Philadelphia steadily rising from COVID-19 challenges

Philadelphia steadily rising from COVID-19 challenges

By: Max Crampton Thomas

2 minute read: June 2020 — Virtually every sector of the economy has been pinched, crushed, or depleted by the initial impact of the coronavirus pandemic. Months into the “new normal,” industries and businesses have had to adapt operations to cope with COVID-19-related challenges. While many businesses remain embattled by the current economic cycle, innovation and opportunity are beginning to rise from the initial shocks of the novel coronavirus, while community leaders help others navigate through the CARES Act and the loan forgiveness process.

In the Delaware Valley, a region severely affected by the effect of COVID-19, leaders have methodically looked at ways to foster innovation in the face of the pandemic. For the real estate sector, the virus outbreak accelerated change in business practices and stress-tested the supply chain of businesses in the region. “We now feel threatened that the supply chain outside, and even inside, the United States is not dependable and will need to be more flexible,” Colliers International Philadelphia President and CEO Douglas Sayer told Invest: Philadelphia. “Accordingly, there will be an increase in manufacturing domestically, creating a greater demand for production and storage space as well as e-commerce distribution centers,” he said. The coronavirus even reversed years-long trends in the commercial and industrial real estate sector. “In the pre-2000 economy, a significant portion of the industrial inventory was repurposed for multifamily and retail. Now, we have reversed course by taking underperforming malls and strip centers and repurposing them for industrial, residential and medical uses.” 

The City of Brotherly Love has long been a thriving hub for the medical and life science industry. The virus could potentially create more demand for medical office and manufacturing space while creating opportunity for medical companies looking to settle in the region and for developers, Sayer said. “COVID-19 has also accelerated medical research. In certain areas, such as gene cell therapy, there has been a shortage of space, and only more recently has this space attracted developer interest,” he said. “In one instance, we were endeavoring to locate space for one of our clients locally and ended up sourcing the space in Raleigh. As a result of the shortage of R&D and process manufacturing space, we would anticipate more will continue to be developed.”

While some leaders pivot their focus to account for innovation and marketplace opportunities, others are helping businesses navigate through the CARES Act provisions and the coming loan forgiveness program. Accounting firm EisnerAmper was ahead of the curve by stress-testing its technology and remote work capabilities weeks before shelter-in-place measures took full effect, Partner In Charge Paul Dougherty told Invest: Philadelphia. “We immediately created a COVID-19 response team that quarterbacks the different elements of the issues presented by the crisis, including the tax and stimulus aspects. And we did significant outreach to our clients via webinars, blogs and articles, e-blasts, podcasts, and so forth. To some extent, we’ve become experts on these Small Business Administration (SBA) loans,” he said. In a time where banks are stressed and overwhelmed with the related CARES ACT provisions and the Paycheck Protection Program, EisnerAmper is using its technology dexterity to help banks and business owners calculate loan forgiveness figures. “The banks are under a tremendous amount of stress because a loan recipient must determine the amount of forgiveness within eight weeks after receiving the loan. The banks have given out many thousands of loans, and they don’t necessarily have the staff to process all of that work in a timely fashion,” Dougherty said. “Our firm has worked with a technology company on a product that can input data from the customer and calculate the amount of loan forgiveness, which we can then provide to the banks.” 

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