Maintaining unity and creating value through virtual meetings

Maintaining unity and creating value through virtual meetings

By: Felipe Rivas

2 min read April 2020The novel coronavirus forced a global halt to major international, regional and local events. From the NBA season to networking conferences, all gatherings of any size stopped abruptly in an effort to flatten the curve and prevent COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus, from spreading further. However, as the population at large becomes accustomed to social distancing, stay at home orders and self quarantining, many events went from a hard stop to full speed ahead virtually. As the business community adjusts to the challenges of the disruption caused by the coronavirus, many institutions are building value and maintaining relationships by maximizing the use of webinars, online classes, video conferences and even virtual happy hours. 

 

In Philadelphia, World Trade Center of Greater Philadelphia, an organization dedicated to accelerating global business growth for companies in Southeastern Pennsylvania and South New Jersey, has turned to virtual meetings to stay connected with its members. “We understand how important it is to remain connected with our members and client companies during this challenging time,” Spokeswoman Graziella DiNuzzo told Invest: Philadelphia. “Like many other organizations, we are using Zoom meetings.” The center has maintained rapport with its members as it made the transition to work remotely. “We are handling this transition quite smoothly. We are a staff of seven professionals and have always maintained close contact with our clients via phone and email and working remotely doesn’t slow us down,” DiNuzzo said. 

Bringing members together in this time of uncertainty is among the center’s main goals. “Our member-company meeting is our “Member Conversations,” which we started last year as a way to bring our members together, informally, in our conference room to meet each other, talk and share stories,” DiNuzzo said. “This will be the first time, obviously, that we will hold our Member Conversations virtually and we are looking forward to it. The bottom line is that we have to continue to communicate and support each other during this time. We are all eager to get back to business as usual and we don’t know what that will look like. We are hopeful that it will be a rebirth of ideas and opportunities.”

The video conference platform, Zoom, has quickly become ubiquitous across the virtual events space. Across economic sectors, different institutions are taking advantage of Zoom and similar platforms. To host a successful virtual event, event planners must decide between hosting a virtual meeting or a webinar. “If you expect attendees to mostly just listen,” the best option is a webinar, Zoom advises as part of its digital event best practices. “When you need more back and forth between the audience and the host,” planners should choose a virtual meeting, the platform advises. 

Once the type of digital event has been narrowed down, hosts should hardwire the internet connection to prevent any Wi-Fi-related hiccups or virtual lag. In terms of audio, hosts should test speakers and audio prior to the meeting and minimize any background noise, according to Zoom. Additionally, hosts should dress to impress and make sure to start the virtual event on time. It is important to set the tone of the event and encourage Q&A’s during the virtual meeting or webinar. As a best practice, Zoom recommends the use of the Chat function to keep track of questions and comments. For larger webinars, Zoom offers a PayPal integration to charge the registration fees seamlessly. 

For the time being, social distancing will be part of the mainstream business landscape until at least May. However, many institutions are adjusting and pivoting more and more to the virtual hosting model to build value, share information and regain a sense of community in a time where residents are being asked to self-isolate as much as possible.  

To learn more visit: https://blog.zoom.us/wordpress/2020/03/04/best-practices-for-hosting-a-digital-event/

 https://www.wtcphila.org/covid-19-resources.html 

Spotlight On: Joe Devine, Executive Vice President and Chief Experience Officer, Jefferson Health

Spotlight On: Joe Devine, Executive Vice President and Chief Experience Officer, Jefferson Health

By: Max Crampton- Thomas

2 min read March 2020 — The healthcare industry is poised to revolutionize how it cares for its patients through cutting-edge technology, at a time when a transition toward outpatient services is further consolidating. Executive Vice President and Chief Experience Officer at Jefferson Health Joe Devine discusses with Invest: the priorities for the group amid these new trends. 

 

How does Jefferson Health stand out from other healthcare players in the region?

We have a seamless care system in the region. Our location in South Jersey is less than 17 miles from the main Thomas Jefferson University Hospital in Philadelphia. We also provide services in South Jersey that have historically only been provided by Jefferson in Philadelphia, such as Magee Rehabilitation, which recently opened a service at our Cherry Hill hospital. Our technological innovations and telehealth are also sizable differentiators. Jefferson is a truly focused clinical academic medical center that combines teaching and medical care. In New Jersey, we are a teaching hospital for the Rowan University School of Osteopathic Medicine, as well as a training location for the Jefferson University Physician Assistant program. 

