Invest:Insights
Charlotte

Adapting academic curriculums to the job sites of tomorrow is increasingly important in such a rapidly evolving landscape. For Johnson C. Smith University,  esports is an example of this movement. Digital analytics is another area the university is bolstering, President Clarence “Clay” Armbrister told Invest:Insights. Partnering with Charlotte’s business community to provide experimental and external learning is key to make sure their students are well prepared for the careers they take on, he said.

 

At the core of MobileSmith Health’s vision is to streamline efficiencies within the healthcare provider system while making information more accessible in order to help patients immediately. The current health crisis pushed the company further into the technology world, CEO and President Jerry Lepore told Invest:Insights. Chronic condition management must be better addressed as it’s very costly and sometimes detrimental to the patient’s health, he said.

 

Disinformation was a major problem in the COVID reality. During this time the Knight Foundation worked with journalism partners and networks throughout the country to distribute factual information. In Charlotte, the foundation’s work in the historic West End continues to be profound and the COVID-19 pandemic has actually offered opportunities for their operations, Charlotte Director Charles Thomas told Invest:Insights. There are now several Black developers carefully guiding the development in this historic area. The local arts scene has been forced to be creative more than ever and the Knight Foundation is supporting their efforts by virtual platforms in a time when gathering is not possible, Thomas said.

 

The transition to a remote work setting was greatly accelerated by the pandemic, and businesses have quickly realized the need for robust IT support. Firms like Signature Consultants, that are a one-stop shop to help businesses meet their IT needs, have adapted technologies and unique ways to better connect employees and clients who are remote, Executive Vice President Geoff Gray told Invest:Insights. He also made note that their business was predominantly face-to-face prior to the pandemic, so they have had to make some significant changes to their operations as well.

 

The commercial real estate sector reflects the duality of the pandemic and its challenges. In Charlotte, the office market has slowed dramatically given the sudden shift to remote work, while at the same time the industrial sector has experienced strong demand since the onset of the health crisis.The Charlotte market has seen large institutional investors come during this time and this trend is likely to continue, JLL Market Director for the Carolinas Chase Monroe told Invest: Insights. He spoke about the impact of the pandemic to the local commercial real estate sector and his outlook for 2021.

 

Safety remains top of mind for Wingate University as the institution balances in person and remote instruction. College students are social by nature so the university is working hard to create safe spaces with social distancing in mind. Economic development, educational equity, and diversity and inclusion are among the major focuses for the university now and moving forward, President Rhett Brown told Invest: Insights. Personally, the pandemic cemented the importance of patience, future thinking and gratitude, he said.

 

Community engagement during times of crisis is of the utmost importance and some healthcare institutions are going beyond the call of duty. A glowing example of this type of engagement is the incredible amount of work Novant Health is doing in the spaces of improving healthcare equity gaps and investing millions in upward mobility initiatives within their community. In his interview with Invest:Insights, Senior Vice President of Consumer Engagement Dr. Jerome Williams detailed these initiatives and spoke on being prepared to handle the complications of flu season while operating in the healthcare space during a pandemic.

 

Daniel Lugo, President of Queens University of Charlotte, knew choosing to go online was an important decision to make early and communicate clearly. Despite these challenges caused by the pandemic, enrollment for the fall semester has remained very strong for the university and they are quite positive in their outlook towards the spring semester. Lugo also spoke on the importance of renaming Burwell Hall in an effort by the university to promote diversity, equality and inclusion.

Consistent messaging in a pandemic is key to reducing risk to the community and, in the case of COVID-19, reducing the spread of a virus. During his conversation with Abby Melone, Mike Downs, County Manager for Cabarrus County, spoke about keeping the messaging consistent that safety was first and foremost in handling the current crisis. He discussed enforcing this message of safety as the county begins to reopen its economy while adhering to the suggestions from the state and federal level.

From social distancing, rearranging of floor layouts to personal protection equipment, attention to hygiene and efficiency are critical factors for consumers and businesses resuming activity during the coronavirus landscape. Architects and designers are keeping a close eye to the COVID-19 related disruption to businesses and daily life. Factors such as floor-specific elevators, top-of-the-line air filtration systems, and touchless office spaces are likely to become new standards in a post coronavirus world, Duda|Paine Principals Turan Duda and Jeff Paine told Invest: Insights.

The sense of community had been strong throughout the nation since the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic. In North Carolina, health systems have taken the lead in ensuring the health and basic needs of the community are being met. UnitedHealthcare Community Health Plan has been addressing food insecurities while placing a keen focus on the most vulnerable of community members, CEO Anita Bachmann told Invest: Insights. UHC has also been working to fight social discrimination of health. By waiving certain fees and co-pays, the provider is mobilizing to make telehealth and all their services more accessible to the community.

Each city and regions’ needs are similar in some facets but vastly different in others. Julie Eiselt, Mayor Pro Tem for the City of Charlotte, discussed how her city’s needs are very different from the rest of the state of North Carolina because of the dense population therein. She also spoke on the city’s ‘Open for Business’ initiative which allows the entirety of the local community access to information about restaurants and retail operations, if they are currently open during this transition period and, if they are open, what the rules are in order to patron these locations.

Swift action and working ahead of state shelter-in-place measures allowed Gaston County to combat the coronavirus pandemic efficiently. The county mandated its own shelter-in-place measure a week before Gov. Roy Cooper implemented a statewide shutdown. As a result, the county is ready to phase out the opening of its economy with health guidelines remaining a top priority, Gaston County Manager Kim Eagle told Invest: Insights. For the small business community, the county’s SBA bridge loans have been critical in helping small businesses throughout Gaston County.

While no one could have been prepared for the challenges that the COVID-19 pandemic has brought upon the United States, there are organizations that specialize in helping guide through the community through disasters like this. One such organization is Witt O’Brien’s, who are currently playing the role of communicating the needs of the business community to the various governments that they work with and vice versa. Brad Gair, Senior Managing Director of Witt O’Briens, told Abby Melone about the organization’s efforts to supply as much information as possible so that people can understand what is accessible to them and what will be helpful in helping them pull through this pandemic.

When a crisis like the COVID-19 pandemic takes place, it is up to local organizations and community leaders to step up and help where they can. One of those organizations in Atlanta is Phase 3 Marketing and Communications who has pivoted their manufacturing plants to produce more PPE resources for the local community, Jim Cannata, Executive Vice President for the organization told Abby Melone. He also discussed how important communication and marketing will be once the state begins to reopen the economy.

In the face of much adversity, Dr. Kandi Deitemeyer, President of Central Piedmont Community College, is staying positive as she guides her college through the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic. In her conversation with Abby Melone, Dr Deitemeyer spoke on constant and clear communication as being the key to the easier transition her institution has had to an all online curriculum. She also spoke to maintaining these clear communicative efforts throughout the duration of this trying time.

Invest: Insights presents MacAdam Glinn, Skanska USA

Invest: Insights presents Kerri Barsh, Shareholder, Greenberg Traurig

Invest: Insights presents MacAdam Glinn, Skanska USA

Invest: Insights presents Alice Bravo, Director of Miami-Dade County’s Department of Transit