Real world experience is key for all students, not just for those that can get internships. For Ringling College of Art + Design, it has been incredibly important to initiate this type of experience. As a higher education institution focused on creative learning it is important to be in the classroom, however, the college was able to transfer all of their classes online, President Larry Thompson told Invest:Insights. Having a major such as virtual reality exemplifies how the college stays ahead of the curve when it comes to being a leading art school based in technology, Thompson said. 


In the COVID environment, Pasco-Hernando State College has been keen on meeting students where they are. Online classes will continue with hopes of more in person this summer as the nation begins to emerge from the pandemic, President of the College Dr. Timothy Beard  told Invest:Insights. The higher education sector will play a critical role in tackling the economic inequalities, Beard said. 


Staying hyper vigilant during the COVID-19 health crisis has been top of mind for leaders in the healthcare sector. In Tampa Bay, Pinnacle Home Care has been able to navigate the challenges of the crisis and administer care to its clients, many of which are eldery and immunocompromised, thanks to education and technology. Telehealth and providing technology to the elderly to keep them connected has enabled Pinnacle Home Care to provide the best service possible during this time, CEO Shane Donaldson told Invest:Insights. The home care provider is hiring 80 to 100 people a month as addressing the need for nurses is of paramount importance to their organization, he said.


Experts believe Florida is poised for a strong recovery by the end of 2021, especially as industries like the service sector begin to recuperate. In the meantime, the passing of another stimulus package is essential to the recovery process, PNC Financial Services Group Florida Economist Abbey Omodunbi told Invest:Insights. The first stimulus packages last year enabled the Florida business ecosystem to weather the storm better yet further assistance is needed in the recovery process. The housing market is a bright spot throughout the state and is predicted to remain strong in 2021. Overall markets like Tampa, Miami and Orlando have performed very well despite the tumultuous landscape, Omodunbi said.


SBA loans have been key in helping businesses maintain operations throughout the pandemic. These loans are essential and can really propel businesses forward at this moment in time, Florida Business Development Corporation’s President and CEO Bill Habermeyer told Invest: Insights. The SBA 504 loan program is vital in helping small businesses and clearing up any kind of misconceptions around fees is important, he said. 



Getting financial tools and resources out to the community is a priority for Addition Financial, which is one of the reasons why they’ve expanded their partnership with CareerSource, Linh Dang, Chief Development Officer for Addition Financial told Invest:Insights. She spoke on how the last number of months have taught her organization about both resilience and also relevance. The pandemic has allowed Addition Financial to swiftly move into an expedited digital transformation that they are very excited about. However, this does not negate the fact that people still like to be in physical branches and that’s why they expanded to another branch last month. For Dang, the key to success is to plan for what’s happening while adapting to current needs.

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.

Though the CARES act provides many different tax benefits and provisions proper planning will be critical as the second half of 2020 unfolds. Businesses and individuals should aim to have three to six months of income saved, not three to six months of expenses, Certified Financial Group Chair & CEO Joseph Bert told Invest: Insights. Though interest rates are low, it is becoming increasingly harder to secure a mortgage as banks increase FICO score and down payment requirements for home buyers, Bert said. The banks learned their lesson from the 2008 crisis, but as it relates to the current coronavirus landscape, inflation will be a major sticking point for consumers and businesses in the near future.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.