Rock Hill crystallizes its future with new development and capital projects

Rock Hill crystallizes its future with new development and capital projects

By: Felipe Rivas

2 min read February 2020 — About an hour south of Charlotte, in South Carolina, a city is experiencing an evolution much like its counterpart in North Carolina. Located in York County, the city of Rock Hill is crystallizing its future by moving past its textile history to make way for new development anchored by education and projects related to sports tourism. According to York County leaders, there are over half a billion dollars worth of projects under construction or in the pipeline, while completed projects have begun to change the landscape of Rock Hill and it’s Downtonw.

Much like Charlotte, the city of Rock Hill is focused on attracting and retaining talent as part of its economic development master plan, leveraging the growth of Winthrop University as the centerpiece of the capital projects happening in the area. The seminal project in the region, University Center, located in the Knowledge Park area, has already seen $100 million of total investment. “It’s a 23-acre former mill site that closed in the 1990s and employed around 5,000 people,” University Center developer Skip Tuttle told Invest: Charlotte. “It links Winthrop University to Downtown Rock Hill on the other side.” When complete, the project will account for about $250 million of development in Downtown Rock Hill. Tuttle, president of the Tuttle Company, is also making way for new office space in the nearby Lowenstein building featuring 225,000 feet of Class-A space, slated to attract new businesses to the region. “We have progressed rapidly on the redevelopment and have leased 70 percent of it. There are 350 people working there now in 10 firms,” he said. 

Another game changer for the region has been the Rock Hill Sports and Event Center. Opened

In January, the center welcomed 13,000 people during its first month in business, Tuttle said. “It has proven to be a phenomenal success, to the point that virtually every week this year it is booked,” he said. The center will serve as a mecca for indoor amateur sports ranging from gymnastics, volleyball, basketball, competitive cheerleading, and even cornhole. “It is going to be a catalyst for the rest of what we are doing in Rock Hill, which includes restaurants, breweries, outdoor entertainment venues, as well as office complexes. It is a true live, work, and play environment,” Tuttle said. 

Much of Rock Hill’s success can be attributed to the flurry of development and economic diversification happening in the Queen City. “There is no question that we are located in an area that is a desirable place to be because we are close to a major metropolitan area with an international airport less than 30 minutes away,” Tuttle said. “We have companies that are here because of the proximity to that airport and the other things that Charlotte has to offer.” Yet, Tuttle believes that Rock Hill has the workforce and infrastructure needed to create its own boom in economic growth and diversification. “About 56,000 people a day commute to Charlotte from York County. The local economic development folks are using that as a tool to recruit businesses by telling leaders that those highly trained, well-qualified individuals who leave York County to work in Charlotte could be working for them in Rock Hill,” he said, “And it is working.” 

To learn more about our interviewees, visit: https://tuttleco.com/

Spotlight On: Beat Kahli, President and CEO, Avalon Park Group

Spotlight On: Beat Kahli, President and CEO, Avalon Park Group

By: Felipe Rivas

2 min read February 2020 — The Sunshine State has been a beacon of light for companies and families wishing to live, learn, work and play under the sun. Much of the population growth happening in Florida is concentrated in Central and South Florida. Compared to South Florida, the Orlando market still has land to develop and has done a great job in diversifying its economy, Avalon Park Group CEO Beat Kahli told Invest: Orlando. The group is developing four projects spanning from Tampa to Daytona Beach and focusing on mixed-use communities where residents can live, learn, work and play.  

How would you describe the strength of the real estate market in Orlando today?

Orlando has a high level of infrastructure, with the Orlando International Airport, the Orange County Convention Center, University of Central Florida and a broad job base. The level of infrastructure compared to the pricing on real estate is one of the biggest advantages in the area. If you compare Orlando to other markets like South Florida and New York, Orlando still has land. While we still have a lot of land available, Orlando has done a great job in diversifying its economy. The I-4 corridor is key to the region’s growth and I see Orlando and Tampa growing together. 

