Florida is in the midst of an aviation renaissance

Florida is in the midst of an aviation renaissance

By: Beatrice Silva 

2 min read September 2020 — Despite a dismal year for the aviation industry, Orlando Melbourne International Airport is experiencing a period of exponential growth. Companies such as Made in Space and Aerion Supersonic have announced plans to relocate their headquarters to central Florida, which will help bring hundreds of jobs to the region. 

Aerion Supersonic plans to relocate its headquarters from Reno, Nevada, to Melbourne, Florida. The American aircraft manufacturer received a substantial investment from Space Florida that will help bring an estimated 675 jobs to the region over the next six years. Aerion Supersonic and Space Florida also have plans to build a $300-million state-of-the-art campus at Melbourne International Airport. Located on 60 acres of undeveloped property at the northwest corner of the airport, Aerion Park will boast a center for research along with facilities for manufacturing, design and production. 

The AS2, a supersonic business jet, will be the first aircraft manufactured at Aerion Park. Production of this ultrafast fleet is scheduled to begin in 2023. “Our engineers call it science, but we call it time travel,” Aerion said in a tweet. “Why? At the speed of 1,000 MPH, we’re taking you from JFK to Sydney in 13 hours and 43 minutes instead of 18 hours and 6 minutes. Use those hours with your family instead.” 

Florida is in the midst of an aviation renaissance. Despite an unsettling year, the industry has remained resilient. Space Florida has high hopes that the creation of Aerion Park will help captivate other aviation and aerospace corporations to the area, which will only bring more exploration and innovation to the region. 

“This is a truly transformational project for Florida that changes the game for high-speed air transportation as well as for advanced aerospace manufacturing in the state,” Frank DiBello, president and CEO of Space Florida, told AINonline. “The decision to locate design, engineering, and manufacturing of this technologically advanced supersonic flight vehicle here in Florida is a testament to the growing strength and global recognition of the importance of Florida as a world-leading aerospace state.”

Aerion Supersonic isn’t the only corporation that has received investments from Space Florida to help relocate its operations to the Sunshine State. Earlier this year, Made In Space, announced its decision to move its headquarters from Mountain View California to Jacksonville. The engineering company specializes in the manufacturing of three-dimensional printers for use in microgravity.

“Relocating our headquarters to Jacksonville is a strategic step to position the company for long-term growth,” Andrew Rush, Made In Space president and CEO, said in a statement. “By expanding our presence in Florida, we can leverage a skilled aerospace workforce, large-scale infrastructure to support our growth, and key strategic partners like Space Florida that will accelerate our momentum as we continue to develop world-class space technology.”

Mixed-use developments are replacing big-box retailers

Mixed-use developments are replacing big-box retailers

By: Beatrice Silva

2 min read September 2020  — Retail real estate is influenced by the state of the economy, occupancy levels and consumer trends. This past year, digital shoppers spent an estimated $601.75 billion online, which is up 14.9% from the previous year, according to the U.S. Department of Commerce. The popularity of e-commerce has led to hundreds of retail bankruptcies and an influx of vacant retail buildings. Developers like Walsh Properties and Terra Group have come up with clever ideas to use some of these obsolete establishments in South Florida.

The BrandsMart-anchored shopping center located in Davie is just one of the potential redevelopment projects in Broward County. Adache Group Architects are attached to the project, a 1.27-million-square-foot plot of land to be transformed into a mixed-use residential and commercial development, according to the Town of Davie’s planning report. Along with boasting 735 residential units, the blueprint calls for 23,00 square feet of commercial/retail space and 21,884 square feet of amenities, such as two outdoor pools, a clubhouse and a work area. On Sept. 8, the Town of Davie approved Walsh Properties’ rezoning application for the proposed project, which is anticipated to have a positive effect on surrounding property values. 

Although large chain retailers like JCPenny and Steinmart are faltering, having the perfect ratio of residential and commercial space could be the way forward. “I think you’ll see less retail development and more of a focus on entertainment and life experiences,” Dave Dickerson, president of Midwest business operations for Miller-Valentine Group, told Dayton Business Journal. “They will be a place where consumers go, not just to shop, but to have lunch and have more of an amusement experience.” 

