Medical Marijuana – Florida’s current gold rush

Medical Marijuana – Florida’s current gold rush

By: Max Crampton-Thomas

2 Min read October 2020 It has been almost four years since the State of Florida passed Amendment 2, also known as the Florida Medical Marijuana Legalization Initiative, and since then business has been booming. Despite only being legal since November 2016, the medical marijuana industry in Florida has quickly become a multibillion-dollar operation that has shown no indication of a slowdown in growth. 

The rapid progression of the industry has attracted the attention of savvy investors, businesses and entrepreneurs, all looking to capitalize on what seems to be Florida’s next “gold rush.” Tower Commercial Real Estate, one of South Florida’s leading full-service commercial real estate brokerage firms, was one of the organization’s to take early notice of the opportunity in medical marijuana. After closing $50 million worth of cannabis-related industrial and retail transactions in Florida, which equated to successful transactions for 35 dispensaries, the firm announced in July 2019 the creation of a cannabis division as part of its Tenant Representation platform. 

“Working with cannabis companies requires a different level of service, attention and an immense amount of time,” noted Tower CRE’s Senior Director Rob Foster in a press release. “Through experiencing the pitfalls early on in our tenure, we have been able to create and implement a process that is efficient and effective. We have a full team that navigates through each requirement from the infancy phase to move-in. The number of transactions we have completed to date has allowed us to hone in on a precise formula to uncover new opportunities, and we have found tremendous success leading rapid expansionary efforts for our clients.”

Even now as most businesses are reeling and recovering from the challenges caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, the medical marijuana industry has thrived. As displayed by the 134 million milligrams of medical marijuana sold statewide between Sept. 11 and Sept. 17, the industry has seen more people than ever turning their attention to the benefits of medical marijuana to help treat their anxiety, pain and ailments during this uncertain time. 

While opportunity abounds in Florida’s medical marijuana space, the state has been noted as having a licensing process that still needs some refining. Florida’s Supreme Court is in the process of deliberating on whether or not the regulatory structure in place favors some businesses receiving medical marijuana treatment licenses over others. This case was brought to the court by Tampa-Based Florigrown, which is arguing that Amendment 2 was written in a way that favored specific medical marijuana companies. 

“This is everything but a free market. It has created a monopoly,” Florigrown attorney Katherine Giddings said about the company’s challenge to the legislation.

To date, 22 companies have medical marijuana treatment licenses in the state of Florida. Despite the challenges presented by the structure of Amendment 2, these organizations are growing and expanding their operations all over Florida, hoping to capitalize on the prime opportunities present in the region. One of the most recent entries to the market is California-based Cookies, which is eyeing South Beach as its first retail location. 

“Our team is excited and extremely humbled to be able to own one of the few licenses in Florida,” rapper Berner, CEO and founder of Cookies, told the South Florida Business Journal.  

Despite the controversies, medical marijuana in Florida appears poised to continue its upward trajectory, solidifying its reputation as Florida’s green gold. 

How the hospitality industry is staying afloat during the flash recession

How the hospitality industry is staying afloat during the flash recession

By: Beatrice Silva 

2 min read FORT LAUDERDALE — The hospitality sector is a vital factor in South Florida’s economy. Around 1.3 million Floridians have jobs related to the tourism industry, which contributes $85.9 billion of the state’s GDP, according to A Banner Year for Florida Tourism Performance. On April 1, Gov. Ron DeSantis issued a statewide stay at home order that forced nonessential businesses like restaurants, hotels and shopping centers to close their doors. Within days of the shut down, an estimated 1.2 million people lost their jobs and more than 1.5 million unemployment claims were filed, according to the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity.

 Although Broward County is a few weeks into phase one of reopening, uncertainty still looms. However, it has become apparent that the hospitality industry is doing everything in its power to stay afloat during the flash recession. The hospitality industry has endured a difficult four months and although it is making strides, no one knows how long it’s going to take for it to make a full recovery. 

