Spotlight On: Dan Rajkowski, Chief Operating Officer, Charlotte Knights

Spotlight On: Dan Rajkowski, Chief Operating Officer, Charlotte Knights

By: Felipe Rivas

2 min read February 2020 — The Queen City is teeming with sports activity. It is host to NASCAR, the NBA and NFL, and closed the decade with a new MLS team. Not too far behind stand the Charlotte Knights, the region’s minor league baseball team. The Knights have led the country in fan attendance four out of the six years they have played in Charlotte. The loyal fan base and consistent attendance numbers can be attributed to affordable ticket prices, a family environment, and a centrally located ballpark, Chief Operating Officer Dan Rajkowski told Invest: Charlotte. For 2020, the Knights plan to host several Republican National Convention-related events and concerts to maximize the use of their ballpark.   

How has the local sports scene evolved in the last few years?

We have had tremendous success in Charlotte since we opened in 2014. We have led the country in minor league attendance four out of the six years we have been here. We are in a vibrant and growing market with a youthful demographic. Coming into the market from South Carolina, and bringing another 650,000 people into Center City, is creating tourism for different parts of the county. The Charlotte Knights produce an economic impact of close to $50 million a year. The region has NASCAR, NBA, NFL, major golf tournaments, other minor league teams, and now professional soccer. Charlotte has created a great hotbed for professional sports, while amateur sports are also enjoying growth. All this is largely thanks to the initiatives of city and hospitality leaders. They are very aggressive in trying to get sports teams to the region and making sure they stay

 

What are the benefits of being located in Center City?

Our ballpark is gorgeous. There are very few ballparks that have our skyline view, and fans can easily get to the park. Our affordability is important, especially in minor league baseball. While there are many options for fans, with different levels of ticketing, with us, they can get a ticket for $10 or $12 and enjoy the game. Some major league sports games are not as affordable as minor league baseball. We offer a great product that is not necessarily driven by wins or losses. We drive our fan base by promoting the experience, whether it be through a fireworks show, giveaways or on-field contests. We try to create an atmosphere of nine innings of fun. Being located in Center City, with its vibrancy, and the population base that is in this core, as long as you provide a good product people will continue to come. 

 

How are you collaborating with the local business community?

We are heavily involved with the business community as all sports teams in the city are. Charlotte has a tremendous business community. There are several organizations that work closely to improve the city and the business community gets that. We are fortunate to have wonderful corporate leaders across sectors that step forward when there are initiatives out there that relate to the community. We feel we need to be active in the community. That means donating time, money and resources. We have the ability to bring underprivileged kids to the ballpark and give them a great experience with professional athletes. As a sports organization, you have to position yourself to make an impact in the community that other people may not be able to make.

 

What can fans expect from the Charlotte Knights in 2020?

We have 70 games a year. We also host college baseball games. In 2020, we will host the ACC baseball tournament. This year, we will host a number of events related to the Republican National Convention. In the fall, we plan to host a few concerts as well. We will continue to improve our brand and keep prices affordable. We want to be creative, but always give people three hours of a fun experience.” 

 

To learn more about our interviewee, visit: https://www.milb.com/charlotte-knights

Spotlight On: Beat Kahli, President and CEO, Avalon Park Group

Spotlight On: Beat Kahli, President and CEO, Avalon Park Group

By: Felipe Rivas

2 min read February 2020 — The Sunshine State has been a beacon of light for companies and families wishing to live, learn, work and play under the sun. Much of the population growth happening in Florida is concentrated in Central and South Florida. Compared to South Florida, the Orlando market still has land to develop and has done a great job in diversifying its economy, Avalon Park Group CEO Beat Kahli told Invest: Orlando. The group is developing four projects spanning from Tampa to Daytona Beach and focusing on mixed-use communities where residents can live, learn, work and play.  

How would you describe the strength of the real estate market in Orlando today?