For David Martin, real estate developer and CEO of Terra Group, his focus is on building strong fundamentals by diversifying South Florida’s economy away from its reliance on tourism. His firm currently has 8.9 million square feet of residential, commercial and retail development throughout Broward and Miami-Dade. 

Block 55 is just one of Terra Group’s ambitious projects. In partnership with Swerdlow Group, the two firms are proposing around 402 apartments, 54 affordable senior housing units and around 350,000 square feet of retail space anchored by a Target store, according to The Real Deal. 

Miami Beach and Coconut Grove will continue to attract an immense amount of investment. We believe in the political leadership and the zoning regulations that will promote sustainable development. We are finding that there is an increasing scarcity of land so this is creating more competition for properties and land. We are trying to focus and invest in the neighborhoods we believe in as well as creating assets that are really meeting the behavioral patterns related to people’s lifestyles. We are continuing to see mixed-use as a strong bet but we are sensitive to what is happening in retail today, as well as the implications of working from home. We are trying to design our residential buildings to adapt to the changes and differentiate ours from the other products available on the market,” Martin told Invest: Miami. 

Enter Phase 2: Palm Beach County ready for further opening of economy

Enter Phase 2: Palm Beach County ready for further opening of economy

By: Felipe Rivas

5 min read September 2020After reflecting on the social and economic achievements of American workers, Palm Beach County is ready to allow more workers to get back to work. For the first time since March, the majority of Palm Beach County industries will be allowed to reopen Tuesday after Gov. Ron DeSantis agreed to the easing of coronavirus-related business restrictions.The county now sits in Phase 2 of its multistep reopening plan, which will allow movie theaters, bowling alleys, playhouses and other entertainment venues to reopen following Labor Day weekend. 

Businesses will still limit the number of customers served at one time and will continue to enforce social distancing guidelines. Palm Beach County Mayor Dave Kerner said that 95% of businesses will be operational in some fashion, according to the Patch. 

Unemployment rates remained under 4% in the county for all of 2019 and the start of 2020, consistently dipping to under 3% in that time span, according to the U.S. Bureau of Statistics. From March to April, unemployment shot up from 4% to almost 15% as shelter-in-place measures were implemented locally and throughout the state and nation. Since April, unemployment rates have dipped, hitting about 10% in July as the economy began to carefully open up. The rate is currently at 11.6%.    

“We remain focused on preserving a healthy community and a vibrant way of life for our hometown,” Kerner told Invest: Palm Beach. “Our outlook is ensuring we remind this community every day that it takes a village to get through this. It is not going to happen without continued cooperation, passion and civic duty on behalf of our constituents, our neighbors and our friends. If we achieve that, the outlook will be excellent,” he said. 

As the county enters Phase 2, lessons learned from the pandemic may help drive future economic development in the region. “We all want to safely get back to doing the everyday tasks but this will take a slow and steady approach,” Boca Raton Economic Development Manager Jessica Del Vecchio told Invest: Palm Beach, echoing the mayor’s sentiments. “Today, with technology, we’ve learned we can work from anywhere. This will allow us to continue to attract new companies from out of state, especially now that we’ve been forced to test the work from home concept for many months,” she said.

Continuing to observe health and social distancing guidelines will be key as the economy continues to open up. “It’s important that we make sure we are ready and comfortable for the upcoming reopening of businesses, schools and local community events,” Del Vecchio said. “We should bear in mind that everyone has different boundaries and comfort levels, so the recovery could vary drastically from one person or location to another. Over the next six months, it will be interesting to see what changes occur as we start getting back to everyday happenings. I hope the simpler joys that we rediscovered during the shelter in place order will remain.”

For more information, visit:

https://discover.pbcgov.org/

https://myboca.us/470/Economic-Development

An influx of affordable housing is coming to Orlando

An influx of affordable housing is coming to Orlando

By: Beatrice Silva 

2 min read September 2020  — Affordable housing has been a major cause for concern in Florida for decades. Homes in the sunshine state are overpriced by almost 20%, the highest level in eight years, according to a study done by Florida Atlantic University. The pandemic has served as a reminder of just how fragile the line between having a place to live and experiencing homelessness is for families. This past year, Central Florida added seven affordable rental options for low-income households, which has raised the total count to 20, in an effort to subdue this crisis.  

