The Post-Pandemic City

The Post-Pandemic City

By: Abby Melone, President & CEO, Capital Analytics

It’s a truism in today’s hyper-connected world that people go where the jobs are, more so now than ever before. But what happens when your job suddenly can be done from anywhere?

 

The 19th century ushered in the first and second Industrial Revolutions that saw more and more people move to urban environments, precisely because that’s where the jobs were. In the United States, the rise of manufacturing opened a new world of employment possibilities, pushing people from the farm to the factory. It’s a push that in one way or another continued into the 20th and 21st centuries. The result is seen today in the population densities that cram big cities from coast to coast, border to border.

According to the United Nations’ World Urbanization Prospects report and the website Our World in Data, the world crossed over in 2007. That’s the fist year the number of people living in urban areas rose above the number living in rural areas (3.35 billion versus 3.33 billion). In the United States, around 82.3% of the population lives in urban areas, according to the World Bank. Growth trajectories project a steady increase in urbanization as far out as 2050. 

Today, the millennial generation is changing the character of urbanization by spearheading the live-work-play ethos. This generation prefers to skirt the traffic jams and live and play near where they work. The goal to have it all close by has given rise to the mixed-use building concept that puts everything – your living options, your entertainment choices and your shopping – all in one convenient location, which preferably, is near your workplace. 

It also means we are all living closer to each other in smaller and smaller spaces. That seemed to suit a lot of people just fine. Then the COVID-19 pandemic happened, and all of sudden, none of that seemed fine at all.

The pandemic resulted in shelter-in-place orders that forced people to live 24 hours a day in their homes while also working from their home offices, if they had one, or their kitchen tables if they didn’t. The very idea of needing to go somewhere else to do your job turned out to be not so much of a necessity after all. In just a few months, priorities appear to have shifted. Now, many of us seem to crave space, the great outdoors, and we seem to be split 50-50 on whether we want to continue working from home, wherever we choose that to be, or prefer an official office setting, mostly for the socializing.

There is little doubt that the world has changed as a result of the pandemic. Most experts are puzzling on whether that change will last and just what our cities will look like as a result. The fact is, though, that change was already in play before COVID-19 hit.

My company focuses on nine major U.S. markets like Orlando, Miami, Atlanta and Philadelphia. We talk to industry and political leaders to understand the issues their communities face to gauge the direction in which they are moving. Today, everyone is talking about the pandemic’s impact on the retail sector, for example. Yet, e-commerce was already a thing before COVID-19. In 2019, a record 9,800 stores were shuttered, according to a Bloomberg report, with 25,000 closures expected in 2020 due to the coronavirus impact, the report said, citing Coresight Research. Yes, that’s a devastating impact, but the pandemic really has only accelerated the pace of implementation. It pushed more people online immediately, but those people were likely headed there anyway.

Many of the leaders we have spoken with during the pandemic agree that retail and commercial real estate was already undergoing a slowdown as industrial space to accommodate last-mile delivery for the Amazons of the world was booming. Many expect this trend will continue.

More importantly, what the pandemic has done has caused a rethink of priorities among individuals and it is this impact that will likely shape the post-pandemic city. Living in lockdown awakened people to the “smallness” of their space, forced on them by a combination of convenience and higher and higher housing prices in big cities. The median listing price for a home in Miami-Dade, for example, was $465,050 in May compared to the average U.S. listing price of $329,950, according to the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis. Interestingly, population growth in Miami-Dade was already slowing as more people moved out, with escalating living costs among the factors. With the pandemic highlighting the risks of living so close together, will more people decide that farther away is not only cheaper, but safer?

Big city living will change in the post-pandemic world as social distancing forces “people places” like gyms and restaurants to accommodate lingering fears from the virus. Tens of thousands of small businesses have already closed down for good, clearly altering the very unique characteristics of cities that attracted people in the first place.

The biggest impact, however, will be on how – and where – jobs are done. Remote working is hear to stay in some form or another. Like the industrial revolutions of the 18th and 19th centuries, people will always go where the jobs are. For many, those jobs will now be done from home, which means that home can be virtually anywhere. It creates choice like never before, and this will dramatically alter the character, although not likely the course, of urbanization. That’s an important difference. 

