Invest: Tampa Bay 2020 Press Release

Invest: Tampa Bay 2020 Press Release

By: Max Crampton Thomas

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE 

July 9th, 2020

Tampa Bay’s economic resilience in the face of unprecedented challenges to highlight the launch of the second edition of Invest: Tampa Bay 2020.

 

Tampa Bay, FL – In this time of uncertainty, it has never been more important to showcase the strength and overall resilience of the local community and economy. Throughout the 156-page analysis, Invest: Tampa Bay 2020 presents a detailed and well-researched showcase of the strengths and opportunities in regional Tampa Bay’s economy. Tampa Bay’s durable real estate market and prominent healthcare sector, along with the challenges in the face of adversity across other sectors, are just some of the focal points in this edition of Invest: Tampa Bay from Capital Analytics. The 2020 edition highlights the region of Tampa Bay, including both Hillsborough and Pinellas counties, as well as a special focus chapter on the City of Clearwater. 

Invest: Tampa Bay is an in-depth economic analysis that highlights business opportunities that exist for investors, entrepreneurs and innovators within the Tampa Bay region despite a harsh economic climate due to the pandemic. Some of the opportunities spotlighted throughout the publication include Tampa Bay’s healthcare market that has made significant strides to establish this region as one of the preeminent medical hubs in Florida. The region’s real estate market is also covered in great detail as new developments continue to rise from the ground despite major roadblocks caused by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, a true testament to the thoughtful and strategic planning by the sector’s leaders. The publication also dives into the banking and finance sector, which has remained strong while also aiding the local business community through this unprecedented time. 

The official launch of the publication will take place on Thursday, August 20, at 11:30 AM via Zoom Webinar. This event will consist of a brief introduction by Capital Analytics’ CEO Abby Melone and will be followed by three robust panel discussions.

The panels will address the current economic climate as well as prevailing themes currently dominating the Tampa Bay region’s economy: finance and banking in the time of a pandemic, adaptation and transformation for the legal sector, and innovation within the business community stemming from the current crisis. Gregory Kadet of UBS Global Wealth Management U.S., Terry Igo of the Tampa Bay Trust Company, Scott Perry of AmeriLife Group and Travis Jennings of Finance Cape will participate in the panel, “Making the right financial choices amid economic uncertainty.” Rita Lowman of Pilot Bank will moderate. The second panel, “Adaptation for legal professionals in the wake of the pandemic,” will feature Marie Tomassi of Trenam Law, William Schifino of Gunster Law and Alan Higbee of Shutts and Bowen. The moderator will be Kevin Johnson of Johnson Jackson. The final panel, “Crisis breeds innovation: What this means for the business community,”  will consist of John Couris of Tampa General Hospital, Michael Schultz of AdventHealth, Santiago Corrada of Visit Tampa Bay and Douglas Wright of Holland and Knight. The moderator for this panel will be Christopher Bowen of RD Management. 

Hundreds of high-level guests and officials from Tampa Bay’s key industries and economic institutions will be tuning into the event via Zoom Webinar. We are inviting all attendees and those wanting to register for the event to participate in the following survey, the results of which will be presented at the Invest: Tampa Bay 2020 launch conference. 

“Never before has it been so essential to have accurate and comprehensive investor intelligence during these uncertain times,” said Abby Melone, president of Capital Analytics. “Capital Analytics is playing a pivotal role in ensuring a safe landing from this flash economic recession. Reports and events like ours enable the business community to take the right steps toward rebuilding. Following this event, we will be releasing our next South Florida titles, Invest: Miami and Invest: Palm Beach in early Q4 of 2020.”  

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About Capital Analytics & Invest: Tampa Bay

Capital Analytics is an integrated media platform that produces in-depth business intelligence through its annual print and digital economic reviews, high-impact conferences and events and top-level interviews via its video platform, Invest: Insights.

Invest: Tampa Bay is an in-depth economic review of the key issues facing Tampa Bay’s economy, featuring the exclusive insights of prominent industry leaders. Invest: Tampa Bay is produced with two goals in mind: 1) to provide comprehensive investment knowledge on the Tampa Bay region to local, national and international investors, and 2) to promote Tampa Bay as a place to invest and do business.

The book conducts a deep dive into the top economic sectors in the county, including real estate, construction, utilities and infrastructure, transportation and aviation, banking and finance, legal, healthcare, education, and arts, culture and tourism. The publication is compiled from insights collected from more than 200 economic leaders, sector insiders, political leaders and heads of important institutions. It analyzes the leading challenges facing the market, and uncovers emerging opportunities for investors, entrepreneurs and innovators.

