Face Off: Bringing More Energy to the Bay

Face Off: Bringing More Energy to the Bay

By: Max Crampton Thomas

4 min read February 2020 As the Tampa Bay region continues to grow both in population size and new developments, the need for access to more energy and cleaner energy solutions grows with it. Invest: spoke with the leaders of two of the main sources of energy for the region and their innovative approach to creating cleaner energy solutions. T.J. Szelistowski serves as the president for Peoples Gas, which has provided Florida residents and businesses with reliable, environmentally-friendly, economical natural gas products and service since 1895. Nancy Tower leads Tampa Electric as its president and CEO. The utility has served the Tampa Bay area for 120 years, with more than 5,000MW of generating capacity. 

How is your company innovating in terms of technology?

T.J. Szelistowski: The last time we spoke, we discussed implementing gas-fired heat pumps that use natural gas instead of electricity for air conditioning. We are working with several customers on installations of this technology.  Additionally, we have installed the technology in three of our facilities and have been pleased with the performance.  

In terms of other technologies, we are targeting farming and waste facilities that release methane into the air. Our environmental solution is to capture that methane and clean it up to reinject it into the system. This not only provides a cleaner form of natural gas but also reduces methane emissions. We look forward to announcing some significant projects with this technology in the near future.

Nancy Tower: We believe battery storage is a part of our energy future. The technology is new, and we’re not ready to deploy that on a large scale until we figure out the true impact it will have on our system. We have put in place a battery storage project this year near our Big Bend solar project, which will give us really good information on how solar and battery storage interacts with our system. We’re really looking at how we can integrate battery storage into the complexity of the renewable energy ecosystem.

In other technologies, we are also in the middle of a large-scale installation of smart meters, which provide a lot more information and allow us to provide customers with superior service. 

T.J. Szelistowski

Why has investment in cleaner, more renewable energy and environmental sustainability been such a focus for your company?

Szelistowski: Natural gas is the perfect partner to renewable solar energy to provide capacity when the sun is not shining and to ensure energy is available to customers around the clock. Additionally, natural gas can provide great environmental benefits by replacing diesel fuel usage in large vehicles, such as buses and waste-management trucks.   

 A variety of ships are starting to convert to natural gas because of changing environmental regulations, specifically IMO 2020, which slashes permissible levels of sulfur permitted in fuel for seaborne vessels to minimal levels and opens the door for liquefied natural gas (LNG) as an alternative.

Tower: The biggest factor is that customers want it. When thinking back over the last few years, the number of people focused on a cleaner environment has increased exponentially. This is symbolic of the focus citizens and our customers have on environmental stewardship, and that is not going away. We are very happy with our progress.

I think it’s our obligation on behalf of customers to demonstrate that clean energy is not only our responsibility in terms of an environmental perspective, but also from a cost perspective. We are focused on both of those things simultaneously. As the entity generating electricity, we have the responsibility of doing that in the most responsible way.

Nancy Tower

How would you respond to the argument that clean energy is not yet cost-effective or readily available?  

Szelistowski: Natural gas interstate transmission pipelines are relatively new to Florida compared with the Northeast, having been introduced only in the 1950s. In addition, natural gas is a primary source of space heating in many parts of the country. With limited space heating in Florida, natural gas is primarily used for cooking, water heating and clothes drying in addition to industrial uses. We see a great desire for natural gas by people who have moved from other parts of the country and have enjoyed using natural gas in the past.  

In terms of misconceptions, people do not realize the widespread availability of natural gas in Florida. Additionally, they may not realize the affordable nature of home and business use of natural gas. With low and steady gas prices, natural gas provides a great alternative to both business and homes.  

Tower: It is our job to ensure that our generation portfolio is the most cost-effective for customers. Over the long term, we have carried out extensive cost modeling to ensure we can meet these expectations. In the next number of years, we will add more solar capacity and our generation will include more small-scale methods combined with battery storage. This doesn’t come without hard work and we need to find the right ways to keep costs low. This involves finding the right land close to our transmission infrastructure, ensuring suppliers are providing competitive prices and efficient cost management. Costs have come down, but we need to ensure we tightly manage this.