Many industry leaders speculate that normal life won’t resume until a vaccine for the virus is discovered and easily accessible to the masses. The pharmaceutical industry indicates that a cure for COVID-19 could take years. In the meantime, businesses are having to come up with innovative ways to stay profitable. Unlike other sectors of the economy like technology and banking, the hospitality industry relies heavily on face-to-face interaction and physical guest services. “The hospitality industry will have to learn to function in a way not seen before. As the relationship between each brand and consumer starts by building trust, regaining customer confidence will be the first step in overcoming the crisis. Strict sanitary and hygiene measures will need to be applied, with new practices put in place to monitor and control the environment in which the business takes place,” Hassan Djeebet, food and beverage manager for Les Roches Marbella told hospitalitynet. 

Being transparent with guests will become even more important during the transition into a post-pandemic world. Managers will have to make their workers feel just as safe as their customers to ensure an overall positive guest experience. Although Broward County is just a few weeks into its phase one reopening plan, restaurant owners have noticed more and more people venturing out to indulge in their favorite food and drinks. “Eating outside is less risky than eating inside, if everybody is six feet apart and the wait staff are all wearing masks. That keeps the risk as low as it can be,” Dr. William Schaffner, a professor of preventive medicine and infectious diseases at Vanderbilt University School of Medicine in Nashville, told CNN Travel. 

Some argue one brightside to the pandemic is the emergence of new innovations in the hospitality industry. Many restaurants have adopted new technologies to ensure the customer experience is as hands free as possible. For example, instead of having a physical menu, restaurants are offering digital menus that can be accessed by scanning a QR code. Other innovations include artificial intelligence systems like FAQ bots to answer customer questions, virtual tours, and smart amenities like voice-controlled rooms and facial recognition. It’s safe to say that the pandemic has pushed businesses out of their comfort zones. However, as a result, easier and more efficient ways of doing things have surfaced. Some industry leaders even go so far as to say that the pandemic has propelled them at least five years into the future. 

 

 

Cruise industry sailing into unknown waters due to pandemic

Cruise industry sailing into unknown waters due to pandemic

By: Max Crampton Thomas

2 Min read July 2020 This year has been nothing short of a disaster for the cruise industry, and for PortMiami this has presented some major challenges. Coming into 2020, expectations could not have been higher for the “Cruise Capital of the World” as it came off a record cruise year, reporting a 22% increase in cruise passenger totals for the 12-month period that ended on Sept. 30, 2019. With multiple port terminal expansion projects on the horizon and continued strong support from the county, it appeared as though the sky was the limit for the cruise industry in Miami-Dade. 

 

This all rapidly changed as the COVID-19 pandemic began to spread throughout Florida, severely impacting the local community and economy of Miami-Dade County. On March 14, 2020, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued the “No Sail Order,” preventing all cruise ships in the United States from normal cruising operations. This order has since been extended, first in April 2020 and most recently on July 16. Now with the order in effect until at least Oct. 1, 2020, the once bright outlook for Miami-Dade’s cruise industry now looks dark. 

Due to the challenges presented by the pandemic and with the industry still on hold, some South Florida-based cruise organizations are rethinking their business strategies and expansion plans. One such company is the Miami-based Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings Ltd, which announced on July 16 that it was launching an underwritten public offering of $250 million worth of ordinary shares. As reported by Bizjournals, the net proceeds from the offering would be used for general corporate purposes. 

While NCL is offering shares in its company, other cruise organizations are working with the county to look at restrategizing terminal expansion and development plans at PortMiami. After a vote on July 14 by the Miami-Dade County Tourism and the Ports Committee, plans were set in motion to negotiate a revised scope of work for two terminal projects at PortMiami. One of these terminal projects is that of Broward-based MSC Cruises, which would look to benefit from these negotiations as an extended timeline would allow it more time to secure the proper funding for its $300-million project. The other project under discussion in these negotiations is the Terminal V project at PortMiami belonging to Virgin Voyages. The company, in collaboration with the county, is working toward finding a way to reduce the cost of the $179-million project. 

Although the cruise industry may be at a standstill, PortMiami is weathering the economic storm of the pandemic due in large part to cargo and trade business. While it prepares for the eventual return of the cruise industry, the port and county have continued to support these organizations in a variety of ways. On March 13, Mayor Carlos Gimenez announced that PortMiami would be waiving berth fees for 30 days, which has continued to be extended throughout the pandemic. The Miami-Dade County mayor has remained steadfast on the county’s support of the cruise industry. “Our partnership with the cruise industry is stronger than ever, and we will continue to offer our support,” Mayor Gimenez was quoted as saying. 