 

What are your most significant projects in Central Florida?

We have four large projects in the I-4 corridor between North Tampa, Orlando, Daytona Beach and Tavares. We have over 20,000 residential units and those projects are all at different stages. Our Avalon Park Orlando project is 99% completed. For this project, we focused first on young families. We have 10,000 students stationed in our school district and thousands of homes already built. The community is a great place to live, learn, work and play with a variety of apartments, single homes, town houses, schools and about 150 businesses.  

 

What are some trends in Orlando’s real estate market?

People are interested in mixed-use development communities where you can live, learn, work and play. Building smaller homes is another trend, especially due to their affordability. People are getting smaller homes with higher upgrades in design and finishes. The most important change is toward live, learn, work, play communities and the quality of life these present. Co-working spaces are also a trend and we have already started to include these types of spaces in our communities. 

 

What is your outlook for Orlando’s real estate sector in the next year?

We have done a much better job after the Great Recession. When I look back on the last decade of recovery, I’m very positive about Central Florida for the next 20 years. However, we expect the real estate sector to stabilize within the next two years. Central Florida has attractive prices, and its diversified economy provides great opportunities for real estate investments.  

 

To learn more about our interviewee, visit: 

https://www.avalonparkgroup.com/team/

Spotlight On: Alan Zuckerman, Managing Shareholder & COO, Flaster Greenberg PC

By: Max Crampton Thomas

2 min read February 2020 — Flaster Greenberg’s South Jersey attorneys are bringing in new talent to hone and increase the services they offer their mostly business and high-net-worth clientele, which include everything from M&A to succession work, while preparing to face challenges such as the impending legalization of cannabis in the state, the nationwide PFAS environmental problem and the changes to retirement planning contained in the SECURE Act,. Invest: spoke with Flaster Greenberg PC’s Managing Shareholder & COO Alan Zuckerman. 

 

What sets Flaster Greenberg apart from other law firms in the South Jersey market?

 

We are a midsized commercial law firm specializing in pretty much every practice that businesses and high-net-worth individuals, our primary clientele, would need. Most of our lawyers have come from large Philadelphia firms. We pride ourselves in doing the same type and quality of work as the larger firms, but at lower rates and more efficiently.

 

Most recently, we have done a tremendous amount of deals and merger and acquisition work. We have also had some very large bankruptcy cases. Regarding M&A, it has been all over the industry. Most of our clients have usually been closely-held businesses, even some very large ones. At some point, some of those businesses have to be passed on to the new generation, or they are sold. As a result, we have been seeing a tremendous amount of activity in the sale market, and we have been representing a lot of companies in all business sectors that are selling, in many cases to private equity firms. Private equity firms have been the most active buyers in the transactions we have been representing.

 

Is there any legislation, local or federal, that could have an impact on the way you or your clients do business?

 

There are two significant pieces of legislation, one at the national and another at the state level. There are environmental laws coming in that could mean a lot of environmental litigation. The others are, on a national level, the SECURE Act, which really impacts retirement plans, in particular, the amount and period of time in which people with 401k retirement plans will be allowed to take money out of their retirement plans and defer paying taxes. This new law substantially changes those rules and shortens the period of time for withdrawals. For many people who have done planning on their retirement plans, that is all going to have to be revamped.

 

There is also the pending legalization of cannabis in the state of New Jersey. We have some businesses gearing up for it, although there has not been a whole lot of demand just yet.

 

What are the main challenges facing firms and their clients in the South Jersey area?

 

One of the challenges is rate pressure, as our clients are cost-sensitive to legal work, as they should be, and that requires lawyers to be more efficient in their work. From a local standpoint, the opportunity we find in the South Jersey market is that office spaces are much less expensive compared to Philadelphia, which is only a few miles away. Although we have seen most of our growth over the last few years in Philadelphia and expect to see more, we made the decision last year to renew our lease here in South Jersey because the occupancy cost is less expensive.

