Spotlight On: Dr. Winnifred McPherson, Director & CEO, Virtue Medical Staffing Services, LLC

By Max Crampton-Thomas

July 2019

2 min read  — The staffing industry is a multi-billion dollar market that quite often flies under the radar, but its impact and contribution to the overall economy should not be understated. With almost 17 million temporary and contract employees being hired by American staffing companies, this industry is vital to not only a sustainable economy but also to the country’s growing workforce. Staffing companies service a variety of markets including I.T., advertising, and perhaps most important healthcare. 

Although they are a relatively new staffing agency in the market, Broward County based Virtue Medical Staffing Services LLC has big plans to quickly expand their footprint within South Florida’s healthcare industry. Invest: Greater Fort Lauderdale spoke with Dr. Winnifred McPherson, CEO of Virtue Medical Staffing Services LLC and discussed the keys to success and plans to expand within the staffing industry.  

What is the key to success in the staffing industry? 

“In this type of business you have to have employees who meet the demands of your clients, and because the unemployment rate is so low in South Florida for medical professionals, we have to find these quality candidates wherever we can. We cannot be confined to only looking for those who have years of experience, and we must look to our recently graduated or graduating students in the area. As a staffing agency, we do not ever like to say that we do not have anybody for a position. We try our best to be proactive in making sure there is always a candidate ready to go.”

How do you plan to grow your business into the future? 

“We hold two licenses that let us service a larger audience. The first is a nurse registry license that allows our employees to work in Broward and Palm Beach counties, both in medical facilities as well as homes. Then we have a Health Care Services Pool license that allows us to work anywhere in the state of Florida but only in a facility. Our plan is to keep expanding further north, and the Health Care Services Pool license will allow us to do that. To be successful in staffing, we have to be both flexible and have the ability to work anywhere that has demand.”

Where are you currently finding the most demand for your services? 

“Right now, the majority of our demand is in elderly care. We have corporate hospice clients, so a large portion of our business and workforce is in hospice care. We are striving to attract both corporate and private clients. Private clients will normally require full-time care because they may be living alone or with a family member who cannot be home all the time to take care of them. We also target senior living communities, and we will speak with these homeowners associations to let them know that we are an asset they can depend on.” 

To learn more about our interviewees, visit their websites:

http://www.virtuemedicalstaffing.com/

‘Sleepy’ West Palm is Waking Up!

By staff writer

June 2019

2 min. read

West Palm Beach, once considered a sleepy little town, is in the midst of becoming the premier destination in Palm Beach County for residents and visitors alike. The primary reason for its renaissance can be attributed to the commitment from the public and private sectors to the development of the downtown area. “There certainly are people who would prefer that we were still the sleepy little town we were in 1950, but they’re the minority,” former Mayor Jeri Muoio told Invest:. “We believe in preserving the scale of our development, and we are very focused on making sure the public life part is not overshadowed by development. We’re the first city in the country to have an Office of Public Life, whose job is to make sure that as we move forward, we continue to build a city for people.”

In the 20 years since its conception, mixed-use retail and entertainment center CityPlace has become one of the main attractors for residents and visitors to the downtown West Palm Beach area. When it was first opened to the public, CityPlace was an innovative and novel concept that kept people coming back thanks to its plethora of options. Now, the company that developed CityPlace, Related Companies, is investing $550 million into a rebrand of the area that will be known as Rosemary Square. This five-year development plan will turn the area into a new and diverse community and destination with a wide range of choices, including class-A commercial office spaces, a new hotel, and food and entertainment offerings.

Invest: Palm Beach spoke with Gopal Rajegowda, senior vice president for Related Companies, who expounded on all this new development in downtown West Palm. “Related Companies is going to further invest in Palm Beach County because we believe in the market and we see the opportunity. These new residential and hospitality offerings, together with Rosemary Square’s shopping, dining and cultural experiences, will support and enhance the entire West Palm Beach community,” Gopal said. “Over the next five years, Related Companies will shape the development of Rosemary Square to include a 21-story LEED Gold mixed-use tower with state-of-the-art luxury residences and commercial space, as well as a second hotel adjacent to the Hilton West Palm Beach.”