 

In what ways has technology disrupted the healthcare industry?

Technology is so advanced and outstanding that it works extremely well. For example, we have a neural flow program for patients with mental health issues that helps us with their evaluation. We also have implemented home-monitoring care technology that improves access, and we have succeeded in advancing our linear accelerator when it comes to treating cancer patients, an area that is more precision-driven. The cost of such technology is higher, but we do not transfer that cost to our patients. We are working on ways to inject further efficiencies in the process to continue providing benefits to our patients, including our telehealth program (JeffConnect), 3D mammography, 3D ultrasound, and other advancements like ABUS (Advanced Breast Ultrasound System). These have gone through substantial technological improvements, which are critical in the delivery of care. Technology will continue to be at the forefront of what we do, combined with the important humanistic aspect of providing care. We are also bolstering our smartphone app platforms to improve communication and follow-up processes with our patients. JeffConnect enables patients to receive personalized healthcare through their smartphone or computer. 

 

How is Jefferson Health tackling the local community’s health issues?

Every three years, we are required to undertake a community health needs assessment. What is great about this initiative is that all hospitals in Camden County work with the Departments of Health to shed light on the key health categories in which we should invest. In 2017, for example, it was primarily diabetes. We created a medical school and a district program with a comprehensive diabetes management program for Medicaid recipients, powered by telehealth services and coupled with a robust home care component. It helped improve patients’ health while minimizing their hospital visits. We are looking to continue providing innovative services, while at the same time contributing to building an effective population health model, as healthcare transitions more into outpatient services. As shown from the most recent community health needs assessment, the priority continues to be tackling metabolic diseases. We have a robust diabetes education program, as well as a very successful bariatric surgery program to assist with those needs.

 

How does Jefferson Health contribute to local efforts to reduce the disparities in care access?

For years, we have had family health centers, which in yesterday’s terminology were called clinics. We have two robust centers, one in Washington Township, Gloucester County, that offer comprehensive internal medicine, pediatrics and OB/GYN services. The other center is located near our Stratford hospital to service the Camden County community. We see a minimum of 20,000 patients a year in those facilities. The purpose of those centers is to serve the underserved.

We also have a partnership in South Jersey with the Food Bank of South Jersey. Any one of our 5,200 employees in New Jersey can participate in some way with the Food Bank. We encourage donations four times a year. It is tied to the health of people we serve.

 

What are the fastest-growing areas of care and service in the South Jersey region?

End-stage renal disease is more prominent throughout this nation for a lot of different reasons. We started a dialysis program in 1992 to attend to this growing issue with a single, six-bed station. We now have 55 stations. In this market alone, there are more than 200 stations nationwide. It is something we need to address. A close second is the opioid crisis. We do see patients come back multiple times. Unless you have the right post-care model, you cannot treat this illness. Unfortunately, it is growing. Third, is cancer care. This area is becoming increasingly robust with procedures like genetic testing and screening. We are working to put models in place so that when a patient is diagnosed with cancer, we look at the entire family. 

 

What is your outlook for South Jersey’s healthcare sector for 2020?

The sector in New Jersey continues to grow. We have some great hospitals here. Having served as board chair of the New Jersey Hospital Association in 2019, I can attest to these outstanding facilities. By 2025, it is likely we will see the consolidation of close to five healthcare systems across the whole region. We are going to continue to expand and develop a model that provides the ability for patients to have choices and become part of our network. We are working to become the most patient-centric organization in healthcare in the region. 

 

To learn more about our interviewee, visit: 

https://newjersey.jeffersonhealth.org/

 

 

Face Off: Leveraging tech in providing accounting and finance services

Face Off: Leveraging tech in providing accounting and finance services

By: Yolanda Rivas

2 min read March 2020 — Investment advisory, cybersecurity, business planning and strategy and other related advisory services are seeing a steady demand in the accounting and finance sector. Another change driver in the industry has been the advances in technology and AI. In separate interviews with the Invest: team, Reynold P. Cicalese, managing shareholder at Alloy Silverstein, and Carl H. Bagell, managing partner – Southern NJ at Friedman LLP, spoke about the areas of growth in their firms and how they are leveraging technology.

Reynold Cicalese

What services are seeing the most demand at your firm?