On Dec. 17, 2019, Orange County commissioners signed off on a 10-year plan to create new affordable housing projects, injecting $160 million into a fund with a goal to build 30,300 units by 2029. Among other grants and strategies, developers and nonprofits can seek financial help to build or upgrade low-income properties. “In the end, all those things are going to help, but they are going to have to have dedicated resources,” Shannon Nazworth, CEO of Jacksonville-based Ability Housing, previously told Orlando Business Journal. “There have been communities like Los Angeles that have gotten permission from their populous to do a bond issue to develop affordable housing and meet the need, and if Orange County were to do that, I think the return on investment would be demonstrative.”

Residential Communities LLC and New South Residential LLC are the most recent developments to undertake an affordable apartment complex. Construction on the 77,473-square-foot senior housing facility is set to begin in early September at 5800 S. Rio Grande Ave, according to Orlando Business Journal. This project is one of the many that are needed to help bring more affordable housing options to the region. Families are struggling, perhaps now more than ever, to simply pay rent. To put things into perspective, a minimum-wage worker in Florida makes around $445 per month while the average one bedroom apartment costs around $1,027 per month, according to the National Low Income Housing Coalition. Rent at that price point is simply out of reach even for median-waged workers like nursing assistants, janitors and cashiers. 

While paying rent is difficult, for some people owning a home may seem unfathomable. However, renting a single-family home provides the experience of owning without the costly fees and obligations associated with purchasing a property. As a result, the single-family rental sector is booming in Orlando. “If you can find single-family housing that you can rent that’s within close proximity of multifamily housing, the single-family housing is going to beat it out every time,”  Brad Hunter, managing director of real estate consulting firm RCLCO, told Orlando Business Journal

The rise of rentals could be another form of relief for low-income families. The increase in occupancy will eventually lead to more single-family rental communities being built that then provide more affordable housing options. However, when it comes down to it, the majority of the responsibility to help reduce the burdens of housing costs and minimum wages falls on elected officials. Without the support of the local and state government, deploying a plan to promote affordable housing is left in the hands of developers and the community. 

Face Off: Adaptability is par for the course for these development leaders

Face Off: Adaptability is par for the course for these development leaders

By: Max Crampton Thomas

Patrick Lee

Andrew Burnett

3 min read August 2020 Although there have been major roadblocks stemming from the pandemic that have created some slowdown, development in South Florida has continued to show a steadfast resilience and adaptability as projects around the region have remained on a path toward completion. For companies within the construction and development sectors, there is an understanding that being adaptable to the communities’ changing needs is just par for the course. While the future may be uncertain, it’s important to keep a cautiously optimistic attitude. Invest: spoke with both Shorecrest Construction President Patrick Lee and Senior Principal for Stantec Andrew Burnett about their companies’ major developmental successes over the last year, the constantly shifting industry landscape and their best estimations of what the future may hold. 

What are some recent landmarks for your business in the Miami-Dade region? 

Patrick Lee: The main markets Shorecrest Construction focuses on are hospitality, boutique commercial and luxury residential. In the last few years, all of these markets have been extremely strong. We just completed the renovation of the Soho Beach House in Miami Beach, which included the refreshment of guestrooms and suites, bar areas and gym to keep guests engaged and coming back. In luxury residential, a mainstay market for us, we build high-end homes on the water and complete condo interiors in some of the most prominent South Florida neighborhoods. Shorecrest works closely with well-known architects and designers to bring their concepts to life. We just finished the penthouse at the Four Seasons Surf Club designed by Holly Hunt. In the last few years, we have gotten a stronger foothold in those markets.

Andrew Burnett: Recent landmark projects in full swing include Wynwood Square, a 12-story mixed-use facility that includes apartments and retail space; the 30-story YotelPAD Miami condo and hotel project under construction; and a 43-story Luma tower in Miami’s Worldcenter. And there are a lot of new projects to be announced soon and currently coming on board. Each asset within our portfolio contributes to our growth in the creative services space, beyond architecture and interior design, but also engineering and resilience. We think beyond traditional physical traits and focus on how our vast team builds our communities and what we create so there is continuity in our lives and the spaces we inhabit and to ensure that we protect diversity and creative thinking. We call it cultural resilience. 

