Invest:Insights
Philadelphia

The construction sector, an essential industry during the coronavirus landscape, has seen activity throughout the current economic cycle. For Domus, Inc, the construction company has different ongoing projects despite COVID-19 related challenges, Principal Scott Zuckerman told Invest: Insights. The real impact to the construction sector may be felt in 2021 as new projects are not being announced with much frequency. Currently, the discussion around hygienic buildings and touchless entry and exit points dominates the conversations but it comes with added costs, he said.

New York State’s geography is as diverse as its populations with urban, suburban, and rural communities. UnitedHealthcare had to take all of this into consideration when pivoting to tackle the onset of coronavirus-related challenges, UnitedHealthcare of New York CEO Michael McGuire told Invest: Insights. The healthcare provider had to rethink its approach to helping residents in densely populated New York City, as well as adapting to help residents in areas that saw less volume of COVID-19 patients. UnitedHealthcare waived different fees, including co-pays for telehealth visits, McGuire said. Telehealth saw a 900 percent uptick in New York City this year. Prior to the coronavirus, telehealth visits, telehealth visits were seeing single-digit growth.

Jefferson Health, one of the largest hospital systems in Philadelphia, has experienced great overall success in dealing with the direct and indirect coronavirus-related challenges. Months into the pandemic, Dr. Stephen Klasko, President and CEO of Thomas Jefferson University and Jefferson Health, together with Dr. Jonathan Gleason, Chief Quality Officer for Jefferson Health, join season two of Invest: Insights detailing the keys of their success. Sticking to their values of putting people first while being bold and different led to their success in handling the pandemic, the leaders said.

The COVID-19 pandemic forced banks to pivot quickly in the midst of shelter in place and social distancing measures. In Greater Philadelphia, OceanFirst Bank has seen an uptick in digital activity. The bank has steadily been making investments in its digital offerings, and during the COVID-19 outbreak it has placed a keen focus on training its staff, Market President Susanne Svizeny told Invest:Insights. The bank is now preparing to begin advising clients on the recent loan forgiveness measures set to start in July, Svizeny said.

Like every sector of business, the arts are looking towards an unpredictable future and adapting as they deem necessary. David Devan, General Director and President of Opera Philadelphia, discussed with Abby Melone how his organization is adapting to the current times by means of their new Digital Festival O which hopes to bring in a global audience and let them experience opera in a new way. Mr. Devan also made note during the conversation that future performances could possibly become smaller in size with less performers, and that the current pandemic has forced all rehearsals for future shows to be indefinitely postponed due to safety concerns.

Since the onslaught of the COVID-19 pandemic, there has been an encouraging movement of large companies in the United States enacting various wide-scale initiatives to assist and benefit their communities and customer base. UnitedHealthcare is one of those larger companies that has stepped up to make a real difference for their customers and community with a commitment of $1.5 billion of additional support towards tackling Coronavirus related challenges. Dan Tropeano, CEO of UnitedHealthcare of Pennsylvania and Delaware, discussed this initiative with Abby Melone and how an additional $750,000 of support specifically for the state of Pennsylvania was just announced by his company.

In order to begin progressing towards a full economic recovery, local governments must continue to provide support to help strengthen the business community in their regions. Montgomery County has recognized this and has been supporting local business through their MontcoStrong Small Business Grant Program. David Zellers, the Director of Commerce for Montgomery County, spoke to Abby Melone about the lessons learned from the first round of the MontcoStrong program as well as how round two will be a tremendous help to the business community with an available $5 million in economic development funds.

The hospitality industry in the United States has taken a massive blow in the fight against COVID-19 as stay at home orders have been enacted across the country and travel, both pleasure and business related, has been suspended indefinitely. Even with all of this mounted against them, Larry Korman, the President of AKA Hotel Residences, is finding the silver linings and opportunities present in this crisis. He told Abby Melone that his hospitality offerings are planning for the future by maintaining their standards and augmenting them to create a safer environment in the hopes that it will boost consumer confidence post-COVID-19.

With most of the world still on pause or just beginning to come back online, global trade has ultimately suffered a bit of a set back. Trade is vital to the health of any economy and the businesses therein, so the key is to continue to adapt and make this trade possible. This was Linda Conlin’s, President of the World Trade Center of Greater Philadelphia, message to Abby Melone in regards to her organization’s adaptation to the current time while continuing to promote international trade. She also voiced that Greater Philadelphia is well situated as an attractive market for international trade which will ultimately be a benefit to the region as we look at the future post-COVID-19.

Education has been rocked by the unexpected transition to an all online curriculum due to the COVID-19 pandemic. While a lot of higher education institutions were blindsided, some had the foresight to begin preparing for what was on horizon. One of those institutions, West Chester University, was the first higher education institution in the Philadelphia region to completely transition their students and faculty to online learning thanks to results from a survey they put out to their students pre-spring break, the university’s President Christopher Fiorentino informed Abby Melone.

It hasn’t just been the transition to an all online curriculum that has been tough for students and faculty of higher education institutions. The struggles extend to those students that were on the precipice of graduation but are now facing a harsh reality that because hands on learning, most internships and a majority of board certifications have been put on hold, they are unable to meet the requirements for graduation. President of Salus University, Michael Mittelman, discussed this with Abby Melone and how his university plans to be there for these students once they can continue and complete their studies.

Healthcare providers around the nation differentiated in their levels of preparedness when the COVID-19 pandemic first hit the United States. While some entities have been struggling to meet the increased demand, other systems like Jefferson Health were more than equipped to handle an influx in patients that still has yet to come to fruition. This was expressed to Abby Melone by Dr. Stephen Klasko, CEO of Jefferson Health, who spoke on their healthcare system sitting at about a 60% capacity, and that their work on telemedicine and the previous pandemic of ebola had Jefferson Health well prepared and positioned to handle the COVID-19 pandemic.

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.

While everyone has had to adapt in certain aspects to this digital transition due to COVID-19, business conferences have had to completely transform themselves. Pamela Henshall, President of the Greater Northeast Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce, discussed with Abby Melone how they have decided to postpone their marquee event ‘Women in Business Conference” from March to September and make the transition to it being a digital conference.

The accelerated transition to online education was not without its challenges for higher education and universities are now working to understand how to improve this experience in the future. Dr. Chris Domes, President of Neumann University, informed Abby Melone about a campaign his university is running to find out how students and faculties’ experience with all online education has been, the results of which will help shape the upcoming summer semester. He also spoke on how the university has lowered tuition rates for summer courses in order to remain competitive with online universities.

In the midst of this COVID-19 pandemic, the question on everyone’s mind is when will the social distancing and sheltering at home end? While there may not be a clear cut answer, a step in the right direction is the research and development of a vaccine for the virus. Dario Altieri, MD, the President and CEO of the Wistar Institute, spoke with Abby Melone about his organization’s research work towards developing a vaccine and what that has entailed.

It’s important for both mental and physical health to maintain as normal a routine and schedule as possible in this unprecedented and unpredictable period of time. This was one of the points Edgar Vesga the CEO of Philadelphia International Medicine expressed to Abby Melone during their conversation. He also spoke on how PIM is facilitating the international patients that are under their care.

Invest:Insights sits with Zabeth Teelucksingh, Executive Director, Global Philadelphia to speak about the city’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic, effects on the local business community, state and federal support and what residents can do to remain safe.

Invest:Insights presents Brian Brackeen, Founder and CEO, Kairos

Invest: Insights presents MacAdam Glinn, Skanska USA

Invest: Insights presents Kerri Barsh, Shareholder, Greenberg Traurig