For more information, contact: 

Max Crampton-Thomas

Content Manager 

305-523-9708 Ext: 233

The Post-Pandemic City

The Post-Pandemic City

By: Abby Melone, President & CEO, Capital Analytics

It’s a truism in today’s hyper-connected world that people go where the jobs are, more so now than ever before. But what happens when your job suddenly can be done from anywhere?

 

The 19th century ushered in the first and second Industrial Revolutions that saw more and more people move to urban environments, precisely because that’s where the jobs were. In the United States, the rise of manufacturing opened a new world of employment possibilities, pushing people from the farm to the factory. It’s a push that in one way or another continued into the 20th and 21st centuries. The result is seen today in the population densities that cram big cities from coast to coast, border to border.

According to the United Nations’ World Urbanization Prospects report and the website Our World in Data, the world crossed over in 2007. That’s the fist year the number of people living in urban areas rose above the number living in rural areas (3.35 billion versus 3.33 billion). In the United States, around 82.3% of the population lives in urban areas, according to the World Bank. Growth trajectories project a steady increase in urbanization as far out as 2050. 

Today, the millennial generation is changing the character of urbanization by spearheading the live-work-play ethos. This generation prefers to skirt the traffic jams and live and play near where they work. The goal to have it all close by has given rise to the mixed-use building concept that puts everything – your living options, your entertainment choices and your shopping – all in one convenient location, which preferably, is near your workplace. 

It also means we are all living closer to each other in smaller and smaller spaces. That seemed to suit a lot of people just fine. Then the COVID-19 pandemic happened, and all of sudden, none of that seemed fine at all.

The pandemic resulted in shelter-in-place orders that forced people to live 24 hours a day in their homes while also working from their home offices, if they had one, or their kitchen tables if they didn’t. The very idea of needing to go somewhere else to do your job turned out to be not so much of a necessity after all. In just a few months, priorities appear to have shifted. Now, many of us seem to crave space, the great outdoors, and we seem to be split 50-50 on whether we want to continue working from home, wherever we choose that to be, or prefer an official office setting, mostly for the socializing.

There is little doubt that the world has changed as a result of the pandemic. Most experts are puzzling on whether that change will last and just what our cities will look like as a result. The fact is, though, that change was already in play before COVID-19 hit.

My company focuses on nine major U.S. markets like Orlando, Miami, Atlanta and Philadelphia. We talk to industry and political leaders to understand the issues their communities face to gauge the direction in which they are moving. Today, everyone is talking about the pandemic’s impact on the retail sector, for example. Yet, e-commerce was already a thing before COVID-19. In 2019, a record 9,800 stores were shuttered, according to a Bloomberg report, with 25,000 closures expected in 2020 due to the coronavirus impact, the report said, citing Coresight Research. Yes, that’s a devastating impact, but the pandemic really has only accelerated the pace of implementation. It pushed more people online immediately, but those people were likely headed there anyway.

Many of the leaders we have spoken with during the pandemic agree that retail and commercial real estate was already undergoing a slowdown as industrial space to accommodate last-mile delivery for the Amazons of the world was booming. Many expect this trend will continue.

More importantly, what the pandemic has done has caused a rethink of priorities among individuals and it is this impact that will likely shape the post-pandemic city. Living in lockdown awakened people to the “smallness” of their space, forced on them by a combination of convenience and higher and higher housing prices in big cities. The median listing price for a home in Miami-Dade, for example, was $465,050 in May compared to the average U.S. listing price of $329,950, according to the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis. Interestingly, population growth in Miami-Dade was already slowing as more people moved out, with escalating living costs among the factors. With the pandemic highlighting the risks of living so close together, will more people decide that farther away is not only cheaper, but safer?

Big city living will change in the post-pandemic world as social distancing forces “people places” like gyms and restaurants to accommodate lingering fears from the virus. Tens of thousands of small businesses have already closed down for good, clearly altering the very unique characteristics of cities that attracted people in the first place.

The biggest impact, however, will be on how – and where – jobs are done. Remote working is hear to stay in some form or another. Like the industrial revolutions of the 18th and 19th centuries, people will always go where the jobs are. For many, those jobs will now be done from home, which means that home can be virtually anywhere. It creates choice like never before, and this will dramatically alter the character, although not likely the course, of urbanization. That’s an important difference. 