To learn more about our interviewees, visit:

https://www.tampaelectric.com/

https://www.peoplesgas.com/

Miami’s Top 5 Fantastic Food Festivities

Miami’s Top 5 Fantastic Food Festivities

By: Max Crampton Thomas

4 min read February 2020 This weekend on Miami Beach there are guaranteed to be three things – food, wine and good times. While this is the recipe for most memorable times had in one of Miami’s top tourist destinations, this weekend in particular is heightened by the annual The Food Network & Cooking Channel South Beach Wine & Food Festival. In most markets, a festival like this would be an outlier as the premier food and beverage event for that year, but Miami is not most markets. The fact is, Miami-Dade is home to an onslaught of premier food and beverage festivities that would make any culinary connoisseur’s mouth water. Invest: explores five of the top foodie festivities in the Miami-Dade region. 

South Beach Seafood Festival  

To be considered a Top 5 Speciality Festival by USAToday, listed by Forbes as a Top 5 thing to do in fall and recognized by Travel Channel as the best seafood festival in the United States is no small accomplishment. This four-day festival features three nights of culinary events that lead up to the ultimate seafood festival experience. These preliminary events include an exclusive VIP experience, An Evening at Joe’s, brought to life by food from the historic Joe’s Stone Crab, a cocktail hour-type event called Crabs, Slabs and Cabs featuring Surf N Turf favorites paired with various cabernets, and finally the VIP Chef Showdown, which showcases 14 of the best local chefs cooking up their greatest culinary creations. All of these lead into the big event on the fourth day that spans over four blocks of Miami Beach, features 30 bars, music, culinary demonstrations and enough delicious seafood to please the over 15,000 attendees. This event takes place from Oct. 21-24, 2020. 

For more, visit: https://sobeseafoodfest.com/

 

 

Seed Food & Wine Week 

Plant-based diets may not be for everyone, but this four-day event features culinary dishes and experiences that could make even the most devout carnivores consider incorporating more meat-alternatives into their meal plan. Spanning the course of four days, this event touts itself as more of an experience than just a festival as it features a plant-based burger battle, a plant-based pitch off, taco tailgate party, rise and shine yoga experience and meditation, and finally the big event: Seed Festival Day Tasting Village. This vegan-inspired week is also unique in that its events are not centralized and take place in various spots around Miami-Dade, including Wynwood and Downtown Miami. The event runs from Nov. 7-10. 

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

Doral Food & Wine Festival 

This food and wine festival is going on its fourth year, and while the event has grown significantly since its inception in 2016, this year promises to be bigger, better and even tastier. Over the course of two days, families are encouraged to come out to Doral Central Park and experience live entertainment and live cooking demonstrations. While wine may be in the title, the event is geared toward the entire family, with free entry for kids and an entire area, referred to as the Kids Zone, dedicated to fun activities and games for the little ones. Taking place over March 21 and 22, this year’s event looks to attract over 10,000 people. 

For more, visit: https://doralfoodandwinefestival.com/

South Florida’s Taste of the Nation

This culinary adventure is a one-night experience that is not only delicious and fun, it also supports a great cause. Described as an elegant evening with some of South Florida’s greatest chefs and mixologists, Taste of the Nation offers guests a chance to try food and drinks from over 50 different South-Florida based restaurants and bars. While normally the best parts of these events are the food and drink, it is actually the impact of dollars collected from the night that is most significant as 100% of local proceeds support the No Kid Hungry campaign’s work to bring an end to childhood hunger in Florida. The event takes place the night of May 16, 2020. 

For more information, visit: https://events.nokidhungry.org/events/south-floridas-taste-nation/

The Food Network & Cooking Channel South Beach Wine & Food Festival (SOBEWFF) 

SOBEWFF is a five-day gathering of “who’s who” in the culinary world, over 100 different festival events and over 65,000 people in total attendance. This world-renowned festival has an event for everyone, from the casual food and wine fan to the highest class of food critic. While many of these events could be considered the “big event,” perhaps most well-known is the Goya Foods’ Grand Tasting Village showcasing offerings from more than 50 restaurants and a variety of wines and spirits as well as a closing cooking demonstration by well-known celebrity chef Guy Fieri. The festival is in full swing Feb.19-23. 

