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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Invest:Insights presents Brian Brackeen, Founder and CEO, Kairos
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 Kerri Barsh, Shareholder, Greenberg Traurig
Invest: Insights presents MacAdam Glinn, Skanska USA