Spotlight on: James Michael Burkett, President, Florida Technical College

Spotlight on: James Michael Burkett, President, Florida Technical College

By: Yolanda Rivas

Since 1982, Florida Technical College (FTC) has been meeting the needs of students and the job marketplace. At times of low unemployment rates across the nation, educational institutions like FTC play a significant role in providing students the necessary skills businesses are looking for. In an interview with Invest: Orlando, FTC’s President James Michael Burkett discussed the most in-demand programs and how they support the local workforce.

What differentiates Florida Technical College from other educational institutions in the area?


We support people who want to acquire technical job skills that can get them into the job market more quickly. That is one of our main advantages. Our locations in Central Florida have seen unprecedented growth, particularly in our hospitality program because many of the positions in these fields require the technical skills we help students acquire, rather than a traditional four-year degree. Another big advantage for the school is our Spanish language vocational and technical programs. These programs have allowed us to assist the Spanish-speaking population that has migrated to Central Florida over the last few years.

What are some of your efforts to attract and retain talent in Orlando?

We partner with several chambers to make sure that employers in the area understand what we have to offer. That has been a great advantage to both students and employers. We are seeing unprecedentedly low unemployment rates and one of the main challenges employers are facing is finding qualified talent. We communicate with local businesses from different industries to ensure our students have the skills they need. 

Which Florida Technical College programs are seeing the most growth?

Electrical has been one of the fastest-growing programs at Florida Technical College. We have been able to scale that program quickly to meet demand and by the beginning of next year it will be available at most of our campuses. Construction trades and the Spanish language vocational programs also have been areas of growth for us and we expect that to continue in 2020. There is also a big need for culinary skills and we are expanding our capacity for that program as well. With numerous restaurants and hotels opening in the region, we are looking to provide the talent pipeline they need.

To learn more about our interviewee, visit:

Florida Technical College:

Why Orlando is an ideal city for esports hub

Why Orlando is an ideal city for esports hub

By: Yolanda Rivas

Over the last few years, Orlando has been increasing its presence in the esports scene. Already home to numerous simulation, training and tech companies, there’s no doubt about the City Beautiful’s potential as a main driver in the gaming arena.

One of the pillars in Orlando’s gaming scene has been Full Sail University. The institution opened The Fortress last May, which is the largest esports arena on a college campus in the nation. Since then, it has attracted several major events like an NBA 2K League competition and a qualifying event for the Red Bull Conquest.

“When we were planning and building The Fortress, we knew, like other facilities on campus, it would need to function as a professional-caliber facility since we are educating our students to work in the real world,” said Full Sail President Garry Jones in an article from the Orlando Sentinel. 

Although the esports boom is just starting and there’s only a handful of arenas in the country, these events represent a boost to the economy, especially with the presence of teams and fans attracted by the tournaments. 

A recent report from WalletHub ranked Orlando as the fourth-best city for gamers and No. 2 for gaming environment. The study compared the 100 largest U.S. cities across 23 key indicators of gamer-friendliness.

Spotlight on: Nicholas Haines, CEO, Bromley Companies

Spotlight on: Nicholas Haines, CEO, Bromley Companies

By: Max Crampton-Thomas

The future of Tampa Bay is developing in front of our very eyes and there are a few select developers making this vision come to life. Real estate developer Bromley Companies broke ground in mid-2019 on its ambitious Midtown Tampa project. Company CEO Nicholas Haines discussed the importance of incorporating new tendencies, such as a pedestrian-focused design, and the challenges that both a proper mix of high-end and affordable housing present for the city.


What’s the status of the Midtown Tampa project?

We broke ground on the Midtown project in May 2019 and we are well under construction for the first phase. There are 11 buildings going up at the same time: three residential, two office buildings, and several retail, including a Whole Food Kitchen and True Food Kitchen, both of which are significant expansions in the market. There is also a 1,000-car parking garage that is already topped out, and we’re right on schedule. The goal is to finish it by the 2021 Super Bowl, which will be held here in Tampa Bay just a couple miles up the street. 