Have you seen more cognizant efforts toward building for the future with sustainability in mind? 

Lee:  From a climate change perspective, we have been building at a higher elevation, which has been mostly code-driven. Having said that, we have worked on projects where our client has voluntarily built higher than the codes require. Miami Beach has been extremely aggressive in its efforts to raise sea walls to deal with issues stemming from sea level rise. As far as our clients, everybody is technologically savvy, so a lot of the smart home amenities that were reserved for the elite level of homes are becoming a more common feature in homes. We find a lot of our younger clients, in particular, prefer that kind of addition.

Burnett: There is a significant level of agreement across the industry related to what we are facing and where we need to go. It is only a matter of how and there are varying perspectives to harness. Our government agencies, utilities, partners, clients, insurance agencies and lenders all commonly understand the need to mitigate prevalent risks and maintain our quality of life. There is power in the collective movement and I am optimistic about our future and path. 

What does the rest of the year look like for your company?

Lee: Shorecrest has a couple of projects that will still happen as well as some ongoing projects that are still running, including a condominium at the Continuum South Beach and several single-family residences in South Florida. We have two luxury clubs and restaurants right on Miami Beach and the owners of those projects are still very bullish on the construction. I think there will be more of an influx of people who have been coming into Miami from the Northeast because they no longer want to live in such dense cities and prefer to live in a place like Florida. I predict that there will be a recovery in Miami relatively quickly. 

Burnett: We have been quite busy, which is a reflection of the busy private development market. Projects are moving forward and the entire development community is gearing up for when the play button is pressed. In 2009, during the H1N1 outbreak, we established a pandemic committee, granting us an effective way to respond quickly to the pandemic and set up a remote work setting. Fast forward to today: Our productivity levels have allowed us to meet established deadlines and keep projects moving forward, continuing business as usual. Our current outlook for 2021 does not project significant levels of interruption. We want to continue to support that in any way we can. 

To learn more about our interviewees, visit:

https://www.stantec.com/en

https://shorecrestgc.com/

 

 

Innovation and Sustainability: Palm Beach County entrepreneurs endeavor to preserve the world

Innovation and Sustainability: Palm Beach County entrepreneurs endeavor to preserve the world

By: Felipe Rivas

5 min read August 2020 — The coronavirus pandemic put a spotlight on the importance of health, wellness, the essentiality of work, and the innovation that is possible in the midst of a constantly changing landscape. The global pandemic also shed light on the need for businesses and companies to ramp up their sustainability efforts, reduce their carbon footprints, support green initiatives and leave the world a better, cleaner place for future generations. In Palm Beach County, from the air to the ocean, local entrepreneurs are working hard to innovate in an effort to preserve the health of the planet in South Florida and beyond. 

For the past two years, local Palm Beach County resident and entrepreneur Tim Sperry has toiled to transform the ubiquity of paint into an air purifying instrument. His company, Smog Armor, is a solutions provider keenly focused on ending air pollution. With its slogan, “We innovate, you improve,” Smog Armor is committed to helping business owners and residents improve the air quality around them in an effort to eradicate air pollution. 

More than an eco-friendly paint, Smog Armor produces a water-based paint that is nontoxic, free of volatile organic compounds (VOCs), and infused with enhanced zeolite minerals for maximum absorption of air pollutants. Sperry’s patented process is optimal for reducing air pollution for up to five years depending on the condition of the environment it is painted in. Multiple independent testing has shown Smog Armor paint to reduce 95.1% of indoor air pollution in one hour, while its Green Wise certification ensures it has zero VOCs. 

With a background in real estate and business, and a consuming passion for entrepreneurship and preservation of nature and environment, Sperry transitioned from a life as a restauranteur to a biotech entrepreneur. “I needed to come up with something that I was passionate about, fulfilled by. With my love for nature, I wanted to find a way to help nature and do something that I really enjoyed doing,” Sperry told Invest: Palm Beach. As someone with a sensitive respiratory system, he knew helping reduce air pollution would be the main path in his journey to innovation and preserving the environment. 