To learn more, visit: https://sobewff.org/

Spotlight On: Catherine Stempien, President, Duke Energy Florida

Spotlight On: Catherine Stempien, President, Duke Energy Florida

By: Max Crampton-Thomas

2 min read February 2020 — Duke Energy Florida is not just increasing the amount of renewable power it is offering customers, with several solar plants coming online, it is also looking to harden its grid to protect it from increasingly harsh storms in the southern United States, as well as in cutting-edge “self healing” technology to reduce the impact of outages, according to Catherine Stempien, the company’s president.

 

 

 What advances have been made regarding the company’s clean energy projects in the region?

 

We are still in the process of building 700 megawatts of solar in our system and that will be completed by 2022. We are making significant progress on that. We are either operating or in the construction phase for about half of those megawatts. We brought two new solar plants online in December, at Lake Placid and Trenton, and we have two being completed in the first half of this year in Fort White and DeBary, with two others just announced in North Florida.

 

The other area where we have really made progress is in battery storage. We have said that we are going to build 50 megawatts worth of battery projects, and we have made announcements for three of these projects located in Trenton, Cape San Blas and Jennings. The battery charges when the sun is up and when the sun is down the battery discharges that energy. But batteries can do much more for our system. We have been testing a lot of cases for battery use, and the projects that we are going to be doing will help improve reliability for our customers, giving them more reliable power.

 

How is the company ensuring customers get the energy they need?

 

Our customers want power, and they want that power to stay on 24/7. We are midway through deploying our self-healing grid technology. About 50% of Pinellas County is covered by this technology now. If you think about the electric grid as a highway system, when you have a traffic jam somewhere in that system you want Waze or Google Maps to redirect you around that traffic jam. The grid works the same way: if we have an outage, or a tree falls down on a line, you want to be able to redirect the power around that problem to make sure that people get their energy. This technology does that automatically. We have sensors and communications devices all over our grid that automatically reroute the power and minimizes the problem, reducing the number of customers impacted. People might see a one-minute outage and then it will go back up again. In 2019, 150,000 outages did not happen because our system was able to reroute power, and that prevented 10 million minutes of customer interruptions. 

 

Why is Duke Energy pushing forward with sustainable power solutions?

 

Duke Energy Corp, of which we are a part, decided it was going to push itself and target climate goals that we are going to hold ourselves to. By 2030, we want to reduce our carbon footprint by 50% from 2005, and by 2050 we want to be at net zero. Duke Energy Florida is going to be an important part of the enterprise goal. We have a line of sight on how we are going to meet the 2030 goal, but we don’t have an exact line of sight into how we are going to do it by 2050. We need certain technologies to advance faster, and we need the regulators to come along with us. We believe you have to set yourself aspirational goals.

 

How much should companies involve themselves in sustainability efforts?

 

Over the last number of years, we have seen an increase in the intensity and the characteristics of storms hitting the United States. Florida is at a higher risk of getting hit by those storms. We believe we need to plan for storm events. In 2018, two major storms hit our service territory, one in Florida and one in North Carolina. Hurricane Michael was a Category 5 storm that devastated the areas it hit. We had to completely rebuild the distribution system and 34 miles of transmission lines. But it left pretty quickly. 

 

Another storm, Hurricane Florence, hit the Carolinas. It was a water storm that stalled over the eastern part of North Carolina and dumped rain for days, causing extreme flooding, which makes it difficult to access substations and lines. It is hard to predict these kinds of events, so we are looking to constantly improve our response, making sure we have the right crews, with the right equipment, available to restore power.

 

The Florida legislature recognized these challenges and passed legislation in 2019 to encourage utilities to invest in hardening their grids for storms. It cleared the regulatory path for us to work on storm hardening, from making poles stronger, undergrounding certain parts of the grid, and replacing lattice towers with monopole towers. All of this work is part of a 10-year plan to harden our system so we are prepared.

