With Florida recently implementing phase one of its reopening plan, the responsibility of facilitating and assisting this transition has been placed upon the state and local governments of each region within the state of Florida. Jose Alvarez, the Mayor of the City of Kissimmee, explained to Abby Melone how the local city government is lending a helping hand to local businesses with actions like no permit fees over the next 30 days, relaxing signage restrictions for businesses and assisting restaurants with creating more outdoor seating while still abiding by social distancing measures.
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.
The coronavirus pandemic has taught the nation many lessons, mainly that health and affordability go hand and in hand. While many health systems have had to readjust to the pressures of the COVID-19 outbreak, a new healthcare plan entered the scene tapping into Florida’s growing healthcare infrastructure. Truli for Health, built from the ground up, rolled out in South Florida and Orlando on the cusp of the coronavirus, places a keen focus on affordability and accessibility. Rolling out a new healthcare platform in the middle of a pandemic has its challenges, President Andy Marino told Invest: Insights. Through its challenges, the pandemic proved that affordable plans are needed more than ever, Marino said.
The fallout and economic impact has started to be felt by the community in Winter Park, but the extent of which will not truly be understood for another couple months as the city waits to see how the significant reduction in sales tax and gas tax collected by the state will impact the city’s budget. Randy Knight, City Manager for Winter Park, expressed to Abby Melone that they are going to have to really consider how this reduction in the state’s budget, and ultimately the city’s budget, will impact their next year and begin to plan ahead now.
In a time of crisis, the true community leaders rise to the top in regards to assisting the local region’s small businesses and residents. Betsy Gardner Eckbert, President & CEO of the Winter Park Chamber of Commerce, is doing just that through the Chamber’s Thrive Winter Park initiative, a charitable response to the financial impacts of COVID-19 on residents and small businesses in Winter Park. She discussed with Abby Melone that they have already raised $50,000 and are hoping to do more for the city’s recovery after the pandemic.
As the Orlando region begins to turn its attention towards what the future holds post COVID-19, the small businesses that make up their local economy are looking for any information or additional capital that is currently available. In his conversation with Abby Melone, City of Orlando’s Mayor Buddy Dyer spoke on Orlando Economic Partnership’s new Business Recovery Assistance and Collaborative Engagement Program (BRACE) that has already seen over three hundred small to medium sized businesses register. This program is designed to pair these businesses with an individual who can assist with finding and capitalizing on all of the various resources that are currently available to these businesses.
Although it can be hard to find positives in crisis situations, it is important to look towards the future with a bright and realistic attitude. In his conversation with Abby Melone, Beat Kahli the President and CEO of Avalon Park Group discussed his belief that there will be a quick economic recovery post COVID19 and that the undersupply of real estate in the region, that existed prior to COVID-19, will result in increased demand after the crisis.
Reality as we know it may be changing day by day, but there are still business transactions occurring in the midst of this pandemic. Greg Morrison, Principal and Managing Director for Avison Young’s Orlando office, spoke with Abby Melone about overcoming the roadblocks facing the business community and still closing real estate deals.