 

 

Spotlight On: Andrew Burnett, Senior Principal, Stantec

Spotlight On: Andrew Burnett, Senior Principal, Stantec

By: Max Crampton-Thomas

2 min read January 2020 — The Broward County Convention Center and Hotel is one of the largest projects underway in Broward County. A project of this magnitude requires the utmost care in regards to design and architecture, as well as the foresight to plan for future environmental challenges. Invest: spoke with Andrew Burnett, the senior principal for Stantec, which is working on the Convention Center project. Burnett addressed the company’s ongoing projects, how shifting demands have changed its focus and the National Flood Insurance Program. 

 

What are some of your most significant projects in development within Broward County? 

 

We have multiple projects throughout Broward County, including the Fort Lauderdale region, Pompano Beach, Sunrise and Miramar. For instance, we are the architect of record and landscape architect for the Broward County Convention Center and Hotel, which is around a $1 billion project. This is an extremely large and involved project requiring integrated services from Stantec that also has many resilient aspects being built into it that we hope to use as a model for future growth and development throughout the county. As we are expanding the convention center and building the new hotel, we have done a series of wave-height analyses. These are not just focused on the floodplain and how high we need to build the building to stay out of the floodplain, they also address storm surges and how to design the building to be more resilient in those situations. It has been great to have the county’s support on these matters. Our other projects in Broward County include the new AC Hotel by Marriott in Sawgrass Mills, Manor Miramar, Las Olas Walk and 1380 South Ocean Boulevard. 

 

How have you seen demand shift in the last couple of years and how are you adapting to this shift? 

 

Historically, we would see the demand for smaller residential units in the Downtown urban core because of the density of the population. As we moved away from the urban areas, the units were constructed bigger to attract more people, but now we are starting to see smaller units becoming attractive away from the urban centers. This indicates that people are looking for alternative solutions that are more affordable. It may also be partially due to having more flexibility and adaptability in the way that we live and the way that we engage the community as Broward becomes more connected and dense. We foresee more of these deals for smaller units outside of the main urban areas making sense for investors. 

 

We are seeing more residential projects that want to permit themselves as or like a hotel. There is some gray area with the rise of services like Airbnb and WhyHotel that can allow owners to operate as a short-term rental while they’re leasing up their building. Owners and investors are starting to take advantage of this. This is shifting how we design our projects. For instance, if we need to design for things like ADA bathrooms, which you would find in a hotel, we are starting to look at an earlier stage how we might design the spaces to be more flexible to do this.

 

How have you seen Opportunity Zone legislation affect your business? 

 

We have seen an increase in requests for test fits on properties that fall in Opportunity Zones. The market is starting to ask questions on sites and locations that they hadn’t previously. There are a lot of regulations that are being finalized and released in the near future that are going to help increase investor confidence to go forward in these Opportunity Zones, but it may be too early to see the fruit of the test fits in these sites. We are expecting to see more of this in 2020. 

 

How much of a focus do you place on possible future changes to the National Flood Insurance Program? 

 

We are looking more broadly at what is happening with the National Flood Insurance Program and what may happen in the future in terms of how we go about flood insurance regarding how much of it is subsidized by taxpayers. At some point, taxpayers are going to say that they do not want to be subsidizing flood insurance for landowners who may not be doing enough to protect their buildings. As risk starts to shift from insurance entities to owners, they are going to be asked what they are doing to make their building more resilient. What we are trying to do with our integrated team is to find solutions to this so we can go back to our clients and suggest to them what they need to do to mitigate this risk. 

 

For more on our interviewee visit:

 

https://www.stantec.com/en

South Florida’s Top Five Events for the Holiday Season

South Florida’s Top Five Events for the Holiday Season

By: Sara Warden

 

2 min read December 2019 — South Floridians may not expect a white Christmas, but there are still a plethora of entertainment options to get the kids into the holiday spirit. From Enchanted Forests to visits from Santa, there is plenty for all ages going on across the Miami, Palm Beach and Greater Fort Lauderdale areas. Capital Analytics counts down the top events in the run up to the big day!