Big cities have seen the ebbs and flows of population growth before and will likely see them again. Through it all, they have more often thrived than not. The post-pandemic city may look and feel a bit different – the way condo units are built, for example, may change to accommodate working from home, while adding elements like air filters to battle any future virus outbreak – and there may even be a greater push to the suburbs in the short term. Overall, however, continued urbanization likely will remain on the cards. If we’re lucky, there may just be a little more distance between all of us.

 

2020 Hurricane season in the face of coronavirus

2020 Hurricane season in the face of coronavirus

By: Felipe Rivas

2 min read May 2020—A few days shy of the official start of the 2020 hurricane season and the Southeast has already seen two named tropical storms. Tropical Storm Arthur brought inclement weather to the Carolinas a full two weeks before the June 1 start date and on Wednesday Tropical Storm Bertha formed quickly in the morning and drenched South Carolina before dissipating to a depression, all in a day’s notice. 

 

As the country reels from the devastating effects of the coronavirus, states on the East Coast can expect an above-normal Atlantic hurricane season, according to forecasters with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Climate Prediction Center, a division of the National Weather Service. States like Georgia, Florida and the Carolinas can expect a 60 percent chance of having an above-normal hurricane season with a likelihood of three to six major hurricanes making landfall. The Atlantic hurricane season runs from June 1 to Nov. 30, peaking in August and September.

The 2020 Atlantic hurricane season is expected to have 13 to 19 named storms, six to 10 hurricanes, and three to six major hurricanes, according to the National Weather Service. As states juggle coronavirus-related safety concerns with the reopening of their economies, state leaders urge residents to begin their preparation and evacuation plans early while emphasizing the importance of hygiene and keeping in mind social distancing measures. “This early season storm reminds us that we always need to be prepared for severe weather,” North Carolina Emergency Management Director Mike Sprayberry said during the formation of Tropical Storm Arthur, which set off tropical storm warnings along the North Carolina coast from Surf City north to Duck. “The time to prepare is now,” Sprayberry said.  

COVID-19 may put a damper on the way residents traditionally prepare for the months-long season. “Social distancing and other CDC guidance to keep you safe from COVID-19 may impact the disaster preparedness plan you had in place, including what is in your go-kit, evacuation routes, shelters and more. With tornado season at its peak, hurricane season around the corner, and flooding, earthquakes and wildfires a risk year-round, it is time to revise and adjust your emergency plan now,” said Carlos Castillo, acting deputy administrator for resilience at FEMA, according to the National Weather Service. “Natural disasters won’t wait, so I encourage you to keep COVID-19 in mind when revising or making your plan for you and your loved ones, and don’t forget your pets.”

In Florida, a magnet for constant hurricane activity throughout the season, leaders are strategizing on how to contain the spread of COVID-19 in the midst of a hurricane threat.      “We don’t know how the virus is going to react as we move into these various stages,”Gov. Ron DeSantis said at a news conference in Sarasota, according to the U.S News & World Report.  “We don’t know what it’s going to look like a month from now, three months from now, but we have to assume that it’s going to be with us in some capacity, so how do you deal with hurricane issues?” he said. 

Days before the official start to hurricane season, Florida has reported more than 52,000 cases of the coronavirus and more than 2,300 deaths, according to the Johns Hopkins University & Medicine’s Coronavirus Resource Center. “This virus really thrives and transmits when you have close sustained contact with people inside an enclosed environment,” DeSantis said. “As you’re looking at sheltering for a hurricane, you have to keep that in mind. If you pile people into a place, under normal circumstances that may be fine, but that would potentially allow the virus to really spread if somebody is in fact infected,” he said.  

Florida leaders are working with the Federal Emergency Management Agency on changes to sheltering and evacuation procedures to account for the coronavirus implications. Florida emergency management Director Jared Moskowitz said those changes could include shelters that only accept people infected with the coronavirus, or shelter in place orders depending on the strength of the building and magnitude of the storm. “We’re going to do more non-congregate sheltering instead of mass congregate sheltering,” Moskowitz said.

In similar fashion, Georgia leaders and the Georgia Emergency Management Agency urged all Georgians to prepare and follow activity in the tropics. Tropical Storm Arthur did not cause too much impact as it curved away from the Peach State while traveling through the Atlantic Ocean. Though unfazed by Tropical Storm Arthur, Georgia has dealt with severe weather conditions since the start of the spring. In March and April, Georgia experienced heavy rainfall and severe flooding in more than 100 counties while also dealing with the aftermath of the coronavirus. In March, Gov. Brian Kemp signed an executive order declaring a state of emergency for 120 Georgia counties south of I-20. “The state is working to ensure counties impacted by flooding across Georgia have access to all the resources necessary to respond,” Kemp said at the time. “I encourage residents to listen to their local officials and news sources and heed the directions of their local emergency management officials,” he said. 

