Invest:Insights

 

The West Palm Beach Downtown Development Authority (DDA) is charged with promoting and enhancing a vibrant Downtown West Palm Beach for all. Executive Director Raphael Clemente spoke with Invest:Insights about the DDA’s strategies to position Downtown for growth and addressed the challenges impacting the area. The opening of the new downtown trolley was celebrated by the local community and was a step in the right direction for downtown’s mobility vision, he remarked.

 

Relationship building has never been more important than in today’s digitized world. “Times of change create the greatest opportunities for businesses,” Pierce PR Founder and President Julia Bonner said about the forced transition into remote work and business development. In her interview with Invest: Insight, Bonner reflected on the overall impact of the pandemic at the intersection of business and public relations strategies.

 

Raleigh’s travel and tourism industry is slowly but surely recuperating, with positive indicators of a rebound being seen on all fronts. In a conversation with Invest:Insights, Dennis Edwards, president and CEO of the Greater Raleigh Convention & Visitors Bureau, also known as Visit Raleigh, spoke about their marketing efforts and the focus to attract festivals and events that cater to different audiences. The sustained growth the local market has experienced during the pandemic has positioned the Triangle’s tourism industry for a strong recovery and post-pandemic success, Edwards noted.

South Florida’s construction sector is on the cusp of a major transformation. Fueled by demand and technological innovation, the local market is positioned to benefit from the combination of business and population growth. As the growth continues, South Florida will need to continue to keep a close eye on public transportation and infrastructure, Flux Architects Founder and Principal Eddie Seymour told Invest:Insights.

 

Miller Construction Company is looking at a lot of development opportunities for last-mile distribution projects in the Fort Lauderdale area to accommodate the rise of e-commerce, which has been accelerated by the pandemic. Among the ongoing challenges for the construction sector are availability of land, rising costs, and supply chain disruptions, President Brian Sudduth told Invest:Insights. Effective communication is key in navigating some of these challenges, he said. He also noted that despite the pandemic-led disruption, the future of e-commerce and the industrial sector looks bright for 2022.

 

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 the USF Muma College of Business, a relevant, quality, up-to-date, and visionary approach has fueled their success during the pandemic. Dean Moez Limayem pointed out the expansion of risk and crisis management offerings as an example of their visionary approach. The college’s free certificate program on diversity equity and inclusion garnered more than 56,000 applicants in just three days, he told Invest:Insights. As a business college, providing relevant offerings has been key during the pandemic. Successful businesses and entrepreneurs will have to take the pandemic challenges as moments to learn, adapt, and move forward, all of which the school is preparing students for.

 

Keen on providing affordable and convenient moving and storage solutions, staying nimble has been key for Red Rover, CEO and Founder Peter Warhurst told Invest:Insights. The company came out at the right time with touchless technology. Understanding the value of location is also important for any business and this has never been more true than throughout the pandemic. Peter Warhurst understands this and was able to capitalize on location over the last year. 

 

Within the Tampa Bay market, Pinellas county is positioned to attract businesses and residents to the area despite the COVID-19 pandemic. Key industries such as financial and manufacturing have enjoyed growth throughout the pandemic landscape,  Pinellas County Economic Development Director  Michael Meidel told Invest:Insights. For his operations, its new business incubator project is world class and will further accelerate local entrepreneurialism connected to the local key industries. The employment sites program will dedicate $8 million of funding a year to developers for office and warehouse spaces. These efforts will be key in supporting the growth expected for the market. 

 

Spearheaded by the Greater St. Petersburg Area Economic Development Corporation, St. Pete economy stayed resilient through COVID-19 thanks to the city’s strong foundation and appeal in attracting both people and businesses. Resilience and collaboration has enabled Economic Development Corporation and the city to successfully grow despite the pandemic challenges, President and CEO J.P DuBuque told Invest:Insights. The EDUC is working hard to bolster inclusivity in the region and recruit complementary industries that mesh well with the local culture. 

Last year was a disruptive year for the travel and hospitality sector. For Visit St. Pete Clearwater, this landscape allowed them to reassess priorities. The organization altered messaging and focused on attracting local visitors from other parts of the nation, President and CEO Steve Hayes told Invest:Insights. Their new campaign Rise to Shine has 20,000 people registered and the winner will get an all expenses paid trip to St. Petersburg, with airfare, personal cabana on a private beach and more. The organization is being creative in attracting people in a safe way in order to build back confidence in travelers, he said. There is much pent up demand both internationally and locally and the Tampa Bay region is ready for it, he said.

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 transition away from fossil fuels is happening. While this transition is slated to create jobs, industry leaders are tasked with figuring out what this transition may look like. Integral Energy is hard at work ensuring the training for the jobs of tomorrow are ready, President and CEO Anddrikk Frazier told Invest:Insights. University does not need to be the only answer. Many of these jobs can be accessed through vocational or high school training, he said. 

