Invest:Insights
Philadelphia

For PennState Brandywine, expanding degree programs was critical prior to the pandemic and is even more important now. It was a remarkable 2020 for the university despite the pandemic. The university is keen on catering to the students’ entrepreneurial spirits with an emphasis on technology, Chancellor Marilyn Wells told Invest:Insights. The university has also placed a strong focus on equity, diversity and inclusion and many of the events experienced throughout last year makes the importance of this work more profound, she said. 

 

The construction sector is generally decentralized which adds a layer of difficulty to projects as different companies tackle any given construction site. Collaboration usually happens on site with the various parties, however throughout Covid this wasn’t always possible, Eyrus CEO Alex McManus told Invest:Insights. Eyrus’s platform and tech solutions allow contractors, crew and project managers to communicate virtually and see exactly what’s happening in real time, all while solving inefficiencies, McManus said.

 

For Accenture, a multinational consulting and processing services firm that supports a multitude of industries, technology is their strong suit.  Accenture spent a lot of time on helping clients with security and just generally adapting to this new environment, Senior Managing Director Nicole Tranchitella told Invest:Insights. All of their employees will be working remotely for the foreseeable future. This was easy as Accenture is a technology-based company enabling the firm to quickly transfer employees and products and services directly to the digital world, she said.

 

For Cheyney University of Pennsylvania, transformation was well underway before the pandemic. For the last three years, the university was hard at work on further improving the student experience, financial strength and standard of excellence. Cheyney University of Pennsylvania understands the importance of their role as the oldest historically Black university while adapting to this new landscape, President Aaron Walton told Invest:Insights.

 

Diversity and inclusion has been top of mind for JPMorgan Chase with 2020 seeing a much stronger push in this regard. The financial institution’s Path Forward strategy is a $30 billion program specifically focused on expanding homeownership and entrepreneurship in the Black and Latino communities, Regional Director of New England and Greater Pennsylvania Roxann Cooke told Invest:Insights. Despite the COVID-19 disruption to businesses and the banking sector, JPMorgan Chase will continue expansion throughout the country and will not shy away from brick-and-mortar locations, Cooke said.

 

Entrepreneurialism is essential to economic recovery and growth.  Economic recovery programs and support from the new administration will be incredibly important for the future of the local business community. Science start ups are a critical part of a strong post pandemic future and Philadelphia is well positioned to meet those needs due to the strong eds and meds sector in 

the city, University City Science Center’s President and CEO Tiffany Wilson told Invest:Insights.

 

Chester County entered the pandemic with solid financial standing which has allowed them to go above and beyond in terms of facilitating grants to the local business community since the onset of the health crisis. The county has contributed more than $15 million in grants to local businesses, County Commissioner Michelle Kichline told Invest: Insights. The county’s health department has been key in administering both tests and vaccines, the commissioner said.

 

Despite the pandemic challenges to the construction sector, business has been good for Pennoni, a multidisciplinary firm headquartered in Philadelphia with locations across the country. Both the private and public sector projects continued throughout the pandemic, CEO David DeLizza told Invest: Insights. Initial worry regarding funding for public projects has waned as municipalities turned to creative solutions such as bonds to fund projects. Technology has also continued to transform Pennoni’s operations by reducing costs. For DeLizza, transformation is all about adaptation, he said.

 

Living in a digital age, technological innovation continues to be a resource for any type of organization’s efficiency and growth. Tom Harper, Executive Vice President, Head of Technology, Media & Telecom for Wells Fargo Commercial Banking, discusses how programs like the Wells Fargo Innovation Incubator and Wells Fargo Startup Accelerator are helping technology-based companies enhance its industry exposure and position them to quickly expand into the marketplace.

 

Dalila Wilson-Scott, newly appointed Chief Diversity Officer for Comcast, remains committed to social justice and equality. She believes that diversity and inclusion should start within an organization to make sure that the company is represented amongst all. Comcast also remains steadfast in its mission to provide reliable internet at no cost during these challenging times. The PHLConnectED initiative is helping to connect eligible K–12 student households with access to reliable internet service at no cost through June 2022.

 

As the Los Angeles Lakers and Miami Heat battled for the NBA Championship, the rest of the league was left with time to reflect about their time spent in the Bubble and plans for the future. NBA Commissioner Adam Silver and league executives prioritized safety innovation and leadership in the foreground, Philadelphia 76ers President Christopher Heck told Invest: Insights. This season also served as a platform to advocate for social issues, especially voting, which has been a major focus of the 76er’s organization. For next season, the team already has many new season ticket holders coming back which demonstrates a need, want, and desire for live sports, which has helped people get through these uncertain times.

 

Travis Rhodes, a Regional President of Truist, speaks to how there was much trepidation during the initial PPP roll out, however, Truist was ready for the anticipated bumps in the road. Rhodes has been greatly inspired by the strength of the human spirit during this time. Along the way, Truist has adapted a lot of changes within the digital realm including their program T3 and their new company Truist Ventures.

 

When the pandemic first hit it was important for Seth Berger, Managing Director of the Sixers Innovation Lab, to continue to provide opportunities to their entrepreneurs. In order to be successful, Berger believes a collaborative approach with guidance, connections, and experienced leadership is a vital part of their entrepreneurs success and resilience.

 

Handling the challenges of the pandemic has been tough for the most established of leaderships, so the relatively new administration of Bucks County was truly put to the test from the offset of COVID. The commission, which prior to the pandemic were already making significant strides to make Bucks County more business friendly and attractive to investment, had to innovate and adapt their approach while still remaining true to their mission. In his conversation with Invest: Insights, Commissioner Bob Harvie noted that while the County is not out of the woods yet there is positive progress happening as schools in the state are planning re-openings for in person classes.

 

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 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