Orlando has a high level of infrastructure, with the Orlando International Airport, the Orange County Convention Center, University of Central Florida and a broad job base. The level of infrastructure compared to the pricing on real estate is one of the biggest advantages in the area. If you compare Orlando to other markets like South Florida and New York, Orlando still has land. While we still have a lot of land available, Orlando has done a great job in diversifying its economy. The I-4 corridor is key to the region’s growth and I see Orlando and Tampa growing together. 

 

What are your most significant projects in Central Florida?

We have four large projects in the I-4 corridor between North Tampa, Orlando, Daytona Beach and Tavares. We have over 20,000 residential units and those projects are all at different stages. Our Avalon Park Orlando project is 99% completed. For this project, we focused first on young families. We have 10,000 students stationed in our school district and thousands of homes already built. The community is a great place to live, learn, work and play with a variety of apartments, single homes, town houses, schools and about 150 businesses.  

 

What are some trends in Orlando’s real estate market?

People are interested in mixed-use development communities where you can live, learn, work and play. Building smaller homes is another trend, especially due to their affordability. People are getting smaller homes with higher upgrades in design and finishes. The most important change is toward live, learn, work, play communities and the quality of life these present. Co-working spaces are also a trend and we have already started to include these types of spaces in our communities. 

 

What is your outlook for Orlando’s real estate sector in the next year?

We have done a much better job after the Great Recession. When I look back on the last decade of recovery, I’m very positive about Central Florida for the next 20 years. However, we expect the real estate sector to stabilize within the next two years. Central Florida has attractive prices, and its diversified economy provides great opportunities for real estate investments.  

 

To learn more about our interviewee, visit: 

https://www.avalonparkgroup.com/team/

Spotlight On: Alan Zuckerman, Managing Shareholder & COO, Flaster Greenberg PC

By: Max Crampton Thomas

2 min read February 2020 — Flaster Greenberg’s South Jersey attorneys are bringing in new talent to hone and increase the services they offer their mostly business and high-net-worth clientele, which include everything from M&A to succession work, while preparing to face challenges such as the impending legalization of cannabis in the state, the nationwide PFAS environmental problem and the changes to retirement planning contained in the SECURE Act,. Invest: spoke with Flaster Greenberg PC’s Managing Shareholder & COO Alan Zuckerman. 

 

What sets Flaster Greenberg apart from other law firms in the South Jersey market?

 

We are a midsized commercial law firm specializing in pretty much every practice that businesses and high-net-worth individuals, our primary clientele, would need. Most of our lawyers have come from large Philadelphia firms. We pride ourselves in doing the same type and quality of work as the larger firms, but at lower rates and more efficiently.

 

Most recently, we have done a tremendous amount of deals and merger and acquisition work. We have also had some very large bankruptcy cases. Regarding M&A, it has been all over the industry. Most of our clients have usually been closely-held businesses, even some very large ones. At some point, some of those businesses have to be passed on to the new generation, or they are sold. As a result, we have been seeing a tremendous amount of activity in the sale market, and we have been representing a lot of companies in all business sectors that are selling, in many cases to private equity firms. Private equity firms have been the most active buyers in the transactions we have been representing.

 

Is there any legislation, local or federal, that could have an impact on the way you or your clients do business?

 

There are two significant pieces of legislation, one at the national and another at the state level. There are environmental laws coming in that could mean a lot of environmental litigation. The others are, on a national level, the SECURE Act, which really impacts retirement plans, in particular, the amount and period of time in which people with 401k retirement plans will be allowed to take money out of their retirement plans and defer paying taxes. This new law substantially changes those rules and shortens the period of time for withdrawals. For many people who have done planning on their retirement plans, that is all going to have to be revamped.

 

There is also the pending legalization of cannabis in the state of New Jersey. We have some businesses gearing up for it, although there has not been a whole lot of demand just yet.

 

What are the main challenges facing firms and their clients in the South Jersey area?

 

One of the challenges is rate pressure, as our clients are cost-sensitive to legal work, as they should be, and that requires lawyers to be more efficient in their work. From a local standpoint, the opportunity we find in the South Jersey market is that office spaces are much less expensive compared to Philadelphia, which is only a few miles away. Although we have seen most of our growth over the last few years in Philadelphia and expect to see more, we made the decision last year to renew our lease here in South Jersey because the occupancy cost is less expensive.