Carl H. Bagell: As a multidisciplinary firm with a growth mindset, we provide a wide variety of services and seek new opportunities to better serve our clients. In South Jersey, we focus on tax preparation, business valuation, forensic and matrimonial, international tax and tax controversy, and every area is expanding. For example, we expanded the number of our international tax practice partners in response to our clients’ growing needs in the face of ever-evolving global trends; the qualified Opportunity Zones segment of our real estate practice is seeing an increased demand for investment advisory; and our cybersecurity division is one of the fastest-growing areas in the region and abroad due to the cyber-threat landscape. 

Notably, SEC audits consistently play a major role in driving revenue for the firm and as such, we have offices in China with about 50 team members to address our clients’ needs. 

Not only has our client base expanded, but so have our employee numbers. To accommodate this growth, we almost doubled our size by relocating to a new office in Marlton. We have a lot of room for expansion and an amazing, flexible space where we can hold seminars, staff meetings and business events. We have a great collaborative working environment. 

Reynold P. Cicalese: All our consulting-related services are seeing growth. Business planning and strategy has been steadily growing. Our business analytics area is also in high demand. These advisory areas help to get our clients the information they need to make informed decisions.

We have engaged with a significant number of new businesses. We are getting more opportunities from nonprofit organizations. Giving back to the community is important for us, and we find we are getting more and more clients from the nonprofit sector. We are also getting more work from the for-profit sector. For the region, in the last six months there has been a big influx of micro businesses. As a result of e-commerce, there are more small, micro businesses starting out of their houses. These businesses may not need retail or office space, but they do need financial and tax advice.

Carl Bagell 

What impact is technology having on the accounting and financial sectors?

Bagell: Technology is a crucial part of our workflow. We have advanced technology at Friedman that allows us to leverage data to support our clients and attract new clients. Our cloud-based accounting software allows us to have faster, more effective internal communication. We also have a team specialized in cryptocurrency and blockchain, and we are now seeing more and more clients coming to us for advisory services. 

Cicalese: Technology has brought significant changes to our industry, allowing us to better serve our clients beyond just preparing a tax return or financial statement. We are on the cloud ourselves, encourage our clients to be on the cloud, and use technology to help and collaborate with clients on a daily basis. Our advisers are proactive in helping design our clients’ future, as opposed to only telling them what they historically have done. We use software and apps that allow us to create KPI dashboards for our clients so they can have real-time data to make better decisions based on today’s information – not from last month or last year. We also have clients all around the world and we use meeting apps to constantly communicate with them.

Artificial intelligence is severely disrupting the industry. The investment in AI will significantly increase within the next five to six years. We need to keep an eye on this trend and make sure we remain competitive. With regard to audits, for example, it is expected that AI can look at every transaction and provide an efficient audit report. For regional and smaller firms it will be a challenge to compete with larger firms that have the capacity to invest in AI. 

To learn more about our interviewees, visit:

Alloy Silverstein: https://alloysilverstein.com/ 

Friedman LLP: https://www.friedmanllp.com/ 

Spotlight On: Ian Richman, Senior Managing Director | Southern New Jersey, Colliers International

Spotlight On: Ian Richman, Senior Managing Director | Southern New Jersey, Colliers International

By: Yolanda Rivas

2 min read March 2020 — The Southern New Jersey region’s low real estate costs and strategic location near major highways is bolstering demand in the industrial market. Ian Richman, senior managing director in the Southern New Jersey at Colliers International, specializes in the leasing and sale/acquisition of commercial and industrial properties in Southern New Jersey. In a recent interview with Invest:, Richman shared the trends in the market and the possible disruptions that could take place in the face of COVID-19.  

How are you preparing to face a possible economic downturn?

We haven’t seen signs of a slowdown yet. Construction is still going on and demand has been outpacing supply to an extent. But with the development of COVID-19, we are expecting to see disruptions in the supply chain and people are starting to get nervous about the impact on the economy. Companies that import raw materials or have their products manufactured in China or elsewhere overseas expect to see a lag in production, delay in delivery or in the extreme case, a stoppage of manufacturing in certain factories altogether. This is uncharted waters and a global pandemic will have ripple effects throughout all industries, not just real estate. 

 

How strong is the industrial market in South Jersey?

The demand in the industrial market has continued to increase over the last 12 months. One of the biggest drivers has been our rental rates and sale prices on a price per square foot basis relative to neighboring areas such as Northern New Jersey and the New York metropolitan area. A significant part of our activity has been coming down the New Jersey Turnpike from these northern-based tenants, owner-user purchasers and investors. 

