Technology Shaping Healthcare Sector in Miami

By Yolanda Rivas

2 min read JULY 2019 — The health sector in Miami, already known for its positive outcomes, is banking on innovation and technology to keep its high ranking as a healthcare provider. Artificial intelligence, telemedicine, virtual reality, electronic medical records, digitized healthcare and blockchains are some of the advances that are transforming the industry. 

The Renfrew Center of Florida is among the local institutions integrating virtual therapy to improve access for patients. Virtual healthcare allows patients to communicate with out-of-town healthcare providers without the necessity of traveling. It represents a more affordable and convenient way to receive care. 

“Virtual therapy is an area of significant growth in the mental health field that allows us to reach people who live in areas where there aren’t therapists or treatment facilities for eating disorders,” Gayle Brooks, chief clinical officer at The Renfrew Center, told Invest:. 

The center recently launched a telehealth therapy group in Florida, which provides support to anyone in the state who is struggling with any eating disorder. “This program works for two types of people: those who come into that group and discover that they need a higher level of care, or those who use it as a tool for their continuing care after they receive a higher level of treatment,” Brooks explained. 

According to a Deloitte survey, 58–69% of physicians expect to increase their use of technology. Tenet Health’s Miami-Dade Group CEO Jeffrey Welch, in an interview with Invest:, emphasized the importance of technology to provide faster and more effective solutions that can lead to healthier individuals living in healthier communities. 

“Every one of our hospitals in the area has at least one robot that can be used for thoracic general surgery, gynecological and colorectal procedures,” Welch said. “The goal is to utilize technology to provide minimally invasive treatment options that can reduce recovery time and get people their lives back, so they can do what they love,” he added.

Accenture’s Digital Health Tech Vision 2019 report showed that 94% of healthcare executives say that the pace of innovation in their organization has accelerated over the past three years due to emerging technologies.

Health institutions, like Miami Jewish Health Systems, are also integrating innovative programs to improve the delivery of care. The Florida PACE Centers (Program of All-Inclusive Care for the Elderly) is an example of how a diverse and innovative program can keep people out of institutions. 

“Miami Jewish Health has a reputation for being innovative in the delivery of healthcare for the elderly. Our PACE centers, which are responsible for the delivery of all primary, acute, long-term care and supportive services, continue to grow and expand,” Jeffrey Freimark, CEO of Miami Jewish Health Systems, told Invest:. 

Miami Jewish Health also has a major project underway called the S. Donald Sussman EmpathiCare Village, which will be wildly innovative in terms of its free-range open-living environment for patients with neurocognitive disorders.

According to Deloitte’s Healthcare and Life Sciences Predictions 2020 the top external factors that will shape the sector are: more informed and demanding patients, new business models due to digitized medicine, wearables and mHealth applications, Big Data and the influence of technology and science in regulations and patient safety. 

To learn more about our interviewees, visit:

The Renfrew Center: 

Tenet Health Miami-Dade Group: 

Miami Jewish Health: 

Spotlight On: Gregory Stuart, Executive Director, Broward Metropolitan Planning Organization

By Max Crampton-Thomas


2 min read August 2019 — Almost a billion dollars a year are spent on transportation in Broward, and as the region continues to grow so will this number. With so much money being funneled into transportation, there must be an overseer to decide how to disperse these federal funds. This overseer is the federally-mandated agency The Broward Metropolitan Planning Organization. Invest: Greater Fort Lauderdale recently spoke to Executive Director of the MPO Gregory Stuart, who discussed how the passage of the penny sales tax will help fund new transportation initiatives, the more immediate changes Broward will see thanks to the sales tax and the challenges facing transportation in the county. 

What have been Broward MPO’s most significant highlights over the last year? 

