NEW AREA CODE The Florida Public Service Commission approved a new 448 area code in Northwest Florida. Rolling out in mid-2021, the new area code includes 18 counties and the cities of Tallahassee, Panama City and Pensacola.
FUTURE BUDGETS The revenue estimating conference met in November to discuss its end of the year report that will be issued prior to the start of 2020 Session. The conference stands by its previous statements that growth in revenues will continue to slow during the next decade; but no decrease is forecast.
AMAZON The online retailer has announced plans to open a new distribution center in Polk County, creating about 500 full-time jobs with pay starting at $15 an hour, plus benefits. The center will pick, pack and ship large items such as patio furniture, kayaks, and bicycles at its one million-square-foot facility in Auburndale.
In other Amazon news, founder Jeff Bezos is giving a $5.25 million grant to a Central Florida nonprofit to provide housing and other services to homeless families. The Bezos Day 1 Families Fund Grant will be administered by the Homeless Services Network in Orlando.
PROTECTING FLORIDA TOGETHER An interactive water quality dashboard is now available so residents can monitor water quality and information on water restoration projects. The dashboard may be accessed here. Currently, the map focuses on blue-green algae, red tide and nutrient concentrations in the St. Lucie and Caloosahatchee rivers and Lake Okeechobee. An expanded statewide map will be added over the next year.