A lot of what we are doing now is spending a tremendous amount of time on the finishing touches of the common-space designs that create community. It is about creating an imaginative destination not just for the people working, living and shopping here, but for the neighborhood by adding public art and a feel for the place, all the things that make a space interesting and dynamic. We are building a city within a city — an entirely new district. 

What business trends are you keeping an eye on as you go ahead with this development?

Accessibility and pedestrian-friendliness. I just read about a development in Arizona, with 1,000 residential units and no parking. That is a bold thing for a non-superurban area. What we are trying to do is create one of the first, pedestrian-first mindset versus car-first developments in Tampa Bay and Florida. All the streets inside the development are private, which is a really interesting feature of Midtown Tampa. We are not constrained by the city’s rules regarding traffic and street design. For a big event like the Super Bowl, we can close the streets so that all the cars access Midtown from the periphery.

We have designed curbless sidewalks, for example, and dedicated ride-share drop-off areas. The city of Tampa is working on a number of mass transit initiatives and we are working to accommodate a mass transit stop on one of our main corridors. People are going to live, work and shop here because they want to wake up, go to a coffee shop, walk their dog at the dog park, go shopping at Whole Foods, have a drink at the hotel rooftop bar, and maybe work at one of the office buildings. They’ll also be able to ride a bike path that connects from Midtown Tampa to the Greenway Trail System, from Tampa to St. Petersburg, by crossing a 10-lane bridge at Dale Mabry.

Are there any other areas that you see as a hotspot or active as real estate developments for the moment? 

Yes, it’s really exploding. The Heights area is really interesting. St. Petersburg is incredibly exciting and a great example of a vibrant, urban place with the interplay between food and art. We are talking about a city that has transformed itself over 10 years in terms of the energy there. 

What is your outlook for the Tampa Bay region, and how do you see the region addressing its challenges? 

Regarding sustainability, it is really important to get the mix right between higher-end housing like we are building here and affordable housing. There’s a need to provide better incentives for the private sector to offer that kind of housing. You can only do so much as a city if everyone is building luxury apartments. It is an issue for all cities, but Tampa today does not have a cohesive development and zoning policy to encourage that. Tampa is still a very affordable place on a relative basis, but that affordability gap is narrowing. People who have been living here for a long time with a moderate income are being pushed further and further away from the urban core. 

Transportation is a huge thing too. In some ways, advances in mass transportation technology might help Tampa. The city might not have done it in the past, but in some ways that might not be the worst thing. Tampa might be able to take advantage of innovations in technology like self-driving buses to implement something that is very forward thinking, instead of having to put up the heavy infrastructure and the massive amounts of capital for a light rail system.

To learn more about our interviewee visit:

Spotlight on: Adam Mullen, Market Leader, Greater Philadelphia Region, CBRE

Spotlight on: Adam Mullen, Market Leader, Greater Philadelphia Region, CBRE

By: Yolanda Rivas

One of the main drivers of Philadelphia’s economy is the real estate industry, attractive for its affordable prices, advantageous location and the Pennsylvania I-78/I-81 Corridor. A recent report from commercial real estate firm CBRE showed the corridor saw a total of $132 million in capital investment during Q3 2019. In an interview with Invest:, Adam Mullen, CBRE’s market leader for the Greater Philadelphia region, discussed the areas seeing the most growth in Philly’s commercial real estate and what is spurring growth in the market.


What are the lines of business seeing the most growth or demand in Philadelphia today?

It is hard to understate the momentum we are witnessing in the industrial and logistics space. The shift to e-commerce and modernized supply chains have not only created one of the largest warehouse distribution markets in the world in our backyard, the Pennsylvania I-78/I-81 Corridor, but demand continues to be robust for Philadelphia’s industrial properties. A variety of users, including retailers and third-party logistics companies, are driving demand so they deliver goods to consumers more efficiently than ever before. 