There have been three. The first is possibly the most significant, which was the passage of the penny sales tax that added $350 million a year to our annual budget. We spend about a billion dollars a year on transportation in Broward, so adding this $350 million is a substantial increase in transportation spending for our region. Second, was the municipal portion of that sales tax, which was one of the most significant items to be included in the penny sales tax. While we can talk about the large-scale projects that the sales tax will generate for the region, the impact of 23% of that money being dedicated to our municipal partners to build quality of life improvements when it comes to the transportation system is going to be key. It will provide those dedicated funding sources for our community shuttles, which folks use to go to the grocery store, appointments and other short distances. Third, was the implementation of the quiet zones for the FEC and CSX tracks here in Broward. While this didn’t necessarily improve the overall condition of transportation, it improved the quality of life for the residents along both of those corridors. 

What will be some of the more immediate changes due to the passage of the penny sales tax for transportation? 

Realistically, the immediate changes aren’t going to result in construction. We are focusing on enhancing the traffic signalization program. This includes coordination between traffic lights and people’s vehicles through the installation of smart communication equipment. Another immediate change that has happened already but which we’re not going to notice for about another year, is the county transit agency’s purchase of another 130 buses. Considering they are operating a fleet of about 300 buses right now, this is a one-third expansion and a significant increase in the bus system. 

What are some of the biggest challenges facing transportation and transit in Broward County?

The biggest challenge that we face is just trying to get everybody on the same page, whether it is a local government, the county government, the state government, the federal government or homeowners and business associations. It can be a very difficult task, but it can be done. We are working to strengthen the relationship between the three counties: Miami Dade, Broward, and Palm Beach. They all need to be talking to one another if we are going to make real positive change when it comes to transportation needs across South Florida. 

To learn more about our interviewee, visit:

Young Atlanta Forcing Real Estate Disruption

By Sara Warden


2 min read July 2019 — As demographics change, so does the way real estate is purchased. With a host of disruptive real estate companies entering Atlanta, such as Zillow, Redfin and Opendoor, all with their own added value, legacy real estate companies need to keep up.


Realogy, owner of Coldwell Banker, Century 21 Real Estate and Sotheby’s International Realty, has teamed up with none other than Amazon to tap into the younger generations and provide a new kind of real estate offering.

According to data from the 2017 American Community Survey carried out by the Census Bureau, Atlanta’s median age is 33.3 years. The largest demographic group is the 20-29 bracket, composing 21% of Atlanta’s residents, followed by the 30-39 group that makes up a further 17%. Only around 17% of the population of Atlanta is over 59 years old.

This is one reason why Amazon and Realogy chose Atlanta as one of the 15 cities to participate in the TurnKey service.

“Customers can be overwhelmed when moving, and we’re excited to be working with Realogy to offer homebuyers a simplified way to settle into a new home,” Pat Bigatel, director of Amazon Home Services, said in a statement. “The Amazon Move-In Benefit will enable homebuyers to adapt the offering to their needs — from help assembling furniture, to assisting with smart home device set up, to a deep clean, and more.”

The Amazon Move-In Benefit refers to up to $5,000 in Amazon products that come free with the purchase of a home through the platform, depending on the value of the purchase. For Realogy, the partnership adds value to its brand – its stock price jumped 20% the day the alliance was announced after having fallen from $48/share to $6/share over the prior four years.

For Amazon, the investment is practically risk-free. Realogy shoulders the cost for the program, allowing Amazon to drive traffic to its Home Services division in exchange for Realogy’s access to Amazon’s powerful platform. “For Amazon, this is a free way to experiment with attracting customers,” wrote Brad Berning, an analyst at research company Craig-Hallum.

Other platforms also see the value in Atlanta. This month, Zillow ranked it fourth-best as a location for first-time homebuyers to invest in real estate and earlier this year announced it was looking to establish its regional headquarters for Zillow Offers in the city.

“The area checks a lot of our boxes in terms that it is a well-connected part of the region, easily-accessible, and the talent pool is strong for both real estate professionals and tech talent,” said Zillow spokesperson Viet Shelton in an interview with Hypepotamus. “It just makes a lot of sense for a venture like Zillow Offers, which is trying to redefine and make (the experience) incredibly seamless for the consumer.”

