Innovation and adaptation: What this could mean for education post-pandemic

Innovation and adaptation: What this could mean for education post-pandemic

By: Beatrice Silva

2 min read September 2020 — The pandemic forced educational institutions to pivot all of their operations to a completely virtual landscape. Many university leaders were planning on returning to normalcy at some point in the upcoming months, but that looks increasingly unlikely. The keys to a successful academic future are in the hands of those educators who are willing to adapt and use innovative technology to their advantage. 

For the majority of universities the rapid transition into an entirely digital world came as a rude awakening. It showed just how fragile the framework of higher education could be without a contingency plan in place. Nevertheless, within days institutions like Drexel University and  Rowan University worked tirelessly to develop new strategies that would not only keep them afloat but would help unify the educational community.  

“Between the financial impact of COVID, the demographic changes, the situation in terms of bringing international students here, and with so many constraints on the system … institutions are really going to have to step back and begin to rethink their model because the sector is not going to be spared continued disruption going forward,” John Fry, president of Drexel University, told DrexelNOW. “More than ever, partnerships — or joint ventures, or mergers, or whatever you want to call them — are the way to go. I think the sector is going to see an almost healthcare system-like response to what’s going on. Healthcare started on its own consolidation and rethinking its model decades ago and it’s obviously still in the middle of it. I think it’s time for higher ed to go through the same types of dynamic changes. I think you’re going to see fewer institutions. I think you’re going to see more networks of institutions. I think you’ll see more hybrid, more online. Hopefully we keep face to face, but that’s just part of what we do.

As Fry mentioned, in the years to come, almost the entirety of higher education’s traditional model could be shifted, not only the logistics concerning profitability but also the student’s overall learning experience. Despite implementations caused by COVID-19, it seems as if a new institutional network was inevitable. Even before the recent pandemic, consumers have been transitioning into the digital realm. Students and parents had started craving alternative options for higher education that involve more flexibility, innovative delivery models and seamless transitions between face to face lectures and online learning. 

Universities are starting to require students to download applications like the DUO, a two-factor authentication system, that helps with the onboarding process. The software works with third-party technology providers to verify a student’s identity. Biometric tools, commonly used by financial technology corporations, are also gaining popularity in this space. “New users will now be asked to take selfies before uploading them to the (UK fintech company) Curve platform alongside pictures of their driver’s license, passport or other official ID documents. FinTech will then use its partner’s biometric capabilities to compare the two images and verify potential customers’ identities,” according to PYMNTS, a B2B platform for the payments industry. 

During this period of evolution, sound insights and collaboration between the public and university leaders will be pivotal for the education sector’s success. To learn more about the future of education in South Jersey, register now for the Invest:South Jersey 2020 Virtual Launch Conference. The conference takes place on Oct. 8 at 11:30 a.m. The virtual conference will feature two robust panels, including “Innovation and adaptation: What this could mean for education post-pandemic,” moderated by Marlene Asselta, president of Southern New Jersey Development Council, and featuring Frederick Keating, president of Rowan College of South Jersey, Monica Adya, president of Rutgers School of Business at Camden, and Barbara Gaba, president of Atlantic Cape Community College. 

To learn more, visit:

https://zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_z34pLBUwQlSCObV80dyE7w

Atlanta finishes fiscal year on top despite global pandemic

Atlanta finishes fiscal year on top despite global pandemic

By: Felipe Rivas 

2 min read September 2020—The pandemic has soured the business climate globally and through the United States for the better part of the year. However, in Georgia, consistently ranked as the top state to do business by different publications, though 2020 has been far from peaches and cream, the Peach State closed out the fiscal year with an increase in economic development projects and billions in new investments. In the midst of the pandemic, the state saw an increase in economic development projects and closed out fiscal year 2020 with a total of more than $7 billion in new investments made in the state, the governor’s office announced. 