At the same time, the local retail market is as vibrant as it has been in years. Philadelphia is at the top of everyone’s list as a major gateway market in the retail space. We have the largest mall on the East Coast, the King of Prussia Mall, which is a prime example of the consumption activity in our region. Also, the food and beverage sector is one of our leading sources of demand, not only in the suburbs and shopping centers, but also in Downtown Philadelphia. Due to the opportunity we see in the retail market, we have had an extreme focus on our retail business in Philadelphia, doubling down on our investments over the last few months. 

We can’t overlook the dynamism in Philadelphia’s office market. Our Downtown office market is larger, in terms of square footage, than Downtown Los Angeles or Downtown Houston, and we are seeing considerable demand from not only tenants but also investors, particularly from Asia and the Middle East. 

Finally, we continue to watch the rise of the multifamily market in the region. Due to low interest rates and a plentitude of available debt capital, the demand for multifamily assets in greater Philadelphia has exploded over the past few years. 

What are the major drivers of growth for Philadelphia’s real estate sector?

The local economy is very strong and is being driven notably by the “eds and meds” segment, which has a unique presence in the Philadelphia region. Not only do the local educational and health services institutions have a huge effect on the economy and are growing rapidly, but they also represent the largest share of our employment base. Consequently, this concentration of talent has created a boom in the local life sciences industry, which is experiencing rapid growth, notably in central Philadelphia where most of the region’s major academic and healthcare institutions are clustered and spurring innovation and new companies. Not incidentally, we are seeing the highest office rents we have ever seen in Center City, and also experiencing a significant uptick in office tenants relocating to Downtown Philadelphia.

To learn more about our interviewee, visit:


Philly Leads in ‘Taking Care of Business’

Philly Leads in ‘Taking Care of Business’

By: Sara Warden


In NBC’s 2019 ranking of Top States for Business, Pennsylvania landed a lacklustre 28th position – lower than half way down the poll for business friendliness in the country. The state was in 39th place in terms of economy, 32nd in quality of life and 31st in workforce. But there is potential. The state ranked ninth in terms of education and sixth in access to capital. The Philadelphia authorities are grabbing onto these roots and nurturing them into shoots with the new PHL Taking Care of Business Initiative.


“This new investment will have a big impact on neighborhoods all across our city by providing businesses and neighborhoods beyond Center City with the resources they need to succeed and to thrive,” Mayor Jim Kenney said to the Philadelphia Tribune. “Reducing blight not only makes our city more beautiful but it helps small businesses — especially minority and women-owned businesses — attract shoppers and employees. When small businesses succeed, our economy grows stronger.”

The program was pioneered by city Councilwoman Cherelle Parker, with the goal of reducing blight while creating 300 jobs for local residents – that’s 30 part-time employees in each district who are paid $15 per hour. “We are committed to building a strong workforce and job market that will in turn help us attack poverty and crime to ensure inclusive growth across the city,” added Kenney.

But rather than making the employees public servants, they will instead be Cleaning Ambassadors, paid by the Commerce Department to Philadelphia Industrial Development Corporation (PIDC), which will issue RFPs and/or contract with CDCs. “This program will pay workers a living wage and introduce them to workforce training that can lead to other professional opportunities and jobs. I strongly support PHL Taking Care of Business,” said Council President Darrell Clarke in a press release.

For initial costs related to the program, the city has now pledged $10 million to fund the initiative, which is a way to attract new business, improve conditions for existing companies and improve quality of life. “Strengthening our commercial corridors, which are the lifeblood of communities throughout my district and across the city, is essential to stabilizing our neighborhoods,” said Councilwoman Parker in a press release. “PHL Taking Care of Business will help ensure that every business corridor in the city, regardless of size or neighborhood, will be clean and attractive, allowing the businesses to focus more time on growing their enterprise. It will also help to change that awful characterization of our city as ‘Filthadelphia.’”