Zillow Offers, a similar concept to Atlanta-based startup Knock, aims to tap into the hassle-free aspect of moving house and simultaneously find a new home for those selling on the platform. Since it was established in 2017, Knock has raised $400 million in equity and debt funding as it aims to expand nationally based on its Atlanta success.

As the Atlanta seller’s market transitions to a buyer’s market, it seems Amazon, Zillow and the others have found the sweet spot in between that favors all kinds of investment. “Some real estate experts say that if you’re going to enter this market, 2019 is the year to get it done,” said digital media strategist Brandon Barker in a blogpost for Roofstock.

Orlando Welcomes Mixed-use University City

by Sara Warden

2 min read July 2019Right now, students all over the world are enjoying a long summer break. But when summer ends in the fall, 7,700 UCF and Valencia College students will be returning to classes at a new state-of-the-art 68-acre development called Creative Village.

A $1-billion public-private partnership, Creative Village is designed to become a minicity in the heart of Orlando’s downtown. The campus will host more than 20 UCF academic programs, including communication, digital media, legal studies, healthcare technology and healthcare management. Valencia College will offer programs in digital media, health information technology, culinary studies and hospitality.

The centerpiece of the campus will be the Dr. Phillips Academic Commons, designed by architects Robert AM Stern and SchenkelSchultz. UK-based contractor Skanska is responsible for the development of the $66 million building. The 580-space, four-story, $14.6 million parking garage will be installed with license plate recognition technology and electric charging stations. State-of-the-art student accommodation will be provided by Ustler Development and DEVEN in the form of UnionWest, a 15-story building with over 600 beds and retail spaces.

The new campus has been in the works for the last four years but it is not just students who should be interested in the development. For local companies, the business of education can be a lucrative one. Not only will Creative Village host the campus, but it will eventually become a massive mixed-use district with 1.2 million office spaces, 1,500 residential units and 225 hotel rooms.

According to the Assistant Vice President of the new campus, Mike Kilbride, the goal was to offer students integration, convenience and walkability. “You go to the legal studies example and we’re just a five-, six-minute walk to the courthouse. So, students have the opportunity to intern while they’re in their courses,” he told Click Orlando.

Sunrail and Lynx buses have established a partnership with the campus, allowing students and staff to ride free of charge. “That allows students with their student IDs to ride Lynx buses for free, so there’s a lot of great options for our students and faculty and staff to connect with this campus if they want to leave their car at home,” Kilbride said.

As the campus becomes more walkable, the need for convenient retail outlets becomes more pressing. According to Wells Fargo research, the average spend of students per year on basics like accommodation, books, transport, clothes and food comes to around $14,960. When considering the students alone, that’s a $150-million gold mine for local vendors just waiting to be tapped into.

Just last week, UCF Downtown announced sushi restaurant Vera Asian would be joining the ranks of Dunkin’, Qdoba, Subway and many more as vendors at the campus. The development will also generate jobs for hundreds more custodial workers, security guards, maintenance workers, IT support workers and others.

“We’re not just talking about transforming a city, we’re talking about transforming lives,” said City Commissioner Regina Hill, who represents west downtown Orlando, at a meeting with the Florida Board of Governors.

“It’s terribly exciting to have 7,000 students in our downtown. That’s going to change the complexion of downtown forever for the better,” Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer told News 6.

Spotlight on: Chad Dobbs, General Manager for Pennsylvania, Uber

Writer: Yolanda Rivas

2 min read JULY 2019 — Ride sharing is here to stay. Although the concept is not new, it has gained significant popularity over the last few years. According to Statista, a survey indicated that 36% of 11,000 participants in the U.S. used ride sharing services in 2018, an increase from 15% in 2015. Our ‘Spotlight on’ for this week, Uber’s general manager for Pennsylvania Chad Dobbs, shared with Invest: Philadelphia the latest highlights and growth areas for the company in the region. 