1. Christmas with the Chimps at Lion Country Safari

If you’re an animal lover, this is the place to be on Thursday, Dec. 19. For one day only, starting at 10.30am, guests at the Lion Country Safari park in Palm Beach will be able to leave their cars and watch as the chimps open Santa’s gifts. Entry is $39 for adults and $30 for children, and under twos go free!

Find out more here

2. Winterland at Pinto’s Farm

Located at 14890 SW 216 St, this farm park promises a huge range of activities, including holiday treats, face painting, a petting zoo, pony rides, hay rides and paddle boats. Why not venture into the enchanting illuminated forest and meet Santa Claus, Nix the Snowman and Sprinkle the Gingerbread cookie.

Find out more here.

3. “A Christmas Story: The Musical” at Broward Center for the Performing Arts

Brought to you from the songwriting team behind Tony-award-winning Dear Evan Hansen and La La Land, this show promises to be a festive treat for the ears. The show is based on the 1983 movie A Christmas Story, following protagonist Ralphie’s pursuit of his dream Christmas gift. Showings continue throughout the festive season and tickets are priced at $49-65, with discounts available for teachers and students.

Find out more here.

4. Santa’s Enchanted Forest at Tropical Park

With over 100 rides, shows and attractions, Santa’s Enchanted Forest is sure to spread the Christmas cheer. Running from the end of October until Jan. 5, the fun takes place at 7900 SW 40th Street and promises 3 million lights and a 92-inch Christmas tree, all within an amusement park. Tickets start at $28.60 for children and seniors.

Find out more here.

5. Brightline for The Polar Express train rides

Across selected dates from mid-November until Dec. 29, families can take the one-hour Polar Express train on the brand new Brightline route. Singing, dancing, cookies and hot chocolate are guaranteed to keep both the kids and adults happy before Santa climbs on board to hand out some Christmas gifts to the girls and boys on the nice list. Prices start from $55 for an adult and $50 for a child.

Find out more here

Spotlight On: Richard Helber, President and CEO, Tropical Financial Credit Union

Spotlight On: Richard Helber, President and CEO, Tropical Financial Credit Union

By: Max Crampton-Thomas

2 min read December 2019 — There are options when it comes to banking and it’s not just choosing between the multitude of traditional banking institutions. When Invest: spoke with Richard Helber, president and CEO of Tropical Financial Credit Union, he made sure to convey that unlike traditional banks, its credit union is a not-for-profit cooperative whose main goal is putting the customer’s interests first. He also spoke highly of the benefits of being located in South Florida and the trends he is keeping a close eye on as we turn the corner into 2020.

 

 

What advantages are afforded to customers who bank with a credit union like Tropical Financial as opposed to traditional banks? 

One factor that really makes us different from our banking counterparts is that we are not for profit. We are organized as a cooperative, so we refer to our customers as members because they actually own us. They elect among themselves individuals who will be on our board of directors. Our board of directors are all volunteers. Because we are a nonprofit, we do not pay income taxes and also do not have a profit motive. 

Banks are organized for profit and we are organized for service, with the philosophy of people helping people. What this means to consumers is that we are putting their interests first. There is no stock and we have no stock options. Our goal with our volunteer board is to put the interests of our members first. This translates into trying to be more competitive on our rates and fees and providing better service. In this day and age when there are so many people with busy lives, our mission is to help them make their finances easy to access and affordable so that they can get on with the things that are important in their lives.

How is the location of South Florida conducive to the future success of your operations? 

There are a lot of positive things happening in South Florida. The state is still seeing over 1,000 people a day moving within its borders. There are still companies that want to relocate here or anchor themselves in Florida. It also helps that this is an international market as well. This has increased the amount of diversity in terms of the number and types of companies that are here, in addition to the variety of professionals who have moved into the state.

What are the continuing or emerging trends in banking that you are keeping a close eye on as we move into 2020? 

One of the trends we are watching carefully is the tellerless branch. This is just starting to happen in South Florida and in different markets across the county. This machine is more or less a highly sophisticated ATM. But it can do a lot more than just take a deposit and dispense cash. They can do all the same things a human teller would do and unlike a human, they can be available 24 hours a day. The branch is being transformed into a financial consultation center not a transaction center.

