Florida is in the midst of an aviation renaissance

Florida is in the midst of an aviation renaissance

By: Beatrice Silva 

2 min read September 2020 — Despite a dismal year for the aviation industry, Orlando Melbourne International Airport is experiencing a period of exponential growth. Companies such as Made in Space and Aerion Supersonic have announced plans to relocate their headquarters to central Florida, which will help bring hundreds of jobs to the region. 

Aerion Supersonic plans to relocate its headquarters from Reno, Nevada, to Melbourne, Florida. The American aircraft manufacturer received a substantial investment from Space Florida that will help bring an estimated 675 jobs to the region over the next six years. Aerion Supersonic and Space Florida also have plans to build a $300-million state-of-the-art campus at Melbourne International Airport. Located on 60 acres of undeveloped property at the northwest corner of the airport, Aerion Park will boast a center for research along with facilities for manufacturing, design and production. 

The AS2, a supersonic business jet, will be the first aircraft manufactured at Aerion Park. Production of this ultrafast fleet is scheduled to begin in 2023. “Our engineers call it science, but we call it time travel,” Aerion said in a tweet. “Why? At the speed of 1,000 MPH, we’re taking you from JFK to Sydney in 13 hours and 43 minutes instead of 18 hours and 6 minutes. Use those hours with your family instead.” 

Florida is in the midst of an aviation renaissance. Despite an unsettling year, the industry has remained resilient. Space Florida has high hopes that the creation of Aerion Park will help captivate other aviation and aerospace corporations to the area, which will only bring more exploration and innovation to the region. 

“This is a truly transformational project for Florida that changes the game for high-speed air transportation as well as for advanced aerospace manufacturing in the state,” Frank DiBello, president and CEO of Space Florida, told AINonline. “The decision to locate design, engineering, and manufacturing of this technologically advanced supersonic flight vehicle here in Florida is a testament to the growing strength and global recognition of the importance of Florida as a world-leading aerospace state.”

Aerion Supersonic isn’t the only corporation that has received investments from Space Florida to help relocate its operations to the Sunshine State. Earlier this year, Made In Space, announced its decision to move its headquarters from Mountain View California to Jacksonville. The engineering company specializes in the manufacturing of three-dimensional printers for use in microgravity.

“Relocating our headquarters to Jacksonville is a strategic step to position the company for long-term growth,” Andrew Rush, Made In Space president and CEO, said in a statement. “By expanding our presence in Florida, we can leverage a skilled aerospace workforce, large-scale infrastructure to support our growth, and key strategic partners like Space Florida that will accelerate our momentum as we continue to develop world-class space technology.”

Innovation and adaptation: What this could mean for education post-pandemic

Innovation and adaptation: What this could mean for education post-pandemic

By: Beatrice Silva

2 min read September 2020 — The pandemic forced educational institutions to pivot all of their operations to a completely virtual landscape. Many university leaders were planning on returning to normalcy at some point in the upcoming months, but that looks increasingly unlikely. The keys to a successful academic future are in the hands of those educators who are willing to adapt and use innovative technology to their advantage. 

For the majority of universities the rapid transition into an entirely digital world came as a rude awakening. It showed just how fragile the framework of higher education could be without a contingency plan in place. Nevertheless, within days institutions like Drexel University and  Rowan University worked tirelessly to develop new strategies that would not only keep them afloat but would help unify the educational community.  

“Between the financial impact of COVID, the demographic changes, the situation in terms of bringing international students here, and with so many constraints on the system … institutions are really going to have to step back and begin to rethink their model because the sector is not going to be spared continued disruption going forward,” John Fry, president of Drexel University, told DrexelNOW. “More than ever, partnerships — or joint ventures, or mergers, or whatever you want to call them — are the way to go. I think the sector is going to see an almost healthcare system-like response to what’s going on. Healthcare started on its own consolidation and rethinking its model decades ago and it’s obviously still in the middle of it. I think it’s time for higher ed to go through the same types of dynamic changes. I think you’re going to see fewer institutions. I think you’re going to see more networks of institutions. I think you’ll see more hybrid, more online. Hopefully we keep face to face, but that’s just part of what we do.