During fiscal year 2020, ending June 30, economic development project locations increased compared to the year prior while the state reported a 30% increase in jobs created outside the metro Atlanta area. From July 2019 to June 30, 2020, and despite the global implications of COVID-19 during the second half of the fiscal year, the Georgia Department of Economic Development (GDEcD) supported the creation of more than 24,000 new jobs, generating more than $7.4 billion in total investment. The location of 350 projects constituted a 4% increase from fiscal year 2019, according to the governor’s office. 

“These numbers are proof that the fundamentals that have made Georgia a leading competitor for investment remain strong. Businesses far and wide understand that, and the result is more jobs for hardworking Georgians,” said Gov. Brian Kemp in a press release.

Since mid-March, when the governor’s executive stay-at-home order was in place, the whole business landscape changed. “But thanks to Georgia’s approach to business during COVID-19, we still saw 72 new projects, over 7,800 new jobs announced and $2 billion in investments to date,” GDEcD Commissioner Pat Wilson told Focus: Atlanta. Many companies recognized both the challenges and need for long-term plans for the post-pandemic future, providing an opportunity to automate and change business lines, Wilson said. “Some of our companies that were planning toward the 2021 horizon to invest in automation and upgrade facilities are doing so now,” he said. 

Industries that experienced significant growth in both jobs and investment during fiscal year 2020 include the manufacturing, logistics, software development and tech industries, according to the governor’s office.  “The tech sector has been one of the real hot points for job growth in the last few months,” Wilson told Focus: Atlanta “As COVID-19 deeply transforms the retail industry, tech jobs are booming as a result of the bustling e-commerce activity.” GDEcD is keen on supporting workforce development efforts and the talent pipeline needed to fill the jobs coming to the Peach State. “We continue to focus on ensuring we can provide the workforce to supply those jobs and keep them going. We are only as good as the long-term workforce in the pipeline for these companies,” Wilson said. The department’s strategic partnerships with Georgia’s robust trades and higher education system have been instrumental in the success of its economic development efforts. “There is a strong focus on growing jobs, especially the new jobs of the future, and making sure the graduating workforce is anchored in the latter,” Wilson said. 

Balancing recovery efforts while keeping momentum in the growing sectors of the economy are among the main priorities as Georgia enters its new fiscal year. “For the upcoming phase of recovery, we intend to keep a close eye on our strategic and growing industries to continue their momentum,” Wison said. “Parallel to cybersecurity, fintech and e-commerce, food processing is going to be a renewed strategy for companies, bringing it closer to their supply chain. Georgia’s massive agricultural base recognizes a sizable opportunity within that niche.” Supply chain disruptions as a result of the pandemic can potentially create economic development opportunities in the state. “We are also monitoring companies looking to pull their supply chain back into the United States. We continue to see ripple effects from overseas shutdowns and how they impact companies involved in real-time supply chains. A company that has to shut down because it does not have enough inventory of critical components impacts local production. A number of companies are thinking about diversifying their supply chain and we are focused on working with Georgia companies that experience these problems, assisting them by recruiting their suppliers into the state,” Wilson said. 

To learn more about our interviewees, visit: https://gov.georgia.gov/

Financial recovery for businesses and individuals in Charlotte

Financial recovery for businesses and individuals in Charlotte

By: Felipe Rivas

2 min read August 2020 As the summer wanes, Queen City businesses and residents face major challenges related to personal finances and overall financial recovery. With back-to-school season and the November elections looming, uncertainty in an already volatile economic cycle will remain a constant for the rest of the year. 

The Paycheck Protection Program, or PPP loans, has been a major support for local businesses. Data released by the Small Business Administration show that almost 19,000 Charlotte businesses tapped into these resources, the Charlotte Observer reported in July. As a major banking hub, Charlotte’s banking sector plays an important role in the Queen City’s financial recovery. With major institutions such as Truist, Wells Fargo and Fifth Third Bank calling Charlotte home, or having a considerable presence in the region, Charlotte is poised to weather the pandemic-related economic challenges, much like it did during the Great Recession. 

