Invest:Insights
South Jersey

 

The pandemic changed how business owners fine-tune their financial game. In an interview with Invest:Insights, Michael Pallozzi, president of HFM Investment Advisors, shares what this shift in perspective means for the future of the investment landscape. Digital assets such as cryptocurrencies create new investment avenues for clients while tech-based solutions to investments and communication with clients will continue to drive innovation in the sector, he said.

 

Tasked with connecting businesses and facilitating resources for the local business community, the Chamber of Commerce Southern New Jersey had to reinvent itself in the face of the COVID disruption. In an interview with Invest:Insights, President and CEO Christina Renna spoke about the region’s emerging wind industries and improvements to the local economy more than a year into the pandemic.

 

Thomas Edison State University solely serves the working adult population of South Jersey. In an interview with Invest:Insights, President Merodie Hancock discusses the university’s position as a leader in online learning, challenges associated with delivering a high-quality online curriculum, and her outlook for South Jersey’s higher education sector.

 

The story of New Jersey is entering a new chapter of growth and opportunities. The state is expecting a V-shaped recovery on the back of a thriving housing market and a booming renewable energy, logistics and manufacturing trifecta. The state’s burgeoning film industry is another example of New Jersey’s diversified economy, Choose New Jersey President and CEO Jose Lozano told Invest:Insights. He spoke about the essence of ongoing challenges, as well as the many opportunities created by the pandemic.

 

The rollout of the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) was a case of building the plane while flying it for banks nationwide. The PPP experience was one of the biggest experiments the banking industry has seen as banks galvanized to move fast, adapt in the face of change, and leverage the use of new technologies, Fulton Bank Senior Vice President and Regional Commercial Executive Louis Lombardi told Invest:Insights. Personal touch and close communication with clients coupled with ongoing technology investments will be key for the success of banks in a post-COVID world, he said.

 

Rowan College of South Jersey, a regional institution serving Gloucester and Cumberland counties, is looking to become a key player in the local healthcare and wind industry workforce development puzzle. In an interview with Invest:Insights, President Dr. Frederick Keating, discusses the growth of these key programs, the essence of the challenges ahead and the need for a restructuring of South Jersey’s higher education system.

Supply chain disruptions are not new. However, border closures and COVID-led disruptions have added a layer of ongoing uncertainty to supply chain strategies, South Jersey Port Corporation CEO Andrew Saporito said in an interview with Invest:Insights. The South Jersey Port is in the midst of planning its 2030 Port Vision that details its decade-long strategic plan. The burgeoning wind industry poses great opportunities for the port and the local South Jersey region, Saporito said.

 

The initial impact of the pandemic, while disruptive, ushered in about a decade’s worth of progress for the financial planning and wealth management sectors. Educating clients throughout the ongoing disruption has been key for firms like Fox, Penberthy & Dehn at Morgan Stanley. The popularity of remote meetings provides additional connectivity options for industry professionals but will never fully replace face to face interactions, the firm’s Senior Vice President and Executive Director Albert Fox told Invest:Insights. Investing in future leaders is pivotal as the financial sector continues to grow and innovate, Fox 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.

 

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.

 

For the New Jersey Devils, The 2020 NHL season did not go as planned. This time afforded them an opportunity to connect with their fans further and support the community and plan for an uncertain future. Safety will be key and the team is planning for every possible scenario to ensure confidence for fans to return, President Jake Reynolds told Invest: Insights. The team has taken a strong stance on the social justice movement because it is not political, it is about human rights. All people deserve to be treated equally and they wanted to set the correct expectations. These past number of months have made it clear that unity is important in a time of need. The New Jersey Devils are lucky that they have a strong community supporting them, Reynolds said.

The construction sector, an essential industry during the coronavirus landscape, has seen activity throughout the current economic cycle. For Dumus, 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.

Wealth management services have seen an uptick in demand due to the shared feeling of uncertainty during this time, and firms have taken notice. In his conversation with Invest: Insights, Albert Fox, Executive Director at Fox, Penberthy & Dehn at Morgan Stanley, discussed that this is the proper time for people to reassess their investment strategies and plans for the future.

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.”

Telemedicine has been an up and coming technology within healthcare for the last few years, but now during this COVID-19 pandemic the technology’s true potential is being realized and put to the test. John DiAngelo, the President and CEO of Inspira Health, spoke to Abby Melone about how his healthcare system has always had virtual visits and have ramped up their push to encourage people to use this technology in light of the pandemic. He also spoke of their continuous work with the community to address and assist the disenfranchised and elderly population through this crisis.

Education in the United States had to quickly adapt and change in the wake of COVID-19, as did the student body at these schools. This has led to changes in student’s wants and needs which universities are now having to figure out how to accommodate. Dr. Ali Houshmand, President of Rowan University, discussed with Abby Melone how changes in students’ needs have resulted in changes to the university’s plans for expansion. He spoke on how the transition to online education during the COVID-19 pandemic has brought to light the question of how much meeting space is actually needed, which has led to plans for their buildings to be reassessed.

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.

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.

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.

Communication from local community leaders and organizations is essential during a global pandemic like COVID-19. Janet Garraty, Interim Director for Gloucester County Chamber of Commerce, discussed with Abby Melone the early struggles of trying to formulate the correct messaging to send out to the community at the start of this crisis, and how the Chamber has now adapted by communicating with the community through the use of targeted and well intentioned conversation.

While there are many initiatives in place to help carry the economy through this pandemic, the key for all organizations and individuals is to try and keep as positive as possible. This was what Thomas Cavalieri, the Dean of the Rowan University School of Osteopathic Medicine, discussed with Abby Melone throughout their conversation. He also spoke on the variety of challenges this pandemic is creating for graduate programs as opposed to undergraduate programs.

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.

They say preparation is key, and in the case of higher education currently facing a pandemic, this sentiment rings true. Dr. Michael Cioce, President of Rowan College at Burlington County, detailed to Abby Melone the steps his college took in order to try and get ahead of the negative effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. This included preemptively switching to online classes prior to the mandated order and deciding upon a virtual graduation in place of a traditional one.

In the current time we find ourselves in, healthcare professionals are of the utmost importance and so are the higher education institutions that educate them. Donna Nickitas, Dean of the Rutgers School of Nursing–Camden, informed Abby Melone that even with the COVID-19 pandemic there has not been an effect on the school’s summer semester enrollment numbers, and it is yet to be determined how it could affect their Fall semester.

When a global crisis like COVID-19 happens, the effects are not always evenly distributed throughout the country nor are they immediately felt. In her discussion with CEO of Capital Analytics Abby Melone, Christina Renna the President and CEO of the Chamber of Commerce Southern New Jersey, discusses the business community’s initial frustrations with the closing of non-essential businesses and how the Chamber is working to assist these businesses.