 

What market trends are emerging?

The Philadelphia Port is one of the largest, if not the largest, food port in the country. We see a lot of demand from food-related companies looking for warehouse/distribution facilities or manufacturing facilities. This is not a new trend but rather one sector that has been increasingly growing from a demand perspective in Southern New Jersey. Additionally, the overall demand for warehouse space has continued to remain strong, especially with the uptick in e-commerce and the expectation by the consumer to have goods in their hands as quickly as possible. When Amazon Prime was introduced, two days for delivery seemed fast and quickly became the norm. We are now finding that next-day delivery, if not same-day delivery, is an integral part of the supply chain That is driving a lot of companies to look for warehouse space in South Jersey. 

 

The new speculative and build-to-suit development in our market has been mostly in the northern parts of Burlington County and the southern parts of Gloucester County, 

 

How do you expect the market to evolve in the near future?

We expect more companies to continue to consider South Jersey as a home. The prices are what is really driving most of the activity and that is a trend that we will continue to see. We are now seeing a lot of multi-generational family-owned real estate companies starting to sell some of their properties to more institutional owners. We are also seeing the presence of more institutional owners and large regional owners with real estate holdings in our market. Some of that is attributed to the development of large distribution centers and some of this is attributed to the merger and consolidation of ownership groups. 

 

To learn more about our interviewee, visit:

Colliers International: www.colliers.com

 

 

Spotlight On:  Arnold Johnson, Market Director – Banking, Chase Bank

Spotlight On: Arnold Johnson, Market Director – Banking, Chase Bank

By: Yolanda Rivas

2 min read March 2020 — Chase is the U.S. consumer and commercial banking business of JPMorgan Chase & Co., a leading global financial services firm. Chase serves nearly half of America’s households with personal banking, credit cards, mortgages, auto financing, investment advice, small business loans and more. The bank began expanding into the Delaware Valley in 2018, opening its first local branch in Camden. Chase’s Delaware and South Jersey Market Director Arnold Johnson spoke with Invest: about the bank’s expansion efforts in the region, why Chase is unique and some of the challenges facing the banking sector.

What is the status and impact of your expansion effort in the South Jersey region?

One of our main efforts in the region is making sure we are opening enough branches to support the community. In the past year, we have opened four new branches: Camden, Cinnaminson, Mount Laurel and Marlton. We are excited to be expanding in Southern New Jersey and our fifth location, in Cherry Hill, is scheduled to open this summer. From a performance standpoint, we’ve been doing very well. The community has received us well and we are glad to be taking care of all their financial needs. 

 

Is there anything different or new about these new branches?

The branches we are building, as we expand, have a home feeling. For example, we have a living room-style setting in each branch’s lobby. We have digital technology, which provides Wi-Fi, charging stations, and enhanced ATM machines both inside the lobby and at standalone locations. One of our goals is to make sure that we are talking about our digital opportunities, so that people know we facilitate the tools for customers to experience the total digital power of Chase. 

 

What makes Chase unique?

We are focusing on providing a holistic approach to our customers. We offer expertise within the branch in the whole life cycle of a customer. We are able to take care of basic checking and credit card needs, but also holistic needs, whether it’s retirement, buying a home, small business or learning about the financial aspects of life. For example, we offer Chase Chats, which are Chase-led conversations held in our branches on a variety of topics, especially financial health. We’ll do them in every Chase branch in 2020, across the country, including right here in Southern New Jersey. The Chase Chats allow our customers to visit us and learn about banking and how to help make the most of their finances. It’s an example of one of the things we always offer: education. By helping customers from a financial and educational standpoint, we are able to build solid relationships with the communities we serve. 

 

What are some challenges in banking?

Some of the challenges that banks may see in their brick and mortar locations would be traffic coming into the branch. For Chase, we really utilize technology within the branch to help make sure we’re helping all of our customers as efficiently and effectively as possible. As an example, our enhanced ATMs can perform close to 70% of routine transactions. Our Associate Bankers are always on-hand to help customers however they would like to transact. Whether that’s helping them open an account digitally, or processing a traditional transaction at the window, we want our customers to know they can come in and be serviced the way they prefer to be serviced. That’s why it’s such a big deal for us to be increasing our presence in South Jersey. We were not local before, so many of our clients had a particular product with us, like a credit card. Now that we have a physical presence in the region, we want our customers and prospective customers to know that we are here as your local bank. Our challenge is to get the message out, let the communities know that we are open and help them understand that we can serve all of their financial needs.