CityPlace isn’t the only area receiving a makeover. The Kravis Center, the hub of arts and culture in the downtown area, is also making progress toward finishing an expansion that will ultimately benefit the region. In a conversation with Invest:, Judith Mitchell, CEO of the Kravis Center, shared the same excitement as Gopal about the development of downtown. “We are in the midst of a $50 million expansion that includes making our center more accessible and visible to the community and visitors alike. The project includes a new pedestrian friendly urban park and a brand-new valet parking garage, in addition to other changes that we are certain will attract even more guests to our theaters. The cultural landscape in the area is continually changing and growing. Our neighbors, including downtown West Palm and Rosemary Square (formerly CityPlace), are evolving and expanding, as well. The area is truly buzzing with activity and growth.”

The development throughout the downtown area of West Palm Beach is a testament to the strong economy, population growth and most importantly, great quality of life throughout the Palm Beach County region. “Quality of life is a high priority here, and that is part of what is drawing the investment,” Raphael Clemente, Executive Director for the West Palm Beach Downtown Development Authority, told Invest:. “It is a great place to live and have a high quality of life at a reasonable price.”

For more information on our interviewees, visit:

http://www.cityplace.com/

https://www.kravis.org/

https://downtownwpb.com/

 

Florida Bill Aims to Put Construction on a Fast Track

By staff writer

April 2019

The Commercial Real Estate Development Association’s (NAIOP) South Florida chapter is making the Fast Act a legislative priority for 2019 — and its efforts are gaining steam in Tallahassee, according to supporters. The Fast Act, or Florida House Bill 1139, aims to provide relief to commercial real estate owners and developers who face long delays in getting the construction permits they need to start construction.

Industry leaders fired off another wave of letters supporting the Fast Act, which successfully passed its first senate committee on April 9. The legislation drafted by NAIOP’s lobbying team has already cleared two house committees.

Supporters of the Fast Act and HB 1139 argue the solidification of permitting timelines in the bill as well as the creation of a separate, expedited process would greatly assist in construction by incentivizing local municipalities to meet pertinent deadlines.

NAIOP South Florida president Darcie Lunsford said the delays in permitting are “deal killers and a major drag on local businesses and our economy.” She indicated the onerous process is so bad sometimes that “it can take longer to get the permit than to build out a new office space.”

Current Florida law mandates decisions over construction permits in 120 days. However, there are no consequences if a local jurisdiction does not adhere to that timeline. As a result, the permitting process can become exceedingly lengthy, sometimes taking more than a year. Owners and developers who require inspections often also have a difficult time scheduling the right personnel.

If passed, the Fast Act would institute certain rules to speed up the permitting process. Local governments would be required to establish an expedited processing system that would carry a charge of no more than double the current rate. In addition, local governments that do not meet a hard permit deadline would see the permit fee reduced by 10 percent per ten business days of delay. If the delay is long enough to where the fee gets reduced by more than 50 percent before the permit is approved, the local government must refund all fees to the applicant.

Supporters of the Fast Act argue local governments could boost their revenues by utilizing an expedited permitting process that would give exposure to more owners and developers. As HB 1139 has made its way through Florida’s legislative process, leaders across NAIOP’s South Florida chapter have corresponded closely with local lawmakers to urge their support and passage of the legislation.

Lunsford hopes the bill “continues to gain momentum” so that it can soon provide needed relief to owners, developers and tenants “who need to get into spaces in a more timely fashion.”

To learn more, please visit:

https://www.naiopsfl.org/

https://www.naiop.org/

Palm Beach’s Boat Show Boosts Tourism, Growth

By staff writer

April 2019

This weekend, Palm Beach County residents and tourists were treated to the 34th annual Palm Beach International Boat Show, billed as one of the nation’s top 5 boat shows in the country. This year’s show featured more than $1.2 billion worth of yachts and accessories, including hundreds of boats, ranging from 10-foot inflatables to super yachts hundreds of feet long.