 

To learn more about our interviewee, visit: 

https://www.duke-energy.com/home

 

 

The Peach State’s tourism industry is thriving

The Peach State’s tourism industry is thriving

By: Felipe Rivas

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

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

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

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

To learn more, visit:

Exploregeorgia.com

Spotlight On: Gray Shell, Division President, TRI Pointe Homes

Spotlight On: Gray Shell, Division President, TRI Pointe Homes

By: Felipe Rivas

2 min read January 2020 — Creative product design and an increase in density are part of achieving a higher relative affordability for housing developer TRI Pointe Homes, according to Division President Gray Shell. The company also takes pride in achieving good, lasting business relationships with partners and providers to keep prices fair in an increasingly tight market, he said in an interview with Invest: Charlotte. 

How have you been able to secure land in the tight North Carolina market?

 

It really starts with people, with hiring the right land acquisition team to identify and underwrite the deals. Company strategy follows. TRI Pointe is a $3 billion public company. We build in seven states, but really, real estate is a local business. We have this concept called the best of big and small, meaning, we are a big, public company, we have access to the public debt markets, we have nearly a billion in liquidity to invest, but we really see the land strategy, the product design, the consumer segmentation as a local business. We have the flexibility to be creative and current with our product design and to be design-forward. That really resonates well with land sellers, developers and municipalities when we talk about our creativity on the product side. That is probably the largest single factor in our success in addition to people. Then, there is the process. You have to have the right process of identifying, underwriting and contracting land.

 

How is creativity applied to property development?

 

We start with a property, for example something near Uptown Charlotte. Here, it is about small acreage and a lot of density, and we want to create good relative affordability. So, we know what the property is, but we need to design the site plan and the product to maximize the use of that land.

 

We go through a product design process in which we identify the consumer. For example, are they millennials and if so, are they married or single, what is the household income? We’ll go through a three- day design process considering the customer’s wants and needs and, from scratch, draw a series of plans. By the end of those three days, we’ll have a good set of working drawings, with exterior elevations and renderings so we really understand the product. Most national builders would do that in nine months; we do it in a week.

 

What has been the impact of the millennial generation on the local market?

 

They do represent the single largest consumer group from a home buying perspective. But even if some people see millennials as one large group, there are really four or five different subsets, related to age, stage of life and income. The one thing all of them do want is relative affordability. It depends on whether they want an in-town, four-story product or a more suburban, traditional, residential two-story product, but you really have to decide what subsegment of that generation you are targeting.

 

The sort of amenities that we add to these developments has changed dramatically over the last five to 10 years. A lot of residential projects that were built 10 years ago had a big swimming pool, a large clubhouse, a golf course, but that has really transitioned and I can tell you, the No. 1 amenity today is walkability. Whether a community has a trail system, walkability to retail, entertainment and restaurants, that is the No. 1 amenity. When we get to suburban communities, there is still that want and need for younger families to have a swimming pool, but the scale is usually smaller.

 

How are you navigating the increase in construction costs in the area as you develop these communities?

 

It really starts with relationships. We partner with trade partners on the product design, on the value engineering, and they want to grow their business with ours. With that relationship, you might not get the best price, but you get a fair price and you get more advance notice of cost increases because you are partnering on it. It is also a tight labor market, the labor pool is short, but when you build a business relationship where they’d rather work for you, that is how you get the labor, and again, a fair price.

 

What other challenges for developers are arising in the Charlotte market?

 

Land availability has always been an issue. There is also the complexity regarding zoning, entitlements, and permit fees that continue to escalate so the cost of development becomes more expensive and affects affordability from a consumer standpoint. Those are the biggest problems. Every municipality is a little bit different and we have a dozen in the Charlotte market, so you have to really understand the municipality and partner with it to get the best result.

 

How can developers and local governments help to cover the affordable housing gap in the market?

