Stop the Steal” advocate.

Tampa Airport Takes Off Following Pandemic; Celebrates 50 Years

It’s been a year-long bumpy road to recovery but officials at Tampa International Airport said air travel is making a comeback.

Tarpon Springs Food Truck To Appeal Court Decision On City Law

The owners of a Florida food truck are vowing to continue their legal battle against Tarpon Springs after a Florida court decided that they could not sue the city over an ordinance that requires independently operated food trucks to use someone else’s name in order to operate downtown.

Elijah and Ashley Durham opened SOL Burger last year when Elijah Durham lost his job as a chef during the pandemic. (IJ)

Proposal By Moffitt Cancer And Research Accepted By St. Pete

Moffitt Cancer and Research Institute submitted a plan to the city to build a 75,000-square-foot medical building in St. Petersburg.

Amazon Announces Plans To Hire 8,000 Employees Across Florida

Amazon announced in September that it is hiring an additional 8,000 people throughout Florida, including 1,000 in South Florida, 800 in Orlando and more than 100 in Tampa, on top of the 40,000 corporate and technology jobs recently announced.

Florida Tourism Tops Pre-Pandemic Levels: Visit Florida

Hotels, theme parks and airports are bouncing back to pre-pandemic levels while restaurants and smaller businesses continue to struggle.

179-Car Drive-In Theater Coming To Warehouse Arts District

St. Petersburg is getting socially distant entertainment with a drive-in movie location that will have a 64-foot screen to show movies.

Ringling Bros. Circus Returning In 2023 Without Animals

Feld Entertainment will bring back the Greatest Show on Earth in 2023 with a focus on human performers.

Clowns perform on the final day of the Ringling Bros. Barnum and Bailey Circus on May 21, 2017 in New York. Known as “The Greatest Show on Earth,” the circus performed its final act after a 146-year run. It will return in 2023 without animal acts. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

First Watch Raises $195.8M During Initial Public Stock Offering

Bradenton-based company First Watch Restaurant Group raised about $195.8 million during its initial public stock offering in October.

Iberian Rooster Said Goodbye To St. Pete

The Iberian Rooster went from hosting more than a hundred events a month pre-pandemic to hardly any, and it’s taken a toll on the venue.

Didn’t Get The Vaccine? ‘Refrain From Visiting,’ Restaurant Says

With the surge in COVID-19 cases throughout the state, the owners of Beach Bistro in Holmes Beach want all diners to get vaccinated before coming to visit their Anna Maria Island restaurant.

Canadian Budget Airline Swoop Adds Clearwater To Destinations

The airline will offer non-stop service to and from Toronto and Hamilton, Ontario, starting in November with tickets as low as $116.

Big Storm Brewing To Open Taproom, Restaurant In Ybor City

Big Storm Brewing Co. announced Monday that it has signed a lease to take over the vacant Hamburger Mary’s and Mary’s Pub locations.

Big Storm plans to open an 11,000-square-foot taproom and restaurant in the Centro Ybor building by the end of the year. (Big Storm Brewing Co. )

Whole Foods Market To Open First St. Pete Location

A 23-year-old fitness center in St. Petersburg loses its lease to the future Whole Foods Market that will be the first one in the city.

JDub’s Brewing Closing Flagship Sarasota Location

“COVID kicked our a–, straight up,” Jeremy Joerger, JDub’s Brewing Company’s owner and founder, said.

Float Tanks Provide An ‘Adult Timeout’ And Ease Stress

A float center in St. Petersburg wants to provide veterans with floatation therapy to minimize physical ailments and emotional issues.

New Ghost Kitchen Serves Chuck Norris-Inspired Chicken

Cluck Norris Ass Kickin’ Chicken has launched ghost kitchens throughout the country, including one based out of Sarasota’s Rusty Bucket.

Sarasota Memorial Spent $1B On New Medical Facilities In 2021

Despite a “year of hardship, challenge and growth,” Sarasota Memorial Health Care System spent $1 billion on bringing new medical facilities to the community, the health care system said.

The Chelsea St. Pete’s British-Flavored Coffee Shop Is Open

The Chelsea St. Pete open in the Warehouse Arts District brings together one owner’s British background with love for a NYC hotel.

TGH Launches Largest Expansion Plan In Hospital’s History

Tampa General Hospital is launching the most ambitious master facility expansion in the hospital’s history to continue to meet the needs of the community for decades to come.

Kforce Tampa Downsizing HQ Office As Remote Workforces Grow

Employees working from home during the pandemic has changed how traditional offices are viewed. So Kforce Tampa is selling its headquarters.

Guy Fieri Opens Flavortown Ghost Kitchen in Sarasota

The Food Network star has opened 100 Flavortown pop-up restaurants across the country, including nine in Florida.

Chef and television personality Guy Fieri opened 100 Flavortown pop-up restaurants across the country, including one in Sarasota. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)

Airport Expansion Planned, Passenger Traffic Grows Significantly

The Sarasota-Bradenton International Airport has seen a 180 percent increase in passenger seats in 2021 compared to 2019.

Tenants Eager To Lease Space At Tampa’s Newest Walkable Community

Midtown Tampa will consist of 11 buildings encompassing 1.8 million square feet of retail, residential and office space.

Cuban Cigar Family Business Booms With Latest Generation

A Cuban native who started calling Tampa Bay home in 2006 will soon have the grand opening of Cigar Paradise Royal Lounge on Beach Drive.

Tampa’s Historic Floridan Palace Hotel Ripe For Revival

The historic Floridian Palace Hotel in downtown Tampa will become part of the revival of the emerging restaurant and entertainment district known as the “NoDo District” of north downtown Tampa with the help of new owners who have unveiled ambitious plans for the 1926 hotel.

Judge Strikes Down Sarasota Shop’s ‘Vaccine Passport’ Lawsuit

A judge in Leon County struck down a Sarasota bead shop’s lawsuit against Florida’s surgeon general over the state’s “vaccine passport” ban.

Ybor City Selfie Studio A Labor Of Love For Mother-Daughter Team

A mother and daughter have made their dream of opening a business together a reality despite hurdles during the coronavirus pandemic.

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