 

To learn more about our interviewee, visit:

Chase Bank:  https://www.chase.com/ 

 

 

South Jersey’s higher-ed sector at the forefront of workforce readiness

South Jersey’s higher-ed sector at the forefront of workforce readiness

By: Yolanda Rivas

2 min read March 2020 — Education affordability, talent retention and the demographic change of fewer students going onto college are some of the challenges facing the industry. Educational institutions in South Jersey and the state government are placing a particular focus on affordability and workforce readiness. 

 Many universities and colleges now see that workforce development and curriculum updates are necessary to meet the demands and needs of employers and the jobs of tomorrow. That is the case of the Rowan University/Rutgers-Camden Board of Governors. Part of its mandate is to facilitate collaboration between Rutgers-Camden and Rowan University in the development of curricula and programs related to health sciences. 

 

“Presently, we are working together to respond to projected employment growth in healthcare professions,” said Dana Redd, CEO of the Rowan University/Rutgers-Camden Board of Governors, in an interview with Invest:. “Some of the initiatives that we have launched include a Medical Assistant workforce development and training program for graduating high-school students from Camden’s traditional public schools.”

 

Another projected demand is the increased need for healthcare providers to assist individuals diagnosed with Alzheimer’s and dementia-related disorders. In anticipation, the board launched the Alzheimer’s Navigator Program in 2017. “The curriculum is taught by Camden County College. Inspired by the Patient Navigation model in oncology, Alzheimer’s Journey Coordinators aim to improve access to care and treatment for people with Alzheimer’s,” Redd said.

 

A challenge not only affecting South Jersey but the whole country is declining enrollment rates. Data from the State of New Jersey’s Office of the Secretary of Higher Education shows that the overall number of people attending higher education institutions in the state slightly declined over the last decade.

 

Unlike some universities that are struggling with declining enrollment, Rowan University doubled enrollment in the past 10 years to 19,600. During that time, the university transformed from a well-regarded regional university to a nationally ranked, Carnegie-classified R2 research university. According to Ali A. Houshmand, President of Rowan University, the STEM fields and businesses are the areas seeing the greatest growth. “We built new facilities for our colleges of engineering and business three years ago and doubled enrollment in their programs,” he said.

 

“Another growth area is our medical schools. We are one of only three institutions in the nation to offer both M.D. and D.O. medical degrees. Our commitment to medical education is important given the nation’s growing physician shortage,” Houshmand stated in an interview with Invest:.

 

Community colleges also play a key role in the workforce development of any community. In the southern New Jersey region, Camden County College (CCC) offers the most certification programs. According to CCC’s President Donald Borden there is great demand for machinists in the region. “Companies come to hire them as soon as they become proficient,” Borden told the Invest: team. 

 

“Students trained in robotics, automobile tech and optometry all find work after graduating. We offer some of those programs that are not traditionally seen as higher ed, but they have been in very high demand,” Borden said. Business and education and criminal justice are also in-demand programs at CCC. 

 

To fulfill the needs of the employers and provide access to education for all students, it is imperative that colleges, universities and government provide initiatives for education affordability. In February 2020, Gov. Phil Murphy announced the “Garden State Guarantee,” which is a $50 million investment in four-year senior public colleges and universities through his proposed FY2021 budget that would allow all eligible New Jersey undergraduate students to attend any public college or university in the state tuition-free for two years.

 

“We know students drop out of college — or worse, rule it out as an option for them — because they believe the price tag is unaffordable. After more than a decade of decreased state investments in higher education, our administration’s innovative plan creates a path for broader college affordability,” Gov. Murphy said in a written statement. “This complementary program underscores New Jersey’s continued commitment to tuition-free community college. We remain laser-focused on retaining in-state talent through our Jobs NJ initiative and expanding opportunities for low-income communities and communities of color.”

The program complements similar existing efforts at William Paterson University, Rutgers-Camden, Rutgers-Newark, and New Jersey City University. According to the “Garden State Guarantee” official press release, the guarantee builds on existing state programs to make college affordable, including financial aid provided to students through the Community College Opportunity Grant, Tuition Aid Grants and New Jersey Student Tuition Assistance Reward Scholarships. 