 

I think that it requires flexibility from a product design standpoint, and creating good relative affordability. You get there by creating smaller, denser products, but it pushes yields up too. Some municipalities don’t like density, but I think getting more creative with density is the best approach over the next three to five years.

 

To learn more about our interviewee, visit: https://www.tripointehomes.com/

 

We’re making our mark on the industry by offering a strong benefits programs and great opportunities to build careers, a total rewards program to attract and retain the best talent: the unusual combination of offering both industry-leading 401(k) matches and a pension plan to most teammates; industry-leading time off programs to ensure maximum flexibility in planning life events; and financial wellness programs.

 

There is also a place for those interested in computer science and engineering. We are creating an Innovation and Technology Center in Charlotte that will be dedicated to the ongoing enrichment of client experiences. The Innovation and Technology Center will focus on optimizing technology to serve our clients at every interaction, whether it takes place in a branch, over the phone or through a digital channel. The Technology and Innovation Center will also focus on equipping teammates with solutions to deliver personal touch and care to clients. We see this combination of technology and personalization as vital to ensuring clients’ trust and confidence in the security, simplicity and convenience of our services.

 

To learn more about our interviewee, visit :https://www.truist.com/

Face Off: The growth of Gaston County

Face Off: The growth of Gaston County

By: Felipe Rivas

2 min read January 2020 — In the last few years, Gaston County, located an hour away from the Queen City, has greatly benefited from the activity happening in Mecklenburg County. As a result, Gaston County, home to cities like Gastonia and Mount Holly, is experiencing growth in its residential, commercial and industrial sectors. Its proximity to the Charlotte Douglas International Airport and available land make it a suitable place for businesses and new residents to settle in and still tap into the energy of nearby Charlotte. In an interview with Invest: Charlotte, city of Gastonia Mayor Walker E. Reid and Mount Holly Mayor Bryan Hough talk about how their perspective cities are adapting to the growth, changes in infrastructure, and their vision for their cities moving forward. 

 

What areas are witnessing growth in your cities?

 

Walker E. Reid: Residential is growing in the southeast part of the city. It is an area we invested in a while back in hopes of developing it. As we speak, 411 single-family homes are being built within Nolen Farm. Also, we are going to bolster the zone’s water infrastructure and improve the sewage system. Eastridge Mall is in the process of being revitalized as well. For this project, some investors are willing to inject between $100 million and $150 million. It will include apartments and an aquatic center. We are working on the details of traffic patterns in and out of the mall. We are also working with the Transportation Commission to get the Silverline light rail into Gaston County.

 

Bryan Hough: We are one of the closest cities to the Charlotte Douglas International Airport. Our proximity to the airport provides an opportunity for travelers and professionals to see Mount Holly and take an interest in the city. They’ll see that we have a small town atmosphere but can take advantage of a large place like Charlotte and the amenities they provide. The exposure the airport provides is good for job growth and opportunities for commercial growth. For 2020, we expect to see more investment coming to Mount Holly. We are going to see additional growth in both residential and commercial. We also plan to expand the greenway system. Our arts community has been blossoming and we expect it to continue to grow. 

Walker E. Reid

How is the local infrastructure dealing with the region’s growth?

 

Reid: The county was traditionally and primarily focused on the textile industry. When those businesses and jobs were lost, we had to adapt to find our next business niche, which turned out to be infrastructure. Now, we sell water to municipalities in Gaston County as well as in Clover, South Carolina. We also provide water, sewage and electricity services. The Gastonia Technology Park is a great testament to our diversification efforts. Businesses from all over the world have come to Gaston County to capitalize on this park. It has 24-hour uninterrupted power. We have a qualified workforce, training facilities and the infrastructure to assist new businesses looking to set up shop in Gastonia.

 

Hough: “Mount Holly, located in Gaston County, is home to 16,000 residents. In the past year, we have seen a lot of investor interest and development in Mount Holly. Investors in the manufacturing and distribution sectors are interested in development opportunities. We have a new hotel being built on the edge of our city, off of Interstate 85, which is connected to Charlotte, and is 10 minutes away from the Charlotte Douglas International Airport. Our economic development department created a strategic vision plan based on significant economic input that highlights the attributes of Mount Holly, and provides investment information for businesses that want to bring their operations to the area. We work with the Gaston County Economic Development Commission to attract and retain large commercial companies. We want to make investment information accessible to investors.  