“Fifty-one percent of the people who visit Palm Beach County come to West Palm Beach,” West Palm Beach Mayor Geraldine Muoio told Invest: Palm Beach. “And this event’s just another great reason for individuals to check out everything the city has to offer.”

The public was also treated to four days of luxury watercrafts, exhibitions and seminars, as well as the enticing fare of of more than 100 food vendors. And for those with a little extra to spend, a luxurious VIP experience included access to a premium open bar and exclusive access to events throughout the weekend.

Those events included seminars taught by the world-class International Game Fish Association School of Sportfishing and an “AquaZone” sponsored by Nautical Ventures which showcased products ranging from kayaks to a self-propelled, stand-up paddleboards. For younger anglers, there were fishing clinics presented by Hook the Future, providing hands-on fishing instruction to kids of all ages.

Maybe the biggest attraction of the show, though, was once more its beautiful setting in a world-famous, luxurious location. In places such as Palm Beach, where tourism is the major driver of the economy, events such as this one help boost that tourism further, while attracting many others to town, too.

As Palm Beach’s tourism industry grows, events such as the Palm Beach International Boat Show will continue to play a vital role in that growth.

For more information on our interviewee and the event, visit:

https://www.pbboatshow.com/en/home.html

https://wpb.org/

 

Votes Matter in Palm Beach County!

By staff writer

March 2019

Credit: Bruce R. Bennett / The Palm Beach Post

Residents of Palm Beach County turned out by the thousands to recent municipal elections, which resulted in re-elections, new faces, and even a couple runoffs for the mayors of Palm Beach County.

It was quite the day for the mayoral incumbents of Palm Beach County, as three of them were reelected. Boynton Beach’s mayor Steven B. Grant won quite convincingly, garnering more than 62% of the vote within his city. “My vision for Boynton Beach is a family-friendly farming and fishing city. When Henry Flagler built the train station back in the 1920s, that’s what this city was. We’re trying to adopt a version of that designed for the 21st century,” Mayor Grant told Invest: Palm Beach when he sat down with us late last year to discuss his vision for Boynton. Now he has a second term to see it fulfilled.

Another landslide victory belonged to Pahokee’s returning mayor, Keith W. Babb, Jr., who managed to grab more than 50% of his city’s vote. Mayor Babb, Jr., will be serving his second term as the city’s mayor, and he has been in loyal service to the city of Pahokee for almost 30 years, serving in myriad government positions.

Not all of the mayoral incumbents won by large margins, however. The race for Jupiter’s mayor came down a mere 400 votes that swung in the favor of incumbent mayor Todd Wodraska. “With some of the land that we set aside for bioscience, we’re ready to have a large employer locate its headquarters here or else establish a second headquarters,” Mayor Wodraska explained to Invest: Palm Beach earlier this year.

While there are quite a few returning faces, West Palm Beach will be swearing in their new mayor, Keith A. James, on April 4. Mr. James is a Harvard graduate who was recently the president of West Palm Beach’s City Commission. The new mayor will be hoping to use all of his experience to keep guiding West Palm Beach in the right economic direction.

Perhaps the most intriguing outcome from the election is the upcoming runoff for the mayoral position in Riviera Beach. Neither the five-time incumbent Thomas Masters nor the newcomer Ronnie Felder were able to attract more than 50% of the vote, and thus a runoff will held on March 26th. Invest: Palm Beach will be keeping a close watch on this race, as it’s sure to be a big topic of conversation throughout Palm Beach County in coming weeks.