 

One of the downsides in South Jersey we face for that decision is the lack of transportation infrastructure. We get into Philadelphia but that is about it. There is no local transportation for the most part. From a statewide perspective, taxes are very high, both income and property taxes, which make it harder for businesses to stay or relocate here.

 

What are the company’s main areas of focus for 2020?

 

Our focus is to continue to be able to be a full-service firm with very efficient and quick response to our clients. To do that, we feel that we need to continue to grow, bringing new attorneys into our firm. In addition to a six-lawyer firm we have already brought into the fold, we have expanded our footprint into the western Philadelphia suburbs with the opening of our Conshohocken, PA, office last June. Most recently, we grew our intellectual property department by welcoming an 11-member patent team headquartered in the firm’s Philadelphia office.

 

To learn more about our interviewee, visit:

 

https://www.flastergreenberg.com/

 

Spotlight On: Bill Cronin, President & CEO, Pasco EDC

Spotlight On: Bill Cronin, President & CEO, Pasco EDC

By: Max Crampton-Thomas

2 min read February 2020 — Successful economic development is a product of consistent improvement of the current situation of a region and consideration of what the long-term future could hold for that same region. In Florida’s Pasco County, economic developers are thinking about what is to come and how to create a sustainable economic growth environment by helping startups get off the ground while training a competitive workforce, taking advantage of the state’s first-rate education system. In a conversation with Invest:, President and CEO for the Pasco EDC Bill Cronin discussed these initiatives and actions at length. 

 

 

 How is Pasco County working to push forward economic development?

 

We want to make sure we have a good mix of both office and industrial investments in the county since large industry has a different multiplier because it attracts suppliers and others that the office investments do not. We are one of the only Economic Development Organizations to own and operate our own business incubators. These two incubators offer countywide programming, where you don’t necessarily have to be in that co-working space to take advantage of the curriculum that we offer for startups, and even for companies that are going into their second phase.

 

We offer micro loans through that program, and we have a regional license for CO.STARTERS, which is a curriculum that we use for startups and next-generation companies. We also use those incubators as a soft-landing place for our international FDI prospects. While many of our competitors in economic development are going after these large, established companies that have 100-200 employees, we work with them, but also with the company that says, “Hey, I just want to start sales with one or two people,” and we let them use our incubators as a landing place to get them started.

 

All areas, whether it is entrepreneurship, land development and making sure we have enough product, our buildings and sites, workforce development in the county as a whole — all of those are now part of the strategic plan, but also with a sense of innovation and smart growth that is interwoven through those protocols. They are verticals in our strategic plan, such as innovation and technology. When we look at a collision between areas, such as logistics and IT, or life sciences or agriculture and IT, life sciences and distribution, all of these can be tied together through innovation and smart growth.

 

How are you ensuring that your workforce is being trained to survive the changing economic environment?

 

There is a lot of confusion right now with some of these rapid changes in technology and business models. That also applies to the industries we focus on. Probably 80% to 90% of our workforce is being trained for jobs that do not yet exist. How do we make sure we are prepared for that? We started to hear this theme about competitiveness and we are making sure we have fertile conditions for that type of growth in the future. We may not know everything but what we do know is that we’ve got to be ready and have the right conditions for these things to be deployed.

 

How are you looking at sustainability regarding the county’s economic growth?

 

We need to make sure that when it comes to jobs and recruitment, we are creating jobs for everybody. If you put too much emphasis on high-impact jobs alone, they won’t trickle down by themselves. You still need to make sure that every single layer of the economy and socio-economic strata has the right jobs for the right people. That is important because if you don’t do that then people will have to move away, and we will have to import talent to some extent.