It has been a busy cycle for tax professionals. For Taxfyle, the pandemic led to an uptick of business. This was due to a mixture of technological advances, companies restructuring, and younger people wanting to do their taxes in a digital environment rather than the traditional accountancy environment, CEO & Co-Founder Richard Lavina told Invest:Insights. Though the last year has been tough for businesses, the pandemic has also pushed entrepreneurs in startups forward, he said.

Adapting academic curriculums to the job sites of tomorrow is increasingly important in such a rapidly evolving landscape. For Johnson C. Smith University,  esports is an example of this movement. Digital analytics is another area the university is bolstering, President Clarence “Clay” Armbrister told Invest:Insights. Partnering with Charlotte’s business community to provide experimental and external learning is key to make sure their students are well prepared for the careers they take on, he said.

Executive coaching, training and corporate development programs are best suited as in-person endeavors. For GCI Worldwide Corporation, an executive and coaching and training firm, the adaptation from live events to the digital environment was not without its challenge, but proved successful throughout the pandemic landscape. Human ingenuity will step up in unique ways to solve problems, President and CEO Giselle Cheminand told Invest:Insights. Despite the challenges of connections in a virtual world, GCI Worldwide was able to add value for clients by creatively shifting conferences and programs to the remote setting. Increased representation of women in corporate roles is an area that needs continuing improvement, Cheminand pointed out.  More women on corporate boards and leadership positions will be a litmus test for true change in the corporate world, she said.

 

Real world experience is key for all students, not just for those that can get internships. For Ringling College of Art + Design, it has been incredibly important to initiate this type of experience. As a higher education institution focused on creative learning it is important to be in the classroom, however, the college was able to transfer all of their classes online, President Larry Thompson told Invest:Insights. Having a major such as virtual reality exemplifies how the college stays ahead of the curve when it comes to being a leading art school based in technology, Thompson said. 

 

Throughout the pandemic Florida Blue, a solution maker and healthcare leader, took steps to provide easy access and coverage for Floridians by covering the cost of testing and treatment and now for vaccines. Virtual health is here to stay and is especially important in tackling the mental and behavioral health of the community, Market Leader Doug Bartel told Invest:Insights. Special open enrollment will help the under-covered and uninsured citizens of Florida. Due to a tumultuous year, this is a welcomed open enrollment season, Bartel said.

 

At the peak of COVID’s uncertainty, Tampa Bay’s Shumaker, Loop & Kendrick, LLP hosted a 24-hour hotline that took calls from CEOs and advised them on COVID related concerns. This was a community effort which was important for the firm to be involved with, Managing Partner Ronald Christaldi told Invest:Insights. Technology has permanently changed the legal sector however there is still a face-to-face human element that is lost in online trials and mediations, Christaldi said.The human spirit will continue to grow in this environment and adapt, he remarked.

 

Many legislative efforts put forth to mitigate the pandemic challenges also created some disruption for various legal practices. In the same vein, businesses were pushed to adapt and innovate in ways that will benefit the market for years to come, Greenberg Traurig Managing Shareholder Theodore Blum told Invest:Insights. Blum has had to lean into his areas of expertise to be more creative and find solutions for his clients, he said. Technology has allowed staying on top of legal work much easier. The hardest part about the remote work setting, however, is the mentorship of new legal professionals, Blum stated.  

 

The cruise industry came to a complete standstill as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, but the industry is positioned for a bounce back thanks to significant pent up demand, buoyed by the ongoing vaccination efforts. Global Marine Travel, a leading maritime travel management company, saw an increase in activity among private yachts and offshore oil, Founder & Managing Director Tim Davey told Invest:Insights. He characterizes what it was like for the maritime industry in the wake of the pandemic.

 

Mass transit will continue to change and develop as both a mode of transportation and a means of guiding development. The Broward MPO’s 2045 Plan projects into the future to anticipate what the future of local transportation will look like in the county. At the onset of the pandemic, road capacity decreased as a result of shelter in place measures and the pivot to remote work and instruction, Executive Director Gregory Stuart told Invest:Insights. The uptick in road capacity has increased as residents begin to return to work and school which may impact road capacity moving forward. The Camino Real is one of the most dynamic projects in South Florida and will help facilitate people living outside of major metro areas by allowing them to commute easily, Stuart 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.

 

In the COVID environment, Pasco-Hernando State College has been keen on meeting students where they are. Online classes will continue with hopes of more in person this summer as the nation begins to emerge from the pandemic, President of the College Dr. Timothy Beard  told Invest:Insights. The higher education sector will play a critical role in tackling the economic inequalities, Beard said. 