Several local business owners that are already part of the program’s pilot catchment area are delighted with the results. “Living on a busy street with lots of businesses, you always see trash on the street. Ever since the 9th District street cleaning team started, you definitely see a difference. I believe neighbors see the difference too. People walk around prouder and are more likely to speak up when they see people throwing trash on the ground,” said local resident Frank Huynh.

To learn more, visit:

Spotlight on:Flint McNaughton, CEO & Founding Partner, SunCap Property Group

Spotlight on:Flint McNaughton, CEO & Founding Partner, SunCap Property Group

By: Felipe Rivas

The Charlotte Metro Area offers access to capital, a talented and growing workforce, and an affordable cost of living. As a result, many companies and new residents are flocking to the region. Developers, however, must navigate the area’s competitive climate and tackle rising construction costs to materialize their projects. In an interview with Invest: Charlotte, SunCap Property Group CEO Flint McNaughton talks about the trend of companies relocating their headquarters to the area, the challenges for developers, and the outlook for the region amid continued growth.

What impact has the millennial workforce had on the region?

Companies continue to focus on recruitment and retention of millennials because they are a big and growing workforce. Many companies are adjusting their work schedules and environments to recruit and accommodate them. Many millennials are looking for lifestyle choices that provide flexibility. I think apartment life enhances that flexibility and is a major reason for the consistent positive absorption we have seen in the multifamily sector. In my opinion, there will continue to be growth in that area.

What are some challenges facing the commercial real estate development industry?

The biggest challenge today in the commercial real estate development industry is the rising cost of construction and land and how that affects underwriting. As costs rise, so must rents. When markets were trying to recover from the recession, contractors remained aggressive in their bidding and costs remained low. They were trying to keep the lights on. However, as the market recovered and their pipelines became full again, the aggressive bidding began to wane. Many contractors can pick and choose their projects now. In a hot Charlotte market, costs of labor and materials are up.  

What is driving the region’s headquarters relocation culture?

Labor is a big concern for companies coming to the region. South End has been a robust and interesting story for Charlotte. It’s where the millennials and younger crowds want to go. When companies compete for employees, particularly the millennial generation, many of the companies find a competitive advantage by co-locating where those folks live. If you can live, work and play in an environment like South End, it checks a lot of boxes, and gives companies a competitive advantage over those located in  smaller, less “amenitized” submarkets. 

The headquarters relocation trend happening in the Charlotte Metro Area is largely driven by a number of positive attributes. Probably the biggest driver is the cost of living in the area, which is significantly less expensive than the other major markets. The region has a large well-diversified workforce, land, access to capital through its banks, and it is a great place to raise a family. When you can attract and retain young talent, it is a boom across industries and sectors, and I don’t think that will change in the near future.  

What is the outlook for the region heading into 2020?

The different headquarter relocations to the Charlotte area serve as big milestones as to how the city is doing. From a macroeconomic perspective, the area has experienced tremendous, positive and sustained growth. The area has its challenges, but overall Charlotte is very healthy. 

I’m bullish on Charlotte and believe this wave of momentum will continue. One of our biggest challenges will be investing in infrastructure to keep pace with that growth. Our roads, hospitals and education systems in particular will have to keep pace with that growth. The private sector will also have to get involved in upward mobility initiatives and be actively involved in the community to help the less fortunate move forward. We have to be smart, disciplined and fair about how we grow.

To learn more about our interviewee, visit:

Charlotte drops out of the Top 5 in US for tech jobs

Charlotte drops out of the Top 5 in US for tech jobs

By: Felipe Rivas

In 2019, the Queen City nurtured a culture of tech company headquarter relocations with giants such as LendingTree and Honeywell settling into the region. Despite recognized names establishing in the area, the Charlotte Metro Area slipped from the top spot for tech jobs, according to CompTIA’s annual report. The world’s leading tech association ranked Charlotte No. 6 on its “Tech Town Index” for 2019, dropping from last year’s No. 1 spot. Though Charlotte ranked out of the Top 5 cities for tech jobs in the nation, the report and local education leaders say there is an exciting energy in the region as it relates to technology that they will continue to develop and invest in.