Bryan Hough

As mayor, where do you see your city heading in the future?

 

Reid: We have set some very aggressive goals related to our infrastructure, healthy communities, good government, economic vitality, our community identity, and for the safety of our community. In the coming years, we will continue to build on our momentum of growth and entrepreneurship. We also must continue to bring everyone to the table because we are a diverse city. One other goal that I would like to see the city work toward is for more diversity and inclusion. I want to put more emphasis on getting our residents from different cultures and different age groups involved in our city’s future – to build a sense of belonging and bring everyone together. Let’s hear more and different voices. I want the city of Gastonia to become the best city we can possibly be. Considering we are between Charlotte and Atlanta, we have a lot to offer.

 

Hough: Quality of life has been a key focus for the city. We want to be connected to the Catawba River via a greenway system that we are developing. We will have around 9 miles of greenway development near the river and 200 acres have been preserved for eco-tourism, such as canoeing and kayaking. We will have a bridge near the Dutchman’s Creek greenway area that will help with development near the river. The greenway system will stretch from I-85 to Highway 16 once it is completed. Mount Holly is home to very active residents who like to swim, bike and kayak. We want to connect with nature, which is part of our logo. That is our niche in the Charlotte Metro Area.

To learn more about our interviewees, visit:

https://www.cityofgastonia.com/

https://www.mtholly.us/

Local leaders optimistic amid Charlotte’s latest jobs ranking

Local leaders optimistic amid Charlotte’s latest jobs ranking

By: Felipe Rivas

2 min read January 2020   — The Queen City closed out the decade as one of the hottest markets in the nation, especially in the southeast. Millennials, Fortune 500 companies, and even a new soccer team want to be fully established in Charlotte and tap into its growth. And while the region offers a robust, tech- and financial services-savvy workforce, and is steadily diversifying its economy, a new report puts Charlotte in the middle of the pack for best cities for jobs in 2020. However, local market leaders across industries say job opportunities will remain sustainable for 2020, especially in the technology, law, and real estate sectors.

 

A new report by WalletHub puts Charlotte at No. 104 on its ranking of “2020’s Best Cities for Jobs.” The personal finance website compared more than 180 U.S. cities across 31 indicators of job-market strength, such as employment growth and monthly average starting salary. Scottsdale, Arizona, took the top spot, and Detroit, Michigan, came in last at No. 182. Other major North Carolina metros received mixed reviews, with Raleigh cracking the Top 50 at No. 48, and Fayetteville listed before Detroit at No. 181. Though the report listed Charlotte as middle of the pack for jobs compared to other cities, the technology, law and real estate sectors will continue to provide opportunities for the region’s workforce, local leaders say.  

 

Charlotte is quickly becoming a tech town, as evidenced by the different tech-based companies that relocated to the region in the latter half of the last decade. “In the Charlotte market, the technology talent pool is growing at a rapid pace, largely driven by companies like Red Ventures, LendingTree, and AvidXchange,” JLL Market Director Chase Monroe told Invest: Charlotte. “There has been a need for high-tech talent. Locally, there has been investment in the school system to drive technological education.” Charlotte’s banking legacy, coupled with the fintech that is coming out of the banking system, is also fueling the technology sector and driving talent to the Queen City, Monroe said. “Those factors have allowed Charlotte to be a top recruiter for multiple tech-based opportunities across industries. Recruiting and retention of talent has been a huge factor in the Charlotte Metro Area.” 

 

Similarly, the legal sector has evolved with the growth of the city and has a positive outlook heading into the new decade. “I don’t see anything but good things for the legal profession here,” Poyner Spruill Partner Tate Ogburn told Invest: Charlotte. “Charlotte has grown for the two decades that I have lived here, and I don’t see that dramatically changing.” The legal needs of companies evolve with the economic diversification and growth of the region, which creates opportunities for legal professionals, he said. “It is still a place where people want to be and there are more opportunities with new and more sophisticated companies coming in for the legal sector to continue growing. There are a lot of opportunities in terms of new clients and people, and different types of work as well,” Ogburn said. 