His journey began by attempting to reduce vehicle carbon emissions because at that time “that’s what I saw,” he said. He spent months on end researching the dense, esoteric, chemistry-related literature revolving around air pollution and efforts to reduce it. “I essentially became a self-taught chemist,” he said. “I had two computers open. One with the research, and another to decipher those readings.” Time and time again he read about zeolite, a negatively charged mineral that is extremely effective at trapping carbon emissions and airborne pollutants. He designed a series of exhaust tips infused with zeolite aimed at directly reducing CO₂ emissions from cars, conducting and measuring air quality with and without the specialty exhaust tip. His exhaust tips proved to reduce car emissions by as much as 80 to 90 percent, he said. But after driving around for a while with the specialty exhaust tip, he realized that the system was impractical for the average consumer because the tips would constantly fall off and would become saturated after a few months of use. After going back to the drawing board, his light bulb moment came when he considered replicating this process with paint rather than the exhaust tips.

“At that point, I had to try something new,” he said. “Everyone uses paint, so I am not teaching people new habits.” After months of researching the proper paint manufacturers, honing the formula and testing the air purification efficacy of the paint, Smog Armor was ready to cover the walls of commercial and residential buildings and beyond. Local hotels have already used Smog Armor paint to improve consumer confidence in the coronavirus landscape, Sperry said. On the community outreach end of the spectrum, the company has tapped into the power of the arts, collaborating with nonprofit organizations to create impactful murals that purify the air of their local surroundings. To put it in perspective, three gallons of Smog Armor paint will remove as much CO₂ as one adult tree does in an entire year, Sperry said. For Sperry, giving back to the community via the art installations, for example, while advocating for a more sustainable future is the ultimate goal. “We have seen a spike in what we are doing because of all that is going on. We’ve got some amazing collaborations, working with amazing artists and companies, that are interested in showing that they are improving customer experience while building customer confidence and showing that they care about the environment in a public way,” he said. 

Similar to Sperry, two Florida Atlantic University alumni and entrepreneurs are on a mission to end plastic pollution in the ocean. Docked at Florida Atlantic University’s Research Park, 4ocean is a public benefit corporation founded by Andrew Cooper and Alex Schulze. 4ocean’s mission is to end the ocean plastic pollution crisis through global cleanup operations and a variety of methods that help stop plastic pollution at its source. In March, the company relocated it’s corporate headquarters to FAU’s Research Park. 

Through it’s “One Pound, One Promise,” 4oceans supports its efforts from the sale of bracelets, apparel and other products made from recycling recovered materials. Each product purchased removes one pound of trash from oceans and coastlines. To date, the company has recovered more than 10 million pounds of ocean plastic and trash, according to the company’s tracker, found on its website.

“Partnerships like this are extremely important in advancing our mission to end the ocean plastic crisis,” said Director of Operations Desmond Reese in a press release related to its move to FAU. The Research Park at FAU was the ideal location for future growth and innovation because it offers an opportunity to collaborate with FAU’s faculty and students on research and development, Reese said. 

FAU’s College of Engineering & Computer Science will work with 4ocean on several projects, such as developing enhanced methodologies to track ocean cleanup volumes in real time, diving deeper to understand the impact of cleaning waste from specific coastal and river outflow locations, developing additional cleanup operation tools and increasing its efficiency at interruption, capture and prevention of ocean inflow waste in remote regions while also developing datasets and tracking models.

“The arrival of 4ocean is very exciting,” Research Park President Andrew Duffell said in a press release. “It offers real-world research opportunities for both the faculty and students at FAU who can see how two of their fellow alumni are making a positive impact on our environment through entrepreneurship.”

For more information, visit:

https://www.smogarmor.com/breathe-cb

https://www.4ocean.com/

Charlotte provides relief now while thinking about the future

Charlotte provides relief now while thinking about the future

By: Felipe Rivas

2 min read August  2020 From a census count, to civil unrest, to the health and economic fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic, 2020 has proved to be a pivotal year for the nation. And though uncertainty has remained constant throughout the year so far, the Queen City’s infrastructure investments, diverse business climate and access to talent continue to draw interest from companies and new residents. As the pandemic continues to change the way Charlotteans live, work and play, however, city leaders are juggling the precarious task of providing relief for residents now, while contemplating the future development and growth expected in the Queen City. 