For more information on our interviewees and mayoral candidates, visit:

https://www.wpbf.com/article/runoff-in-race-for-riviera-beach-mayor/26804592

https://www.keithjamesformayor.com/about-keith/

https://www.palmbeachpost.com/news/20190312/final-results-in-palm-beach-countys-march-12-elections

https://stevenbgrant.com/

http://www.cityofpahokee.com/Pages/PahokeeFL_Commission/mayor

https://www.jupiter.fl.us/directory.aspx?EID=91

 

A City in Development

By staff writer

March 2019

Construction and development is nothing new for Palm Beach County residents, and for those residing in Delray Beach the development of their city has become par for the course. With over $950 million in construction permits filed last year alone, Delray Beach is on the cusp of a developmental renaissance.

“We have a few developments in the works,” Delray Beach Mayor Shelly Petrolia told our Invest: Palm Beach team when she sat down with us earlier this year. “One of the largest and arguably most important is West Atlantic Avenue. We have had three blocks in our CRA District that have gone out to bid, and we are just to the point where we are getting those bids back. This is an area that has not been graced with the same activity as the rest of the city, so we are working hard to bring it up to speed.”

The city has come a long way since its humble beginnings as a sleepy farming community in the late 1800s. Since being incorporated as the City of Delray Beach in 1927, the area has grown into a hotspot destination for tourists and residents alike looking for a lively, cultural beach spot without the “hustle and bustle” of South Beach. For Delray Beach, development is a necessary step towards being able to accommodate and improve the lifestyle of its population, which has only seen a steady increase since 2010.  

It’s not just Atlantic Avenue that Delray Beach is focusing on; in fact, there are multiple areas of this city of 68,000 residents that will be seeing more development. “Congress Avenue is another area that we are trying to ignite,” Mayor Petrolia told Invest:. “There are plans for a mixed-use development in that area with over 1,000 residential units. The property is an old Office Depot that is over 40 acres, and we expect it to bring a lot of activity to that part of the city. It is a very large piece of land.”

The hope for all of this construction and development isn’t just to improve the lives of the residents of Delray Beach but also to bring in and support Delray’s biggest economic sector: tourism. It should come as no surprise that this vibrant and scenic beach town is a large draw for tourists, and with over 100 million visitors traveling to Florida every year and 7.9 million in Palm Beach County alone in 2018, Delray Beach is making sure it is a destination of choice.

“Hospitality is booming right now,” Mayor Petrolia continued. “We have new hotels coming in like Kolter Hotel, the Ray Hotel and ALoft. Our market is demanding more rooms. There have been a few more proposals, so we are in the process of seeing which ones will be approved. As a city, we are working to make sure that we have the space to house those who are visiting, whether for vacation or business. Tourism is a driver for us, so we want to make sure that we have top options for people who are choosing Delray Beach.”

While development and construction can carry with it some negatives, like congested roadways and inconvenience for residents, the City of Delray Beach knows that it is a necessity in achieving the ultimate goal: becoming the best version of itself for 2019 and the foreseeable future!

For more information on our interviewee and the City of Delray Beach, visit http://www.visitdelraybeach.org/

 

Unprecedented Opportunity

By staff writer

February 2019

With foreign investment slowing and residential real estate values in Palm Beach County outpacing the region, investors, first and second homebuyers and young professionals are flocking to Palm Beach to snap up unprecedented opportunities in one of the nation’s most in-demand markets.

A 2018 South Florida Business Journal analysis of the region found that 10 of the 25 zip codes with the fastest double-digit percentage price growth were all located in Palm Beach County. Meanwhile, an analysis of Multiple Listing Service data found Palm Beach County luxury condominium home sales jumped 28 percent in December 2018 as $1-million-and-up homebuyers continued selecting Palm Beach’s incredible live, work, play lifestyle.

In December 2018 the median sale price of a single-family home in south Palm Beach County, where many of those fast-growing zip codes are located, rose 10.9 percent compared to the previous month and 8.6 percent year-over-year. The area has long boasted miles of pristine white sand beaches, luxury shopping, new construction and top-notch schools.

“We are seeing trends surrounding millennials and young professionals here in the region,” Chris Heine, Jr., president of Chris Allen Realty, told Invest: Palm Beach when he sat down with our team in December. “Young professionals in their late 20s and early 30s are renting luxury condos and buying million-dollar homes. This is something that we were not seeing a few years ago. As the Palm Beach business market grows, we are attracting younger professionals who are looking for their first homes and making investments in beautiful properties.”

The total number of year-over-year sales in December 2018 fell by 10.3 percent, which was attributed to a lack of inventory at lower price points. Helping to drive that trend was the fact that the average commitment rate for a 30-year conventional fixed-rate mortgage decreased from 4.87 percent in November to 4.64 percent in December, according to Freddie Mac. As such, it’s not only the Palm Beach lifestyle that new and second home owners are looking for but also the investment opportunity given an ongoing — though perhaps limited — low interest rate environment and current price growth trends.

“We’re seeing a movement of capital to Palm Beach,” Lee Smalley, managing director of BBG, told Invest:. “Yields and cap rate compression in South Florida are becoming tighter. Investors looking for a good rate of return are moving north of Broward and Miami-Dade counties.”

The positive investment and buying climate all point to a shrinking pool of opportunities until a wave of new inventory hits the market in 2019. The remnants of the now more-than-decade-old real estate crisis have vanished, with short-sale transactions decreasing 57.1 percent in December 2018 from 21 to nine. At the same time, cash transactions comprised 44.5 percent of all closed sales in Palm Beach in December 2018, up from 44.9 percent in 2017. Palm Beach cash transactions are more than double the nation’s average of 22 percent.

“We’re seeing a lot of domestic buyers come to the market here,” Ari Albinder, owner of Mizner Grande Realty, told Invest:. “We’re helping these individuals find a new primary residence or second and third homes. We specialize in waterfront homes, oceanfront estates, country clubs communities, condominiums and brand-new construction.”

There’s no question that Palm Beach County real estate is hot, and savvy investors from across the nation and from a younger demographic are taking note. Invest: Palm Beach will be keeping a close eye on these trends as we move into 2019.

For more information on our interviewees, visit their websites:
Chris Allen Realty: https://www.chrisallenrealestate.com/
BBG:
https://bbgres.com/location/miami/
Mizner Grande Realty: http://www.miznergranderealty.com/

 

 

A Prosperous Future

By staff writer

January 2019

Jupiter, Florida, is the northernmost town in Palm Beach County. The area was originally named for the Hobe tribe who lived at the mouth of the Loxahatchee River, but a sequence of mapmaker misunderstandings and mis-transcriptions led to the adoption of the name Jupiter, after the Roman god. Today, Jupiter is perhaps best known for its golfing community and the iconic red-brick Jupiter Inlet Lighthouse, built in 1860. However, the sands are beginning to shift as Jupiter, and the entire Palm Beach North region, tout the advantages of living and doing business on “Florida’s Prosperity Coast.”

Invest: Palm Beach recently sat down with Todd Wodraska, mayor of the Town of Jupiter, to talk about how Jupiter and the northern part of the county are changing.

When they think of Jupiter, most people think of the golfing community,” Wodraska told Invest:. “We’re trying to create a more significant experience on our waterfront. Over the past decade, we’ve had incredible success with making our waterfront accessible to the public. We created the Jupiter Riverwalk concept — a two-and-a-half-mile stretch of public access where people can enjoy the waterfront via a pathway that runs through residential, commercial and natural areas. We also have great waterfront places to dine. We’ve tried to make sure that our natural resources are enjoyed by everybody and not just walled off by condominiums and gated communities.”

In addition to ensuring access to the waterfront for everyone, Jupiter is also setting its sights on attracting a large employer. “We’re primed and ready for the bioscience sector and the biotech spin-offs of Scripps,” Wodraska said. “Since Scripps came online, the Jupiter Medical Center has matured from a regional hospital into a powerhouse player on the healthcare front. By partnering with Scripps, the Jupiter Medical Center has blossomed into this fantastic healthcare facility. With some of the land that we set aside for bioscience, we’re ready to have a large employer locate its headquarters, or second headquarters, in the state of Florida.”