Big cities have seen the ebbs and flows of population growth before and will likely see them again. Through it all, they have more often thrived than not. The post-pandemic city may look and feel a bit different – the way condo units are built, for example, may change to accommodate working from home, while adding elements like air filters to battle any future virus outbreak – and there may even be a greater push to the suburbs in the short term. Overall, however, continued urbanization likely will remain on the cards. If we’re lucky, there may just be a little more distance between all of us.

 

Peach State leaders analyze current market opportunities

Peach State leaders analyze current market opportunities

By: Felipe Rivas

2 min read June 2020 — Virtually every sector of the economy has been pinched, crushed, or depleted by the initial impact of the coronavirus pandemic. Months into the “new normal,” industries and businesses have had to adapt operations to cope with COVID-19-related challenges. While many businesses remain embattled by the current economic cycle, innovation and opportunity are beginning to rise from the initial shocks of the novel coronavirus.

 In the Peach State, a region known for its sound business environment and one of the first states to reopen its economy, leaders across economic sectors in Atlanta are analyzing the opportunities and possible innovations created as a result of the virus outbreak. For the legal industry, an industry already comfortable with remote work prior to COVID-19, technology is at the forefront of the evolution of the sector’s business model and best practices. “I believe that remote depositions, virtual oral arguments, and maybe even some virtual trials are here to stay,” Holland & Knight Immediate Past Executive Partner J. Allen Maines told Focus: Atlanta. “These new technologies are easy to arrange and the cost-benefit analysis is pretty compelling for implementation, although It may still be necessary to have an in-person interview in order to size up the credibility of key witnesses. The virus has forced law firms to accelerate their adoption of technology and training,” he said. As businesses and law firms embrace the benefits of balancing in-person and remote work, it is likely the need for office space will change as well. “Currently, law firms can do everything electronically and remotely. I would expect law firms will not use the amount of office space that was customary in the past,” Maines said.   

The coronavirus landscape may possibly have positive residual effects related to work-life balance for lawyers and the way in which law firms think about pro bono work. “Hopefully, one permanent change will be a focus on the well-being of lawyers, which has been real positive during this time,” Maines said. “Another positive that has emerged has been an even greater pro bono assistance to the underserved and vulnerable communities. A lot of our clients have employees in the gig and hospitality industry and it has been rewarding to help them get through this period.”

Similarly, for Atlanta’s construction sector, some projects were halted as a result of the initial COVID-19-related shocks, while other projects continued a successful trajectory. “The COVID-19 crisis was completely unpredictable, which has caused significant disruption to the economy,” DPR Construction Business Unit Leader Chris Bontrager told Focus: Atlanta. “We have continued to see success in the healthcare sector through March and April but some of the private commercial work has been put on hold. So far, we have weathered the storm very well,” he said. DPR has been running multiple scenarios to account for the current volatile economic cycle. “No one knows the true impact of COVID-19. Relatively speaking, the Southeast is doing well. The market was very strong prior to COVID-19 and our industry was deemed essential from day one in the Georgia market. We have had some projects that we were unable to start but we have not had any ongoing projects that were shut down,” Bontrager said. “It feels like most contractors will maintain a positive year for 2020 due to a strong backlog going into this recession and the construction community won’t truly feel the recession until the first half of 2021. If the project owners move forward with current plans, we will finish the year at or just below our current business goals.”

 

To learn more, visit: https://www.hklaw.com/en/professionals/m/maines-j-allen

https://www.dpr.com/company/leadership/chris-bontrager

 

 

Spotlight On: Tim Perry, Managing Partner, North American Properties

Spotlight On: Tim Perry, Managing Partner, North American Properties

By: Felipe Rivas

2 min read June 2020—The new real estate landscape will belong to those companies who find value through innovation, differentiation and that are ready and able to provide safe environments for their guests. Tim Perry, managing partner of North American Properties, provides the details of how the company is tackling development, leading the community out of isolation, and where it sees opportunity for future investment.

 

How is your “Smart Development” concept influencing projects across Atlanta’s real estate landscape?

North American Properties began to retool our approach to property operations during our reprogramming of Atlantic Station, a 138-acre mixed-use development in Atlanta that was once on the “death watch” list of many real estate pros. We deployed a hospitality-focused approach, implemented a strategic remerchandising plan and created a heavily activated environment for guests to enjoy. Through trial and error, we curated a robust and mixed-use experience that resonated with the community and turned around the property. We even trademarked the term ExperienceMaker™ to refer to the concierge and operations team that delivered this intrinsic sense of place and belonging to guests – we became stewards of the community’s asset. We were able to deploy this same formula at Avalon in a nationally recognized way and found that the street level activation was only part of it – the ancillary developments were a large contribution to the overall success of a mixed-use destination. Whether working in an office, living in a residential unit, or staying in the hotel, each component contributed to the greater effect, and rent reflected 40%-plus above market. 