 

From workforce development efforts to small business relief, state, municipal and banking leaders are working to mitigate the pandemic’s immediate economic impact. In August, in an effort to continue to help embattled renters and homeowners, the Charlotte City Council approved an additional $8 million of federal stimulus funding to expand the existing Rental and Mortgage Assistance Program (RAMP CLT). Since April, more than 1,500 households have received $1.4 million in mortgage, rent, hotel and utilities relief and upfront housing assistance due to COVID-19, the city reported. Individuals earning 80% or below the average median income who face COVID-19 hardships and cannot make housing payments may apply for rent or mortgage assistance.

Though the pandemic-infused economic contraction has hit the Charlotte metro area, the region continues to be a favorable destination for new residents. The Charlotte metro continued to be a major draw for new residents coming from the East Coast and as far as California, global property investment giant Jones Lang LaSalle reported in August. “New residents have been drawn by a robust job market, lower cost of living and more pleasant climate,” JLL wrote in its “Tracking population migration in Charlotte” snapshot report. “Year over year migration from the Miami-Fort Lauderdale metro increased by 450%,” while “in-migration from California has increased by 500% year over year as the California diaspora moves further east,” JLL found. 

Charlotte’s appeal to new residents, business owners and companies will likely drive commercial and residential development demand as the region moves past the pandemic. In an effort to maximize the value of development projects expected to come to the city, Charlotte city leaders are considering implementing impact fees on property developers to cover public services for new developments, including any new infrastructure needed. These fees can also help create public green space, support schools and parks, as well as fund public transportation projects. 

Leading the effort on the impact fees proposal is Taiwo Jaiyeoba, assistant city manager and director of Planning, Design and Development, who is expected to present a proposal to the city manager in the coming months, as reported by the Charlotte Observer. Impact fees are vehemently opposed by developers who say the fees can potentially stifle development projects. Additionally, to move forward with impact fees, the city will have to receive permission from the state legislature, which has traditionally opposed the measure. 

During these uncertain times, sound insights and collaboration between the public and private sectors will be pivotal in ensuring financial recovery for both businesses and residents. To learn more about the future of development in Charlotte, register now for the Invest:Charlotte 2020 Virtual Launch Conference. The conference takes place on Sept. 10 at 11:30 a.m. The virtual conference will feature two robust panels, including “The future of development in the Charlotte region,” moderated by Taiwo Jaiyeoba, assistant city manager and director of Planning, Design and Development, and featuring Zach Pannier, business unit leader, DPR Construction; Marcie Williams, president, RKW Residential; Clay Grubb, CEO, Grubb Properties; and Lawrence Shaw, managing partner, Colliers International.

 

To learn more, visit:

https://www.us.jll.com/en/views/snapshots/charlotte-snapshot-8-3-2020

https://events.r20.constantcontact.com/register/eventReg?oeidk=a07eh85c9d965e383fa&oseq=&c=&ch=

 

Face Off: Business schools tackle the challenges in a changed education landscape

Face Off: Business schools tackle the challenges in a changed education landscape

By: Max Crampton Thomas

4 min read July 2020 Higher education in Miami is using the COVID-19 crisis to come out stronger on the other end. John Quelch, dean of the University of Miami Patti and Allan Herbert Business School, discusses what that means and also talks about the post-pandemic landscape for higher education in an interview with Invest:. Florida International University (FIU) College of Business dean Joanne Li also spoke with Invest:, touching on the growing importance of online education, and what makes its new DBA program a game-changer.

How has your school continued to sustain growth in enrollment and influence?

John Quelch: The increasing strength of the University of Miami brand is one factor. We are witnessing a sizable surge in 2020 undergraduate enrollments at the university level and at the school. A second factor is the vote of confidence provided by the $100-million naming gift we received from Patti and Allan Herbert last year. Third is the global recognition and attractiveness of Miami as a place to study plus our beautiful, spacious and self-contained Coral Gables campus. Fourth, from a health and safety perspective, many parents see our campus as preferable to the congested, urban campuses of many universities in the Northeast.