As Fry mentioned, in the years to come, almost the entirety of higher education’s traditional model could be shifted, not only the logistics concerning profitability but also the student’s overall learning experience. Despite implementations caused by COVID-19, it seems as if a new institutional network was inevitable. Even before the recent pandemic, consumers have been transitioning into the digital realm. Students and parents had started craving alternative options for higher education that involve more flexibility, innovative delivery models and seamless transitions between face to face lectures and online learning. 

Universities are starting to require students to download applications like the DUO, a two-factor authentication system, that helps with the onboarding process. The software works with third-party technology providers to verify a student’s identity. Biometric tools, commonly used by financial technology corporations, are also gaining popularity in this space. “New users will now be asked to take selfies before uploading them to the (UK fintech company) Curve platform alongside pictures of their driver’s license, passport or other official ID documents. FinTech will then use its partner’s biometric capabilities to compare the two images and verify potential customers’ identities,” according to PYMNTS, a B2B platform for the payments industry. 

During this period of evolution, sound insights and collaboration between the public and university leaders will be pivotal for the education sector’s success. To learn more about the future of education in South Jersey, register now for the Invest:South Jersey 2020 Virtual Launch Conference. The conference takes place on Oct. 8 at 11:30 a.m. The virtual conference will feature two robust panels, including “Innovation and adaptation: What this could mean for education post-pandemic,” moderated by Marlene Asselta, president of Southern New Jersey Development Council, and featuring Frederick Keating, president of Rowan College of South Jersey, Monica Adya, president of Rutgers School of Business at Camden, and Barbara Gaba, president of Atlantic Cape Community College. 

To learn more, visit:

https://zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_z34pLBUwQlSCObV80dyE7w

Enter Phase 2: Palm Beach County ready for further opening of economy

Enter Phase 2: Palm Beach County ready for further opening of economy

By: Felipe Rivas

5 min read September 2020After reflecting on the social and economic achievements of American workers, Palm Beach County is ready to allow more workers to get back to work. For the first time since March, the majority of Palm Beach County industries will be allowed to reopen Tuesday after Gov. Ron DeSantis agreed to the easing of coronavirus-related business restrictions.The county now sits in Phase 2 of its multistep reopening plan, which will allow movie theaters, bowling alleys, playhouses and other entertainment venues to reopen following Labor Day weekend. 

Businesses will still limit the number of customers served at one time and will continue to enforce social distancing guidelines. Palm Beach County Mayor Dave Kerner said that 95% of businesses will be operational in some fashion, according to the Patch. 

Unemployment rates remained under 4% in the county for all of 2019 and the start of 2020, consistently dipping to under 3% in that time span, according to the U.S. Bureau of Statistics. From March to April, unemployment shot up from 4% to almost 15% as shelter-in-place measures were implemented locally and throughout the state and nation. Since April, unemployment rates have dipped, hitting about 10% in July as the economy began to carefully open up. The rate is currently at 11.6%.    

“We remain focused on preserving a healthy community and a vibrant way of life for our hometown,” Kerner told Invest: Palm Beach. “Our outlook is ensuring we remind this community every day that it takes a village to get through this. It is not going to happen without continued cooperation, passion and civic duty on behalf of our constituents, our neighbors and our friends. If we achieve that, the outlook will be excellent,” he said. 

As the county enters Phase 2, lessons learned from the pandemic may help drive future economic development in the region. “We all want to safely get back to doing the everyday tasks but this will take a slow and steady approach,” Boca Raton Economic Development Manager Jessica Del Vecchio told Invest: Palm Beach, echoing the mayor’s sentiments. “Today, with technology, we’ve learned we can work from anywhere. This will allow us to continue to attract new companies from out of state, especially now that we’ve been forced to test the work from home concept for many months,” she said.

Continuing to observe health and social distancing guidelines will be key as the economy continues to open up. “It’s important that we make sure we are ready and comfortable for the upcoming reopening of businesses, schools and local community events,” Del Vecchio said. “We should bear in mind that everyone has different boundaries and comfort levels, so the recovery could vary drastically from one person or location to another. Over the next six months, it will be interesting to see what changes occur as we start getting back to everyday happenings. I hope the simpler joys that we rediscovered during the shelter in place order will remain.”