What were some highlights that Uber saw in the region during the past 12-18 months?

We rolled out Express POOL, which is a new version of Uber POOL. This new shared ride option allows passengers to get more affordable rides by taking a short walk to a spot along the route to meet their Uber, and joining other users with similar routes — which makes ridesharing more efficient. We also made significant progress on our wheelchair accessibility, through a partnership with MV Transportation, to get more wheelchair accessible vehicles on the road and massively improve the reliability of that service. Finally, we launched Uber Rewards in late 2018, which is a loyalty program for riders. Whether you’re using Uber as a rider or to get food you can accumulate points and unlock special features on the Uber app.

What are the main growth drivers for Uber in Philadelphia?

In Philadelphia and other similar-size cities, our fastest growth areas are typically outside of the core. We’re excited to bring portable options to places that are not traditionally served by public transportation, and need a quick, reliable and cheap alternative. Outside of our ride program, we’re expanding the Uber concept as a platform and joining other transportation modes. For example, we recently launched a transit planning pilot program in Denver with the local transit system. The biggest opportunity for growth is around this concept that Uber is a platform and a way to get from point A to point B, but not necessarily in the back of a car. That part of the business has grown substantially over 2018 and is continuing to grow.

What are you doing to grow and improve the driver side and experience in the city?

We’re sitting in our Greenlight Hub facility, which is a physical location where drivers can come to receive in-person support with the on-boarding process. It’s very important for us to make sure the drivers have the support they need. We have also launched a number of different tools over the last 18 months to improve the drivers’ experience. For example, we had our 180 Days of Change campaign to make substantial improvements to our product based on the feedback of our local and national drivers. 

To learn more about our interviewee, visit:


No Slowdown in Sight for Miami Construction

By Yolanda Rivas

2 min read JULY 2019— Employment in the U.S. construction sector continued to trend upward last month, with the addition of 21,000 new jobs, according to data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). The strength in the sector, reflected also in the latest Miami regional data, suggest the industry is not slowing as quickly as projected.

According to the most-recent BLS data for Miami, the construction industry added 5,100 jobs in May, a 3.7% year-on-year increase and above the 2.8% national figure for that month. The numbers aren’t surprising, given the amount of development in the Miami area.

“What has been impressive to me over the last year is the number of projects we have under construction,” Andrew Burnett, senior principal at Stantec Architecture, told Invest:. “We have around 26 to 30 projects that are either in construction or looking to start construction next year. A large percentage of them are mixed-use residential, and we’re not only providing architecture and interior design services but often engineering and MEP (Mechanical, Electrical and Plumbing) as well.”

As stated in Invest: Miami 2019, residential development remains the top driver of construction in Miami. Although there has been a slight slowdown in the condo market, some experts expect the strong performance to continue.

“I see the right projects and developments continuing to thrive,” Manny Varas, president and CEO of MV Group, told Invest:. “Buyers are taking their time to make better decisions. They’re seeking out developers with strong track records as well as the quality of interiors and finishes that they’re looking for and can count on,” he said.  

In 2018, Miami ranked among the Top 10 U.S. metropolitan areas for commercial and multifamily construction starts, according to Dodge & Data Analytics. The construction in Miami’s residential real estate is characterized by the trend of continued foreign investment in high-profile luxury condos.

Another area with strong demand is infrastructure construction, according to Luis Lugo, Hill International’s senior vice president and regional manager for the Southeast U.S. and Latin America. For example, Miami International Airport and Fort Lauderdale International Airport, will soon start major expansion and modernization projects and the Miami-Dade Transit SMART program is expected to start construction activity soon. 

“We also do a lot of work with the hospitality industry. We’re building about a dozen hotels throughout the region. That’s a big market for us, and it’s a space in which we excel,” Lugo said. 

Despite speculation about a national economic slowdown, the outlook for Miami’s construction sector is positive. “The market will continue to be strong. A little slowdown is expected, but construction is going to pick up in 2019 and beyond,” Lugo said. 