We are now deploying this same concept at Colony Square in Midtown Atlanta, and Newport on the Levee in Newport, Kentucky. Colony Square will feature the first dense infill theater in the market along with a nationally renowned operator launching a Food Hall. In Newport, amid the leasing angst created by COVID-19, we signed eight leases while on quarantine and opened the Bridgeview Box Park, a colorful, open-air box park featuring local restaurants and retailers, on the Ohio River at the beginning of the summer. Elements like these are not just for our guests, but drive the desire to live near and work near the amenity-rich “Smart Development.”

 

How is your company tackling ground-up developments?

Residential fundamentals are strong, both in single family with low rates and with multifamily as the trend continues to slowly move toward rent vs own. We will see how the long-term effects of density affect in-town locations, but we are very optimistic on close suburbs where the cost can be reduced. The COVID-19 effect also has turned some landlords of office/retail properties into land sellers of portions of their site for residential, due to lease encumbrances that are expiring or businesses not opening following the pandemic. Commercially, we are seeking existing assets that are mixed-use, or can be turned into a mixed-use development. For example, a surface-parked suburban office project may present an opportunity to add neighborhood amenity retail, residential, hospitality, and at a lower basis than ground-up development of the entire property. It is the community that has to accept the project, so we are being selective. 

 

What is your assessment of the CARES Act?

Small businesses lead the country out of tough economic times – they are nimble, creative, and entrepreneurial at heart. The initial PPP program was really beneficial to small businesses, and was a very creative way of using businesses to essentially put unemployment checks into people’s hands until the program changed and midsized businesses no longer were able to gain that access and employees found themselves in a long queue for unemployment. Having said that,  the SBA was trying to find a few solutions for millions of business problems and not all fit, so I applaud the states for letting small businesses reopen to find millions of solutions for the millions of problems. Every industry will be impacted with unemployment over 20% but capital injections into small business will lead us out again.  

 

How is your company tackling the COVID-19 outbreak?

Safety is our first concern, and several weeks before any municipal restrictions were announced, we formed a task force called “Better Together” in order to focus on each property, the unique challenges with each, and our own office staff for a safe re-entry into an open economy. While sanitization and masks were the easy conclusions, our team also researched and invested in virus-killing UV lights, security enforcement of social distancing, forced flow for pedestrian traffic, and an enhanced code of conduct such that every guest feels welcome.   

 

What are North American Properties’ expectations in Atlanta toward 2021?

Innovate and differentiate. There are great assets with unrealized potential that may or may not trade at a discount the market wants but have ample return to invest at values that are still accretive to opportunistic investors. The capital stockpile in the market will be rewarded by smart buys sooner rather than cheap buys later.

 

To learn more about our interviewee, visit:https://www.naproperties.com/leaders/tim-perry/

 

 

Philadelphia steadily rising from COVID-19 challenges

Philadelphia steadily rising from COVID-19 challenges

By: Max Crampton Thomas

2 minute read: June 2020 — Virtually every sector of the economy has been pinched, crushed, or depleted by the initial impact of the coronavirus pandemic. Months into the “new normal,” industries and businesses have had to adapt operations to cope with COVID-19-related challenges. While many businesses remain embattled by the current economic cycle, innovation and opportunity are beginning to rise from the initial shocks of the novel coronavirus, while community leaders help others navigate through the CARES Act and the loan forgiveness process.

In the Delaware Valley, a region severely affected by the effect of COVID-19, leaders have methodically looked at ways to foster innovation in the face of the pandemic. For the real estate sector, the virus outbreak accelerated change in business practices and stress-tested the supply chain of businesses in the region. “We now feel threatened that the supply chain outside, and even inside, the United States is not dependable and will need to be more flexible,” Colliers International Philadelphia President and CEO Douglas Sayer told Invest: Philadelphia. “Accordingly, there will be an increase in manufacturing domestically, creating a greater demand for production and storage space as well as e-commerce distribution centers,” he said. The coronavirus even reversed years-long trends in the commercial and industrial real estate sector. “In the pre-2000 economy, a significant portion of the industrial inventory was repurposed for multifamily and retail. Now, we have reversed course by taking underperforming malls and strip centers and repurposing them for industrial, residential and medical uses.” 