CompTIA cites long-term job growth as “one of the reasons the Charlotte-Concord-Gastonia metro just missed the Top 5.” According to the report, in 2018 “the area showed signs of an 11 percent job growth over the next five years” but as the end of 2019 nears, the growth projection sits at 9 percent. However, the report says that when it comes to the technology industry, Charlotte is “still putting its money where its mouth is.” 

In the past 12 months, more than 52,000 tech jobs were posted, the majority of those positions being for developers, software engineers, and data analysts, the report states. As such, local educational leaders say institutions need to capitalize on the energy, diversification, and growth of the local technology industry. “What is going on with fintech, healthcare, and energy is exciting here,” said Queens University of Charlotte President Daniel Lugo to Invest: Charlotte. “The most exciting part is the growth of the technology sector. We want to be at the forefront of working with those businesses.” As an institution focused on liberal arts, Queens University of Charlotte is meshing tech skills, such as coding and data analytics, with its liberal arts curriculum. “We are actually training students with hybrid skills,” Lugo said. “We want to be in a position to have retained that general education of the liberal arts, but to look at pedagogy and the curriculum to empower our folks to understand coding and data analytics, to look at this whole 21st century and technology in a more robust way.”

Similarly, Catawba College is also upgrading its curriculum to account for the growth of the region’s technology industry. “We’re launching a master’s in data analytics, as well as a minor in data analytics to accompany almost any other major,” said President Brien Lewis to Invest: Charlotte. “We’re trying to take advantage of what’s in our region.” Going forward, the Charlotte Metro Area has the opportunity to continue to distinguish itself as a tech town. “The opportunities are to be cutting-edge in specific areas, such as data analytics,” Lewis said. “It’s a matter of capitalizing and investing further in what’s already in Charlotte to create an environment where people know we’re a leader in that area.” 

For 2020, As the Queen City continues to grow and attract companies and new residents, factors such as access to banks and capital, a diverse and growing talent pool, access to a robust logistics and distribution infrastructure, and a cost of living that is lower than the national average will prove advantageous for the local economy and those wishing to tap into its technology sector. 

To learn more about our interviewees, visit:;

Invest: Philadelphia 2020 Launch highlights region’s education, healthcare and key economic sectors

Invest: Philadelphia 2020 Launch highlights region’s education, healthcare and key economic sectors

December 6, 2019

Invest: Philadelphia 2020 Launch highlights region’s education, healthcare and key economic sectors 

Jerry Sweeney, President & CEO of Brandywine Realty Trust, gave the keynote address at the launch of Capital Analytics’ second publication focusing on Greater Philadelphia.

Philadelphia, PA – Greater Philadelphia’s robust education industry, healthcare, transit and development sectors were the focal points in Capital Analytics’ second launch event for Invest: Philadelphia. The 2020 edition highlights the five-county region of Greater Philadelphia, including Philadelphia, Montgomery, Bucks, Delaware and Chester counties, with a special focus chapter on Montgomery County. 

The event was attended by over 350 high-level guests and officials from some of Philadelphia’s key industries and economic institutions. 

The official launch of the publication took place on Dec. 5, 2019, at The Westin Philadelphia. Following a short networking breakfast, Jerry Sweeney, President & CEO of Brandywine Realty Trust, gave a keynote address that underscored some of the major achievements of Philadelphia’s real estate sector and economy over the past 12 months. The keynote address was followed by three robust panel discussions.

The panels addressed major themes dominating Philadelphia’s economy: education, healthcare and transportation-oriented development. Chris Fiorentino of West Chester University, Dr. Guy Generals of Community College of Philadelphia, Dr. Chris Domes of Neumann University, and Damian Fernandez of Penn State Abington participated in the panel, “Thinking outside the box: Educating today for the jobs of tomorrow.” Jack Miller of Capital Analytics was the moderator. “Healthcare hub: A look at the driving force behind Philly’s economy” featured Ron Dreskin of EisnerAmper, Ellen Rosenberg of Amicus, Barry Eckert of Salus University and R. Carter Caldwell of the University of Pennsylvania Health System, guided by moderator Lauren Murdza of DLA Piper. The panel, “Philly on the move: A city taking new form with transit-oriented development,” featured moderator Susanne Svizeny of OceanFirst Bank and panelists Tricia Marts of Veolia, Ed Reitmeyer of Marcum and Liam Brickley of Bryn Mawr Trust.