 

In the last couple of years, Florida has been among the leading destination states for migration. We are looking at around 180 people a day coming into this region, and the state sees around 1,300 people a day. With that many people moving in, our business community has been able to take their pick of all the people coming in, and in times of low unemployment it is usually hard to find talent. You have to steal it from someone else or grow it internally. But because of interstate migration, we have been at full employment for a long time now and we still have access to talent. That’s because all these people are moving here everyday. The reason they are moving here is because things are not as good somewhere else, or they prefer it here. We have to make sure that our environment continues to be better than that of our competitors, and that we provide a good tax environment, which we have. We are also the fastest-growing region in the United States and the largest consumer market in the Southeast. You see a lot of that migration because of things like that, and because of quality of life and education. Our state university system is now No. 1 in the nation.

 

To learn more about our interviewee, visit: 

http://pascoedc.com/

 

 

Spotlight On: Patrick Mahoney, Principal, President & CEO, NAI Realvest

Spotlight On: Patrick Mahoney, Principal, President & CEO, NAI Realvest

By: Yolanda Rivas

2 min read February 2020 — Orlando’s real-estate scene has witnessed major changes as people look more for destination experiences and after Amazon changed the rules of retail. While some regions within Orlando are running out of development land, Patrick Mahoney, principal, president and CEO of NAI Realvest, is convinced there is still room for growth.

How has real estate demand evolved in Orlando?

The changes in retail are the talk of the town. We work with Planet Fitness among several other retailers that are marketed as destinations. You still see the national value tendency with examples like HomeGoods and T.J.Maxx. Similar businesses are still coming in and leasing space. Forever 21’s bankruptcy filing had more to do with overleverage. It was more about debt rather than retail. There are certain malls, such as Fashion Square Mall, where a complete redo is scheduled. In these cases, the anchor tenants are likely not going to stay, to the benefit of a more multifamily, mixed-used project. The other extreme is the strip malls: small clothiers that focus primarily on making sure they are in the right location. Park Avenue and Winter Garden are good examples of that. An increasing number of these small boutique clothiers are going to have a small store presence but will start selling online.

 

What advice would you give small retailers to thrive in this market?

It boils down to a two-pronged approach. First, demographics. Remain aware of changes within the demographics around their location and adapt to those changes. Second, plan the required resources ahead of time to weather such changes and make the best use of the available land and redevelop the property. 

 

What primary challenges is your business facing?

The first thing that comes to mind is competition. There is virtually no barrier to entry when it comes to obtaining a real estate license. The spectrum goes from a residential broker dipping its pen in commercial while working from home with no overhead, to groups like us with lots of overhead and a fully-staffed office, and finally the multibillion-dollar competitors that we compete with, such as CBRE. To maintain a sharp edge, we engage in a continuous improvement process, embracing new technology. We invest in the latest software and research tools. As members of NAI Global, we can compete with multibillion-dollar real estate companies on either a national or global stage. Because we are locally owned, we have greater local knowledge and flexibility in the marketplace than our large competitors do. We have the best of both worlds: being able to compete with either the big and small real estate firms. 

 

Financing also remains an issue. Coming out of the last recession we learned who to approach, depending on the property type and what we are trying to accomplish. Increasingly, we are turning to private rather than bank debt. Banks usually are on the fence over lending on land. 

 

Manpower is another challenge. I would consider Orlando a zero percent unemployment market. Whether it is salespeople, administrative help or maintenance engineers and property management, finding talent is difficult. 

 

What is your outlook on commercial real estate in Orlando?

We remain quite bullish about the market, particularly Florida and Central Florida. We are positive that 2020 will be another solid year as there are no variables telling us otherwise. Recruiting is at the top of our list. Our operational focus will remain centered on delivering excellence for our clients, our brokers and property owners through continual improvements. We do not skimp on our resources and invest in the best software available to manage our properties, such as Yardi. We are implementing the tip of the iceberg. We will also continue to guarantee we are as financially secure as possible through solvent debt levels. 

 

To learn more about our interviewee, visit:

NAI Realvest: http://www.naiglobal.com/members/nai-realvest-maitland-orlando-area

Spotlight On: Silvana Capaldi, Founding Chair, Alliance of Merger & Acquisition Advisors of Tampa Bay

Spotlight On: Silvana Capaldi, Founding Chair, Alliance of Merger & Acquisition Advisors of Tampa Bay

By: Max Crampton-Thomas

2 min read January 2020 — The long-term success of any economy is predicated on both organic growth and consistent M&A activity within the business community. Founding Chair of the Tampa Bay Chapter of the Alliance of Merger & Acquisition Advisors Silvana Capaldi believes the Tampa Bay Region is booming with new opportunities for business deals and the business experts she represents are there to help business owners and investors make the most of their businesses.

 

 

 

What is happening in the Tampa Bay Region market that makes it attractive for an advisory body such as the Alliance to decide to set up shop here?

 

According to the Census Bureau, Tampa Bay is one of the fastest-growing areas in the United States, which is great for our local businesses, businesses relocating here and startups. We have an enthusiastic entrepreneurial spirit and a very strong, engaged business community. Our support system and services for our young, innovative business startup space continues to grow. We want to see businesses thrive and our goal is to provide education and resources to business owners and business professionals.  Business owners are reluctant to attend events for fear of being bombarded with people selling to them. It is our mission to provide a venue where they can hear local business owners share their lessons learned and showcase the talent pool of experts in our community: investors, business leaders, organizations and mentors who are invested in Tampa Bay.  

 

Have you seen a significant uptick in M&A activity in the region?

 

With our favorable economic condition, availability of bank loans and private equity accessibility, we have seen an increase in M&A activity. For example, ConnectWise acquired companies and then sold to a private equity group, while PGT Innovations acquired NewSouth Window Solutions.  

We see companies looking for strategic growth through M&A. They may be looking to gain market share, expand talent pool, gain resources or eliminate competition.   

In addition, the benefactors of the M&A deal now have capital to reinvest. These business owners are experienced people feeding back into the entrepreneurial ecosystem, building companies that will one day sell again.

 

Where are you seeing the most demand for the services the Alliance provides?

 

The Alliance is both an educational and resource platform for business owners. We want business owners to have an understanding of the options they have, whether they are selling their business, passing the business to family or employees, or growing their business with an investor. So often we hear from business owners stating that they were unaware of options available to them when deciding to exit. We engage speakers with the business owner in mind. 

 

What is the value added by the professional services you offer in facilitating business deals?

 

There are so many moving parts in a business deal. We provide valuable resources and have a network of professional experts to work with the business owner to maximize valuation and expose them to the right opportunities.

 

Companies that have approached a transaction intermediary, hoping to sell their businesses, are often turned away for not being “market ready.” Those that go to market sell for a lower value. Then there are deals that fall apart when they get to the due diligence. I worked as a consultant for an insurance agency and the owner claimed he was 100% owner. Through the due diligence process, the client neglected to share that there were two family members who had ownership in the company.

 

Business owners often think that their business is worth more, only to be disappointed at the number after the valuation. That’s when a professional can come in and suggest adjustments that would increase the value. For example, the buyer may want to know what prospects are in the pipeline, projected future sales, reports or what CRM they are using.  Not having that information or tools can decrease the value of the company.

 

What is your view of the Tampa Bay Area market in the near term?

 

This is an exciting time for Tampa Bay. We will continue to attract businesses that want to relocate here,  and companies that are being formed. Business owners that have exited their businesses are reinvesting into companies. Our entrepreneurial ecosystem will continue to draw young innovators. The University of Tampa’s John P. Lowth Entrepreneurship Center, a partner of the Alliance, is committed to helping innovative startups gain traction, which equates to continually drawing and retaining entrepreneurs. Tampa Bay communities will continue to invest in an already exceptional entrepreneurial ecosystem, allowing Tampa Bay to become recognized as the place to invest.

 

To learn more about our interviewee, visit: 

https://www.amaaonline.com/tampa-bay-chapter/

 

 

Spotlight On: Carl H. Bagell, Managing Partner – Southern NJ,Friedman LLP

Spotlight On: Carl H. Bagell, Managing Partner – Southern NJ,Friedman LLP

By: Yolanda Rivas

2 min read February 2020 — Friedman LLP has been serving the accounting, tax and business consulting needs of numerous businesses in a wide variety of industries since 1924. Friedman’s South Jersey offices have more than tripled in size since they started doing business in the region. Southern NJ Managing Partner Carl H. Bagell discussed the firm’s main areas of growth and industry trends in an interview with Invest:

 

What services are seeing the most demand?

 

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. 

 

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

 

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. 

 

What are some trends in the region’s accounting sector?

 

A big trend is outsourcing a significant amount of our tax work. This helps reduce costs for clients and increases production. There is also a trend of clients looking for education and advisory services. Clients are looking for a customized experience and a trusted adviser. 

 

More broadly, a trend we continue to see is the impact of changes in tax law with each year and each administration. Our clients today need to be even more engaged with their accountants due to the ever-changing federal tax laws, especially when it comes to estate planning.  

 

What are your main areas of focus in South Jersey in 2020?

 

We have more than tripled our size since we started doing business in South Jersey. Our goal is to continue that growth and keep informing our clients and the community about all of our divisions and services. We provide support to numerous industries and types of businesses. We are also focusing on attracting top talent to support our expansion. 

 

To learn more about our interviewee, visit:

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

 

Spotlight On: Christopher Lam, Partner, Bradley Arant Boult Cummings LLP

Spotlight On: Christopher Lam, Partner, Bradley Arant Boult Cummings LLP

By: Felipe Rivas

2 min read February 2020 — Charlotte’s growth continues to attract a gamut of industries and talent into the region. As a result, the legal needs of businesses are evolving along with the diversification of the local economy, expanding the opportunities for legal professionals in the Queen City. Charlotte’s cost of living and sophisticated legal services rival the likes of New York, Chicago and Washington, D.C, Bradley Arant Boult Cummings Partner Christopher Lam told Invest: Charlotte. The business diversity is driving the need for expertise in compliance and data privacy. Additionally, there is a great emphasis to provide access to justice to all residents via pro bono legal services or by committing financial resources to community agencies in the region, Lam said. 

Q: How has the legal landscape changed with so much economic growth in the region?

A: From a legal perspective, a lot of firms from outside North Carolina decided to set up an office here, and not all of those have remained. According to American Lawyer, however, there are 59 law firms with a Charlotte office that are not headquartered here. This remains a very popular place to be for lawyers and that’s because of the way our business community has diversified.

We are known as a banking and financial services hub, and while this is still a key part of our economy, we are so much more than that, with energy, manufacturing, fintech and other sectors emerging. That diversification is good for us as lawyers too, as it better equips us to weather a potential downturn. For example, our firm has experts in multiple practice areas and industries, which allows us to serve clients with those needs and protects us against a downturn in one or two particular sectors.

Q: How have the legal needs of companies evolved as new technologies and developments emerge?

A: The core legal needs for businesses have largely remained the same – corporate, employment, litigation, real estate. But with new regulations, there is a greater need for expertise in compliance, specifically in data privacy, and particularly with new regulations such as GDPR and CCPA going into effect. That impacts almost every company. At Bradley, we have two of only a handful of lawyers in the country who are board-certified privacy lawyers, and we have an additional deep bench of lawyers who are CIPP-US certified. We have been well-positioned to help companies navigate these new regulations. 

Q: How do you think the private sector and public officials must work together to keep growth sustainable?

A: Charlotte has a proud legacy of business leadership in issues of community development and public policy. Our business leaders have long been champions of these initiatives and we certainly think we at Bradley are a part of that effort. It is important as corporate citizens that we recognize that the better we make our community as a whole, the better it is for everyone.

Q: How does the Charlotte legal market compare with other markets such as Chicago or New York?

A: Those cities are larger and more diverse and sometimes those legal markets can seem more attractive, whether it be a higher salary or more opportunities. In Charlotte, however, because of the diversity of the business community, we have sophisticated legal services here to rival the likes of New York, Chicago and Washington, D.C. We also have a cost of living that is more advantageous, meaning lawyers can have great opportunities with a lower cost of living. That’s the best of both worlds.

Q: What are the main challenges facing the Charlotte market today?