 

One of the downsides in South Jersey we face for that decision is the lack of transportation infrastructure. We get into Philadelphia but that is about it. There is no local transportation for the most part. From a statewide perspective, taxes are very high, both income and property taxes, which make it harder for businesses to stay or relocate here.

 

What are the company’s main areas of focus for 2020?

 

Our focus is to continue to be able to be a full-service firm with very efficient and quick response to our clients. To do that, we feel that we need to continue to grow, bringing new attorneys into our firm. In addition to a six-lawyer firm we have already brought into the fold, we have expanded our footprint into the western Philadelphia suburbs with the opening of our Conshohocken, PA, office last June. Most recently, we grew our intellectual property department by welcoming an 11-member patent team headquartered in the firm’s Philadelphia office.

 

To learn more about our interviewee, visit:

 

https://www.flastergreenberg.com/

 

Commercial Real Estate to Remain Steady in 2020

Commercial Real Estate to Remain Steady in 2020

By: Max Crampton-Thomas

2 min read February 2020 If there were ever a time or place to consider investing in commercial real estate, now would be that time and the Tampa Bay region would be that place. 2019 proved to be another banner year for the real estate sector and with interest rates remaining low, consistent inmigration into Florida and the Tampa Bay region, rising rental rates and ongoing outside investment into the area, all indicators point to 2020 being just as strong if not better for the commercial real estate sector. 

 

 

2 min read February 2020 If there were ever a time or place to consider investing in commercial real estate, now would be that time and the Tampa Bay region would be that place. 2019 proved to be another banner year for the real estate sector and with interest rates remaining low, consistent inmigration into Florida and the Tampa Bay region, rising rental rates and ongoing outside investment into the area, all indicators point to 2020 being just as strong if not better for the commercial real estate sector. 

“Around $17 billion has migrated to Florida, the No. 1 destination for capital in the country followed by Texas, at $2 billion. People are leaving states that are not tax friendly and coming to Florida, which is very tax friendly. Because the stock market can go up or down, hard assets are attractive. The returns investors can get in commercial real estate are attractive. People are looking at commercial real estate as a means for retirement, passive income,” Christopher Travis, sales manager for the Tampa office of Marcus & Millichap, remarked to Invest:.  

Perhaps the clearest indication of the sector’s continued success has been the large-scale mixed-use projects that are happening throughout the region. Larry Richey, the managing principal and Florida market leader for Cushman & Wakefield, spoke about what these developments mean for the sector. 

“The most talked about projects happening in Tampa Bay at the moment are in the office and mixed-use sectors. In the Hillsborough County market, we have four mixed-use projects that are all very active. Those four new projects are Water Street Tampa in Downtown, Heights Union just on the northern fringe of Downtown, the Midtown project that is being developed at the intersection of I-275 and Dale Mabry and fourth is the MetWest project in the Westshore District on Boy Scout Boulevard,” Richey told Invest:. “We are seeing the highest office rents in the history of the Tampa Bay area right now, and it is because we have the strongest demand for office space that we have ever had. This is good news because it means new development and jobs in the commercial real estate sector. It also means that buildings that were always below what they should have been charging are now charging rents that are justifiable based on the investment that people have put into these properties.” 

These projects, and ultimately the continued success of commercial real estate in Tampa Bay, are the product of taking note and early adaptation to emerging and developing trends within the industry and local economy. While basically all subsectors of commercial real estate are prospering, there are some that industry professionals are keen to keep a particularly close eye on. What may come as a surprise to some is that one of these prosperous submarkets is retail. 

“The retail market continues to be very strong here.  Demand continues to exceed supply in many of the strongest retail markets throughout Tampa Bay.  This continues to drive up rental rates and has limited cap rate decompression for stabilized retail assets,” Scott Dobbins, the founder and principal of Hybridge Commercial Real Estate, said. 

Travis agreed that retail remains one of the stronger segments in commercial real estate, touching on the fact that the e-commerce trend is not as bad as some may think. “Retail has remained strong during the real estate market recovery. Everybody was scared about e-commerce, but it only makes up about 14% of the overall market. Retail is going to be just fine, especially retailers like dollar stores, gas stations, and fast food.” 