For more information, visit:

https://discover.pbcgov.org/

https://myboca.us/470/Economic-Development

Face Off: Adaptability is par for the course for these development leaders

Face Off: Adaptability is par for the course for these development leaders

By: Max Crampton Thomas

Patrick Lee

Andrew Burnett

3 min read August 2020 Although there have been major roadblocks stemming from the pandemic that have created some slowdown, development in South Florida has continued to show a steadfast resilience and adaptability as projects around the region have remained on a path toward completion. For companies within the construction and development sectors, there is an understanding that being adaptable to the communities’ changing needs is just par for the course. While the future may be uncertain, it’s important to keep a cautiously optimistic attitude. Invest: spoke with both Shorecrest Construction President Patrick Lee and Senior Principal for Stantec Andrew Burnett about their companies’ major developmental successes over the last year, the constantly shifting industry landscape and their best estimations of what the future may hold. 

What are some recent landmarks for your business in the Miami-Dade region? 

Patrick Lee: The main markets Shorecrest Construction focuses on are hospitality, boutique commercial and luxury residential. In the last few years, all of these markets have been extremely strong. We just completed the renovation of the Soho Beach House in Miami Beach, which included the refreshment of guestrooms and suites, bar areas and gym to keep guests engaged and coming back. In luxury residential, a mainstay market for us, we build high-end homes on the water and complete condo interiors in some of the most prominent South Florida neighborhoods. Shorecrest works closely with well-known architects and designers to bring their concepts to life. We just finished the penthouse at the Four Seasons Surf Club designed by Holly Hunt. In the last few years, we have gotten a stronger foothold in those markets.

Andrew Burnett: Recent landmark projects in full swing include Wynwood Square, a 12-story mixed-use facility that includes apartments and retail space; the 30-story YotelPAD Miami condo and hotel project under construction; and a 43-story Luma tower in Miami’s Worldcenter. And there are a lot of new projects to be announced soon and currently coming on board. Each asset within our portfolio contributes to our growth in the creative services space, beyond architecture and interior design, but also engineering and resilience. We think beyond traditional physical traits and focus on how our vast team builds our communities and what we create so there is continuity in our lives and the spaces we inhabit and to ensure that we protect diversity and creative thinking. We call it cultural resilience. 

Have you seen more cognizant efforts toward building for the future with sustainability in mind? 

Lee:  From a climate change perspective, we have been building at a higher elevation, which has been mostly code-driven. Having said that, we have worked on projects where our client has voluntarily built higher than the codes require. Miami Beach has been extremely aggressive in its efforts to raise sea walls to deal with issues stemming from sea level rise. As far as our clients, everybody is technologically savvy, so a lot of the smart home amenities that were reserved for the elite level of homes are becoming a more common feature in homes. We find a lot of our younger clients, in particular, prefer that kind of addition.

Burnett: There is a significant level of agreement across the industry related to what we are facing and where we need to go. It is only a matter of how and there are varying perspectives to harness. Our government agencies, utilities, partners, clients, insurance agencies and lenders all commonly understand the need to mitigate prevalent risks and maintain our quality of life. There is power in the collective movement and I am optimistic about our future and path. 

What does the rest of the year look like for your company?

Lee: Shorecrest has a couple of projects that will still happen as well as some ongoing projects that are still running, including a condominium at the Continuum South Beach and several single-family residences in South Florida. We have two luxury clubs and restaurants right on Miami Beach and the owners of those projects are still very bullish on the construction. I think there will be more of an influx of people who have been coming into Miami from the Northeast because they no longer want to live in such dense cities and prefer to live in a place like Florida. I predict that there will be a recovery in Miami relatively quickly. 

Burnett: We have been quite busy, which is a reflection of the busy private development market. Projects are moving forward and the entire development community is gearing up for when the play button is pressed. In 2009, during the H1N1 outbreak, we established a pandemic committee, granting us an effective way to respond quickly to the pandemic and set up a remote work setting. Fast forward to today: Our productivity levels have allowed us to meet established deadlines and keep projects moving forward, continuing business as usual. Our current outlook for 2021 does not project significant levels of interruption. We want to continue to support that in any way we can. 