 

Real estate and development provide investor confidence and opportunities for the workforce as Charlotte continues to grow. “I’ve been at this for 40 years and the real estate market in Charlotte is the strongest, most robust I’ve ever seen,” Northwood CEO Ned Curran told Invest: Charlotte. He highlighted the growth of the residential, industrial and commercial sectors. “Residential leads the way. It has not slowed like in other cities. Distribution and manufacturing continue to grow, and we have a unique distribution hub of state highways and rail networks associated with the airport. The office sector has trailed a little, but in recent years it has been catching up, which is a reflection of job growth,” he said. Curran expects the growth to continue during an election year and beyond while expressing confidence in the region and its economic diversification, which will allow the region to be better prepared in the event of an economic downturn, he said. “We will continue to grow across all sectors. We continue to diversify our economy, which only gives us greater strength. When there is a downturn in the economy, not everybody suffers. Some have disadvantages, some have advantages, but we are all components of an economic system and with our great diversity, we will be able to weather it better.”

 

To learn more about our interviewees, visit: 

https://wallethub.com/edu/best-cities-for-jobs/2173/#methodology

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

https://www.poynerspruill.com/

https://www.northwoodoffice.com/

 

Miami Beach Welcomes Two New Hotel Developments to Usher in 2020

Miami Beach Welcomes Two New Hotel Developments to Usher in 2020

By: Sara Warden

2 min read January 2020 — Miami Beach’s hospitality industry entered 2020 with a bang, with two high-profile hotel openings. Both the Greystone development and the Hampton Inn at The Continental are refurbished versions of the Art Deco and Miami Modernist styles of the 1930s and 1940s, combined with a cool beachy chic that is synonymous with Miami Beach.

 

The Hampton Inn at the Continental was acquired by the Hampton by Hilton brand, which subsequently invested $25 million to give the hotel an overhaul to make it not only align with the brand but also to maintain the historic relevance of the building. 

“As renovation experts, we’re proud to present this completed project alongside Pebb Capital,” said Alan Waserstein, principal with LeaseFlorida, in a press release. “The historic component of this hotel, coupled with the Hampton by Hilton brand will make it a mainstay in Miami Beach’s hospitality scene.”

As well as the 100-room hotel, the development has embraced the multiuse concept that makes or breaks hotel chains. The ground floor will become the Piola restaurant, and future updates will incorporate a parking garage and retail space, according to the developers. 

This strategy has also been adopted by the Greystone Hotel in Miami Beach, which was opened for reservations this month. Conscious of the need to offer a more unique experience, the hotel is adult-only and eco-friendly, and offers a rooftop pool, mixology lounge and courtyard café. And although human babies may not be allowed, patrons should feel free to bring their furry four-legged babies (up to a maximum weight of 25lbs). 

There are 91 renovated guest rooms for most tastes and budgets with private decks and hot tubs (the Hot Tub Terrace Suites come in at over $600 per night). You can also interact with hotel facilities through your smartphone, including locking and unlocking the door, ordering room service and contacting the concierge through the hotel’s bespoke app. The Golden Gator basement speakeasy completes the lineup in a nod to the hotel’s 1930s roots. 

Vos Hospitality is the developer behind the $70 million renovation, which partnered with private investment group the B Group in 2018 to purchase the adjacent building on 20th Street, giving the development an impressive total 54,000-square-footprint.

“We will bring in an alternative to the area’s club scene,” said Vos hospitality owner James Vosotas to the Miami New Times. “We are catering to young-minded professionals with a nontraditional luxury of high-quality without the white glove. Everything has been upgraded cohesively so that locals and guests will have plenty to explore within the property.”