While all indications point to another strong year for the commercial real estate market, it will not be without its challenges. Besides 2020 being an election year that could possibly send the national economy into flux, Tampa Bay must address unaffordability in the housing sector and ongoing challenges with transportation in the region. 

Nonetheless, commercial real estate professionals continue to have a positive outlook for the Tampa Bay Region. 

It has always been in the core submarkets, like Westshore and the Central Business District (CBD). Historically, they’ve been the focus of development and I think that will continue. We are seeing new developments in areas like the Heights and Water Street Tampa. Time will tell how these developments impact the marketplace. I think they are both going to be extremely successful, but they are on the outskirts of the Tampa CBD. Perhaps we will see the core of the Tampa CBD start to shift,” Gary Godsey the Managing Director for JLL, said to Invest in regards to the next year for commercial real estate. “Additionally if you just look at the rooftops in Pasco County and in South County, it makes sense for these areas to be considered for future commercial real estate development, despite the lack of transportation. I think we will see developers get creative and maybe look at areas like this. If you look at the I-4 corridor, that is going to continue to be a main driver in the industrial sector.”

To learn more, visit:

https://www.marcusmillichap.com/about-us/offices/tampa-florida

https://www.cushmanwakefield.com/en/united-states/offices/tampa

http://www.hybridgecre.com/

https://www.us.jll.com/en/locations/southeast

 

 

Spotlight On: Bill Cronin, President & CEO, Pasco EDC

Spotlight On: Bill Cronin, President & CEO, Pasco EDC

By: Max Crampton-Thomas

2 min read February 2020 — Successful economic development is a product of consistent improvement of the current situation of a region and consideration of what the long-term future could hold for that same region. In Florida’s Pasco County, economic developers are thinking about what is to come and how to create a sustainable economic growth environment by helping startups get off the ground while training a competitive workforce, taking advantage of the state’s first-rate education system. In a conversation with Invest:, President and CEO for the Pasco EDC Bill Cronin discussed these initiatives and actions at length. 

 

 

 How is Pasco County working to push forward economic development?

 

We want to make sure we have a good mix of both office and industrial investments in the county since large industry has a different multiplier because it attracts suppliers and others that the office investments do not. We are one of the only Economic Development Organizations to own and operate our own business incubators. These two incubators offer countywide programming, where you don’t necessarily have to be in that co-working space to take advantage of the curriculum that we offer for startups, and even for companies that are going into their second phase.

 

We offer micro loans through that program, and we have a regional license for CO.STARTERS, which is a curriculum that we use for startups and next-generation companies. We also use those incubators as a soft-landing place for our international FDI prospects. While many of our competitors in economic development are going after these large, established companies that have 100-200 employees, we work with them, but also with the company that says, “Hey, I just want to start sales with one or two people,” and we let them use our incubators as a landing place to get them started.

 

All areas, whether it is entrepreneurship, land development and making sure we have enough product, our buildings and sites, workforce development in the county as a whole — all of those are now part of the strategic plan, but also with a sense of innovation and smart growth that is interwoven through those protocols. They are verticals in our strategic plan, such as innovation and technology. When we look at a collision between areas, such as logistics and IT, or life sciences or agriculture and IT, life sciences and distribution, all of these can be tied together through innovation and smart growth.

 

How are you ensuring that your workforce is being trained to survive the changing economic environment?

 

There is a lot of confusion right now with some of these rapid changes in technology and business models. That also applies to the industries we focus on. Probably 80% to 90% of our workforce is being trained for jobs that do not yet exist. How do we make sure we are prepared for that? We started to hear this theme about competitiveness and we are making sure we have fertile conditions for that type of growth in the future. We may not know everything but what we do know is that we’ve got to be ready and have the right conditions for these things to be deployed.

 

How are you looking at sustainability regarding the county’s economic growth?

 

We need to make sure that when it comes to jobs and recruitment, we are creating jobs for everybody. If you put too much emphasis on high-impact jobs alone, they won’t trickle down by themselves. You still need to make sure that every single layer of the economy and socio-economic strata has the right jobs for the right people. That is important because if you don’t do that then people will have to move away, and we will have to import talent to some extent.

 

In the last couple of years, Florida has been among the leading destination states for migration. We are looking at around 180 people a day coming into this region, and the state sees around 1,300 people a day. With that many people moving in, our business community has been able to take their pick of all the people coming in, and in times of low unemployment it is usually hard to find talent. You have to steal it from someone else or grow it internally. But because of interstate migration, we have been at full employment for a long time now and we still have access to talent. That’s because all these people are moving here everyday. The reason they are moving here is because things are not as good somewhere else, or they prefer it here. We have to make sure that our environment continues to be better than that of our competitors, and that we provide a good tax environment, which we have. We are also the fastest-growing region in the United States and the largest consumer market in the Southeast. You see a lot of that migration because of things like that, and because of quality of life and education. Our state university system is now No. 1 in the nation.

 

To learn more about our interviewee, visit: 

http://pascoedc.com/

 

 

Gov. Wolf’s Pennsylvania Budget Prioritizes Education, Income

Gov. Wolf’s Pennsylvania Budget Prioritizes Education, Income

By: Sara Warden

2 min read February 2020 — Democrat Gov. Tom focused his 2020-21 budget on education and income, proposing an increase in spending of almost 6% to $34 billion over the fiscal year, including $600 million to cover cost overruns. Republicans criticized the heavy reliance of the budget on the assumption that revenue would grow by 4.5% ($1.6 billion) over the period. The proposals also require borrowing funds. “It’s easy to put things on a credit card and then ask other people in the future to pay for it,” said Republican State Representative Stan Saylor. “That is not the solution for Pennsylvania.”

 1. There will be no major tax increases

Instead of tax increases for citizens, several novel approaches were proposed in the budget to fund services, one of which was a state police fee based on number of incidents and coverage area. Wolf estimates the initiative will bring in $136 million to fund police services. Another way taxes could stay flat is by imposing a tax on the Marcellus Shale natural gas field to be placed in a $4.5 billion infrastructure fund. Based on 2019 production, Wolf believes the tax would generate more than $600 million per year.

Sweeping changes will be made to charter school funding

Wolf proposed a reduction in the obligatory payments school districts must make when one of their students decides to attend a charter school, which would save districts $280 million annually, according to the governor. “Our charter school system is in desperate need of reform,” Wolf said in a sharp rebuke of the charter school system. “It’s time to close the loopholes. It’s time to establish real standards, and it’s time to level the playing field.”

2. Revisiting previous proposals.

The Wolf administration wants the state to increase basic education spending by $100 million and special education by $25 million. He wants all school districts to offer full-day kindergarten, shifting 22,000 students who attend half-day programs into full days. He wants budgets on the whole for Pre-K to be increased by $30 million, most of which will be allocated to the state-run Pre-K Counts program. Finally, he proposed an increase in the state’s minimum teaching salary from $18,500 to $45,000, impacting 3,000 teachers. 

3. Higher minimum wage is high on the agenda

Wolf’s government has always championed higher minimum wages but has been met with stiff resistance. The governor wants to increase Pennsylvania’s minimum wage to $15 per hour on a gradual basis. The current minimum wage is $7.25, which he proposes should be increased to $12 this July and every consecutive year by $0.50 until reaching $15 in 2026.

Another issue the governor addressed was gun reform, which is unusual for a budget speech. Gov. Wolf made an impassioned plea for the state to take gun laws more seriously. “The steps I’m proposing are supported by the evidence and supported by the vast majority of Pennsylvanians,” Wolf said. “To let another session go by without action would be a failure of imagination that will cost lives.”

 

To learn more, visit:

https://www.governor.pa.gov/

http://www.repsaylor.com/

 

The Real Winner in Super Bowl LIV

The Real Winner in Super Bowl LIV

By: Max Crampton Thomas

2 min read February 2020 Over the course of last week the excitement for Super Bowl LIV was palpable throughout Miami-Dade County, which was not surprising with over 200,000 people visiting South Florida to watch the Kansas City Chiefs take on the San Francisco 49ers. Ultimately the Chiefs came from behind to snatch their first Super Bowl title in 50 years. While the final numbers aren’t yet in, the early indications suggest another winner from the NFL championship: Miami-Dade County.

 The expected economic impact for the Miami-Dade area when the final numbers are reported from the past week’s events? $500 million. This would be a significant boost from Miami’s last Super Bowl (XLIV) in 2010, which generated $234 million for the region, and the 2007 Super Bowl (XLI), which accumulated $463 million in economic impact.  

The stellar financial results are thanks to well-thought-out events and years of deliberate planning by local leaders and organizations, like the Super Bowl Host Committee. Events like Miami Beach’s Super Bowl Experience and Bayfront Park’s Super Bowl Live were glowing examples of why this Super Bowl was a major win for Miami-Dade. 

Equally impressive was the windfall from “free publicity” that was afforded to Miami, thanks to media coverage of the game and the surrounding large-scale events. In fact, according to the South Florida Business Journal, during a panel discussion on Feb. 3 between local leaders for Super Bowl LIV at the University of Miami’s Carol Soffer Indoor Practice Facility, Miami Super Bowl Host Committee Chairman Rodney Baretto said the figure related to free publicity would be “in excess of $200 million” for Miami-Dade. 

This Super Bowl also provided an opportunity to some of the smaller, local businesses in the region through the Business Connect program. This program afforded close to 300 South Florida-based minority-owned businesses with vendor contracts in order to help in supplying their services and products for the events happening in the region and on the day of the game. 

Another opportunity resulting from Super Bowl LIV was the Super Bowl Legacy Grant Program. This program consisted of the NFL Foundation donating $1 million to the host city, which was then supplemented by funding from the Miami Dolphins and the Miami Super Bowl Host Committee, bringing the grand total to $2.4 million. The money has since been distributed to five capital improvement initiatives throughout the South Florida area. These include new lighting for Bayfront Park in Miami, new synthetic turf for Gwen Cherry Park and a new Outdoor Fitness Zone for Plantation Heritage Regional Park in Broward County. 

One of the biggest winners from the Super Bowl events was the hospitality sector in Miami-Dade and Broward County. With room rates in the Downtown Miami and Brickell areas ranging anywhere from $500 to $5,000, the Super Bowl provided local hotels with an opportunity that couldn’t be missed. The South Florida region was prepared for this onslaught of new guests into the area, with more than 10,000 new rooms being added since the last Super Bowl in 2010. 

While the Chiefs may be walking away the official winners of Super Bowl LIV, Miami-Dade and the South Florida region are the true beneficiaries of a job well done. 

To learn more visit: 

https://www.miasbliv.com/

 

 

The Peach State’s tourism industry is thriving

The Peach State’s tourism industry is thriving

By: Felipe Rivas

2 min read February 2020 — Florida has the beaches, Pennsylvania has the Pocono Mountains, and California has the movie studios. Looking for a place where you can experience all three attractions and still get a taste of southern hospitality? The Peach State is your best bet and the tourism statistics prove it. Georgia welcomed more than 111 million international and domestic visitors in 2018, a record-breaking year for the state’s tourism industry, Gov. Brian Kemp and economic development leaders announced in January during the annual Tourism, Hospitality and Arts day at the Georgia State Capitol.

Explore Georgia, the state tourism office within the Georgia Department of Economic Development, calculated that visitors spent close to $40 billion in communities throughout the state and supported 478,000 jobs. The billions in tourism-related expenditures generated $3.4 billion in state and local tax revenue.

“As visitors continue to discover Georgia’s unexpected destinations that range from the North Georgia Mountains to Cumberland Island, our economy continues to grow, new jobs are created, and our communities thrive,” said Pat Wilson, commissioner of the Georgia Department of Economic Development. Without the jobs created by the tourism industry, Georgia’s unemployment rate would be 10%, nearly twice as high as the record-low average, Explore Georgia said in a press release. 

The announcement follows Georgia’s consecutive recognition as the best state to do business by different business publications, solidifying the Peach State’s live, work and play attraction. “The tourism, hospitality, and arts industries are constantly propelling our state’s places, culture, stories, and people to the forefront – showing the world why Georgia is the best place to vacation, live, and do business,” Wilson said. 

To learn more, visit:

Exploregeorgia.com

Spotlight On: Patrick Mahoney, Principal, President & CEO, NAI Realvest

Spotlight On: Patrick Mahoney, Principal, President & CEO, NAI Realvest

By: Yolanda Rivas

2 min read February 2020 — Orlando’s real-estate scene has witnessed major changes as people look more for destination experiences and after Amazon changed the rules of retail. While some regions within Orlando are running out of development land, Patrick Mahoney, principal, president and CEO of NAI Realvest, is convinced there is still room for growth.

How has real estate demand evolved in Orlando?

The changes in retail are the talk of the town. We work with Planet Fitness among several other retailers that are marketed as destinations. You still see the national value tendency with examples like HomeGoods and T.J.Maxx. Similar businesses are still coming in and leasing space. Forever 21’s bankruptcy filing had more to do with overleverage. It was more about debt rather than retail. There are certain malls, such as Fashion Square Mall, where a complete redo is scheduled. In these cases, the anchor tenants are likely not going to stay, to the benefit of a more multifamily, mixed-used project. The other extreme is the strip malls: small clothiers that focus primarily on making sure they are in the right location. Park Avenue and Winter Garden are good examples of that. An increasing number of these small boutique clothiers are going to have a small store presence but will start selling online.

 

What advice would you give small retailers to thrive in this market?

It boils down to a two-pronged approach. First, demographics. Remain aware of changes within the demographics around their location and adapt to those changes. Second, plan the required resources ahead of time to weather such changes and make the best use of the available land and redevelop the property. 

 

What primary challenges is your business facing?

The first thing that comes to mind is competition. There is virtually no barrier to entry when it comes to obtaining a real estate license. The spectrum goes from a residential broker dipping its pen in commercial while working from home with no overhead, to groups like us with lots of overhead and a fully-staffed office, and finally the multibillion-dollar competitors that we compete with, such as CBRE. To maintain a sharp edge, we engage in a continuous improvement process, embracing new technology. We invest in the latest software and research tools. As members of NAI Global, we can compete with multibillion-dollar real estate companies on either a national or global stage. Because we are locally owned, we have greater local knowledge and flexibility in the marketplace than our large competitors do. We have the best of both worlds: being able to compete with either the big and small real estate firms. 

 

Financing also remains an issue. Coming out of the last recession we learned who to approach, depending on the property type and what we are trying to accomplish. Increasingly, we are turning to private rather than bank debt. Banks usually are on the fence over lending on land. 

 

Manpower is another challenge. I would consider Orlando a zero percent unemployment market. Whether it is salespeople, administrative help or maintenance engineers and property management, finding talent is difficult. 

 

What is your outlook on commercial real estate in Orlando?

We remain quite bullish about the market, particularly Florida and Central Florida. We are positive that 2020 will be another solid year as there are no variables telling us otherwise. Recruiting is at the top of our list. Our operational focus will remain centered on delivering excellence for our clients, our brokers and property owners through continual improvements. We do not skimp on our resources and invest in the best software available to manage our properties, such as Yardi. We are implementing the tip of the iceberg. We will also continue to guarantee we are as financially secure as possible through solvent debt levels. 

 

To learn more about our interviewee, visit:

NAI Realvest: http://www.naiglobal.com/members/nai-realvest-maitland-orlando-area