The City of Brotherly Love has long been a thriving hub for the medical and life science industry. The virus could potentially create more demand for medical office and manufacturing space while creating opportunity for medical companies looking to settle in the region and for developers, Sayer said. “COVID-19 has also accelerated medical research. In certain areas, such as gene cell therapy, there has been a shortage of space, and only more recently has this space attracted developer interest,” he said. “In one instance, we were endeavoring to locate space for one of our clients locally and ended up sourcing the space in Raleigh. As a result of the shortage of R&D and process manufacturing space, we would anticipate more will continue to be developed.”

While some leaders pivot their focus to account for innovation and marketplace opportunities, others are helping businesses navigate through the CARES Act provisions and the coming loan forgiveness program. Accounting firm EisnerAmper was ahead of the curve by stress-testing its technology and remote work capabilities weeks before shelter-in-place measures took full effect, Partner In Charge Paul Dougherty told Invest: Philadelphia. “We immediately created a COVID-19 response team that quarterbacks the different elements of the issues presented by the crisis, including the tax and stimulus aspects. And we did significant outreach to our clients via webinars, blogs and articles, e-blasts, podcasts, and so forth. To some extent, we’ve become experts on these Small Business Administration (SBA) loans,” he said. In a time where banks are stressed and overwhelmed with the related CARES ACT provisions and the Paycheck Protection Program, EisnerAmper is using its technology dexterity to help banks and business owners calculate loan forgiveness figures. “The banks are under a tremendous amount of stress because a loan recipient must determine the amount of forgiveness within eight weeks after receiving the loan. The banks have given out many thousands of loans, and they don’t necessarily have the staff to process all of that work in a timely fashion,” Dougherty said. “Our firm has worked with a technology company on a product that can input data from the customer and calculate the amount of loan forgiveness, which we can then provide to the banks.” 

To learn more, visit: 

https://www2.colliers.com/en

https://www.eisneramper.com/

2020 Hurricane season in the face of coronavirus

2020 Hurricane season in the face of coronavirus

By: Felipe Rivas

2 min read May 2020—A few days shy of the official start of the 2020 hurricane season and the Southeast has already seen two named tropical storms. Tropical Storm Arthur brought inclement weather to the Carolinas a full two weeks before the June 1 start date and on Wednesday Tropical Storm Bertha formed quickly in the morning and drenched South Carolina before dissipating to a depression, all in a day’s notice. 

 

As the country reels from the devastating effects of the coronavirus, states on the East Coast can expect an above-normal Atlantic hurricane season, according to forecasters with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Climate Prediction Center, a division of the National Weather Service. States like Georgia, Florida and the Carolinas can expect a 60 percent chance of having an above-normal hurricane season with a likelihood of three to six major hurricanes making landfall. The Atlantic hurricane season runs from June 1 to Nov. 30, peaking in August and September.

The 2020 Atlantic hurricane season is expected to have 13 to 19 named storms, six to 10 hurricanes, and three to six major hurricanes, according to the National Weather Service. As states juggle coronavirus-related safety concerns with the reopening of their economies, state leaders urge residents to begin their preparation and evacuation plans early while emphasizing the importance of hygiene and keeping in mind social distancing measures. “This early season storm reminds us that we always need to be prepared for severe weather,” North Carolina Emergency Management Director Mike Sprayberry said during the formation of Tropical Storm Arthur, which set off tropical storm warnings along the North Carolina coast from Surf City north to Duck. “The time to prepare is now,” Sprayberry said.  

COVID-19 may put a damper on the way residents traditionally prepare for the months-long season. “Social distancing and other CDC guidance to keep you safe from COVID-19 may impact the disaster preparedness plan you had in place, including what is in your go-kit, evacuation routes, shelters and more. With tornado season at its peak, hurricane season around the corner, and flooding, earthquakes and wildfires a risk year-round, it is time to revise and adjust your emergency plan now,” said Carlos Castillo, acting deputy administrator for resilience at FEMA, according to the National Weather Service. “Natural disasters won’t wait, so I encourage you to keep COVID-19 in mind when revising or making your plan for you and your loved ones, and don’t forget your pets.”

In Florida, a magnet for constant hurricane activity throughout the season, leaders are strategizing on how to contain the spread of COVID-19 in the midst of a hurricane threat.      “We don’t know how the virus is going to react as we move into these various stages,”Gov. Ron DeSantis said at a news conference in Sarasota, according to the U.S News & World Report.  “We don’t know what it’s going to look like a month from now, three months from now, but we have to assume that it’s going to be with us in some capacity, so how do you deal with hurricane issues?” he said. 

Days before the official start to hurricane season, Florida has reported more than 52,000 cases of the coronavirus and more than 2,300 deaths, according to the Johns Hopkins University & Medicine’s Coronavirus Resource Center. “This virus really thrives and transmits when you have close sustained contact with people inside an enclosed environment,” DeSantis said. “As you’re looking at sheltering for a hurricane, you have to keep that in mind. If you pile people into a place, under normal circumstances that may be fine, but that would potentially allow the virus to really spread if somebody is in fact infected,” he said.  

Florida leaders are working with the Federal Emergency Management Agency on changes to sheltering and evacuation procedures to account for the coronavirus implications. Florida emergency management Director Jared Moskowitz said those changes could include shelters that only accept people infected with the coronavirus, or shelter in place orders depending on the strength of the building and magnitude of the storm. “We’re going to do more non-congregate sheltering instead of mass congregate sheltering,” Moskowitz said.

In similar fashion, Georgia leaders and the Georgia Emergency Management Agency urged all Georgians to prepare and follow activity in the tropics. Tropical Storm Arthur did not cause too much impact as it curved away from the Peach State while traveling through the Atlantic Ocean. Though unfazed by Tropical Storm Arthur, Georgia has dealt with severe weather conditions since the start of the spring. In March and April, Georgia experienced heavy rainfall and severe flooding in more than 100 counties while also dealing with the aftermath of the coronavirus. In March, Gov. Brian Kemp signed an executive order declaring a state of emergency for 120 Georgia counties south of I-20. “The state is working to ensure counties impacted by flooding across Georgia have access to all the resources necessary to respond,” Kemp said at the time. “I encourage residents to listen to their local officials and news sources and heed the directions of their local emergency management officials,” he said. 

To learn more, visit: 

https://www.noaa.gov/media-release/busy-atlantic-hurricane-season-predicted-for-2020

ReadyNC.org

https://gema.georgia.gov/

https://floridadisaster.org/

https://www.fema.gov/media-library-data/1589997234798-adb5ce5cb98a7a89e3e1800becf0eb65/2020_Hurricane_Pandemic_Plan.pdf

 

How to shake the COVID-19 blues in South Florida

How to shake the COVID-19 blues in South Florida

By: Felipe Rivas

2 min read May 2020For the better half of a year, the majority of news across platforms, watercooler talk and virtual meeting conversations has revolved around the coronavirus pandemic, its impact on the local and global economy, and what the “new normal” may look like. As a result, many South Floridians, like their counterparts elsewhere, are likely suffering COVID-19 fatigue. As South Florida begins its reopening process, here are a few positives from the tri-county area to think about heading into the Memorial Day weekend. 

 

Miami-Dade County

Fun in the virtual sun: The city of Miami Beach wants to bring the tropical vibes to travelers’ living rooms as they plan future vacations and travel. The new social campaign, “From Miami Beach, With Love,” created by the Miami Beach Visitor and Convention Authority, is designed to deliver the city’s experiences to audiences from the comfort and safety of their own homes. Travel lovers can enter to win different Miami Beach experiences as they contemplate their next South Florida visit. The campaign also features specials and discounts to promote local small businesses in the area. Visit @ExperienceMiamiBeach on Facebook, Instagram and @EMiamiBeach on Twitter for a chance to win and support local Miami Beach businesses. 

Shopping!: For those wanting to help stimulate the local economy or take a stroll through one of the most prestigious fashion centers in the region, the Bal Harbour Shops is open for business. Following all CDC guidelines, Bal Harbour Shops will implement increased safety precautions to protect customers, retailers and employees, according to its management team. In keeping with Miami-Dade County and Bal Harbour Village ordinances, retail stores and indoor restaurant seating occupancy will be limited to 50% and salons will limit occupancy to 25%. Bal Harbour Shops will be open Monday–Saturday from 11:00am–10:00pm and Sunday, 12:00pm-6:00pm, though individual store hours may vary.

Broward County

Largest mall in the county welcomes visitors: Sawgrass Mills, the largest mall in Broward County, is officially open for business. The mall will offer masks, and signage has been placed to account for social distancing. Mall hours will be altered to 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Monday through Saturday and 12 p.m. to 6 p.m. on Sunday until further notice. Simon, which operates Sawgrass Mills, also announced the reopening of other malls such as Coral Square, Dadeland, The Falls, Miami International and the Florida Keys Outlet Marketplace. 

Palm Beach County

As Palm Beach County begins the reopening of its economy, it has its eye set on providing extra help to those small businesses hardest hit by the COVID-19 pandemic. This week, the Palm Beach County Board of County Commissioners approved the CARES Restart Business Grants Program to accelerate the reopening of businesses hardest hit by the outbreak. The $60-million Business Restart Program uses a portion of the county’s $261-million allocation from the Federal CARES Act approved by Congress. The BCC has dedicated $50 million toward businesses with 25 or fewer employees and $10 million toward businesses with greater than 25 employees. The online application is expected to launch on Friday, May 22, and will be processed on a first come, first eligible basis, according to the county.

To learn more, visit:

https://www.miamibeachvca.com/

https://www.balharbourshops.com/

https://www.simon.com/mall/sawgrass-mills

http://discover.pbcgov.org/hes/Pages/default.aspx

Spotlight On: Michael Praeger, CEO and co-Founder, AvidXchange

Spotlight On: Michael Praeger, CEO and co-Founder, AvidXchange

By: Felipe Rivas

2 min read May 2020Charlotte-based AvidXchange is looking to reduce paper for middle-market companies by providing a full suite of accounts payable and payment automation solutions to businesses across the country, a trend that might have been accelerated by measures taken around the COVID-19 pandemic, said CEO Michael Praeger in an interview with Invest:Charlotte. 

 What service is AvidXchange providing to the market?

AvidXchange automates the accounts payable and payment process for middle-market companies, eliminating the paper invoice and paper check. We are primarily focused on the United States, with a growing presence in Canada. 

Imagine the impact in the current transition to a work from home environment when you realize that you don’t have an automated process for your accounts payable and to pay your bills. There are a lot of companies that still have paper checks, with pre-printed check stacks, and you can’t send a person home with a pre-printed corporate check stack. 

The current situation has been a catalyst in terms of new customers wanting to adopt our technology and existing customers trying to get everything implemented as fast as they can. Suppliers that have historically been receiving paper checks from their payment network are raising their hands and saying they want electronic payments.

We have five core verticals: real estate, HOA or homeowners’ associations, and financial services, where we have over 2,000 banks that use our services platform to manage their internal accounts payable and pay their own bills. Then it’s construction, which has done really well in recent years, and our newest vertical in healthcare facilities and social services.

 

How would you describe the evolution of the tech sector in Charlotte as compared to other, better-known tech hubs?

When we founded AvidXchange 20 years ago, there was a small and passionate group of entrepreneurs in Charlotte who really wanted to build a more entrepreneurial ecosystem, particularly around technology, and adapt a lot of the companies that supported the banks. Most of the technology in Charlotte around that time was supporting the banking or the energy sectors. We started growing and gaining traction by staying focused on developing our AP automation solutions, and today we are the largest software company in Charlotte.

In terms of our evolution, our rapid growth began in 2011-2012. There were two catalysts for that. One was that we are a software as a service, cloud-based technology platform. Up until then, companies were really hesitant to adapt cloud-based technology for financial applications. The mindset was to run these services internally, behind a firewall. And then we had the growth of companies like Salesforce and Concur that created momentum and customers started becoming comfortable. 

We then added payments to our existing accounts payable solution. We were growing at 15% to 20% annually up until 2012, and since then, we’ve averaged around 40% growth per year. That is a reflection of the growth of Charlotte, but also of the general marketplace adopting our technology.

 

Are the schools and universities in the region meeting the challenge of training the talent companies like AvidXchange need?

It is really interesting because one of the first things discussed about Charlotte is that all of the other tech centers are really anchored by a university or college research system, and Charlotte does not have that. That is true historically, but one of the things that this COVID-19 dynamic is showing us is that you don’t necessarily need people physically together in a lab or research environment to drive innovation. You have to be in an environment that supports innovation, and I think Charlotte and North Carolina have that. The region does not have that deep research presence in the city itself, but when you look at the whole North Carolina ecosystem, between the research triangle and what UNC Charlotte is doing around analytics and Big Data, positioning itself as an analytics center for the university, there are really good things happening.

How are your services received in the market?

Our main presence in terms of customer concentration is around the major centers of employment in the United States. We have customers in all 50 states and over 6,000 in total nationwide. As I mentioned, this has been our eighth consecutive year of averaging 40% growth, which provides some insight on adoption. It is currently estimated that 60% to 70% of middle-market companies still process paper invoices, so we’re still in the very early days of that adoption curve.

I think the COVID-19 crisis is going to act as a catalyst event where we see companies deciding to automate to avoid future business continuity issues around how they pay bills.

To learn more, visit: https://www.avidxchange.com/

 

 

Charlotte begins reopening process, Altanta ramps up COVID-19 testing

Charlotte begins reopening process, Altanta ramps up COVID-19 testing

By: Felipe Rivas

2 min read May 2020—Southeast metro areas like Charlotte and Atlanta have been a popular destination for families, businesses and large corporations looking for affordability, dynamic business fundamentals and a high quality of life. In the landscape of the coronavirus, much of the national attention was placed on the Southeast in late April as Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp led the nation in the reopening timeline, terms and guidelines. Following Georgia’s example, North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper announced Tuesday the loosening of his stay-at-home and transition into phase one of his economic recovery plans effective Friday, May 8. 

 

“COVID-19 is still a serious threat to our state, and Phase 1 is designed to be a limited easing of restrictions that can boost parts of our economy while keeping important safety rules in place,” Gov. Cooper said in a press release. As of May 5, Mecklenburg County, where Charlotte is located, reported more than 1,700 residents have tested positive for the novel coronavirus and 52 deaths due to COVID-19, according to Mecklenburg County Public Health. “This is a careful and deliberate first step, guided by the data, and North Carolinians still must use caution while this virus is circulating,” Cooper said

Gov. Cooper’s orders remove the distinction between essential and non-essential businesses. Retail businesses are allowed to open at 50% capacity and must follow strict health guidelines and best practices, such as social distancing, perform frequent cleanings, provide hand sanitizer when available, and screen workers for symptoms. The order also allows people to leave their homes for commercial activity at any business that is open, bringing potential economic activity to small businesses that were shuttered during March and April. “We must continue to protect our families and neighbors as we take this cautious step forward,” Secretary of the NC Department of Health and Human Services Dr. Mandy Cohen said. “When you leave your home, follow the three W’s: Wear a face covering, wash your hands, and wait six feet apart.”  

Days into phasing the reopening of the Georgia economy, health, university, local and state officials are ramping up COVID-19 testing in the Peach State. On April 30, the state reported conducting over 20,000 tests, a single-day record for COVID-19 testing, according to the governor’s office. “Thanks to Georgia’s partnership with our university system, the private sector, and local public health officials, we ended April by setting a single-day testing record, reporting over 20,000 tests on April 30 alone,” Gov. Kemp said. “This is great progress for our state, but we refuse to rest on our laurels. In the days ahead, we will continue to increase access to coronavirus testing across Georgia.”

In March, the state of Georgia announced partnerships with the University System of Georgia, Georgia Public Health Laboratory and Emory University to process over 3,000 samples a day.  Since that time, Georgia, a state with large rural areas, has partnered with companies like CVS, Walgreens, Walmart and eTrueNorth to launch drive-thru testing sites throughout metro Atlanta and deploy mobile testing units to areas with limited access, according to the governor’s office. “We have the capacity, we have the bandwidth, and now we need the patients,” Kemp said. He encourages residents who are experiencing symptoms as well as asymptomatic medical and frontline workers to schedule a COVID-19 screening and visit one of the state’s more than 50 active testing sites if necessary. “We will continue to work diligently to innovate and increase testing in Georgia, and together, we will win this fight,” Kemp said.

 

To learn more, visit:

https://governor.nc.gov/news/governor-cooper-announces-modified-stay-home-order-and-transition-phase-1-easing-restrictions

https://www.mecknc.gov/news/Pages/Mecklenburg-County-COVID-19-Data-for-May-3.aspx

https://gov.georgia.gov/press-releases/2020-05-01/georgia-sees-banner-week-covid-19-testing

 

 

Federal, state govts rally to help homeless during COVID-19 outbreak

Federal, state govts rally to help homeless during COVID-19 outbreak

By: Felipe Rivas

2 min read  — Since March, shelter-in-place measures have become the norm across the nation, shuttering nonessential businesses, schools and public gathering spaces. While the majority of people transitioned to a new way of life during the quarantine, including remote work and distance learning, the U.S homeless population risks COVID-19 infection as they lack access to testing and basic hygiene facilities, among other measures to combat infectious diseases. Additionally, for the homeless population, many are older adults or have underlying medical conditions, increasing the likelihood of contracting COVID-19. As such, states, municipalities, local health departments, housing authorities, among other institutions, have been working to meet the food, shelter, hygiene and testing needs of the homeless population.   