Another trend we have observed is that when it comes to banking, the younger segment of the population wants tools to help them better organize their finances and make good decisions. For that reason, we have created the Get Beyond Money platform where an individual can sign up to meet with a money coach and develop a financial action plan. 

To learn more about our interviewee, visit: 

https://www.tropicalfcu.com/

South Florida’s Top Five Events for the Holiday Season

South Florida’s Top Five Events for the Holiday Season

By: Sara Warden

2 min read December 2019 — South Floridians may not expect a white Christmas, but there are still a plethora of entertainment options to get the kids into the holiday spirit. From Enchanted Forests to visits from Santa, there is plenty for all ages going on across the Miami, Palm Beach and Greater Fort Lauderdale areas. Capital Analytics counts down the top events in the run up to the big day!

 

 

 1. Christmas with the Chimps at Lion Country Safari

If you’re an animal lover, this is the place to be on Thursday, Dec. 19. For one day only, starting at 10.30am, guests at the Lion Country Safari park in Palm Beach will be able to leave their cars and watch as the chimps open Santa’s gifts. Entry is $39 for adults and $30 for children, and under twos go free!

Find out more here

2. Winterland at Pinto’s Farm

Located at 14890 SW 216 St, this farm park promises a huge range of activities, including holiday treats, face painting, a petting zoo, pony rides, hay rides and paddle boats. Why not venture into the enchanting illuminated forest and meet Santa Claus, Nix the Snowman and Sprinkle the Gingerbread cookie.

Find out more here.

3. “A Christmas Story: The Musical” at Broward Center for the Performing Arts

Brought to you from the songwriting team behind Tony-award-winning Dear Evan Hansen and La La Land, this show promises to be a festive treat for the ears. The show is based on the 1983 movie A Christmas Story, following protagonist Ralphie’s pursuit of his dream Christmas gift. Showings continue throughout the festive season and tickets are priced at $49-65, with discounts available for teachers and students.

Find out more here.

4. Santa’s Enchanted Forest at Tropical Park

With over 100 rides, shows and attractions, Santa’s Enchanted Forest is sure to spread the Christmas cheer. Running from the end of October until Jan. 5, the fun takes place at 7900 SW 40th Street and promises 3 million lights and a 92-inch Christmas tree, all within an amusement park. Tickets start at $28.60 for children and seniors.

Find out more here.

5. Brightline for The Polar Express train rides

Across selected dates from mid-November until Dec. 29, families can take the one-hour Polar Express train on the brand new Brightline route. Singing, dancing, cookies and hot chocolate are guaranteed to keep both the kids and adults happy before Santa climbs on board to hand out some Christmas gifts to the girls and boys on the nice list. Prices start from $55 for an adult and $50 for a child.

Find out more here

 

Spotlight On: Douglas Zaren, CEO, Memorial Regional Hospital South

Spotlight On: Douglas Zaren, CEO, Memorial Regional Hospital South

By: Max Crampton-Thomas

2 min read December 2019 — As the population continues to grow, the need for specialized healthcare follows suit. For Memorial Regional Hospital South, the focus is on being able to adapt and grow areas that will benefit the future of post-acute care. Invest: spoke with CEO Douglas Zaren about how the hospital is adapting its practices to meet increased demand while also being open and flexible when it comes to adopting new technology into the hospital. 

 

What differentiates Memorial Regional Hospital South from the other hospitals in the region? 

As the home of the Memorial Rehabilitation Institute, Memorial Regional Hospital South is made unique by our focus on post-acute care. One of our rehabilitative programs is Determination Drive, where we have created a community with an ATM, grocery store, library, park and a MINI Cooper. We use these environments to help patients re-learn different skills in realistic scenarios. By practicing everyday tasks under the supervision and guidance of our therapists, our patients will be ready to leave our hospital with confidence. We also take pride in our Adaptive Sports program, which helps our disabled patients reach their maximum potential. Different activities, such as wheelchair basketball, adaptive bowling and adaptive cycling help our patients gain confidence as they adapt to life with a disability. Our patients are the center of all that we do, and we strive to help them recover both physically and emotionally. 

As the population in Broward County continues to grow, how is the hospital preparing for the increased demand? 

