Invest:Insights

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 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.

COVID-19 caught the whole world by surprise, and any plans for the future have been thrown for a loop. This notion was echoed by Denise Sanderson, Director of Economic Development and Housing for the City of Clearwater, who spoke with Abby Melone about having to rewrite the script for the rest of the year. She also spoke on newly elected City of Clearwater Mayor, Frank Hibbard, having to jump right in and guide the city through this unprecedented pandemic as best as possible while still working remotely.

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.

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.

While daily life has not had a sense of normalcy since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, there are still normal and routine processes at work. One such process is the 2020 Census that is currently being conducted, but unlike years past, it has not had the same participation volume. During his discussion with Abby Melone, Mark Trowbridge, President & CEO of the Coral Gables Chamber of Commerce, spoke of the census not coming back in the volume that it has in years prior with a return rate of 50% versus 74% seen in years past. He also discusses the various programs the Chamber is offering their members based upon their needs.

In times of crisis, reliability is a trait that is held in even higher regard. Kevin Greiner, the President and CEO of Gas South, understands this and emphasized to Abby Melone that Gas South is proud to be built upon a foundation of sound fundamentals and a reputation as a reliable services provider, especially during this COVID-19 pandemic. He also spoke on the company’s $1 million contribution to an economic relief fund in Atlanta in light of COVID-19.

The strength of the U.S. economy is dependent upon a strong business community and the entrepreneurs behind these successful businesses. Andrew Duffell, the President of Research Park at Florida Atlantic University, wholly supports this notion and expressed to Abby Melone that it is essential for there to be continuous investment in education and research to support these entrepreneurs. He also noted that, despite the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, there is a lot of adaptability and collaboration happening within the business community, as demonstrated by those businesses in the Research Park.

COVID-19 has presented many challenges for higher education, and for those newer institutions this has been the ultimate test of adaptability and resilience. In the case of Florida Polytechnic University, their President Randy Avent detailed to Abby Melone the struggles of quickly building an online platform and curriculum in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. He expressed that the most difficult transition has been figuring out how to conduct labs via online education.

While the state and federal grant and loan bridge programs to support local businesses through the COVID-19 pandemic have been a plus, they are, for the most part, tapped out. This has left many businesses searching elsewhere for funds including on the local level which Dennis Grady, President and CEO of the Chamber of Commerce of the Palm Beaches, spoke on during his conversation with Abby Melone. He also discussed the repercussions that public agencies in Florida will face from the lack of state sales tax currently being collected and what that could mean for their budgets in the future.

COVID-19 has had a profound impact on the world as a whole, the effects of which, both positive and negative, will linger long after the pandemic has passed. One of these long term effects will be the way healthcare is performed and delivered in the future, Dr. Ravi Chari the President of HCA West Florida told Abby Melone.

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.

For some universities the transition to an all online curriculum has been handled with relative ease, and has left many educators excited to be on the frontline of how higher education will be permanently changed post COVID-19. Robert Bishop, Dean of the University of South Florida College of Engineering, relayed these same sentiments with Abby Melone, as well as diving into the challenges that this disruption has caused for the graduate programs offered by the university.

If the COVID-19 pandemic has taught the general public anything, it is that taking the correct precautionary measures results in the overall shared safety of a community. Mayor of Alpharetta, Jim Gilvin, understands this need for public safety and stressed its importance throughout his conversation with Abby Melone.

The transition to all online education was a swift decision that left a lot of higher education institutions scrambling to quickly adapt. This was not the case for Seminole State College,  Georgia Lorenz, President of the College, told Abby Melone. She credits this to over 50% of the College’s student body having already been enrolled in an online course and familiar with the software.

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.

At a time like this, the community leaders in both the private and public sectors are looking to offer a helping hand to residents who may be struggling to get through this period of economic distress. One such organization is the Atlanta Gas Light who is promising to not turn anyone’s utilities off during this time regardless of their ability to pay the bill, Bryan Batson the President of Atlanta Gas Light told Abby Melone.

Tampa Bay’s healthcare systems are at the forefront of the COVID-19 response and have been preparing for the worst case scenario, though it has yet to become a reality for the region. Michael Schultz, President & CEO of the West Florida Division for AdventHealth, discussed with Abby Melone the preparedness and great communal efforts of the healthcare sector in Tampa Bay as they endure this current reality.

COVID-19 may have slowed down a vast majority of construction projects, but it has opened the opportunity for different regions to address long standing infrastructure improvements. Kevin Green, President & CEO of Midtown Alliance, spoke to Abby Melone about now being a time where infrastructure projects can make significant progress with less people on the roads and less intrusion and obstruction to people’s daily lives.

While all demographics of people have been negatively affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, the impact on the African American population has been disproportionate to the rest of the population. This was one of the main topics Oliver Gilbert, Mayor of Miami Gardens, discussed with Abby Melone as well as how the city is working to assist in this matter.

The situation we all find ourselves in now has created unprecedented challenges, but these challenges are not without some opportunity. Phil Dingle, Managing Partner of HealthEdge Investment Partners, reflected on this in his conversation with Abby Melone as he discussed the demand on healthcare creating opportunity for healthcare focused private equity firms.

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.

Though most business sectors are currently feeling the economic strain, the tourism and hospitality sectors were two of the hardest hit. President of the Central Atlanta Progress, AJ Robinson, spoke at length with the CEO of Capital Analytics, Abby Melone, about the unprecedented impact this has had on the hospitality sector and how his organization is working closely with city officials to address these challenges.

As COVID-19 began to rapidly spread throughout the country, the severity of the economic impact it would have was quickly realized by the Federal Government. This ultimately lead to the $2 trillion economic stimulus package known as the CARES Act. In speaking with Abby Melone, Michael Finney, the President and CEO of The Beacon Council, implores that small businesses in the Miami-Dade region should explore and go after the additional funds the stimulus package is offering.

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.

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.

By now most people have come to terms with the impact that COVID-19 is having on the community, but those that have firsthand experience with the virus truly understand the magnitude of this situation. CEO of Capital Analytics Abby Melone spoke with City of Miami’s Mayor Francis Suarez about his first hand experience with COVID-19 and the city’s initiative to offer at home tests for its residents.

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.

As all activity in the Miami-Dade region has seemingly come to a sudden halt due to COVID-19, the local leaders are working tirelessly in the background to respond to the pandemic. Abby Melone, CEO of Capital Analytics, sat down with Juan Carlos Bermudez, Mayor for the City of Doral.

There is no doubt that COVID-19 has created a world of new challenges that the local economy must now endure, but it does not have to be without help from local community leaders and organizations. Invest:Insights spoke to Kelly Flannery, President and CEO of the South Tampa Chamber of Commerce on the impact she is seeing on the local business community as well as how communication with local and State officials alike will help us weather the storm.  

As the world adjusts to what many are calling a ‘new normal’, community leaders like Bill Mutz, the Mayor for the City of Lakeland, are taking action to quickly reactivate the local economy. In his discussion with Capital Analytics CEO Abby Melone, Mayor Mutz discusses tackling these new challenges head on

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 Jaret Davis, Co-Manging Partner, Greenberg Traurig

Invest:Insights presents Eugene Anderson, Dean, University of Miami School of Business

Invest:Insights presents Steven Altchuler, CEO, UHealth – The University of Miami Health System

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

 

Invest: Insights presents Roberto Munoz, South Florida Market President, BBVA Compass

 

Invest: Insights presents MacAdam Glinn, Skanska USA

Invest: Insights presents Alice Bravo, Director of Miami-Dade County’s Department of Transit

Invest: Insights presents Kerri Barsh, Shareholder, Greenberg Traurig