A: Most of the 5,500 lawyers in Mecklenburg County are not working in big firms or representing large companies. And there are thousands of residents in the broader Charlotte community who have legal needs but cannot afford legal services. As current president of the Mecklenburg County Bar, my time spent working with groups like the Charlotte Center for Legal Advocacy has emphasized that the greatest challenge for lawyers here is our responsibility to ensure there is access to justice for all. We have a professional obligation to do so. We can do this in a couple primary ways – providing pro bono legal services ourselves or committing our financial resources to the agencies doing the heavy lifting every day. That issue is not unique to Charlotte, but as lawyers we have a particular responsibility to help ensure there is access to justice. I am very proud to say our lawyers at Bradley live into that. As but one example, we have a partnership with the Bank of America legal department through which we work with Safe Alliance to represent clients who need domestic violence protective orders. 

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

Spotlight On: Stan Lifsey, Co-Owner, The Current Hotel

Spotlight On: Stan Lifsey, Co-Owner, The Current Hotel

By: Max Crampton-Thomas

2 min read January 2020 — In 2020, creating experiences and innovation are two of the main keys to success in the hospitality industry. Stan Lifsey, the co-owner of The Current Hotel, recognized this and used it to help develop one of the newest hotel offerings in the Tampa Bay region. After receiving an initial positive reception, Lifsey is looking to continue capitalizing on the momentum while also pushing the hotel’s innovative approach to hospitality as customer demands continue to change. 

 

 

 How are visitors and residents in the Tampa Bay community reacting to the newest addition to the hotel scene? 

 

We wanted to take advantage of our strategic location on the water, so all 180 rooms have a waterfront view. We also wanted to partner with the best local brands in Tampa Bay and feature them, along with other local artists, in our hotel. This hotel is a one of a kind product and in a one of a kind location. We have been open for a short while, but so far we are very happy with how we have been received by the local community and the visitor turnout to the hotel. The customer feedback from both locals and visitors has been extremely positive, especially regarding the unique brand and design we have brought to Tampa Bay. We built this hotel with the idea to break the mold and cookie-cutter box that the hospitality sector in this region seemed to be stuck in with regards to architecture, interior design and concept.

 

Do you believe the demand curve will support the multiple new hotels coming online this year in the region? 

 

I believe the demand curve will be able to support all the new hotel inventory coming online, but that is with a caveat. I’d be interested to see how many of the current deals actually end up being built because of rising construction costs. Construction costs are at an all-time high, construction labor is incredibly tight and land is expensive. We were fortunate enough to have built when we did, but this market is becoming increasingly challenging. It requires a lot of equity to get these deals done and built.

 

Having all this new supply of rooms in the market is providing positive momentum and growth to the Tampa Bay Region and certainly makes entities like Visit Tampa Bay and the Tampa Bay Sports Commission’s jobs a little easier. Being able to offer this type of innovative product that is coming online really speaks to the evolution of the Tampa Bay hospitality market. We have been an undervalued market for quite a while, but with all the free press that Tampa Bay is receiving thanks to massive development’s like Water Street Tampa, it is driving more people into the region, which increases the demand for more hotels. All of which is ultimately great for the economy of the entire region.

 

How have you seen the hospitality industry adapt to changing customer demands? 

 

The overall hospitality market is moving more toward unique guest experiences. Guests want a different vibe and experience whenever they visit a new hotel. This is where the hospitality market is going not only for leisure travelers but also for corporate travelers. The upfront cost may be more to developers and owners but on the back end, your rate and the desire of people wanting to frequent your hotel is much greater.

 

The idea when building this hotel was that we didn’t want to adapt to anything. We wanted to be  contrarian and blaze our own path. When we started this whole process, we had to engage a branding company and we went through about nine months of branding. Current was not just something that we landed on. The Current name is to do with the fact that we are on the water. It is also a nod to our wave ceiling inside the hotel lobby rotating art gallery and that we want to always be current and innovative in our approach. We always want our brand to shine through in everything we do, which ultimately benefits the customer experience.

 

To learn more about our interviewee, visit: 

https://www.marriott.com/hotels/travel/tparo-the-current-hotel-autograph-collection/