To learn more, visit: 

https://www.noaa.gov/media-release/busy-atlantic-hurricane-season-predicted-for-2020

ReadyNC.org

https://gema.georgia.gov/

https://floridadisaster.org/

https://www.fema.gov/media-library-data/1589997234798-adb5ce5cb98a7a89e3e1800becf0eb65/2020_Hurricane_Pandemic_Plan.pdf

 

Spotlight On: Catherine Stempien, President, Duke Energy Florida

Spotlight On: Catherine Stempien, President, Duke Energy Florida

By: Max Crampton-Thomas

2 min read April 2020 — Duke Energy is among the largest electric power holding companies in the United States. In March, as the COVID-19 pandemic caused a virtual economic shutdown, Duke Energy took its own measures to alleviate the stress for customers, announcing it would not suspend customers’ power during the course of the pandemic. President Catherine Stempien discusses the region’s energy needs during the crisis and the impact from the virus, and its own transition to remote work.

 

How have both shelter-in-place measures and reduction of business activity impacted the region’s energy needs?

 

It’s too early to understand the full impact of the coronavirus on our business operations. However, there are a few things that are obvious given the current circumstances. More energy is being consumed by residential customers and less in the commercial spaces – especially hotels and the tourism industry. For our residential customers, keeping the power on is more important than ever. We know business owners are operating from home, employees are working remotely and many are teaching their children at home as well. Even a brief interruption can cause a huge disruption to what some customers may feel is an already stressful situation.

Right now, we are focused on continuing to deliver the reliable power customers and communities need while helping to protect the health and safety of those we serve and our employees.

I am proud of the work our 3,800 Duke Energy Florida employees do to make sure our customers’ lights stay on, our hospitals are powered up and important food supplies stay cooled. Now more than ever, we feel a heightened sense of urgency because our customers and communities are counting on us to deliver the reliable service they expect. That’s why you will see us out in communities, continuing to respond to power outages and completing essential work.  

Duke Energy works with local Emergency Operation Centers to develop a critical customer list that includes hospitals, emergency rooms and other medical facilities. We have proactively been checking the feeders – which are the backbone of our system – to be sure these critical lines have reduced risk of an outage impacting the critical facilities that our customers need. 

To protect the communities we serve, we’re asking our essential workers in the field or operating power plants to maintain safe distances and use enhanced protective gear. If they need to interact with a customer, they will follow strict CDC guidance, which we are closely monitoring for developments.  

We are also implementing worker screening measures (including temperature checks), enforcing social distancing, restricting certain areas of power plants, increasing CDC disinfectant cleanings between and during work shifts, staggering start times, adding physical barriers, placing some workers on-call and having others work remotely, and implementing a no-visitors policy.  

Our business continuity plans have contingencies to sequester certain employees at plant sites and other critical facilities, however we are not sequestering employees at this time.

We want our customers to know Duke Energy is working hard 24/7 to deliver this essential service during this critical time.

 

Duke Energy temporarily suspended disconnections for nonpayment and waived late payment fees effective March 21. How has the community since responded to this initiative? 

Many of our customers are facing economic challenges. We want to help relieve the financial burden on our communities. In mid-March, the company stopped service disconnections for unpaid bills and waived returned check and late payments fees for all customers. On April 28, The Florida Public Service Commission approved our plan to significantly reduce customers’ bills for the May 2020 billing cycle by giving the annual fuel savings in a single bill. Traditionally, these fuel savings would be refunded over the following year. A typical residential customer will see a decrease of nearly 21% on May’s bill. Commercial and industrial customers will see significant savings ranging from approximately 20% to 45%.  

However, hot weather and additional time at home, can mean more energy consumption and could result in higher bills. We strongly encourage customers to use many of the tools we provide to help them manage their usage and to pay what they can to avoid building up a large balance that may be harder to pay off later. If customers are struggling to pay bills, we have a variety of programs to help, including our Florida Energy Neighbor Fund duke-energy.com/FLNeighbor, or please contact us at duke-energy.com. For those who are fortunate enough to be in a position to give, we would ask you to consider a donation to the Energy Neighbor Fund. The dollars go to agencies that help customers pay any utility bill.

The Duke Energy Foundation also announced $1 million in COVID-19 response and education grants. The company’s $450,000 COVID-19-related grants address immediate social service and hunger relief needs resulting from the virus pandemic. In addition, the Duke Energy Foundation recently granted $550,000 to 22 Florida-based organizations to support energy, engineering and environmental educational initiatives. Given the COVID-19 crisis, the Foundation has also provided each organization with the option to use the funds to address unforeseen operational challenges.

 

What has the transition to remote work been like for Duke Energy?

Our IT team has taken steps to expand our bandwidth and prepare our technology systems, including adding more remote connections and conference line capacity.  Corporate-wide, we have been able to support approximately 18,000 employees working remotely, that includes 90% of our call center staff. We’ve been using new technologies to keep in touch and stay connected. 

Scammers target victims year-round but often hit hardest when people are vulnerable. So, we’ve seen an increase in phishing scams, in addition to phone scams targeting our customers. Be aware of scammers, threatening disconnection of service and asking for immediate payment over the phone. Duke Energy never asks for personal information over the phone or demands payment using money orders or gift cards. And remember, Duke Energy has stopped service disconnections for unpaid bills.

We are already evaluating the best way to transition back into our more traditional workplace, but also evaluate what we’ve learned. We do measure, for example, our customer care center call response performance. There have been some areas such as the call center, that have stood out as doing extraordinarily well during these challenging times. We have a lot to evaluate and consider as we move forward. Each situation may be different and require a different response in the future. There will be great lessons learned, both to replicate and improve, that we’ll take away from this response.

 

How do you see the Florida region emerging from this pandemic?

I am on the Florida Governor’s Re-Open Florida Task Force Industry Working Group Related to Administrative, Education, Information & Technology, Manufacturing, Mining, Utilities and Wholesale. We are working closely with the Governor’s Office to consider the best ways to reopen Florida and its businesses. The task force is focusing on short-, medium- and long-term plans. There are multiple groups made up of local and state elected members, as well as business representatives working on a plan. Our goal is to determine how this will be accomplished with the health and safety of Floridians as the priority.

 

To learn more about our interviewee, visit: 

www.duke-energy.com

Federal, state govts rally to help homeless during COVID-19 outbreak

Federal, state govts rally to help homeless during COVID-19 outbreak

By: Felipe Rivas

2 min read  — Since March, shelter-in-place measures have become the norm across the nation, shuttering nonessential businesses, schools and public gathering spaces. While the majority of people transitioned to a new way of life during the quarantine, including remote work and distance learning, the U.S homeless population risks COVID-19 infection as they lack access to testing and basic hygiene facilities, among other measures to combat infectious diseases. Additionally, for the homeless population, many are older adults or have underlying medical conditions, increasing the likelihood of contracting COVID-19. As such, states, municipalities, local health departments, housing authorities, among other institutions, have been working to meet the food, shelter, hygiene and testing needs of the homeless population.   

 

In South Florida, the Miami-Dade County Homeless Trust, in collaboration with various state and federal agencies, has been helping to protect sheltered and unsheltered homeless households and its staff in the face of the COVID-19 threat. “The Homeless Trust is proactive in engaging our housing and support service providers to offer guidance, assess needs and facilitate vital connections to local, state and federal resources,” said Trust Chairman Ronald L. Book in a press release. “Our preparations have to consider the fact that much of our population does not have a ‘home’ with which to self-quarantine; therefore, we have broader issues to consider. We will continue to work to ensure homeless households have access to shelter, care and food while doing all we can to mitigate the virus’ spread.”

As part of its outreach efforts, the Miami-Dade County Homeless Trust is distributing hygiene, safety and food kits to unsheltered homeless persons throughout the county along with educational information. Outreach teams are taking temperatures of unsheltered homeless persons to pre-identify those with symptoms, among other measures to help prevent the spread of COVID-19.

In Pinellas County, the city of Clearwater has taken similar steps to help the homeless population of the region. As part of its mission, the city’s economic development department is focused on economic growth and the vitality of the community, which includes the homeless population. As such, the department is encouraging restaurants that have had to close or limit their operations temporarily to donate food to food banks, which then distribute the food to the most vulnerable segments of the community, Economic Development and Housing Director Denise Sanderson told Invest: Insights in an interview. “We have not seen a big increase in street level homelessness,” she said. “We have seen an increase in the presence of our homeless community. Primarily because we have had to close down our recreation centers and libraries.” As those facilities closed, the department pivoted to placing porta-potties and mobile shower units throughout the city to help the homeless community stay clean during this time. “To date, we have not had any cases, at least known to us, where COVID-19 has affected the homeless population.” Sanderson said. 

In Orlando, the shelters are preparing for an influx of homeless people. Shelters are down beds because social distancing precautions require separation of beds, Spectrum News reported. Shelters are concerned with bringing in people who may have the virus. “Right now we have a campus that is fairly safe. How do we bring people on without introducing that,” John Hearn, president and CEO of the Coalition for the Homeless of Central Florida, told the news outlet. Hearn’s shelter has been screening everyone before they enter the campus. The shelter set up isolation areas for people showing symptoms. This move, along with social distancing measures, cost the shelter close to 50 beds, Spectrum News reported. His shelter has increased the distribution of meals to three times a day and still has open beds available, according to the news outlet. 

At the federal level, the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, a $2 trillion funding package aimed at protecting the population, industries and businesses from the impact of the coronavirus, set aside more than $12 billion to help the homeless population and those who serve them. Community Solutions, a nonprofit organization focused on ending homelessness, detailed the portion of the CARES act aimed at helping those experiencing homelessness. The Department of Housing and Urban Development would divvy up the funds for Emergency Solutions Grants to assist homeless shelters and outreach workers who keep people who are homeless safer from coronavirus, different rent assistance programs, and other assistance programs aimed at the elderly, Native Americans, and people with AIDS, among other initiatives, according to Community Solutions. Federal, state and local agencies must work together to optimize resources and help for the homeless population, the nonprofit wrote on its website. “While we are pleased that our federal lawmakers provided this needed fiscal relief, we need to ensure that people experiencing homelessness, and those who serve them, continue to be supported as state and local governments work to administer funds and in any forthcoming stimulus package, Community Solutions said. “Following the injection of this stimulus funding, state and local governments must focus on allocating this new funding to protect people experiencing homelessness and homeless response staff, and limit inflow into health care and hospital systems. This includes ensuring people experiencing homelessness — and the people helping them — have immediate access to housing, health and safety training, personal protective equipment, facilities for hand-washing, medical treatment, testing options and ultimately, safe places to quarantine.”

 

To learn more about our interviewees, visit:

https://www.centralfloridahomeless.org/

http://www.homelesstrust.org/

https://www.myclearwater.com/government/city-departments/economic-development-housing

https://community.solutions/covid-19-and-homelessness/

Florida Polytechnic University navigates through COVID-19

Florida Polytechnic University navigates through COVID-19

By: Max Crampton- Thomas

2 min read April 2020As the coronavirus reduced daily activity to only essential services, educational institutions were forced to transition at a moment’s notice into a virtual setting as shelter-in-place measures and social distancing became commonplace. Entire curriculums, testing, labs, and even physical education in some cases, transitioned into an online classroom setting as teachers and students of all grade levels resumed their education under the COVID-19 pandemic. 

 

These risk-management decisions stressed and challenged the infrastructure of universities, colleges, and schools throughout the nation, while at the same time creating opportunities for innovation in the educational landscape. Although fully online classes are a temporary measure to slow the spread of COVID-19, and as local, state and national governments consider what a reopened economy may look like, educational systems alike are being forced to mitigate the challenges and innovate their educational practices and offerings via learning innovation and digitalization.

In Lakeland, Florida Polytechnic University, an institution solely focused on STEM education, pivoted to online learning quickly and carefully. “We made the transition much faster than anyone could have imagined. As a new university, we did not have an infrastructure in place for online classes, but nonetheless we were able to make the transition,” President Randy Avent told Invest: Insights via a virtual interview. “The biggest challenge was getting into a flow and using the software. We had to make a number of software purchases and get them running and get the student integrated. By far and large, it is going  much better than we expected,” he said. 

Under a COVID-19 landscape, tuition-dependent institutions are among the most vulnerable as students are liable to put their education plans on pause as they grapple with loss of employment and income. Colleges and universities with strong endowments and alumni contributions will likely survive the impact of COVID-19, but declines in revenue and increases in costs will likely loom for the coming academic years. Declining revenues could stifle innovation as institutions reprioritize budgets and offerings. 

However, a life post-COVID-19 may be ripe with opportunities for innovation and further streamlining of classes. COVID-19 helped destigmatize fully online learning. Moving forward, educational leaders will likely see online education as more than a source for extra revenues. Instead, online education will likely become an integral part of institutional resilience and academic continuity. Educational institutions will have to rethink how they plan for, fund, and market online learning. More unified institutions will emerge from the coronavirus pandemic, as online courses and student support functions become more centralized and integrated into existing academic structures and processes. 