“Philadelphia has a thriving and diverse economy that in 2019 solidified its position as a formidable local force and continued to be a major player in the global market,” said Abby Melone, president of Capital Analytics. “Philadelphia has proven that not only is it resilient, it knows how to adapt and transform. Our second edition of Invest: Philadelphia touches on this transformation, depicting a city that is embracing change and innovation to ensure a modern future. ”  

The Invest: Philadelphia publication from Capital Analytics is a 208-page economic analysis that highlights business opportunities for investors, entrepreneurs and innovators in the Philadelphia area. These include Philadelphia’s housing market that remains one of the hottest in the country, and the region’s real estate industry that is attracting increased interest from investors both domestically and abroad, particularly in the multifamily space. Utilities and infrastructure are covered in detail as the city looks to alternative sources of energy to sustainably grow and develop. Transportation is another leading topic, with the Philadelphia International Airport continuing to expand its reach and SEPTA making improvements to help keep counties connected via extensive bus and train routes.

Spotlight On: Matthew Taylor, Chairman & CEO, Duane Morris LLP

Spotlight On: Matthew Taylor, Chairman & CEO, Duane Morris LLP

By Yolanda Rivas

2 min read

OCTOBER 2019 — As the Philadelphia legal market grows and consolidates, Philadelphia-based firm Duane Morris LLP is focused on expanding and strengthening its performance through its strategic plan, launched earlier this year. Chairman and CEO Matthew Taylor spoke recently with the Invest: Philadelphia team about the firm’s growth efforts, most in-demand practices and the future of the legal sector in the region.

What are some recent highlights or significant accomplishments for Duane Morris?

We went through a full year of a strategic planning process, which was intensive. It’s also been galvanizing in terms of realizing how well-aligned our partners are in terms of who we are and what we want to be. We rolled out our strategic plan in the first quarter of 2019, and it has been met with great excitement. The plan is focused on what we want in terms of growth, higher performance and how we are going to accomplish those goals. We were also able to strengthen the firm by growing in key regions, such as Texas, New York, Philadelphia and on the West Coast with key additions in Northern California. 

Where are you seeing the most growth in terms of your practice areas in Philadelphia?

Our trial litigation group, generally, is very busy. Our private equity and emerging company practice is very strong, too. Our employment and labor practice is particularly busy and, along with our intellectual property group, is a preeminent practice for us globally. We’re doing well across all sectors. Things have been a bit flat over the last few years for our bankruptcy and reorg group, but this year there has been an increased amount of activity in that area. We have seen a nice broad base and good performance in all our practice groups so far this year. 

As part of our strategic plan, we want to focus on our Top 5 sectors in terms of revenue. About 85% of our revenue is in the following industries: financial institutions, health and life sciences, technology and telecommunications, infrastructure (including construction and energy) and finally retail and consumer products. Those areas are our focus across the firm and in Philadelphia, which is our largest office with over 200 lawyers. Clients are focused on what you know about their industry and how you can help them, instead of where you are located. Philadelphia has done a good job in attracting great industries and keeping great corporations in the area, which benefits our law firm.

What is your outlook for Duane Morris and Philly’s legal sector in 2020?

My outlook for Duane Morris is bullish. We have high expectations for ourselves as a firm. I am just as bullish about Philadelphia. This is a gem of a city, of a region. We have great educational institutions and industries. The infrastructure in this city and its great healthcare, restaurants, sports and cultural sectors are the main drivers of new residents and visitors to the city. Philadelphia is a great place to live and do business. 

To learn more about our interviewee, visit:

Duane Morris LLP: