Why Palm Beach’s legal sector could emerge from pandemic a winner

Why Palm Beach’s legal sector could emerge from pandemic a winner

By: Felipe Rivas

2 min read July 2020Individuals and companies alike need reliable legal counsel during a time of need, and much like the people and businesses they serve, legal professionals quickly adjusted their operations as a result of the disruption caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. While the coronavirus may linger and continue accelerating change throughout different industries, Palm Beach legal professionals believe the county is suited to withstand the uncertainty and will continue to adapt to future changes. 

Florida’s favorable tax landscape, talented legal workforce, and diversifying economy are among the factors driving the population growth in the Sunshine State, which in turn drives the legal needs of businesses and residents. “The biggest factor is need, with South Florida growing in terms of population and as a regional business powerhouse,” West Palm Beach injury lawyer Gary Lesser told Invest: Palm Beach. “This means more lawyers have been needed to meet the legal needs caused by that growth.” Lesser, managing partner for Lesser, Lesser, Landy & Smith PLLC, one of the state’s oldest law firms, said Florida law schools’ emphasis on business, community involvement, and technical knowledge produce well-rounded graduates. “We are producing law graduates who are much more adept than they were years ago. Many lawyers are now graduating from law school and joining firms or setting up their own practices in South Florida,” Lesser said. 


“Florida has terrific law schools,” Fox Rothschild West Palm Beach Office Managing Partner Robert Sacco told Invest: Palm Beach. “They prepare students to be good theoretical lawyers and also provide critical insights on the practical aspects of being a lawyer. The clinical programs the law schools offer are particularly important in this regard as they give students a real sense of what it is like to practice in the real world,” he said. 


While Florida’s legal sector can count on well-rounded talent, COVID-19-related change was inevitable for legal professionals. “COVID-19 has really accelerated trends in the legal and business worlds. One example is the movement toward paperless systems, which is now much more common. The technology was always there but we have now developed greater efficiencies, which clients appreciate,” Lesser said. Video conferences have made client meetings, hearings and mediations possible during the pandemic and help meet the demand for legal services. “I think a lot of these changes will stay with us going forward, making law firms and businesses in general more efficient for clients and customers. I think there will be sectors of the economy that will scale down, but the legal and business worlds will continue to stay very busy,” Lesser said. 

While technology undoubtedly is helping the legal industry meet client demand, it can also increase opportunities for legal professionals. “Technology is a growth area for Palm Beach County,” Sacco said. “Technology companies are finding that South Florida offers business expansion opportunities that increasingly are becoming similar to those of Silicon Valley. West Palm Beach in particular is a developing hotspot for the tech industry – a sizable economic shift from the early 2000s when the area was more focused on tourists and retirement communities.” 

Although the future remains uncertain, Palm Beach County’s business and legal environment is likely to remain resilient in the midst of the coronavirus-related challenges. “Florida is too vibrant to be held down regardless of the outcomes. I think some job creation is needed since we lost so many jobs, but I think the prognosis for Palm Beach County is very good. I have seen some activity picking up in the last few weeks and the businesses that are adept and flexible will see the rewards going forward,” Lesser said. 

Sacco echoes Lesser’s sentiments when thinking about the medium- to long-term future of the region’s economy. “Going into the second half of 2020, the many business growth decisions that were delayed will be unleashed. I believe we will likely see a surge in economic activity as we go forward into 2021,” he said. “While it will take some time to reinvigorate some economic pipelines, I believe the outlook for 2021 is positive and we will ultimately see a strong economic rebound in 2021.” 

For more information, visit: 



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.


Spotlight On: Jenna Kelly, Northern Georgia Region President, Truist

Spotlight On: Jenna Kelly, Northern Georgia Region President, Truist

By: Felipe Rivas

2 min read May 2020SunTrust and BB&T have combined in a historic merger of equals to create Truist, the sixth-largest U.S. bank holding company. With 275 years of combined history serving clients and communities in high-growth markets, the new company will deliver the best of both companies’ talent, technology and processes, Northern Georgia Region President Jenna Kelly told Focus: Atlanta.


Q: What has stood out for Truist in Atlanta in the last year?

A: We announced our merger in February last year and closed it in December. We spent the bulk of the year operating independently as SunTrust and BB&T. This meant we really only had three months as a joint entity before the COVID-19 pandemic struck. All along, we have been talking about how this merger was an opportunity to build a better bank and we looked at how we were better together, including our complementary business lines and strategies. One of the exciting developments this year was our announcement of the new branding and our purpose. The Truist purpose is to Inspire and Build Better Lives and Communities. That purpose is at the center of everything we do, and something that differentiates us, especially given the current circumstances, to our clients.

Q: What has been the real impact of the COVID-19 outbreak on the operations of Truist?

A: We said from the outset of the merger that all our client-facing teammates would retain roles. Within the Northern Georgia region, our team remains in place and our efforts have really been more about how we integrate culture. With the pandemic, most of our team is working remotely. We paid a $1,200 special bonus to all our teammates who make less than $100,000, we have implemented additional time off and we have introduced more flexibility given family dynamics can be difficult to juggle when childcare or education are not available. 

We also turned our attention to how we can provide our clients with relief. We are participating in the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) and we are working on how we can get our clients the funding they need. Through the first round of funding, we have helped around 32,000 clients with $10 billion in PPP loans. In Atlanta, we made around $4 million in grants to the agencies that are on the frontlines of the crisis response. 

Q: As you have seen the landscape change, how have you seen the banking industry set up for the future?

A: The message is that there is a place for everyone, whether it be a small bank, a large regional or a multinational. The impetus behind our merger was the growth of technology in banking. We looked at the demands our clients have in the way they want to be serviced, and it is not necessarily walking into a branch anymore. We needed some additional scale, and we came together so we could be more innovative and make new investments. This does not mean there is no longer a role for community banks. We believe we have a unique opportunity however to leverage our high touch community bank model with investments in technology to create better client experiences and build more trust – something we call T3.

Q: What role does Atlanta continue to play for Truist in its portfolio?

A: Atlanta is our largest market, given it was the headquarters of SunTrust. When we merged, we enhanced our market position. Atlanta is a diversified economy both in industries and population and from a banking perspective, we like where we are in the market. We continue to invest to strengthen our position.  

We have a very long history of supporting Atlanta as well as communities across the state. We announced last year that we would double our commitment to the Atlanta community to $300 million in investments over a three-year period. The investments include a combination of community development investments from the bank and philanthropic grants from our foundation. 

More broadly, the Southeast has been one of the most attractive areas of the country. Those growth dynamics play well for Atlanta, which will continue to attract jobs, companies and population. As we come out of the COVID-19 pandemic, we hope to recover faster than other parts of the country, given our position going into the crisis. 

Q: How are banks going to be able to help small businesses through this crisis?

A: Unfortunately, small businesses will be the hardest hit through this pandemic. The government stimulus is certainly a starting point and that will give them some temporary relief. We want to be able to leverage the tools and capabilities we have as a larger bank and deliver them on a local, personalized level. We, as a bank, can perhaps help fund CDFIs that can in turn fund small businesses. There is no one solution, but that is an area we were considering well before the pandemic.

I think it will be interesting to see how this pandemic changes the world for all of us. We have all adapted in ways we probably thought we never would or could. There is a lot of digital activity going on now that makes our merger make even more sense. We set up a portal for the PPP program within 36 hours so our small-business clients could apply for this funding quickly. Now we have this online business portal we can use when it is over to help small businesses apply for loans in ways that were not possible before. It remains to be seen what the scale of the impact will be. For our teammates, the priority will continue to be about their safety and when we will go back to working in a more traditional environment. But we have all proven that we can be productive in a nontraditional environment.

Q: What is the outlook for Truist Atlanta in the next 12-18 months?

A: We will continue our integration of the two banks because we are still operating fairly independently in terms of systems and brands in the market. The full rebranding will not happen until the third quarter of next year, so we have a lot of integration work to do in the next 18 months. We will focus on doing this in the least disruptive way for our clients. One significant and positive development is that we will not need to change our clients’ existing account and routing numbers so they will not have to order new checks. Creating a seamless transition to Truist will help solidify and grow our brand awareness in Atlanta, especially given the loyalty our previous brands generated. 

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



Spotlight On: Chuck Cross, Regional Market President, Seacoast Bank

Spotlight On: Chuck Cross, Regional Market President, Seacoast Bank

By: Felipe Rivas

2 min read April 2020 — Over the last few years, consolidation and mergers and acquisitions have dominated the banking industry. In Florida, as the population continues to grow and the financial sector diversifies further, the Palm Beach market remains vital for banks looking to grow their operations in the state. With the recent acquisition of First Bank of the Palm Beaches, Seacoast Bank is positioning itself to take full advantage of the opportunities within the Palm Beach market. In an interview with Invest: Palm Beach, Regional Market President Chuck Cross talks about the strength of the Palm Beach market, the evolution of the banking sector and his outlook for the industry during an economic downturn.

How did Seacoast Bank perform in 2019?

Seacoast Bank once again delivered a record-breaking financial performance in 2019, propelled by a balanced growth strategy. We combined solid, organic growth with smart acquisitions and careful cost control that enabled us to outperform our peers. Seacoast Bank produced double-digit growth and net revenues of $297.8 million. Overall, Seacoast Bank’s goals are focused on growth and Palm Beach County is an important contributor to that growth. Our recent acquisition of First Bank of the Palm Beaches increases our presence in the county from six to eight branches and grows our total deposits to $821 million. When you consider the strength and overall growth of the economy in Palm Beach County, we see the demand for banking services increasing. We are well-positioned to service that growth in Palm Beach County.

How has the banking sector evolved over the last couple of years?

The banking sector has seen a lot of consolidation in the last 10 years, and I think we will continue to see that. Customers are looking for more ways to bank remotely. As banks compete for customers, it is likely they will increase the number of products and services available in their remote channels. The key for a successful merger and acquisition is to integrate and consolidate well and to win over the hearts of acquired customers by providing the convenient products and services of larger banks, but with the personalized attention of a hometown community bank.

What can be done to level the playing field when it comes to credit unions?

The Florida Bankers Association has pushed for legislation to close the loopholes for the mega credit union, those with over $1 billion in assets, and to impose CRA requirements and corporate taxes. Today, there are more than 360 credit unions with more than $1 billion in assets. The majority of credit unions still live up to the intent of the legislation, as they are small and focused, but some of them have grown and may not fit the original intent of the law.

How do you see the banking industry performing during an economic downturn?

The banking industry is federally regulated to make sure that banks remain solvent even in a downturn. Since the last downturn, the Florida banking industry has undergone major consolidation. The winners will be those that manage to deliver the services and technologies that the big banks are known for while still maintaining the high standards of personalized customer services that we all know and love in the community banking environment.

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

Face Off: Leveraging tech in providing accounting and finance services

Face Off: Leveraging tech in providing accounting and finance services

By: Yolanda Rivas

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

Reynold Cicalese

What services are seeing the most demand at your firm?

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

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

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

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

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

Carl Bagell 

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

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

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

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

To learn more about our interviewees, visit:

Alloy Silverstein: https://alloysilverstein.com/ 

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

Stay hopeful: Handling coronavirus-related stress in Palm Beach County

Stay hopeful: Handling coronavirus-related stress in Palm Beach County

By: Felipe Rivas

2 min read March 2020 — With constant updates on the coronavirus and its impact on the United States, social media posts displaying frenzied buying, and closure of schools and other municipal buildings, it is easy to stress and feel coronavirus-related anxiety. As you monitor the news for the latest coronavirus developments in Palm Beach County, here are a few ways to make daily life under this changing landscape more bearable.

Try that new restaurant you were craving, via takeout or delivery of course

Many states and municipalities are enforcing early curfews or closing dine-in options altogether in the midst of the coronavirus. However, that does not mean you have to forego that delicious entree or amazing dessert you were craving. Go ahead and treat yourself to succulent food by perusing the different delivery options UberEats, Grubhub, and Delray’s own Delivery Dudes have to offer. Delivery Dudes and the like offer favorite, local restaurant options to enjoy if you are shacked up with the little ones and their homework duties, or neck deep with remote work.     

Go out for a beach walk

As government leaders encourage social distancing, this may be the best time to get in touch with nature and disconnect from the stress brought on by the coronavirus talks. MacArthur Beach State Park in North Palm Beach is the perfect place to stay six feet away from people and then some. Though events have been canceled, the park remains open until further notice and is encouraging beach walks. Dip your feet in the sand, stretch, and breathe in the Palm Beach air as you take a mental break from the news and other worries. 

Connect with others

In this particularly stressful period, it is easy to sulk and retreat from others, especially with talks of self-isolation and quarantine. However, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) recommends to use this time to reach out to others who may also feel stressed and anxious due to the coronavirus pandemic. The administration recommends that reaching out to those you trust is one of the best ways to reduce anxiety, depression, loneliness and boredom during the possibility of social distancing, quarantine and isolation. SAMHSA recommends to use telephone, email, text or email messaging, as well as Skype and other video conferencing services to stay in touch with loved ones and friends. The administration recommends to maintain a hopeful and positive attitude during this time and to consider keeping a journal to write down grateful and positive thoughts. 

Family staycations:

Staycations have been part of the social conscience for some years, and now is the time to perfect the coveted family staycation. Use this time to have some fun with the entire family as schools and workplaces transition into online classes and remote work. Come up with an after-dinner family movie list or interactive project. Maybe it’s time to dust off those boardgames or old books littering the garage, and why not do some spring cleaning while you’re at it. Perhaps a family dance-off or storytelling competition could help break the monotony of being indoors and bring the family closer together. Try it out. With so much time indoors, it is the perfect time to enjoy family time in a totally new fashion. 

To learn more, visit: 




For up-to-date advice on the Coronavirus response, you can check the CDC website here.  For Florida-specific information, click here

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

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

By: Yolanda Rivas

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

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

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


Is there anything different or new about these new branches?

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


What makes Chase unique?

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


What are some challenges in banking?

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


To learn more about our interviewee, visit:

Chase Bank:  https://www.chase.com/ 



Coronavirus: Gov. Roy Cooper declares state of emergency

Coronavirus: Gov. Roy Cooper declares state of emergency

By: Felipe Rivas

2 min read March 2020 — There are now seven confirmed coronavirus cases in North Carolina, prompting Gov. Roy Cooper to declare a state of emergency as leaders and health officials deal with the coronavirus outbreak. Of the seven people who have tested positive for COVID-19, six are from Wake County and one is from Chatham County, according to health officials. The declaration activates the Emergency Operations Center to facilitate the purchase of medical supplies, protect consumers from price gouging, and increase county health departments’ access to state funds. 

“The health and safety of North Carolinians is our top priority. We are taking the necessary steps to ensure that North Carolina is prepared and responding to this virus, and this order helps us do that,” Cooper said in a press release. “Though we are still in the early stages in North Carolina, time is a valuable resource and we must work together to slow the spread while we can.”

There are 120,944 global COVID-19 cases as of Wednesday morning, with 1,039 cases reported in the United States, according to the Center for Systems Science and Engineering (CSSE) at Johns Hopkins University. However, at this time, the risk to the general public in North Carolina is low, Mecklenburg County reported. 

As of Wednesday, Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools is suspending all travel. The travel limitations apply to district-sponsored trips of any kind for staff or students. “The safety and care of our school family is my top priority as superintendent,” said CMS Superintendent Earnest Winston in a press release. “In situations like these, we come to a deeper understanding of how closely connected we are, and I thank you for your help in our efforts to be prepared.” 

Cleaning standards are being reinforced at schools and office buildings, while families are encouraged to keep children at home if they are sick, the school system reported. 

Similarly, American Airlines, the main carrier at Charlotte Douglas International Airport, also implemented travel limitations, cutting domestic and international flights due to decreased travel demand following the proliferation of COVID-19 cases globally. American Airlines will reduce domestic capacity in April by 7.5 percent and reduce international capacity for the summer peak by 10 percent, including a 55 percent reduction in trans-Pacific capacity. The airline is also suspending flights from CLT to Rome (FCO) and Milan (MXP), as there are over 10,000 confirmed COVID-19 cases in Italy, according to the Center for Systems Science and Engineering. 


To learn more, visit:







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

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

By: Yolanda Rivas

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



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

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

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

How do you support the small-business community?


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


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


To learn more about our interviewee, visit:

Alloy Silverstein: https://alloysilverstein.com/