Currently, Charlotte remains in the Safer At Home Phase 2, as Gov. Roy Cooper extended the phase another five weeks in an effort to decrease COVID-19 numbers as students and staff prepare for back-to-school season. Mecklenburg County had reported more than 22,000 cases and 226 deaths as of the beginning of August, according to the Johns Hopkins University Covid-19 Status Report. “Other states that lifted restrictions quickly have had to go backward as their hospital capacity ran dangerously low and their cases jumped higher. We will not make that mistake in North Carolina,” Cooper said in a press release. “In keeping with our dimmer switch approach with schools opening, and in order to push for decreasing numbers, which will keep people healthier and boost our economy, North Carolina will remain paused in Safer At Home Phase 2 for 5 weeks.”

Balancing health and safety with goals for opening the economy has proved to be a precarious task for state and municipal governments across the country. While businesses have measures such as PPP loans, embattled residents laid off by the impact of the pandemic have to rely on local and national governments to help make ends meet. Gov. Cooper has been vocal about urging the national government to extend unemployment benefits as the talks for more stimulus packages continue. “The additional $600 a week unemployed workers have received from the Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation program has been a lifeline for struggling families and communities over these past few months,” Cooper said in a press release. “But unless the federal government acts quickly, these benefits will expire and many people will be without money they need to pay bills and provide for their families. I am urging Congress to do the right thing for the health of our families and the health of our economy by extending this critical program.” 

In an effort to help North Carolinians find employment in this current economic cycle, the governor’s office created NCcareers.org, an integrated career information system that offers residents ways to explore careers and job opportunities during the pandemic. “North Carolinians need resources to navigate the quickly changing job market,” Cooper said in a press release. “The new NCcareers.org helps people research the education and training options that lead them to find good, high-paying jobs available right now across our state.”

During these uncertain times, sound insights and collaboration between the public and private sectors will be pivotal in ensuring financial recovery for both businesses and residents. To learn more about financial recovery in Charlotte, register now for the Invest:Charlotte 2020 Virtual Launch Conference. The conference takes place on Sept. 10 at 11:30 a.m. The virtual conference will feature two robust panels, including “Financial recovery for businesses and individuals in the wake of a pandemic,” moderated by Stuart Goldstein, managing partner Charlotte Office, Cadwalader, Wickersham & Taft LLP and featuring Truist Metrolina Regional Charlotte President Heath Campbell, Fifth Third Bank  Mid-Atlantic President Lee Fite and Wells Fargo Managing Director and Senior Economist Mark Vitner.

 

To learn more, visit:

https://governor.nc.gov/news/students-return-school-north-carolina-remain-paused-phase-2

https://governor.nc.gov/news/north-carolina-introduces-new-nccareersorg

 

Financial recovery for businesses and individuals in Charlotte

City of Atlanta helps small businesses rise again

By: Felipe Rivas

2 min read August 2020—True to its motto, the city of Atlanta looks to rise again by launching a new program to help small businesses recover from pandemic-related challenges. Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms announced the launch of the Resurgence Grant Fund, which is set to begin accepting applications next week. The Resurgence Grant Fund is slated to help qualifying businesses keep their operations open and cover pandemic-related expenses via grants of various amounts. 

“The City of Atlanta’s motto is Resurgens- Latin for ‘rising again.’ Resurgens is more than an emblem, it is part of the One Atlanta way, coming together as one community to support each other in times of need,” Bottoms said in a press release. “As COVID-19 continues to challenge Atlanta’s small businesses and the communities that depend on them, the Resurgence program will provide funds to help businesses operate safely and protect their employees as our city recovers together.”

Atlanta business owners wishing to take advantage of the Resurgence Program can apply for up to $40,000 to reimburse the costs of business interruptions as a result of shelter-in-place measures and pandemic-related closures. Business owners can use the grants to buy personal protective equipment, cleaning supplies and other health measures to protect their employees and customers. Through the funds, businesses will have access to up to $10,000 of no-cost technical assistance services, such as legal resources and workforce development, as they pivot their business practices to adapt to a more socially-distanced, digital and touch-free environment, the mayor’s office said in a press release. 

Eligible businesses must meet the following criteria: 

  • Operates an active for-profit enterprise in the City of Atlanta;
  • Holds a 2020 city of Atlanta business license;
  • Continuously in business and operating since March 1, 2019;
  • Had fewer than 250 employees as of March 1, 2020; and
  • Documented business interruption as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic and related emergency declarations, resulting in financial loss.

Economic development authority Invest Atlanta will handle the application process. The application window will be open from Aug. 10 to Aug. 31. “We are listening to the needs of the business community and continue to deploy resources to help them through the impacts of COVID-19,” said Eloise Klementich, president and CEO of Invest Atlanta, in a press release. “Economic prosperity and competitiveness in Atlanta start with equity, and Atlanta’s recovery from the pandemic must be an equitable recovery. These new grant programs will help achieve this by ensuring more Atlanta small business owners have access to funds to adapt their business and operate safely.”

The Resurgence Grant Fund is made possible by the $88-million federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act) funding to the city of Atlanta, of which $22 million was allocated to support small businesses and independent professionals impacted by the pandemic, the mayor’s office said in press release. 

Interest business owners can attend a citywide Resurgence Grant Fund webinar on Wednesday, Aug. 12, hosted by Invest Atlanta. 

 

To learn more, visit:

https://www.atlantaga.gov/

ttps://www.investatlanta.com/resurgence-grant-fund

Georgia’s business reputation stays strong in midst of pandemic

Georgia’s business reputation stays strong in midst of pandemic

By: Felipe Rivas

2 min read July 2020 — The Peach State’s methodical investments in economic development, workforce training, support for small businesses, and overall pro-business environment continue to pay dividends for the region, even in the midst of a global pandemic.

 

Georgia was once again celebrated as a leader in economic development in June by Area Development Magazine, which awarded the state its 12th Silver Shovel Award. This distinction, Georgia’s 11th consecutive award, celebrates the region’s excellence in economic activity, job creation and investment attraction. Besides this latest recognition, the region also saw significant technology-based business expansion in June, while its film industry readies to meet pent-up studio demand, which is set to employ some 40,000 people — a significant boon to the local economy afflicted by coronavirus-related challenges. 

“It’s an honor to accept this award on behalf of all of the hardworking Georgians who consistently create opportunities in their communities,” Gov. Brian Kemp said of the 12th Silver Shovel Award, according to a press release. “For 11 years in a row, Georgia has earned this recognition thanks to our pro-business environment, unmatched workforce, world-renowned logistics, and long-standing commitment to attracting jobs to every corner of the state. I want to thank our state’s economic development team and our local partners for their tireless work to promote prosperity throughout the Peach State.”

While compounded economic activity prior to the coronavirus slowdown may have significantly maintained the state’s pro-business reputation, recent June business expansion announcements continue to highlight the strong economic fundamentals found in the Peach State. 

Three technology-based companies announced investments and job creation plans in different Georgia communities. Milletech Systems Inc., SK Innovation, and Perspecta, companies that span the gamut of technology services from software solutions to advanced manufacturing to cybersecurity, are set to bring more than 1,200 jobs to the region while providing millions of dollars in investments. These announcements are testaments to Georgia’s “top-notch college and university system and training programs,” Kemp said. “I am confident that Milletech will be pleased with their decision to expand and invest in Georgia along with the skilled talent we have right here in the Peach State.” Kemp had similar sentiments when speaking of the other recent technology company expansions.

To go along with editorial recognition and recent business expansions, the Peach State’s film sector officially opened for business following months-long coronavirus-related shutdowns. Major motion picture, television, and streaming companies are gearing up to hire approximately 40,000 production workers, the governor’s office announced in June. The announcement follows revised safety protocols provided by the Georgia Film Office, which complements further safety guidelines published by the Industry-Wide Labor-Management Safety Committee Task Force, aimed at ensuring a safe workplace environment and reducing the spread of the virus. 

An expected 75 productions are set to resume filming. They are projected to inject over $2 billion into the Georgia economy during the next 18 months, helping more than 17,000 small businesses in the process. “The entertainment production industry is coming back and ready to jumpstart the Georgia economy by creating jobs and generating greatly needed investment and spending in communities across the Peach State,” said Gov. Kemp, according to a press release.

“Georgia is open for business, and we look forward to an even stronger relationship with the film industry moving forward,” said Georgia Department of Economic Development Commissioner Pat Wilson. In 2019, 391 film and television productions filmed in Georgia, supported by 3,040 motion picture and television industry businesses. “Thanks to the historic best practices guide, Georgia is able to safely send the tens of thousands of film and TV industry employees back to work and restart production. The economic impact of film touches local communities and small businesses across Georgia. We look forward to resuming the hundreds of productions across the state and to keeping Georgia as the nation’s film and TV capital,” Wilson said.

To learn more, visit: https://gov.georgia.gov

 

 

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.

 

Florida’s phase 2 reopening and what it means for South Florida

Florida’s phase 2 reopening and what it means for South Florida

By: Beatrice Silva 

2 min read June 2020 On June 3, Gov. Ron DeSantis announced his plans to transition the majority of the state into the second phase of its recovery plan. However, the three southeast counties hit hardest by COVID-19 — Miami-Dade, Broward, and Palm Beach — will not be included in the reopening. 

 

 “We’ll work with the three southeast Florida counties to see how they’re developing and whether they want to move into phase 2,” DeSantis said during a news conference in Orlando on June 3. “They’re on a little bit of a different schedule.”

 

Gov. DeSantis will allow the three southeast counties to enter phase 2 under certain circumstances. The county mayors or county administrators will have to seek approval to enter phase 2 with a written request. Palm Beach County Mayor Dave Kerner and County Administrator Verdenia Baker wasted no time sending their request letter to DeSantis. 

 

“Palm Beach County is ready to go into ‘phase 2,” said Kerner at a news conference on Friday afternoon. “But we want to do it with some particular carve-outs that are necessary for the unique nature of Palm Beach County.” The county’s public officials are waiting for approval from Gov. DeSantis. 

 

As for Miami-Dade, their previous reopening date was pushed back by protests against police brutality. Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez lifted the countywide curfew on June 8, and approved the reopening of gyms and fitness centers under Amendment 2 to Miami-Dade County Emergency Order 23-20. Although the city isn’t officially included in the initial phase 2 reopening date, Gimenez says he is working with the state on reopening locations very soon. 

 

Upon approval, restaurants may allow bar-top seating with appropriate social distancing. Bars will be able to operate at a 50 percent capacity inside and full capacity outside. Retail stores are going to be allowed to operate at full capacity and entertainment venues like movie theaters and bowling alleys will be able to welcome back guests at a 50 percent capacity. Residents who do decide to venture out will still have to follow CDC guidelines like wearing a mask, social distancing, and frequently washing their hands.

 

Although the north and south regions of Florida are on different opening schedules. State universities will have to submit their blueprints by Friday. The State University System of  Board of Governors recommends things like social distancing, disinfecting, face masks and student’s desks being as far away from one another as possible. School districts on the other hand, will be given the final say on their own social distancing protocols. It is expected that students will have a much different learning experience upon returning to the classroom. 

 

“We have a great opportunity to get back on good footing,” DeSantis said. “I know our kids have been in difficult circumstances. … Getting back to the school year is going to be really, really important to the well-being of our kids.”

 

Broward County school districts are in the process of surveying parents to gauge what they would like their child’s school to look like this coming fall. “We will have schools open. We will have teachers in schools. We will have students in schools … including hybrid models that some parents are rightfully demanding,” said Alberto Carvalho, superintendent of Miami-Dade County Public School, at Wednesday’s school board committee meeting. 