While there is no economic development playbook for the pandemic landscape, The Georgia Department Of Economic Development saw robust job growth over a number of industries. For example, the Peach State saw a 70% job growth in manufacturing food processing and logistics, Commissioner Pat Wilson told Invest:Insights. The state is up 40% in job creation from last year. Unemployment currently sits at 5.7% and the majority of that comes from the  hospitality and tourism sector. The state has dedicated $1 million in tourism marketing to encourage travel and boost the sector’s recovery efforts, Wilson said. 

 

The Triangle housing market has never been hotter. The historically low inventory is going faster than the brokers can process the paperwork, Jim Allen Group President Jim Allen told Invest:Insights. They have seen an emphasis on the escalation clause in offers as a result of the tight market. As a result of the low inventory, they’ve had to knock on doors and call old sales to see if they can list. The Triangle’s continued migration and business expansion has bolstered urban sprawl creating opportunities for areas as far back as three hours away from Raleigh, Allen 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.

 

Throughout 2020, energy and utility companies rolled with the punches to battle both COVID and extreme weather challenges. Liquified natural gas will be more important moving forward as it can help states with situations like what happened in Texas at the tailend of 2020. Liquified gas can be stored much more efficiently than other forms of energy, TECO Peoples Gas President T.J. Szelistowski told Invest:Insights. Though no stranger to extreme weather, Tampa Bay is increasing its profile regarding its technology sector and STEM related jobs. STEM talent is essential and Tampa Bay is taking the right steps to addressing the jobs of tomorrow, Szelistowski said. 

 

The Atlanta real estate market remains strong, buoyed by the low-interest rate environment, low supply, strong property values despite the ongoing pandemic. Demand continues to outpace supply, Harry Norman Realtors President and CEO Jenni Bonura told Invest:Insights. The amount of homes for sale has decreased 51 percent while sales have increased over four percent. Homebuyers are changing their point of view as to what they’re looking for in a house. Factors such as location, more walls, and multigenerational homes are among the most popular in the current market, she said.

 

The City of Oakland Park anticipated and prepared for a decline in revenue at the onset of the health crisis and planned accordingly. Flexibility for future budgets will be key moving forward, Mayor Jane Bolin told Invest:Insights. The city is placing a keen emphasis on their Downtown CRA to help the Downtown be a vibrant place in a post-COVID future. Entrepreneurialism and small businesses are the lifeblood of the local economy and incubators need to be supported, the mayor said. CARES act information needs to continue to be distributed to entrepreneurs and small businesses throughout the city while Broward County continues to offer loan funds to the local entrepreneurs.

 

At the core of MobileSmith Health’s vision is to streamline efficiencies within the healthcare provider system while making information more accessible in order to help patients immediately. The current health crisis pushed the company further into the technology world, CEO and President Jerry Lepore told Invest:Insights. Chronic condition management must be better addressed as it’s very costly and sometimes detrimental to the patient’s health, he said.

 

COVID has not changed Balentine’s approach to financial knowledge and wealth management firm strategies, it has only reinforced them. For companies and individuals, one of the biggest mistakes is allowing the 24/7 news cycle that plays on fear to affect investment decisions. Resiliency has been incredibly important to focus on and is an important part of wealth management and business, CEO & CIO Adrian Cronje told Invest:Insights. Corporate social investment has seen an uptick and is here to stay, he said.

 

Traditionally, chambers of commerce have been key partners for local businesses. Their role as a community partner was further pronounced during the current health crisis. In Palm Beach County, the Palm Beach North Chamber of Commerce has actively advocated for the local business community with key initiatives such as extending ordinances to have outside seating at restaurants. The safe return to events is currently a major focus for the chamber, Noel Martinez President and CEO told Invest:Insights.

 

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.

 

There is a lot of interest brewing in Fort Lauderdale and its Downtown Development Authority is ready for it. The last year has a higher pace of projects with an emphasis on tactical actions, President & CEO Jenni Morejon told Invest:Insights. Resonating this message to a national audience while making local neighborhood improvements has guided the authority’s focus.

Fort Lauderdale is a model of how the private and public sector can work together to transform and adapt in a difficult situation, Morejon said.

 

Staying hyper vigilant during the COVID-19 health crisis has been top of mind for leaders in the healthcare sector. In Tampa Bay, Pinnacle Home Care has been able to navigate the challenges of the crisis and administer care to its clients, many of which are eldery and immunocompromised, thanks to education and technology. Telehealth and providing technology to the elderly to keep them connected has enabled Pinnacle Home Care to provide the best service possible during this time, CEO Shane Donaldson told Invest:Insights. The home care provider is hiring 80 to 100 people a month as addressing the need for nurses is of paramount importance to their organization, he said.

