Fort Lauderdale

The strength of the U.S. economy is dependent upon a strong business community and the entrepreneurs behind these successful businesses. Andrew Duffell, the President of Research Park at Florida Atlantic University, wholly supports this notion and expressed to Abby Melone that it is essential for there to be continuous investment in education and research to support these entrepreneurs. He also noted that, despite the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, there is a lot of adaptability and collaboration happening within the business community, as demonstrated by those businesses in the Research Park.

Today is a big day for Broward County as many businesses around the county are able to reopen their doors for the first time in months as part of Florida’s Phase one of the reopening process. Mayor of Broward County Dale V.C. Holness expressed the shared excitement among the business community in his region, and the generally positive feedback he has been receiving. He spoke on his view that the state has been handling the situation well and has the right measures in place to ensure a safe reopening.

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.

A company’s ability to be able to quickly adapt and shift their operations in accordance with the current time of social distancing is an accomplishment within itself. Broward County based beauty company Kira Labs not only was able to quickly adapt their operations, but they took it a step further and quickly pivoted their normal focus from producing beauty products to producing hand sanitizer and cleansing products to help fulfill the national demand in this time of crisis. David Rosen, the CEO and Founder of Kira Labs, spoke to Abby Melone about his company’s quick transition as well as what it means from a manufacturing, logistics and retail side of the business.

Preparedness is a term that has been used at length in the conversation surrounding COVID-19 and some feel that preparedness was not emphasized enough at the start of this pandemic. Dan Lindblade, President & CEO of the Greater Fort Lauderdale Chamber of Commerce, expressed this to Abby Melone in regards to the region’s preparedness in the wake of COVID-19

The COVID-19 pandemic has touched all sectors of the economy, and the real estate market may see more long-term effects than most. Ryan Kratz, President of Colliers International’s Southeast Region | US Brokerage, discussed with Abby Melone that prior to the events of the COVID-19 pandemic, there was a sufficient amount of supply in regards to available real estate in Miami-Dade so post COVID-19 there should not be a risk of oversupply or undersupply on the market. He also expressed that real estate professionals should be using this time to educate themselves in preparation for the market reopening.

COVID-19 has presented many challenges for higher education, and for those newer institutions this has been the ultimate test of adaptability and resilience. In the case of Florida Polytechnic University, their President Randy Avent detailed to Abby Melone the struggles of quickly building an online platform and curriculum in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. He expressed that the most difficult transition has been figuring out how to conduct labs via online education.

While the state and federal grant and loan bridge programs to support local businesses through the COVID-19 pandemic have been a plus, they are, for the most part, tapped out. This has left many businesses searching elsewhere for funds including on the local level which Dennis Grady, President and CEO of the Chamber of Commerce of the Palm Beaches, spoke on during his conversation with Abby Melone. He also discussed the repercussions that public agencies in Florida will face from the lack of state sales tax currently being collected and what that could mean for their budgets in the future.

While all demographics of people have been negatively affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, the impact on the African American population has been disproportionate to the rest of the population. This was one of the main topics Oliver Gilbert, Mayor of Miami Gardens, discussed with Abby Melone as well as how the city is working to assist in this matter.

For some universities the transition to an all online curriculum has been handled with relative ease, and has left many educators excited to be on the frontline of how higher education will be permanently changed post COVID-19. Robert Bishop, Dean of the University of South Florida College of Engineering, relayed these same sentiments with Abby Melone, as well as diving into the challenges that this disruption has caused for the graduate programs offered by the university.

As COVID-19 began to rapidly spread throughout the country, the severity of the economic impact it would have was quickly realized by the Federal Government. This ultimately lead to the $2 trillion economic stimulus package known as the CARES Act. In speaking with Abby Melone, Michael Finney, the President and CEO of The Beacon Council, implores that small businesses in the Miami-Dade region should explore and go after the additional funds the stimulus package is offering.

As all activity in the Miami-Dade region has seemingly come to a sudden halt due to COVID-19, the local leaders are working tirelessly in the background to respond to the pandemic. Abby Melone, CEO of Capital Analytics, sat down with Juan Carlos Bermudez, Mayor for the City of Doral.