 Most important though is the quality and dedication of our research and teaching faculty, and the fact that we offer more degree programs that are in the sweet spot of what people are looking for. Our sustainable business MS degree is seeing a 25% enrollment increase for 2020. No matter the industry, everyone agrees that technology and analytics are increasingly important for success. Our MS in business analytics degree, recently ranked No. 8 in the world alongside Duke, is able to place almost all its students in capstone projects, internships or full-time employment, even in this challenging environment. In addition to our redesigned full-time MBA, another important degree program is our MS in finance, which supplies a flow of talent to the wealth management, private equity and venture capital firms coming into the Miami area.

How have you approached online education?

Joanne Li:  Eight or nine months prior to COVID-19, FIU Business expanded its offering strategically and methodically. By spring 2021, FIU Business will offer 10 online programs that have a substantial market space. FIU was one of the first adopters of online education, which began more than two decades ago. Now, we see growing demand for this kind of degree, especially as FIU has been diversifying its student population more and more. As a state university, we are expected to offer degrees aligned with market needs.

On an undergraduate level, we are the leader among all colleges within FIU in providing online education; of all the courses we offer, 40% are considered online education. The goal is to allow a more agile learning model for the student and to meet the student’s needs. Most of our student body is a 21st century workforce, who work or take internships while studying. 

We launched our Doctor of Business Administration (DBA) in 2018. We are one of only three state universities in Florida offering this degree. This program targets candidates who already made it to a C-Suite level and yearn for higher levels of business education. Since we accepted our first cohort, the program has been extremely successful, and it is a new trend for business education. Many universities across the globe have been talking about this need but are unsure about implementation. Before COVID-19, FIU Business had already become even more attuned to the business environment and needs of the candidate.

This model is often perceived as a direct competitor for many often expensive and time-consuming full-time MBA programs, especially for candidates who already have been integrated into the working world. The DBA also feeds into this new trend of a stackable, specialized master’s degree. It is a hybrid model that allows students to continue with their careers while studying. Our responses have been timely and position the college to pivot and prepare for the next wave of demand in the market.

What impact will the pandemic have on the education sector or on your institution in the near term? 

Quelch: Overall, I expect many colleges and smaller universities to be financially challenged and forced to merge or go out of business. The University of Miami is scheduled to open on Aug. 17, 2020. We are fortunate and reassured to have a global public health expert as president of the University of Miami. To navigate the current challenges, any university needs to see a high level of community commitment from students, faculty and staff. All of us are going to have to wear masks, follow physical distancing guidelines, be disciplined and set a good example.  We are confident that the strength of the University of Miami community is such that people will endure personal inconvenience for the common good.

Li: By Aug. 24, FIU is scheduled to start repopulating the campus with the four adapted teaching modalities: face to face, online, hybrid and synchronized remote learning, which was introduced in March. FIU Business set out four guiding principles in May. The first is that we will transition our constituency back to normalcy to the best of our ability. The second is that we will honor the teaching modality as we marketed and advertised it, as far as we can. Students can choose to rotate from face-to-face to remote or they can be designated as a remote student through a hybrid model or they can select a fully online format. The third principle is maintaining the use of the classroom and we will take responsibility for making sure that students always have the right tools. The last principle is that we will always consider alternative testing as a result of this pandemic. Certainly, we are still in a very fluid situation but having a plan allows us to prepare for scenarios.

It is important that we retain students and they stay in school. This is a very difficult time for students as many of them or members of their families lost their jobs. To survive this lockdown, everybody has to chip in, and we allocated some of our CARES Act funds to provide financial support.

How do you balance face-to-face education with technology and virtual learning and what does this mean for higher education?

Quelch: The need to switch to virtual teaching to deliver our spring semester courses was not as disruptive as I expected. We all pulled together and did pretty well, though we must improve our online teaching skills further as student expectations will be higher when we reconvene in the fall. We completed our tenure-track hiring early in the year so we will have five new tenure-track professors joining us in the fall.

The area where we are having to do the most reinvention is non-degree executive education. We had approximately $1 million worth in contracts that had to be postponed. We are exploring how to move from a 100% face-to-face delivery proposition to a value-added proposition that includes a more blended solution, often with modular engagement. We are breaking programs into bite-sized learning modules that can be delivered virtually over a week, a month or a couple of months.