For Florida Polytechnic University, there is an opportunity to use blended learning to teach a mixture of hard and soft skills, while also innovating their lab offerings. As part of their strong STEM curriculum, the university places a keen focus on teaching students a mixture of leadership skills that include communication, collaboration, and reliability that are desirable to employers, Avent said. “With this abrupt move to remote instruction, I think that we are exploring how we do all those things. One of the things that we also have as an engineering school is labs, and labs are very hard to do remotely,” he said. “It is one of those things that is forcing us to do blended models, where we do some instruction online and some instruction face to face. I think innovation is on how you do labs online and teach those leadership skills.”

Additionally, it is possible that online learning goes truly global as colleges and universities expand their student base to allow for more international students who may never see the inside of a physical campus. 

The lasting impact of COVID-19 to the educational sector remains to be seen. For the time being, it is likely that students will finish the spring semester and potentially the 2019-2020 school year from the comfort of their homes. As educators prepare for summer and fall semesters, they will have to contend with the challenges and opportunities of educating students in a post-COVID-19 world.       

To learn more about our interviewees, visit:https://floridapoly.edu/ 

To see the full interview with Florida Polytechnic University President Randy Avent, visit: 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R22lng9yxAc&feature=emb_title

https://www.capitalanalyticsassociates.com/invest-insights/

Understanding and addressing the current reality

Understanding and addressing the current reality

By: Max Crampton- Thomas

The Tampa Bay region, like everywhere else, is feeling the deep impact from the COVID-19 pandemic. In an interview with Invest:, Tampa Bay Beaches Chamber of Commerce CEO Robin Miller reflects on the economic fallout from the pandemic, how the chamber is supporting local businesses and what role the community can play to help businesses through this unprecedented crisis.

 

What have you already seen in terms of economic impact from the COVID-19 pandemic on the business community in the Tampa Bay region?

 

There has been unprecedented impact in nearly every sector; however, hospitality is at the top of those extremely impacted. When you look at this from the loss of jobs to the closure of hotels, this trickle effect impacts sales tax generated as well. For many years, we would have communities and people complain about visitors and tourists here. Now, the unfortunate reality is that this is what it looks like when we don’t have tourism in our communities.

How is your organization working to assist the business community in mitigating the challenges and impact felt from the COVID-19 pandemic?

 

We are working extremely hard to provide clear and concise information; assisting businesses in navigating and understanding the stimulus; and lastly, but more importantly, we have created a partnership with Feeding Tampa Bay and are providing food pantries once a week and access to produce.

Do you feel the business community is receiving enough state and federal support?

 

I think it is a good start; however, we are advocating strongly for sector-driven financial support that are not loans. The anxiety and stress of no business at all and keeping people employed is debilitating, and then the pure thought they will need to take out loans is overwhelming. This is a line item in a businesses budget that was not planned. They need access to grants and more of it. I think local governments can play a key role in this as well.


How can the community best assist the local businesses in this time of need?

 

Be patient with businesses as they now have a new normal to exist in. Once we start staggering the openings of our local communities and businesses, we all need to create a new plan to support them. We will all be on limited funds for months to come. I suggest that whenever we need something, let’s not immediately open an Amazon web window. Let’s instill a behavior that we immediately access our local options first. If you think you can get it on Amazon cheaper, tell your local business that. We need to band together in this support now more than ever.

For more information on our interviewee, visit: 

https://www.tampabaybeaches.com/

Let’s get virtual: Six must-read tips for engaging online

Let’s get virtual: Six must-read tips for engaging online

By: Abby Melone

It’s a brave new world for everyone. Quarantine, lockdown, self-isolation and sheltering in place characterize the new normal imposed by COVID-19, the illness caused by the new coronavirus. In a virtuous cycle, people depend on strong businesses, which depend on a strong economy, which depends on strong businesses that depend on people.

 

The fact is that people, businesses and the economy shouldn’t just stop, even in such unprecedented times, and perhaps more so because of this crisis. Fortunately, this is also the era of high technology, and there is no time like the present to show just what that technology is capable of, especially in business dealings.

 

As the pandemic stretches on, more businesses are turning to virtual meetings to get things done. Skype, Zoom … these are the most vital tools for business today. But as everyone has intimately discovered, when an in-person meeting becomes virtual, much can be lost, and the road to disaster can be perilously short when you’re online. We all want to be as effective as if we were physically there, but how do we stay engaging and charming and avoid as many distractions, hiccups and potential disasters as possible?

 

Like any good professional, you need to know the tricks of the trade. Here are some tips to help:

 

Positioning of the camera. A wacky camera angle can be extremely distracting. Who wants to see directly into the inside of your nose? Pull down your computer screen slightly to make sure the camera is dead on rather than pointing upward, which most likely is your more natural way to position the screen.