 

To learn more about our interviewees, visit:

Rowan University/Rutgers-Camden Board of Governors: https://rurcbog.com/ 

Camden County College: https://www.camdencc.edu/ 

Rowan University: https://www.rowan.edu/

State of New Jersey: https://nj.gov/governor/index.shtml 

 

 

Spotlight On: Reynold P. Cicalese, Managing Shareholder, Alloy Silverstein

Spotlight On: Reynold P. Cicalese, Managing Shareholder, Alloy Silverstein

By: Yolanda Rivas

2 min read MARCH 2020— Alloy Silverstein is a regional full-service accounting and advisory firm, headquartered in Southern New Jersey. In an interview with Invest: South Jersey, Managing Shareholder Reynold P. Cicalese discussed the changes in the sector and the firm’s support for small businesses in the area.

 

 

What changes have you experienced in the accounting sector over the last few years?

Technology has brought significant changes to our industry, allowing us to better serve our clients beyond just preparing a tax return or financial statement. We are on the cloud ourselves, encourage our clients to be on the cloud, and we use technology to help and collaborate with clients on a daily basis. Our advisers are proactive in helping design our clients’ future, as opposed to only telling them what they historically have done. We use software and apps that allow us to create KPI dashboards for our clients so they can have real-time data to make better decisions based on today’s information – not from last month or last year. We also have clients all around the world and we use meeting apps to constantly communicate with them.

Artificial intelligence is severely disrupting the industry. The investment in AI will significantly increase within the next five to six years. We need to keep an eye on this trend and make sure we remain competitive. With regard to audits, for example, it is expected that AI can look at every transaction and provide an efficient audit report. For regional and smaller firms it will be a challenge to compete with larger firms that have the capacity to invest in AI. 

How do you support the small-business community?

 

We find that many startups are underserved. We recently launched our Startup Hotline, which is a complimentary CPA Q&A for new and emerging businesses. Micro businesses may have questions regarding the type of entity they should start, for example. Through this tool, we give them access to our team of advisers and experts who can provide guidance on accounting, tax, payroll, and many other general business topics.

 

In addition, we add value for our clients and other small businesses in the community by hosting complimentary monthly lunch workshops, which we call “Alloy Academy.” What started as presentations on accounting software has evolved to bringing in guests so we can cover a wide variety of topics that may be important to a business owner or their employees.

 

To learn more about our interviewee, visit:

Alloy Silverstein: https://alloysilverstein.com/ 

 

Spotlight On: Michael Cioce, President, Rowan College at Burlington County

Spotlight On: Michael Cioce, President, Rowan College at Burlington County

By: Yolanda Rivas

2 min read February — Rowan College at Burlington County looks out for its students and has established several partnerships with the private sector to ensure a smooth transition from the classroom to the workplace. Still, shrinking birthrates on the East Coast present a challenge to remain competitive in the state, according to Michael A. Cioce, president of Rowan College at Burlington County.

 

 

What are the main qualities that distinguish Rowan College from other institutions in the region?

Access and affordability are built into the DNA of the institution. We have no direct competition within our county boundaries, but the state of New Jersey unfortunately has challenges. Many of our students have been recruited by Pennsylvania, New York and Delaware, among others, and it puts the responsibility on us to deliver a high-quality educational experience. 

 

We have approximately 9,000 students in any given semester, which makes us a medium-sized institution. Despite that number, my cabinet, my deans, directors and I all know our students. You are not going to come here and just be a transaction, and that matters to students because they have options and alternatives. We have competitors encroaching on our front door. Online education has grown exponentially over the last 20 years, so students can go wherever they want and I think that value that the personal connection provides differentiates us from many larger institutions.

 

In tandem with that, we have linkages directly into our local workforce, which assists students in gaining entry into the workforce.

 

What are the college’s most in-demand programs and courses?

Anything related to the health sciences sector. Our nursing program has a waiting list, and demand greatly outpaces available seats. Part of that is that students know they are going to be employed upon graduation. Our partnership with Virtua Health System, one the region’s largest healthcare employers, is amazing. Our students are not going to graduate with us simply saying, “good luck.” Through our workforce development programs and partnerships, such as that with Virtua and other employers, our students are getting real on-the-ground training that allows them to cross seamlessly into a job. Many of our students are offered employment prior to graduation.