To learn more about our interviewees, visit their websites:

Stantec Architecture: 

MV Group: 

Hill International: 

No Stopping Tampa Tourism Rocket

Max Crampton-Thomas

2 minute read July 2019 — Quite often when the city of Tampa Bay is mentioned it is in the context of how rapidly the area is growing both in population and economically. The boom Tampa Bay is experiencing can be attributed to a great many things, including a bustling tech sector, a revolutionary healthcare market and first-class educational institutions. Perhaps most influential in all this growth, however, has been the economic rocket that is the city’s tourism sector. Tourism in Tampa Bay has steadily risen year after year, and with events like Super Bowl LV and Wrestlemania 36 on the horizon, that trend shows no signs of slowing down.

The spike in tourism to the region has not been by chance. Rather, it can be attributed to the focused and deliberate efforts made by local businesses, government and community organizations. Invest: Tampa Bay recently spoke with Santiago Corrada, the president and CEO of Visit Tampa Bay, about the record year the city had in 2018. “We had an incredible end to the 2018 calendar year. It was another record-setting year for hotel revenue, which is phenomenal given that we have had record-setting years every year since 2014. We ended 2018 at $673.5 million in hotel taxable revenue, which was almost 5% higher than the previous year at $644 million. This is important for us because anytime a county hits $600 million in taxable revenue, it is granted the designation of a high-impact tourism destination. We have been able to reach that designation for two years in a row, and this year was even more important because our county commission just approved a rise in the tourism tax from 5% to 6%, which is the highest that any county can collect.” The growth in tourism throughout Tampa Bay also has a spillover effect. As demand increases and new attractions open they bring with them fresh job opportunities for local residents.

To sustain momentum and build on these milestones, Corrada says that attracting new hotels to the city makes sense. “There are certain big-name, five-star brands we do not have in Hillsborough County, and as the business plan makes sense to add these properties then we will. These new properties will yield different business groups and markets for the region. We have to continue to capitalize when we have an opportunity to expand our reach, refresh our brands and to always have something new to bring visitors back,” Santiago told Invest. “That’s why new developments like the Tampa Riverwalk are so important, why food halls are so important and why Busch Gardens updating and adding its roller coasters is significant because it gives people a reason to want to come back to Tampa Bay. Sustainability in this industry has to do with still being aggressive and still going after it.”

Tampa Bay is quickly becoming a premier, must-visit destination in Florida. Tourism in the city of Tampa Bay shows no signs of slowing down, and due to the efforts of organizations like Visit Tampa Bay will likely reach new heights in 2019. 

To learn more about our interviewees, visit their websites:

Spotlight on: George Cretekos, Mayor, City of Clearwater

Writer: Max Crampton-Thomas

2 min read JULY 2019 — For the second year in a row, Tripadvisor awarded Clearwater  the distinction of having the best beach in the country. This comes as no surprise to the city’s 115,000 residents, who have long been stewards of their environment. With the population in the Tampa Bay region growing, that stewardship becomes even more important. 

Invest: Tampa Bay recently sat down with Mayor George Cretekos, who is on the verge of completing his second term. He discussed how the city is handling population growth, the challenges associated with it and how residents are at the forefront of environmental sustainability in Clearwater. 

How are Clearwater residents supporting environmentally sustainable practices? 

As I complete my second term, I appreciate how our residents and businesses have, on their own initiative, promoted sustainability and environmental stewardship.  Before there had been any talk about governments banning single-use plastics in the region, Clearwater’s businesses had started their own programs to stop using plastic straws. It is now common to find many restaurants in Clearwater that do not offer plastic straws or styrofoam to-go containers. This is a testament to how our residents are promoting sustainability and being good stewards of the environment.

How is the region handling the recent increase in population growth?

The region must have smart growth to make sure we are not only taking care of the environment, but also guaranteeing accessibility for our residents and visitors. We continually hear that we have traffic problems and at certain times of the year those problems can be exasperating. The population in this region needs to adapt to using alternatives like public transportation, which can be a better option than building more roads. We should model our transportation efforts to be like that of other major cities where reliable public transportation is an alternative.