 

Prior to COVD-19, Union City was ahead of the curve. The city was already familiar with the work from home model and had a robust citywide app in place prior to the pandemic, Mayor Vince Williams told Invest:Insights. Having the Atlanta Metro Studios, Coca-Cola and Amazon facilities have been a huge help to the city’s local economy throughout the last year. While the pandemic keeps him up at night he knows he’s exactly where he needs to be, Williams said.

 

Community banks have and will continue to play a vital role in the local economy. For Pilot Bank, although there was some initial hesitancy to use technology in the early days of COVID, both the bank and the clients were able to onboard easily, President Rita Lowman told Invest:Insights. For example, the early days of the ATM system were filled with uncertainty but now it is a standard part of the industry, the same is likely to happen with the COVID-inspired changes, she said. However, human touch will remain an important aspect of the industry, and she looks forward to reconnecting with clients in person soon.

The city of Fort Lauderdale made very conservative projections at the beginning of COVID yet finished 2020 better than anticipated. Infrastructure projects kept going and the city was quite aggressive about completing them, Mayor Dean Trantalis told Invest:Insights. As they reopen, the city’s complacency is his biggest worry. Until mass vaccinations have been completed citizens must still uphold safety measures, the mayor said.

 

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.

 

Experts believe Florida is poised for a strong recovery by the end of 2021, especially as industries like the service sector begin to recuperate. In the meantime, the passing of another stimulus package is essential to the recovery process, PNC Financial Services Group Florida Economist Abbey Omodunbi told Invest:Insights. The first stimulus packages last year enabled the Florida business ecosystem to weather the storm better yet further assistance is needed in the recovery process. The housing market is a bright spot throughout the state and is predicted to remain strong in 2021. Overall markets like Tampa, Miami and Orlando have performed very well despite the tumultuous landscape, Omodunbi said.

 

Disinformation was a major problem in the COVID reality. During this time the Knight Foundation worked with journalism partners and networks throughout the country to distribute factual information. In Charlotte, the foundation’s work in the historic West End continues to be profound and the COVID-19 pandemic has actually offered opportunities for their operations, Charlotte Director Charles Thomas told Invest:Insights. There are now several Black developers carefully guiding the development in this historic area. The local arts scene has been forced to be creative more than ever and the Knight Foundation is supporting their efforts by virtual platforms in a time when gathering is not possible, Thomas said.

 

COVID-19 accelerated trends and business decisions as it forced industries and companies to reinvent themselves in the face of constant change. Location became top of mind regarding commercial real estate decisions. For Grupo Eco, because their developments are located in a suburban area, this has allowed them to weather the pandemic challenges well.  As a result, they have tenants coming to them that before the pandemic wouldn’t have considered locating themselves in suburban parts of Broward County, Grupo Eco Real Estate Advisor Daniel Chaberman told Invest: Insights. 

 

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.

 

Before COVID-19 was on the radar, J. Mack Robinson College of Business at Georgia State University had already been making moves to become more digital over the last number of years. In turn, this helped to alleviate some of the challenges related to the fast transition to remote instruction during the pandemic landscape. In crises, graduate school numbers and enrollment increase Dean Richard Phillips told Invest:Insights. The price point of the college’s offerings and focus on digital education further helped contend the pandemic challenges,  Phillips said.

 

SBA loans have been key in helping businesses maintain operations throughout the pandemic. These loans are essential and can really propel businesses forward at this moment in time, Florida Business Development Corporation’s President and CEO Bill Habermeyer told Invest: Insights. The SBA 504 loan program is vital in helping small businesses and clearing up any kind of misconceptions around fees is important, he said. 

 

 

The transition to a remote work setting was greatly accelerated by the pandemic, and businesses have quickly realized the need for robust IT support. Firms like Signature Consultants, that are a one-stop shop to help businesses meet their IT needs, have adapted technologies and unique ways to better connect employees and clients who are remote, Executive Vice President Geoff Gray told Invest:Insights. He also made note that their business was predominantly face-to-face prior to the pandemic, so they have had to make some significant changes to their operations as well.

 

Peachtree Corners was built with tech in mind and offers a robust tech platform that allows residents to communicate with the local government. Since the pandemic, this platform has gotten stronger as the city improved its existing system, Peachtree Corners City Manager Brian Johnson told Invest: Insights. The current landscape has further cemented the importance of patience, appreciating the surroundings, and finding joy locally, he said.

 

The initial pandemic shock to the construction industry was filled with uncertainty and unanswered questions about the future of projects. In markets where construction was deemed essential the activity moved forward despite the pandemic related challenges. For ANF Group, business grew around 40 percent year-over-year and hiring continued, President Al Fernandez told Invest: Insights. He believes this experience demonstrated the industry’s resilience and ability to bring more talent to the labor pool.

 

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.

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