 

To learn more, visit:

https://www.greystonemiamibeach.com/

https://www.hilton.com/en/hotels/miacahx-hampton-miami-beach-mid-beach/

http://www.voshospitality.com/

https://leaseflorida.com/

 

Spotlight On: Anddrikk Frazier, President & CEO, Integral Energy

Spotlight On: Anddrikk Frazier, President & CEO, Integral Energy

By: Max Crampton-Thomas

3 min read January 2020 — A growing economy in the Tampa Bay region equates to growth mode for most local businesses. One of the most important aspects of keeping this growth consistent is reducing costs in a smart and consistent manner. This can be achieved through an emphasis on reducing energy consumption. Full-service energy management companies like Brandon-based Integral Energy have recognized the opportunities in the market and have found demand for their multiple services throughout the Tampa Bay region. Invest: spoke with the president and CEO of Integral Energy, Anddrikk Frazier, about his business, demand for services and much more. 

 

 How is Tampa Bay a strategic location for your business operations? 

My first job was in the energy sector in Tampa and watching the growth in the region over the course of my lifetime is impressive. What separates Tampa from other cities across Florida are features like ports, airports and the ability to connect to anywhere in the Florida within three hours. 

Where have you seen the most demand among the variety of services you offer? 

Integral Energy is a full-service energy management company. We provide natural gas marketing services for commercial customers throughout the state of Florida. We also provide solutions for transportation companies as it relates to alternative fuels. Thirdly, our energy management division helps large businesses that consume large quantities of energy to understand their operating costs on a per plate or per widget basis and then we find ways to reduce those operational costs. I think the biggest demand for service comes from energy management requests and natural gas marketing. Many of our customers do not understand how energy costs are passed on, simply because that is not where the priority lies for hotels, convention centers and other large businesses. We have the ability to reduce energy costs without reducing the quality of their product, which is a huge bonus for them. That has been our biggest growth opportunity. 

A lot of demand comes from the private sector, mainly because public procurement processes can be intensive. We do get enquiries from the public sector, but most of the time they are looking for the cheapest price. Our value is based on return on investment, which does not always translate well to public sector work. In the private sector, there is greater understanding of the concept that each dollar spent now is an investment in future CAPEX reductions. We have had a lot of success in working with companies such as Saddle Creek Transportation and Waste Connections because we are able to explain to them the true cost they are saving with our services. 

How have the needs of your clients evolved over the last three to five years? 

We are the only minority-owned natural gas marketing company in the state of Florida, and this is what started our relationship with Waste Connections. But as we began to evaluate their business, the largest overhead was their employees. We had to find ways to work with them to increase service while keeping rates the same. Over the course of the last four years, we have saved Waste Connections around $2.5 million. 

On a local and national level, what emerging or continuing trends could have an impact on your business? 

There is so much development in the Tampa area, and with new residents come new commercial activity, which is part of our core business. As long as the economy is growing at this pace, we will have the opportunity to provide our services. Regulation is a big indicator for us, and one thing we are monitoring closely is the recent push for carbon footprint reduction. We all have to be mindful of environmental impact and, primarily in the private sector, the main goal is to save money. If we can provide ways to do this while also reducing their carbon footprint, these are the best business models for all parties. 

It is vital for everyone to work toward clean energy solutions. We take pride in being subject-matter experts and understanding what our customers need. CNG and liquid natural gas (LNG), while more environmentally friendly than traditional petroleum options, may not be suitable for all modes of transportation. There is room for electric and hydrogen technologies too, so we need to understand which technologies pair better with which fuel source and the impact that has on the environment. 

How is new technology impacting how companies develop and administer environmental energy solutions? 

The smaller the company, the lesser the disruption. Take a huge company that has made large investments in a particular technology. It takes a lot of momentum to make that company change course. Small businesses are nimbler and have the flexibility to try things out on a smaller scale before launching. On the metering side, we have AMR-AMI, which allows meter readings to be sent out electronically, meaning customers can understand energy usage on a daily or even hourly basis. There will only be greater focus placed on data collection and analysis going forward. 

 

To learn more about our interviewee, visit: 

http://www.integralenergyus.com/