Jupiter is one of Palm Beach North’s 10 municipalities that, along with unincorporated areas, are home to nearly 200,000 residents and a diverse mix of large and small businesses. In a recent conversation Beth Kigel, president and CEO of the Palm Beach North Chamber of Commerce, told Invest: about how the entire region is working together to attract business and preserve quality of life.

“Our shared purpose is to foster partnerships to ensure that Palm Beach North is Florida’s Prosperity Coast,” Kigel said. “‘Florida’s Prosperity Coast’ is a moniker that has been given to Palm Beach North, and it really fits who we are. Our average household income is higher than Florida’s average. 40 percent of our population has a bachelor’s degree, and we are becoming a tech hub and a great place for businesses to locate.”

While the Town of Jupiter and northern Palm Beach County certainly have plenty of sunshine, beaches and golf to offer residents and visitors alike, the region is turning to smart development, incentive programs and innovative partnerships in order to ensure a prosperous future for Florida’s Prosperity Coast. Invest: Palm Beach is excited to see what’s in store for Palm Beach North in 2019 and beyond!

For more information on our interviewees, visit their websites:

Town of Jupiter: https://www.jupiter.fl.us/

Palm Beach North Chamber of Commerce: http://www.pbnchamber.com/

A 21st-Century Vision

By staff writer

January 2019 – 2 min. read

 From the moment former Civil War Major Nathan Boynton laid eyes on the more than 12 acres of sunny, pristine beaches that would later bear his name, Boynton Beach has been a vision.

Beginning with the hotel Boynton built in 1895 as an escape from harsh Michigan winters, through the city’s years as a thriving farming community connected to the country by the Florida East Coast Railroad and later through its evolution into the third-largest municipality in Palm Beach County, Boynton Beach has shown both its resilience and adaptability. The city has weathered the rise and fall of the dairy industry, widespread damage from Hurricane Wilma in 2005 and more than its share of gang-related violence but is heading into 2019 led by a young mayor with his own vision for this community built on sunshine and sand.

And it’s a vision that will take Boynton Beach back to its roots.

“My vision for Boynton Beach is a family-friendly farming and fishing city,” Mayor Steven Grant told Invest: Palm Beach when he sat down with our team in December. “When Henry Flagler built the train station back in the 1920s, that’s what this city was. We’re trying to adopt a version of that designed for the 21st century.”

Part of this vision is the $500 makeover that will transform the city by turning its east end into a walkable and vibrant downtown area. Projects in this massive revitalization broke ground in 2018, and the entire effort is expected to be complete by September 2019. In addition to the four-block Town Square — which will feature a new city hall, library, playground, fire station, parks, amphitheater and parking garage — mixed-use developments like the eight-story Ocean One and the 371-unit Villages at East Ocean Avenue will bring both residential and retail space.

“We have a great retail base here,” Mayor Grant said. “But we’re going to have to start redeveloping that retail presence for the 21st century. Sears, ToysRUs and Sports Authority have all recently closed. We have a lot of the big-box retailers that will need to find a new market or model, and I feel there is a great opportunity now to transform those retail spaces for mixed-use, modern applications, whether it’s co-working spaces or incubators.”

The hope is that moving toward a pedestrian-friendly downtown center with sleek, modern shops and amenities will encourage both residents and visitors alike to spend time in Boynton Beach, sparking economic growth and at the same time instilling a larger sense of community.  “We’re embracing new technology in Boynton Beach to make sure that we’re connecting and working with our residents while we all strive to develop as a community and an economy,” Mayor Grant told Invest:.

With three leaders under the age of 35 (Grant, Commissioner Christina Romelus and Commissioner Justin Katz) forming a three-to-five majority on the Boynton Beach Commission, it seems the long-awaited redevelopment of Boynton Beach is getting the youthful injection it needed. Invest: Palm Beach will be keeping a close eye on Boynton Beach’s transformation in 2019!

For more information on our interviewee and the City of Boynton Beach, visit https://www.boynton-beach.org/.