As our population grows, it is important for us to be able to adapt and grow the areas that will be necessary for the future of post-acute care. This need to adapt is further exacerbated by pressures to provide more efficient care. As a result, we focus on the entire continuum of post-acute care, going beyond inpatient rehab to outpatient rehab, home health and Memorial Manor, our Skilled Nursing Facility. By expanding the capabilities to these providers, more patients are able to receive appropriate care. An example of this dedication to growth is the expansion of our electronic medical records technology to Memorial Manor, which will allow the caregivers to easily see the patient’s medical history. Our expansions of outpatient rehab and home health services allow more patients to receive care outside of the hospital setting, in the comfort of their home and on their schedule. Finally, our continued focus on excellent quality in our hospital still gives those patients with higher needs the care they need through our inpatient rehabilitation services, 

How are you implementing new technology to better serve your patients and physicians. 

Technology is advancing rapidly in all aspects of life, including patient care. We have a strong commitment to leverage this expanding technology to provide our patients with the most modern and innovative care in the market. An example of this is our recent acquisition of a C-mill treadmill, which utilizes virtual reality technology to simulate realistic environments for patients. This allows patients to get acclimated to walking in environments they would see outside the hospital, while still being in a safe, monitored situation. In addition, we help our patients become accustomed to using technology in their everyday life. By training our patients with an Amazon Alexa smart home system, they will be able to use these tools in their homes after discharge to help with tasks, such as turning on the lights and controlling the TV, that may be difficult for them as they continue their recovery. 

For more on our interviewee, visit:

https://www.mhs.net/locations/memorial-south

All Aboard! Seminole Hard Rock Winterfest Boat Parade Ready to Set Sail

All Aboard! Seminole Hard Rock Winterfest Boat Parade Ready to Set Sail

By: Max Crampton-Thomas

2 min read December 2019 — The annual Seminole Hard Rock Winterfest Boat Parade is just around the corner, and event organizers are adding the finishing touches to “The Greatest Show on H2O.” That’s no understatement, with an estimated economic impact of $50 million and 1 million live spectators, plus online and TV streams. “There is nothing like the Seminole Hard Rock Winterfest Boat Parade in the entire world,” said Lisa Scott-Founds, the event’s President and CEO.

 

Taking place on Dec. 14, the show – the seventh-largest one-day spectator event in the country – is not to be missed. “Private boats to the giant showboats and corporate megayachts will be adorned with hundreds of thousands of lights, music, entertainment, decorations, celebrities, musical groups, beauty queens and many other exciting entries,” the event’s website promises. Think the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, but on water.

According to Scott-Founds, as a nonprofit organization, organizers are constantly innovating to think of new ways to make the event stand out without breaking the bank. “We always want to integrate the newest technology into our event, like the use of holograms, which we hope is a real possibility for this year,” she said. “We are always asking people, ‘What is something that you’ve never seen us do before?’ We take their suggestion, develop a budget to execute the idea and bring it to our board and possible sponsors to help with underwriting the “new wow factor idea.”

This year, the 12-mile parade route will begin at Stranahan House and will sail eastward into Fort Lauderdale to the Intracoastal Waterway, and ending at Lake Santa Barbara in Pompano Beach. It costs a minimum of $35 to enter a boat with no advertising, while the heftiest sponsorship package comes in at a cool $65,000. Spectators can also purchase a ticket to the Grandstand Viewing Area inside the Hugh Taylor Birch State Park with prices starting at $25 for children 10 and under.

The economic bump in the county’s coffers comes at a good time, says Scott-Founds. “The beginning of December is a little slower for tourism, as opposed to other months when tourism in South Florida sees a boom, so we feel a responsibility to bring people into the region and put heads in beds,” she says.

For the event, it seems that all stakeholders in the area come together to enhance the experience for visitors. “Our success is due to collaboration with organizations like our Greater Fort Lauderdale Convention and Visitors Bureau and working with area hotels,” says Scott-Founds. “Tourists should experience a Winterfest weekend, a show at the Broward Center for the Performing Arts, eat at our restaurants and immerse themselves in our community. There is just so much to do in Fort Lauderdale, and in Broward County for that matter.”

To learn more, visit:

https://winterfestparade.com/