 

We partnered with an economic analytics firm to conduct an economic impact study that uncovered three prongs where this institution drives value to the area. First, obviously, is training the students locally. They are coming to our campus, living nearby, buying food at local restaurants and working here. Second, as an employer. We employ over a thousand people in any given year, probably more than that. We are not the size of Virtua, but we are not a Mom and Pop store. Third is alumni: students who trained here, stayed here, and are also going to be champions of this institution. That is sort of our hat trick that scores big for the region. The report determined that RCBC’s economic impact on the Burlington County regional economy is $504.9 million in a year. 

 

What are the main challenges facing both Rowan College and the education system at large in South Jersey?

The birth rate has declined over the last 20 years and as a sector that is heavily reliant on high-school graduates, the enrollment curve is going to be challenging over the next couple of years. This is something that is larger than the college and the county, it is actually affecting the entire East Coast. As a community college, we enroll many adult students and we are not entirely reliant on that 12th-grade population. We have a higher percentage of adult learners than our peers, which gives us a little bit of a buffer, but the overall trend, is definitely going to be a challenge because as the main pool of students shrinks, there is going to be increased competition for them.

 

 

To learn more about our interviewee, visit:

Rowan College at Burlington County: https://www.rcbc.edu/ 

 

Small business, commercial and construction lending drive strong growth for South Jersey banks

Small business, commercial and construction lending drive strong growth for South Jersey banks

By: Yolanda Rivas

2 min read February 2020 — The Southern New Jersey region is mainly driven by the healthcare, education and retail sectors, but small businesses remain key cogs in the region’s economic machinery. Their financial needs are among the busiest service areas for lenders along with commercial and construction lending, according to local banking leaders who spoke with Invest: South Jersey.

 

Small businesses represent growth opportunities for South Jersey financial institutions, as evidenced by the robust professional sector in the region that continues to grow rapidly as more individuals start their own businesses. 

WSFS Bank has about 50,000 primary core customers in South Jersey, with millennials being its second-largest demographic. Phil Corradino, Senior Vice President and New Jersey Regional Director at WSFS, is focusing on growing alongside millennials as they launch their own companies, purchase their first properties and start their families. 

“In terms of small business, we feel that we’re in a great growth position. The small-business sector went through a very difficult period from 2008 and onward, even as recently as 2015, but now you see a lot of small business growth and lending, especially in South Jersey. We’ve put dedicated lenders in place at the local level to serve these business owners, and it’s their mission to be there to help educate them, with roundtables, focus groups and networking events.”

Louisville, Kentucky-based Republic Bank has consistently been a top small-business lender in the region over the last few years and is also experiencing growth in that segment. “We focus on small businesses because South Jersey is known for its mom and pop shops. We promote our commercial customers and make donations to help attract consumers to their businesses and support their growth. We don’t limit our services to just one industry or type of business, we try to serve every business and prospect in any industry,” said Joe Tredinnick, market president at Republic Bank.

Financial institutions are positive about the near-term growth outlook for the small-business segment.”The small-business potential and growth that I believe we are going to see over the next three to five years in South Jersey is going to be monumental, and WSFS is excited to be in the middle of it,” Corradino stated.

According to Parke Bank President and CEO Vito S. Pantilione, its construction lending product is enjoying strong demand in the Philadelphia and South Jersey areas. “It is a very attractive product, especially because many banks have discontinued this banking product. Even though the regulations for construction lending have become much more stringent, our structure allows us to handle it because we are well-capitalized and we have the experience and expertise,” said Pantilione.  

Most recently, the bank has also seen an increased demand further north, in the Bronx and Brooklyn areas of New York City. “We carefully entered the Bronx and Brooklyn markets and now have multiple multifamily projects and commercial loans in these areas,” he said. 

Similarly, New Jersey-based OceanFirst Bank is seeing fast growth in its commercial lending activities. Vincent D’Alessandro, OceanFirst’s southern region president, said the bank’s growth has been driven by its talented commercial relationship managers. “Our business customers have a specifically assigned relationship manager who focuses on those businesses. Our expansive growth has enabled our relationship managers to dive deeper into businesses that they may not have been able to tap into before, in providing more sophisticated products and services.” 

 

To learn more about our interviewees, visit:

Parke Bank: https://www.parkebank.com/ 

OceanFirst Bank: https://oceanfirst.com/ 

WSFS Bank: https://www.wsfsbank.com/ 

Republic Bank: https://www.myrepublicbank.com/