 

Within the past four months, there have been 70,971 confirmed COVID-19 cases and 2,877 related deaths in Florida, according to the Florida Health. 

 

For more information visit: 

 

https://floridahealthcovid19.gov/#latest-stats/

 

https://www.miamiherald.com/news/local/education/article243464791.html

 

https://miami.cbslocal.com/2020/06/11/governor-ron-desantis-plans-reopening-schools-fall/

 

https://www.abcactionnews.com/news/state/florida-state-universities-must-submit-fall-reopening-plans-by-friday

 

 

Technology professionals curious about Gwinnett’s Peachtree Corners

Technology professionals curious about Gwinnett’s Peachtree Corners

By: Felipe Rivas

2 min read June 2020 — Techies, entrepreneurs and business owners throughout the Peach State and beyond are curious to explore the possibilities found in Gwinnett County’s newest and largest city. Officially incorporated in 2012, the city of Peachtree Corners and it’s Curiosity Lab, a publicly funded economic development initiative, is drawing the attention of tech-related professionals looking to test their ideas and projects at the lab’s 1.5 mile autonomous vehicle testing track and 25,000-square-foot innovation center.  

 

 

Peachtree Corners, which boasts a growing population of more than 43,000 residents, is quickly reaping the fruits of its calculated investments in the tech sector, while simultaneously testing and perfecting the future of smart city technologies.

In May, the city announced the launch of a fleet of the world’s first tele-operated e-scooters to operate on public streets. Technology companies Tortoise and Go X came to Curiosity Lab to perfect their vision of offering an e-scooter that could, through the use of Tortoise’s remote tele-operators, respond to a customer’s call to action, or reposition itself to a parking spot. Peachtree Corners has been working with the two tech companies to revolutionize city e-scooter mobility, while solving complications related to finding an e-scooter and their return to home base for appropriate overnight parking and charging. In other words, no more e-scooters left haphazardly in the middle of a sidewalk because they’ll park themselves. 

The e-scooters will operate in the city’s Technology Park Atlanta, a 500-acre technology park with more than 7,000 employees that is also home to Curiosity Lab. The tele-operated e-scooters will be available for use by the general public. The e-scooters’ initial pilot will run for six months and marks the first time that tele-operated e-scooters are deployed on public streets.

“We are excited to showcase this innovative technology,” Mayor Mike Mason said, according to a city press release. “It’s another opportunity for the city to look beyond traditional transportation and seek innovative ways to improve mobility. We invite our citizens and the business community to see and experience this new technology.” 

Tortoise and Go X’s e-scooters are the latest vehicles to roll through Curiosity Lab’s autonomous vehicle testing track. Last fall, Olli, the self-driving shuttle designed and built by Local Motors, began operating along the city’s 1.5-mile testing track, which offers companies a facility to test emerging technologies in a real-world environment. 

“An important goal for us was to ensure that residents can enjoy the convenience of using e-scooters, right here in Peachtree Corners,” said City Manager Brian Johnson, according to a city press release. “As a reflection of our commitment to making cities smarter, we didn’t hesitate to partner with Tortoise to launch the first-ever fleet of self-driving e-scooters for public use. We are extremely pleased to be a partner in this innovative and world-changing technology.” 

In March, Curiosity Lab’s autonomous vehicle testing track and smart city laboratory won the transportation category in the third annual IDC Smart Cities North America Awards (SCNAA) for its connected and autonomous vehicles project. “Curiosity Lab is a unique economic development investment that helps advance new technologies and grow the employment base of the city,” said Curiosity Lab’s Executive Director Betsy Plattenburg, according to a city press release. “We have had interest in testing from both startups and Fortune 500 companies,” she said.

To learn more, visit:

https://www.curiositylabptc.com/

https://www.peachtreecornersga.gov/home/showdocument?id=7916

https://www.peachtreecornersga.gov/home/showdocument?id=8318

 

 

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