Regarding our graduate and undergraduate programs, the challenge as we move into the next semester is to figure out how to best leverage our physical space on campus to maximize the percentage of course delivery that can be face-to-face. We hope to deliver a hybrid solution, balancing face-to-face and online modalities, dividing classes into subgroups to insure physical distancing. We have not seen reductions in applications; in fact, at the graduate level, we have seen a strong uptick, particularly in applications to our online and full-time MBA programs.

Li: We conducted a student survey during the COVID-19 changes, asking about home and education arrangements. Many said they would like to come back and interact with their professors and fellow classmates. This means we have to be better in being learner centric. We need to ensure student learning takes place and student success is achievable regardless of the delivery method. We can do this by making the environment a lot more conducive for the learner. We need to make discussions meaningful on an online platform. At FIU Business, we intend to accommodate students who prefer to show up in person as well as those who want to remain remote. We will vastly implement technology, both hardware and software, to encourage the interactions. The technology is not new, but the teaching pedagogy and implementation are. Now, there is no excuse. We cannot unlearn the lockdown, so we may as well make ourselves very good at adapting. This is a defining moment for higher education.

To learn more about our interviewees, visit:

https://business.fiu.edu/

 

https://www.bus.miami.edu/

 

 

Tourism in Orlando pushing forward despite rise in COVID-19 cases

Tourism in Orlando pushing forward despite rise in COVID-19 cases

By: Beatrice Silva

2 min read July 2020 — It has been almost six months since the World Health Organization declared the novel coronavirus a pandemic. Within days, each sector of the economy had to discover new ways to keep businesses afloat despite being forced to close their doors. Unlike banking and technology, tourism relies on almost every aspect of life that is now restricted, like travel and face-to-face interaction. For cities like Orlando, tourism is a major factor in the economy, to the tune of $75 billion a year.

 

 Tourism supports an estimated 41% of Orlando’s workforce. Around 463,000 jobs have been affected and millions of dollars worth of wages are being lost each day during the area’s local tourism shut down. Tourism also accounts for $5.8 billion in state and local taxes, finances which go to support local schools, roads and other crucial services, according to Visit Orlando. The city’s resilience, however, is proving that it is not going to let a microscopic organism bring it down as tourism continues to push forward.

Although the hotel industry has been wrestling with obstacles caused by COVID-19, activity in that area is starting to gain traction again. One example is the development of a five-star convention hotel that was recently announced. Summa Development Group LLC has proposed a 33-story project in Thornton Park and the construction is expected to begin sometime next year, according to Orlando Business Journal. As for the big players like Walt Disney World, SeaWorld and Universal Studios, they too have begun to jump-start their operations. Disney’s Hollywood Studios and Epcot officially opened on July 15. Universal Studios welcomed guests back to its park on June 5, after almost two and a half months of closure. Of course, the theme parks will each have their own updated operational guidelines, including mandatory face coverings, temperature checks and social distancing regulations.  

When we first made the decision in March 2020 to close Universal Orlando Resort in response to the coronavirus pandemic, we didn’t know how long it would be for. We didn’t know what the future held or what a reopening would entail … Getting us here has been an in-depth process, and I am incredibly proud of the ways our Team Members have listened to experts and implemented new operational guidelines for the safety of our guests. At Universal Orlando Resort, we are following what we’re calling the three Ss. That’s screening, meaning we’re taking everybody’s temperature before they enter; sanitization, because we are constantly sanitizing areas and high-touch surfaces in the parks; and spacing, providing markings and reminders throughout our resort so guests can socially distance themselves from other parties,” said Bill Davis, president of Universal Orlando Resort, in a welcome back letter. 

It’s safe to say that tourism is the bloodline of Orlando’s economy. While there is hope for a new beginning and a new normal after the pandemic, the city isn’t in the clear just yet. Despite every attempt by public officials to stop the spread of the novel coronavirus, cases continue to surge and hospitals are starting to fill up. On July 19, Florida reported 10,328 new positive COVID-19 cases and 90 Florida resident deaths related to COVID-19. Orlando has been listed as the second highest city, behind Miami, with the most confirmed number of COVID-19 cases, according to The Florida Department of Health