 

In South Florida, the Miami-Dade County Homeless Trust, in collaboration with various state and federal agencies, has been helping to protect sheltered and unsheltered homeless households and its staff in the face of the COVID-19 threat. “The Homeless Trust is proactive in engaging our housing and support service providers to offer guidance, assess needs and facilitate vital connections to local, state and federal resources,” said Trust Chairman Ronald L. Book in a press release. “Our preparations have to consider the fact that much of our population does not have a ‘home’ with which to self-quarantine; therefore, we have broader issues to consider. We will continue to work to ensure homeless households have access to shelter, care and food while doing all we can to mitigate the virus’ spread.”

As part of its outreach efforts, the Miami-Dade County Homeless Trust is distributing hygiene, safety and food kits to unsheltered homeless persons throughout the county along with educational information. Outreach teams are taking temperatures of unsheltered homeless persons to pre-identify those with symptoms, among other measures to help prevent the spread of COVID-19.

In Pinellas County, the city of Clearwater has taken similar steps to help the homeless population of the region. As part of its mission, the city’s economic development department is focused on economic growth and the vitality of the community, which includes the homeless population. As such, the department is encouraging restaurants that have had to close or limit their operations temporarily to donate food to food banks, which then distribute the food to the most vulnerable segments of the community, Economic Development and Housing Director Denise Sanderson told Invest: Insights in an interview. “We have not seen a big increase in street level homelessness,” she said. “We have seen an increase in the presence of our homeless community. Primarily because we have had to close down our recreation centers and libraries.” As those facilities closed, the department pivoted to placing porta-potties and mobile shower units throughout the city to help the homeless community stay clean during this time. “To date, we have not had any cases, at least known to us, where COVID-19 has affected the homeless population.” Sanderson said. 

In Orlando, the shelters are preparing for an influx of homeless people. Shelters are down beds because social distancing precautions require separation of beds, Spectrum News reported. Shelters are concerned with bringing in people who may have the virus. “Right now we have a campus that is fairly safe. How do we bring people on without introducing that,” John Hearn, president and CEO of the Coalition for the Homeless of Central Florida, told the news outlet. Hearn’s shelter has been screening everyone before they enter the campus. The shelter set up isolation areas for people showing symptoms. This move, along with social distancing measures, cost the shelter close to 50 beds, Spectrum News reported. His shelter has increased the distribution of meals to three times a day and still has open beds available, according to the news outlet. 

At the federal level, the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, a $2 trillion funding package aimed at protecting the population, industries and businesses from the impact of the coronavirus, set aside more than $12 billion to help the homeless population and those who serve them. Community Solutions, a nonprofit organization focused on ending homelessness, detailed the portion of the CARES act aimed at helping those experiencing homelessness. The Department of Housing and Urban Development would divvy up the funds for Emergency Solutions Grants to assist homeless shelters and outreach workers who keep people who are homeless safer from coronavirus, different rent assistance programs, and other assistance programs aimed at the elderly, Native Americans, and people with AIDS, among other initiatives, according to Community Solutions. Federal, state and local agencies must work together to optimize resources and help for the homeless population, the nonprofit wrote on its website. “While we are pleased that our federal lawmakers provided this needed fiscal relief, we need to ensure that people experiencing homelessness, and those who serve them, continue to be supported as state and local governments work to administer funds and in any forthcoming stimulus package, Community Solutions said. “Following the injection of this stimulus funding, state and local governments must focus on allocating this new funding to protect people experiencing homelessness and homeless response staff, and limit inflow into health care and hospital systems. This includes ensuring people experiencing homelessness — and the people helping them — have immediate access to housing, health and safety training, personal protective equipment, facilities for hand-washing, medical treatment, testing options and ultimately, safe places to quarantine.”

 

To learn more about our interviewees, visit:

https://www.centralfloridahomeless.org/

http://www.homelesstrust.org/

https://www.myclearwater.com/government/city-departments/economic-development-housing

https://community.solutions/covid-19-and-homelessness/