What are the biggest challenges facing the city of Clearwater? 

Transportation and affordable housing are the two biggest concerns for the Tampa Bay area. A large percentage of the employees in Clearwater does not live in the city; if we can help provide affordable housing for these employees then the transportation problems could be eased. These individuals would not have to commute long distances into Clearwater, which in turn would help clear a significant amount of congestion on the roadways and emissions. My fellow mayors in the Tampa Bay region have realized that we may be separated by a body of water, but that doesn’t mean that our interests don’t run parallel. When one city does well then we all do well, so we should be working together to solve these issues.

To read more about our interviewee, visit:


Atlanta Takes Novel Approach to Walkability

By Sara Warden

July 2019

2 min read July 2019 — Atlanta has not been known for its walkability. According to the Walk Score – a score that determines how pedestrian-friendly a city is – Atlanta ranks 21st among large US cities with a score of 49 out of 100. That is well below No. 1 New York City, which scored 89. But as the host of the 2019 Super Bowl earlier this year, the Georgia city took ownership of its connectivity issues and now has ambitious new plans.


Although most sports arenas are located a fair way outside a city’s core due to obvious space constraints, the 62,350-square-foot Mercedes-Benz Stadium is located just a 20-minute walk from downtown Atlanta. The stadium is within walking distance of 10,000-plus hotel rooms and 10 major attractions, which was a huge added value for the NFL when selecting its host city.

“One of the things that has made this Super Bowl special is just how walkable and compact this town is,” Peter O’Reilly, NFL senior vice president of events, told Saporta Report. “People are able to move so easily throughout the campus. It is as compact a Super Bowl campus as we have seen in recent years.”

But while the Super Bowl was a resounding success, Atlanta’s walkability is still a controversial topic. Problems plagued the Northside Drive pedestrian bridge, built specifically to safely connect the city’s downtown with the stadium. The bridge’s costs spiralled and ultimately, its usefulness was limited because it had to be closed to the general public during the Super Bowl due to safety concerns.

Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms says she knows there is more opportunity. “We are getting better by the day,” she told Saporta Report. “While we haven’t always been considered a pedestrian-friendly city, whenever you have an event downtown, we have a walkable area.”

In April, the Atlanta City Council adopted a resolution to become a participating jurisdiction in the Atlanta Regional Commission’s Livable Centers Initiative feasibility study for the AeroATL Greenway Development Plan. The Atlanta mayor’s office pledged $20,000 to support the 1-mile pilot project, an amount that will be matched by each participating jurisdiction. The developers Aerotropolis Atlanta Community Improvement Districts (AACID) and Aerotropolis Atlanta Alliance pledged $80,000. 

If all goes to plan, this will pave the way for a 48,000-acre greenway, which will cost anywhere between $100,000 to $5 million per mile, funded 70% by the government and 30% by the private sector.

“This initiative will begin the process of connecting the City of Atlanta to surrounding cities and the world’s busiest airport by way of greenway,” District 11 Councilwoman Marci Collier Overstreet said in a press release.

The plan will be interlinked with Atlanta’s Transportation Plan, adopted by the City Council in 2018, which prioritizes the construction of high-quality sidewalks and bike infrastructure to facilitate access to transportation, retail, and the community.

At the moment, the initiatives are in their infancy, but Atlanta increasingly is recognizing a need to connect in a more innovative way. Hartsfield-Jackson is the busiest airport in the world, with more than 107 million passengers in 2018, and with the Greenway Development Plan, it will soon be one of the most accessible by bike.

“The AeroATL Greenway Plan supports the ability to bike to schools or jobs, walk to downtown restaurants and shops, and – most uniquely – bike directly to the airport for a trip,” says the plan’s executive summary.

To find out more, visit the below:

City of Atlanta:

Atlanta Regional Commission:

Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport: