Charlotte Rising to Tech Challenge Related to Emerging Workforce

Charlotte Rising to Tech Challenge Related to Emerging Workforce

By Felipe Rivas

2 min read October 2019 – The business world was abuzz earlier in October when American conglomerate Honeywell broke ground on its new global headquarters at Legacy Union in Uptown Charlotte. Honeywell, a diversified engineering and technology giant, is the latest example of a large company flocking to the Queen City looking to expand and grow, and local leaders are doing their part to ensure success. As the economy in the Charlotte Metro Area continues to diversify, educational and economic development leaders are working to equip the workforce to thrive in the tech-based jobs coming to the area.  

Historically, Charlotte has been the second-largest banking capital of the United States, but that is broadening, said Queens University of Charlotte President Daniel Lugo. “The most exciting part is the growth of the technology sector. Charlotte is a hotbed for technology right now,” Lugo told Invest: Charlotte. “Those with strong technical skills, with an understanding of how to use data in powerful ways, how to visualize data, and how to use data to predict outcomes are going to have huge advantages,” he said. 

The university is placing a keen emphasis on producing talent that has a robust understanding of coding and data analytics. “The city and area is creating tech jobs at double the national rate and we want to be at the forefront of working with those businesses,” Lugo said. 

That means taking a community-first approach in its efforts to empower talent with tech-based skills. Its program, Digital Charlotte, aims to reduce the area’s digital divide by connecting community members to the internet and increasing their web literacy. “We are perfectly positioned to be the preeminent private university of the city and of this region, building a talent pipeline to meet the needs of a growing city’s changing economy,” Lugo said.   

In Gaston County, 30 minutes away from Charlotte, economic development leaders are already experiencing spillover from Charlotte’s growth and preparing its workforce for incoming manufacturing and tech-based jobs. “For Gaston, it’s all about the Charlotte market, tapping into it and knowing what their needs are,” said Gaston Regional Chamber CEO Steve D’Avria.

“The biggest set of industries coming in are the advanced manufacturing sectors because our labor is more affordable,” D’Avria told Invest: Charlotte.       

The chamber is focusing on education by supporting accelerated college programs for Gaston County’s high-school students, as well as programs at Gaston College centered on business and information technology career tracks and certificates. “Education has been one of our focuses,” D’Avria said.  

Connecting students and workers to jobs to practice their tech skills while they are in school is another chamber priority. “Around 60% of our members are small businesses, so we’re a connector of resources in the community,” D’ Avria said. “We’re also expanding into the co-working space in Gastonia. In Belmont, we have a program called Gaston Tech Works, and it’s all technology-focused.”

 

To learn more about our interviewees, visit:

https://www.queens.edu 

 http://www.gastonchamber.com

Miami BIDs Put Customer First, Profits Later

Miami BIDs Put Customer First, Profits Later

By Sara Warden

2 min read October 2019 — As commercial real estate evolves and retail stores move online, Miami’s authorities are addressing vacancy rates with an innovative business improvement district (BID) program that unites private business and local store owners to take back Main Street.

A BID is a legal mechanism that has successfully been put in place in Miracle Mile, Coconut Grove, Lincoln Road and Wynwood, and most recently was established in South Miami. The South Miami BID provides a budget of $200,000 annually to provide services to businesses and commercial properties that include “enhanced safety, marketing, advocacy, promotions, and maintenance,” which are provided by the City Commission in addition to basic services.

Lincoln Road is one BID that, rather than focusing on vacancy rates, is focusing on creating a community for the public to attract foot traffic to the area. “I look at Lincoln Road differently,” said Lyle Stern, a member of the Board of the Lincoln Road BID to RE: Miami Beach. “I’m trying to encourage all of us who live in Miami Beach to look at Lincoln Road differently.” He believes that vacancy rates are the concern of individual property owners and that by creating an attractive environment, people will come.

Despite a significant hole being created right in the middle of Lincoln Road by the collapse of shopping giant Forever 21, the BID is planning a $67 million makeover, with Miami Beach authorities contributing to the cost of construction. The private business owners in the area will foot the bill for the promotional events by increasing their own taxes.

The idea behind the BID is not directly to attract investment to a given area, but to nurture the area so that investment comes as an added bonus. The Wynwood BID has taken a look at what the public really wants, and one of its priorities was to re-open the beloved shuttered O Cinema. “O Cinema is a cultural icon in South Florida and a home for independent cinema,” said Albert Garcia, chairman of the Wynwood BID to the Miami Herald. “We were just as blindsided by the news of their closing as everyone else. As a long-time property owner in Wynwood as well as a member of the BID, it was important to me to see how we could keep O Cinema here.”

As the age of e-commerce dawns, BIDs are a way for traditional store owners to tune into the desires of the public, who now want more than just a traditional shopfront. Not only is investment being made in the community, but new business models are emerging that evolve with real demand.

“Nespresso has a very successful store on Lincoln Road,” Stern said to RE: Miami Beach. “As a company they’ve decided they don’t need cafés in the stores. They’re expensive and you have to maintain employees.” Instead, Lincoln Road’s Nespresso is downsizing from 4,500 square feet premises to 2,500 square feet, but staying on the same street, allowing it to maximize its value and provide its customers what they really want.

 

To learn more about our interviewees, visit:

https://www.southmiamifl.gov/563/Business-Improvement-District-BID

https://lincolnrd.com/lrbid/

https://wynwoodmiami.com/

Spotlight On: Sal Saldana, General Manager, Town Center at Boca Raton

Spotlight On: Sal Saldana, General Manager, Town Center at Boca Raton

By Max Crampton-Thomas

 

2 min read October 2019The world is changing rapidly thanks to technology. For certain segments of business this means changing with the times or risk falling into obscurity. The traditional mall has become one of these segments, and with the rising popularity of e-commerce, the need for innovation is at an all-time high. One of the malls that recognized this early on was Town Center at Boca Raton, whose General Manager Sal Saldana spoke to Invest: about the mall’s successful longevity in the market, how it is handling the challenge of evolving customer demands and how it is innovating its business model to become much more than just a shopping center. 

How is Town Center at Boca Raton a staple for Palm Beach County? 

This mall is a regional shopping center that is owned by Simon Property Group. It has been in the Palm Beach County area for a number of decades, and over that period of time there has always been an emphasis on making sure it always meets the quality and brand recognition of Boca Raton and Palm Beach County. The mall is an extension of Boca Raton, which is known for its beauty, quality of life and wealth. It also has an international flavor because it houses some of the most widely recognized and regarded retail shops. Overall, the mall is an important asset to the community, and will continue to be for the foreseeable future. 

What has been the key to Town Center’s longevity and success in the wake of an e-commerce-centric world? 

Simon Property Group is an amazing company and has a phenomenal group of shopping centers nationwide. We have been able to really cater to the community and meet its needs and demands from a domestic and international standpoint. We also have the resources to continue improving our operations and attractions. What we do is make sure that we are meeting and surpassing the expectations of a traditional mall. We maintain a very high standard of what we are because we are not only a shopping center, we are also an entertainment destination. 

What challenges is Town Center facing, and how are you mitigating those challenges? 

We are always looking to see how we can improve customer experience, and in this business there is the challenge of keeping up with the times while making sure that we meet customers’ demands. Our competition now comes in many forms, whether that is the internet or a direct competitor in the region. We always want to be projecting new and improved, and this isn’t always necessarily a challenge, but more of an opportunity. To be successful, we have to have a team that is always thinking of what we can do next to make sure that we are staying ahead of the curve. For instance, we are adding a 1,600-square-foot recreational space called PLAY that will feature a combination of seating and interactive play elements inspired by local waterways and waterfronts. Everybody that we work with has to be on the same team and have a philosophy of approaching this shopping center as a five-star resort.

 

To learn more about our interviewee, visit:

https://www.simon.com/mall/town-center-at-boca-raton

Top 5 Tourism Drivers for The Palm Beaches

Top 5 Tourism Drivers for The Palm Beaches

By Max Crampton-Thomas

4 min read October 2019 —  With more than 8 million visitors to Palm Beach County in 2018, it’s no secret that tourism is the driving force behind the economy in The Palm Beaches. Last year, these visitors generated $7.4 billion in economic impact and are the reason for over 70,000 tourism jobs. While the appeal of a relaxing beach vacation may seem like the obvious tourist magnet, there are so many different and unique facets of the county that drive the economic behemoth that is the tourism sector. Here is the Invest: Top 5 tourism drivers for The Palm Beaches

BEACHES

Palm Beach County is bordered by 47 miles of Atlantic coastline that offer some of the state’s most attractive beaches. These include Boynton Beach Ocean Park, Coral Cove Park, Juno Beach Park and many more, with a large portion of these beaches offering resort amenities and marine activities. The Palm Beach County coastline was also nicknamed Florida’s Gold Coast after gold was recovered from Spanish galleons that sank off its shores. A fitting nickname for beaches that are like gold to the Florida economy. Invest: spoke with Jorge Pesquera, president and CEO of Discover The Palm Beaches, who touched on the importance of the beaches to the tourism industry in the county. “Leisure remains the most crucial tourism driver for The Palm Beaches, with meetings and conventions continuing to gain momentum. Within the leisure tourism market, our beaches are the biggest draw for not only those seeking to relax and rejuvenate, but also those interested in activities such as boating, fishing, scuba diving, kayaking and paddleboarding,” Pesquera told Invest:. 

You can learn more about the county’s best beaches here: https://www.thepalmbeaches.com/blogs/best-beaches-are-palm-beaches

ARTS & CULTURE

Home to cultural institutions like the Kravis Center for the Performing Arts, The Palm Beaches are an arts and culture hub that drives many cultural travelers to the area. Invest: discussed with Judith Mitchell, CEO for the Kravis Center, how this increased interest from out-of-town visitors has positively affected her business as well as those in the surrounding area. “Our strong programming and marketing teams ensure that we continue to bring the best of Broadway and other diverse performances that attract audiences from outside the state and from cities north and south of the Center. In 2018-2019, the Center saw an increase in out-of-county audience members by nearly 50%. This also has a positive economic impact on the surrounding hotels, restaurants and shops as these nonresident guests choose to dine, shop and stay overnight before or after attending a performance.” 

For more on the various arts and culture destinations in the county, visit: https://www.palmbeachculture.com/

SPORTS

For an area that doesn’t have a major professional sports franchise, the county’s tourism market has a strong driver in the sports tourism market. It helps that among Palm Beach County’s various monikers, one of the titles held most proudly is “The Golf Capital of Florida,” boasting more than 150 public and private golf courses. It also doesn’t hurt that Major League Baseball teams, namely the Houston Astros, Washington Nationals, Miami Marlins and St. Louis Cardinals, call Palm Beach County their home during spring training. For those who prefer alternative sports, The Palm Beaches are also the location of polo and equestrian events, including a variety of International Polo Club tournaments. 

Interested in learning more about sports offerings in The Palm Beaches? Visit: https://www.palmbeachsports.com/

ECO-TOURISM

When a county boasts 110 parks and recreation facilities paired with 35 natural areas that make up more than 31,000 acres of environmentally sensitive lands, it is bound to attract eco-tourists. This form of tourism may seem obscure from an outside perspective, but it not only can provide visitors with a memorable experience, it also provides health benefits as well. Invest: recently sat down with Deborah Drum, department director of Palm Beach County Environmental Resources Management, who spoke to this tourism driver and its benefits. “We have conducted economic studies of our natural areas. We have over 300,000 visitors just to the natural areas in our county. These are remote areas that offer more passive types of recreation, including hiking, fishing or bird-watching. We have done a study with the University of Florida on this passive connection and we have determined that these visitors are coming for that purpose. There have also been a number of studies about the connection between mental health and time spent in natural areas or spent outside. There is a positive relationship between the reduction in mental health issues with more time spent out in nature,” Drum explained. 

Check out more on Palm Beach County’s Natural Areas Map: http://discover.pbcgov.org/erm/Pages/Natural-Areas-Map.aspx

MEETINGS & CONVENTIONS

There is a direct correlation between the increase in business tourism to The Palm Beaches and the economic and business growth that the county is enjoying. The beneficiaries from this driver of tourism are a wide range of business types, from hotels to restaurants and even retail. Discover The Palm Beaches’ Pesquera highlighted just how significant this is to the tourism market. “On the meetings front, we’ve seen a 567-percent increase over the last several years in groups booked at the Palm Beach County Convention Center. Unlike our good friends in Miami and Fort Lauderdale — where there is a clear and established epicenter of tourism activity — The Palm Beaches are truly a collection of midsize to small cities and towns that altogether deliver an exceptional vacation or meeting experience,” Pesquera told Invest:.

For more on this and the tourism industry in Palm Beach County, visit: 

www.thepalmbeaches.com/

It’s Go Big or Go Home for Miami’s OZs

It’s Go Big or Go Home for Miami’s OZs

Writer: Sara Warden

2 min read October 2019- When the Opportunity Zones (OZs) were created by the federal government in the 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, they were focused on 8,764 across the 50 states covering almost 35 million Americans. The program was designed to direct investment to regions with an average poverty rate over 32%, compared with the national average of 17%.

“We anticipate that $100 billion in private capital will be dedicated toward creating jobs and economic development in Opportunity Zones,” said US Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin in a press release. “This incentive will foster economic revitalization and promote sustainable economic growth, which was a major goal of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act.”

Florida is home to 427 of these OZs and Miami-Dade houses 68 of them. “The creation of these new Opportunity Zones provides new investment opportunities for some of Miami’s economically distressed areas,” said Michael Finney, president and CEO of the Miami-Dade Beacon Council, in another press release. “This means greater consideration will be given to investing and providing jobs in areas of the county where they are needed most.”

The program works on the basis of deferral of taxes until either the property is sold or Dec. 31, 2026, whichever comes first. Investors can claim a 15% tax reduction if they invest over the entire 10-year period.

But the program is still new, and many investors are struggling to work out the best way to obtain returns. “Every real estate developer in the country is trying to figure out their Opportunity Zone strategy,” Reid Thomas, principal at NES Financial, told the Miami Herald. “Some are deciding it’s not worth the hassle, (and) that they’re not going to bother doing this kind of development.”

But those that do bet are betting big. Developer Russell Galbut closed a deal for the final piece of acreage from Northeast 29th to 32nd streets, and Northeast Second Avenue to Biscayne Boulevard. The $4.9 million purchase of 2901 Northeast Second Avenue brings Galbut’s total investment in the project to over $37 million. The site will house a major mixed-use development built by Galbut’s company Crescent Heights. It plans to build 800 residential units and use over 600,000 square feet for retail and office space.

Galbut told Miami-based real estate magazine The Real Deal that the OZ incentive was “some of the smartest legislation that has come out of Congress in a long time,” adding that his company is buying properties in all markets across the OZs.

But some investors saw the virtues in the Miami real estate market before the OZs arrived, and now there’s an added bonus to their investments. Developer BH3 invested $60 million in a retail and showroom and the space happened to be placed in one of Miami’s OZs. “The fundamentals, economics, and merits must stand on their own, whereby the tax benefits are purely an added bonus. A bad deal with good tax benefits is still a bad deal,” Greg Freedman, principal and founder of BH3, told the Miami Herald.

Although some are sceptical that the OZs will provide tangible benefits to anyone other than the investors, Neisen Kasdin, managing partner at law firm Akerman LLP, told the Miami Herald the zones are still in their infancy. “At the end of the day, these neighborhoods will benefit the most when people invest money in them,” he said. “Whether it’s a real estate development, or a capital-intensive project or businesses…You have to start with the assumption that investment in neighborhoods [that have] only seen disinvestment is a good thing.”

 

To learn more about our interviewees, visit their websites: 

https://www.miamigov.com/Home

Rays’ Sights Set on Game 5

Rays’ Sights Set on Game 5

Writer: Max Crampton-Thomas

2 min read October 2019 Tampa Bay can be called a lot of things: a tech hub, a thriving economic ecosystem, an arts and culture destination. After last night’s 4-1 win over the Houston Astros, let’s add the true epicenter of baseball in the state of Florida. Now only one win away from advancing to the American League Championship Series, the Tampa Bay Rays are looking to capitalize on the momentum of this successful season. 

Before the 2019 season began, expectations were tempered. The Rays entered the season with the second-worst fan attendance in Major League Baseball, the lowest player payroll at about $60 million and having not reached the postseason since 2013 when they lost to the Boston Red Sox in the American League Division Series. These factors coupled with the ongoing trouble of finding the right location in the Tampa Bay region for their new stadium, left most fans wondering what this season might hold in store. 

It was not all bad though, as there were quite a few positives entering the season, including having three Rays players listed among Sports Illustrated’s Top 100 MLB players of 2019. These players were Blake Snell, Charlie Morton and Tommy Pham, who had the first home run of the game against the Astros last night. Even with the uncertainty swirling around their future home in the region, there was a shared desire expressed by the team to keep Tampa Bay their base for the long term. Brian Auld, the club’s president, expressed this desire to Invest: when he spoke with us earlier in the season. “We’ve been forthright with the community that we want to be here in Tampa Bay for generations to come. That’s the most important thing to us at this moment. It’s also what keeps me up at night because in order to make that happen we will need a new facility,” Auld told Invest:. He continued: “Tropicana Field is among the oldest facilities in all of Major League Baseball, especially without major renovations. We have to figure out where we can put a new ballpark and how we’re going to fund it in such a way that our attendance increases and we become more of a sustainable enterprise.”

Fast forward to the end of the regular season, and the Rays would finish with a record 96 wins against 66 losses. This would be enough to propel them into the Wild Card game against the Oakland Athletics at the A’s home field. The game itself scored record-setting attendance for a wild card game with over 54,000 people. The Rays would ultimately parlay their success from the regular season into a dominant 6-1 win over the A’s. 

After last night, the series against the Astros, who are only two years removed from winning the 2017 World Series, is tied 2-2. While this series started with the Rays giving up the first two games to the Astros, they have swung the momentum and are coming off back-to-back wins to even the series. Sights are now set on a winner take all Game 5 to be played on Oct. 10. The winner of this series will face the New York Yankees in the American League Championship Series. 

No matter the outcome, this is a season that the Tampa Bay Rays can look back on with pride. They have not only exceeded expectations and provided a glimpse into what promises to be a great future, but have also brought excitement back to baseball in Florida. 

To learn more about our interviewee, visit:

https://www.mlb.com/rays

Spotlight On: Brian Katz, CEO & Founder, Katz Capital

Spotlight On: Brian Katz, CEO & Founder, Katz Capital

Writer: Max Crampton-Thomas

2 min read October 2019 —There has never been a more perfect time to invest in Tampa Bay then the present. With seemingly all sectors of the economy in expansion mode, it is not a surprise that both foreign and domestic investment has been streaming into the Bay area at a rapid rate. Invest: Tampa Bay spoke with Brian Katz, the CEO and founder of Katz Capital whose business is headquartered in Tampa Bay  and focused on investing in the real estate and financial services sectors. Katz covered the advantages of being headquartered in the region, keeping his company’s growth sustainable and what makes Tampa Bay resilient in the face of real estate market changes.  

What makes Tampa Bay a conducive environment for your business? 

From a pricing standpoint, although nationally we are in a low interest rate environment, Tampa relative to Orlando, South Florida or places like Atlanta is still an affordable market. My personal feeling is that we are soon going to have negative interest rates. Six months ago, the collective mindset was that we would be in a rising rate environment, but that is simply not the case. A good analogy for what Tampa Bay is in terms of the scope of the market is that the region is a value stock. As a real estate and financial services private equity firm, this is a really great time for us to be in this market.

How does a business like Katz Capital sustain its growth in Tampa Bay’s business environment? 

Our various businesses employ different investment strategies for us to be able to remain sustainable. When I think of being an investor, I view the business world in terms of hunting and farming, so psychologically I am more of a farmer and all of these businesses are my crops that I can reap the benefits of on a regular basis. The problem with a hunter mentality is you can get the big kill, but it can be a long time before getting another kill, which is risky. To remain sustainable in this business environment, it’s better to diversify your business so that you’re not reliant on one source of income.

How susceptible is Tampa Bay to fluctuations in the real estate market? 

The fact that real estate pricing in Tampa is still relatively attractive versus other markets, I believe insulates Tampa Bay to a degree from real estate sector cycles and general market cycles. This is the opposite of South Florida, where there tends to be more dependency on these market cycles. When the South Florida market is hot, there is tons of money pouring in and prices push up. Although it’s increasingly on investors’ radar, Tampa Bay still has a lower modulation in these cycle waves. The big concern is that asset values keep rising. If we look at real estate development in the region, land values are up, labor costs are up and material prices are up. That means to achieve the same return for the amount of risk an investor is taking, you have to raise the exit price. This is going to be one constraint that Tampa Bay is going to face, and will have to figure out how to navigate that. 

 

To learn more about our interviewee, visit:

https://katzcapital.com/

Spotlight On: Tim Pulte, Senior Executive Vice President, Colliers International

Spotlight On: Tim Pulte, Senior Executive Vice President, Colliers International

Writer: Yolanda Rivas

2 min read October 2019 — Collier’s Philadelphia delivers a full range of services to commercial real estate occupants, owners and investors throughout the tri-state region. Senior Executive Vice President Tim Pulte joined Colliers’ senior leadership team in 2017, bringing more than 31 years of experience in corporate operations, corporate real estate, transaction management and facility management. The Invest: Philadelphia team recently spoke with Pulte about the company’s plans for growth and how it serves local and foreign investors. 

2 min read OCTOBER 2019 — Collier’s Philadelphia delivers a full range of services to commercial real estate occupants, owners and investors throughout the tri-state region. Senior Executive Vice President Tim Pulte joined Colliers’ senior leadership team in 2017, bringing more than 31 years of experience in corporate operations, corporate real estate, transaction management and facility management. The Invest: Philadelphia team recently spoke with Pulte about the company’s plans for growth and how it serves local and foreign investors. 

 

What are the benefits of being located in Philadelphia?

As a global company, we have offices all over North America and abroad. Because of this, we’re able to service our clients no matter where their requirements are, both inbound and outbound. For example, if a company is coming in from Mexico, we can help them. Conversely, we can send a deal to Mexico and know it’s going to be taken care of. Philadelphia’s a great location for us. We’re close to other large markets and have access to our international markets as well. We have a very strong industrial base in our clientele. We have long-standing relationships with multiple manufacturing companies throughout the Colliers network. For example, we’ve worked with Philadelphia-based company Cardone to secure locations throughout the United States. We also helped NFI secure locations in Canada and the UK. 

 

What type of investment is the Philadelphia market seeing?

We’ve started seeing an increase in foreign investment come into the Greater Philadelphia market. It has mostly been asset-driven as opposed to geographically-driven, so it’s really dependent on what investors are looking for. We’ve seen a lot of investment in the industrial space recently; markets such as Philadelphia have become more appealing to investors, both foreign and domestic, because of the higher rate of return. For this reason, we’re seeing a lot of buyers from New York. We’ve also seen a lot of international investors buying companies here in the Philadelphia market. We’ve represented quite a few in the industrial space. 

 

How does Colliers International plan to grow in the Philadelphia region?

We have six offices in the region: Harrisburg; Allentown; Conshohocken; Center City,  Philadelphia; Mount Laurel, New Jersey; and Wilmington, Delaware. In all our offices we handle office, industrial, retail, property management and landlord representation. We’re trying to grow those areas across all our offices in the region. We’re looking to capitalize on established relationships while building new ones, especially in strategic areas where we can grow — and from an international standpoint as well. The new federal Opportunity Zones will be interesting, and we hope to see some growth in the market from those. There are some very strategic areas in Philadelphia, like the corridor leading up Broad Street toward Temple. It’ll be exciting to see what happens in those areas. 

 

To learn more about our interviewees, visit their websites:

 

Colliers International: https://www2.colliers.com/en/United-States/Cities/Philadelphia 

 

Spotlight On: Kevin Rogers, Regional President, Seaside National Bank & Trust

Spotlight On: Kevin Rogers, Regional President, Seaside National Bank & Trust

By Max Crampton-Thomas

2 min read October 2019 — Seaside National Bank & Trust may be considered a newer entry into the market, having first opened its doors in 2006, but since then it has become a prominent force in the banking community. Invest: Greater Fort Lauderdale recently spoke with Kevin Rogers, the regional president of Seaside National Bank & Trust’s South Florida operations. During the discussion, he spoke on the importance of cybersecurity to a bank like Seaside, how Seaside handles the challenge of competition in South Florida and his approach to finding the right employee candidates. 

How are you protecting your clients in regards to cybersecurity? 

Cybersecurity is a huge topic, not only at our bank, but also across the financial services industry. We tell our people all the time that we’re a small bank, and if we took a $2 million to $3 million hit it would substantially hurt us. Our people are on guard every minute. We have an incredible onboarding process, and we not only know who we’re banking with, but we also know who are clients are dealing with as well. If you ask what keeps me up at night more so than hitting balance sheet goals, it’s cybersecurity and being hit with a loss.

The amount of money that the bank spends on cybersecurity is incredible, but you have to stay ahead of the game. We conduct a lot of training on the subject. I even do a communication call twice a month with our South Florida employees, and one of the main topics is cybersecurity. We want to make sure that everybody is on guard, that they know who their clients are and that they’re asking the right questions. You have to ask the tough questions to make sure you protect the bank.

 

What is the biggest challenge in the market for a small to midsize bank like Seaside, and how do you overcome it?

I think the biggest challenge is always going to be the competition. Banks of our size do not have the brand recognition that a Bank of America does, so the question is how do we sell Seaside Bank? We have to go out and talk to our clients about who we are and what we specialize in. We drive home the fact that we are able to provide the same products and services that the big banks do but in a community bank setting. We’ve taken a lot of clients away from these big banks. If you look at what’s going on in the big banks right now, it’s all about sales process management and managing their people to numbers that, a lot of the time, mean selling products and services that the clients really don’t need. We don’t subscribe to this notion and instead focus more on listening to our clients and making sure that they get what they want and need. We’re not for everybody; there will never be a time when you’ll see a Seaside branch on every street corner like you do Bank of America. If a customer is looking for that then we’re not the bank for them. If they’re looking for a single point of contact to deal with on a consistent basis then we are a perfect bank for them.

 

How difficult is it to find professional, hard-working talent in the Palm Beach County market? 

It is very hard, and I find that I’m always looking for people. I’m constantly asked the question when I’m out at a meeting or at a networking event, “Are you looking for bankers?” I always say, “I’m never looking, but I’m always looking” because I’m trying to find the right person who will fit into our culture. 

It’s also very hard to recruit a good banker who is working at a big bank because they already have an established book of business and a continuous flow of referrals. At a smaller bank like ours we don’t have that, and you have to be an aggressive calling officer and business developer to be able to be successful here. We have to be careful about whom we hire because we don’t want to set anybody up to fail. Some of the best people I’ve recruited are from big banks and who want to try something else because they’re at a  time in their lives when they want to scale down. A smaller bank like ours is attractive to these people because of our incentive plan and how we operate.

To learn more about our interviewee visit: 

https://www.seasidebank.com/