 

Background noise. There is no better way to turn off the person you are meeting with than some distracting noise. Be conscious of your surroundings, especially now that you are most likely working from home: clanking jewelry, dog barking, roommate or significant other also working from home. 

 

Distracting background. Make sure you do not give the person you are meeting with the opportunity to focus on a picture of the sports team you love but they hate. Position yourself against an empty wall or something non-distracting.

 

Don’t look at yourself in the video. Very few of us can resist glancing, or even staring, at our own camera window. Don’t! The person you are meeting can see you are distracted by you and not them. Also, you miss loads of cues from the other person when you are staring into your own eyes. Is the person you are meeting with interested? Engaged? Bored? Distracted? You won’t know unless you are looking at them.

 

Try to maintain a dialog. It’s easy to steal the “conversation” and talk and talk and talk. Be sure to make time in your presentation to see where the other person is, do they have questions, are they following along?

 

Know your demo tools: both the functionality of the platform as well as the material you will be showing. The person on your computer screen is watching your every move, so the more comfortable you are with your tools, the more flawless (and therefore impressive) you come across in your meetings. Close out all windows you would not want someone to see before your meeting starts (email, social media, YouTube). Remember: when technology goes wrong, it can take you from being competent and impressive to the alternative in seconds.

Spotlight On: Thomas Jewsbury, Executive Director, St. Pete-Clearwater International Airport

Spotlight On: Thomas Jewsbury, Executive Director, St. Pete-Clearwater International Airport

By: Max Crampton-Thomas

2 min read April 2020 — Prior to the current COVID-19 pandemic that is challenging all sectors of the local economy, the St. Pete-Clearwater International Airport was coming off a record growth year in 2019. Executive Director Thomas Jewbury spoke to Invest: about looking at a slew of new projects to increase its capacity while also looking to attract more traffic via new airlines to the Tampa Bay region.

 

What construction projects are ongoing at the airport and what impact are they expected to have when completed?

 

In 2020, we’ll finish our parking renovation project. It will expand long-term parking to accommodate more passengers. We are also focusing attention on the airfield. We have a $20-million project to rehabilitate the pavement surface of our primary runway. We expect to finish that project by the end of the year. We are also doing improvements to the terminal’s apron, replacing some of the asphalt with concrete, and converting an old runway into a taxiway. Those are projects that are underway.

We are also set to complete our airport master plan this year, defining our capital improvement program for the next five, 10 and 20 years. A big focus of that master plan is the future development of the terminal building. The next phase of terminal development will look at ways to increase efficiencies by consolidating the TSA’s passenger screening checkpoints and possibly the ticketing area.

We have a 130-acre undeveloped site that used to be a golf course. We are looking to develop that site for both aeronautical and non-aeronautical use. Before we can break ground, we had to conduct an environmental assessment. We just received approval from the FAA and received a finding of no significant impact. That sets the stage for us to improve our infrastructure. To develop the aeronautical parcels, we need to build new taxiways, which is included in our capital plan.

Among finished projects, we did an upgrade to our security system, and built part of a $4.5 million maintenance facility for our own airport maintenance workers. The facility is located on the airfield, it gives workers direct access and makes our operation more efficient. 

In addition to what the airport is doing, Allegiant Air invested $4 million to build a new maintenance/operations facility. They lease their space from the airport.

 

What economic impact does the airport have on the region?

Over a year ago, we concluded an economic impact study. At that time, we were doing just over 2 million passengers a year. It showed an economic impact on the community of over $1 billion annually. We’ve had several recent meetings with various airlines to try to attract new service. In addition to that, we are working with Allegiant to expand to additional cities, add more capacity and also try to incorporate international service. That is always an ongoing effort.

 

How does the airport contribute to sustainability in the Clearwater and Tampa Bay Region?

Our master plan has a focus on sustainability. It was important to us that we also championed another master plan that’s on the way, called the Gateway Master Plan. It looks at this area of Pinellas County and how the future infrastructure will be developed, including how other transportation modes will interact with the airport. It also identifies potential areas of the airport that could be converted for other transportation modes. The Gateway Master Plan is being drafted by Forward Pinellas.

 

What challenges is the transportation industry facing in Florida?

Surface transportation is one of the biggest hurdles. The Florida Department of Transportation is constructing the Gateway Express that will result in an elevated toll road to connect to Interstate 275. It will run in front of our airport. This will provide greater connectivity. 

 

To learn more about our interviewee, visit: 

https://www.fly2pie.com/