To learn more about our interviewees, visit:

https://www.stantec.com/en

https://shorecrestgc.com/

 

 

Face Off: Business schools tackle the challenges in a changed education landscape

Face Off: Business schools tackle the challenges in a changed education landscape

By: Max Crampton Thomas

4 min read July 2020 Higher education in Miami is using the COVID-19 crisis to come out stronger on the other end. John Quelch, dean of the University of Miami Patti and Allan Herbert Business School, discusses what that means and also talks about the post-pandemic landscape for higher education in an interview with Invest:. Florida International University (FIU) College of Business dean Joanne Li also spoke with Invest:, touching on the growing importance of online education, and what makes its new DBA program a game-changer.

How has your school continued to sustain growth in enrollment and influence?

John Quelch: The increasing strength of the University of Miami brand is one factor. We are witnessing a sizable surge in 2020 undergraduate enrollments at the university level and at the school. A second factor is the vote of confidence provided by the $100-million naming gift we received from Patti and Allan Herbert last year. Third is the global recognition and attractiveness of Miami as a place to study plus our beautiful, spacious and self-contained Coral Gables campus. Fourth, from a health and safety perspective, many parents see our campus as preferable to the congested, urban campuses of many universities in the Northeast.

 Most important though is the quality and dedication of our research and teaching faculty, and the fact that we offer more degree programs that are in the sweet spot of what people are looking for. Our sustainable business MS degree is seeing a 25% enrollment increase for 2020. No matter the industry, everyone agrees that technology and analytics are increasingly important for success. Our MS in business analytics degree, recently ranked No. 8 in the world alongside Duke, is able to place almost all its students in capstone projects, internships or full-time employment, even in this challenging environment. In addition to our redesigned full-time MBA, another important degree program is our MS in finance, which supplies a flow of talent to the wealth management, private equity and venture capital firms coming into the Miami area.

How have you approached online education?

Joanne Li:  Eight or nine months prior to COVID-19, FIU Business expanded its offering strategically and methodically. By spring 2021, FIU Business will offer 10 online programs that have a substantial market space. FIU was one of the first adopters of online education, which began more than two decades ago. Now, we see growing demand for this kind of degree, especially as FIU has been diversifying its student population more and more. As a state university, we are expected to offer degrees aligned with market needs.

On an undergraduate level, we are the leader among all colleges within FIU in providing online education; of all the courses we offer, 40% are considered online education. The goal is to allow a more agile learning model for the student and to meet the student’s needs. Most of our student body is a 21st century workforce, who work or take internships while studying. 

We launched our Doctor of Business Administration (DBA) in 2018. We are one of only three state universities in Florida offering this degree. This program targets candidates who already made it to a C-Suite level and yearn for higher levels of business education. Since we accepted our first cohort, the program has been extremely successful, and it is a new trend for business education. Many universities across the globe have been talking about this need but are unsure about implementation. Before COVID-19, FIU Business had already become even more attuned to the business environment and needs of the candidate.

This model is often perceived as a direct competitor for many often expensive and time-consuming full-time MBA programs, especially for candidates who already have been integrated into the working world. The DBA also feeds into this new trend of a stackable, specialized master’s degree. It is a hybrid model that allows students to continue with their careers while studying. Our responses have been timely and position the college to pivot and prepare for the next wave of demand in the market.

What impact will the pandemic have on the education sector or on your institution in the near term? 

Quelch: Overall, I expect many colleges and smaller universities to be financially challenged and forced to merge or go out of business. The University of Miami is scheduled to open on Aug. 17, 2020. We are fortunate and reassured to have a global public health expert as president of the University of Miami. To navigate the current challenges, any university needs to see a high level of community commitment from students, faculty and staff. All of us are going to have to wear masks, follow physical distancing guidelines, be disciplined and set a good example.  We are confident that the strength of the University of Miami community is such that people will endure personal inconvenience for the common good.

Li: By Aug. 24, FIU is scheduled to start repopulating the campus with the four adapted teaching modalities: face to face, online, hybrid and synchronized remote learning, which was introduced in March. FIU Business set out four guiding principles in May. The first is that we will transition our constituency back to normalcy to the best of our ability. The second is that we will honor the teaching modality as we marketed and advertised it, as far as we can. Students can choose to rotate from face-to-face to remote or they can be designated as a remote student through a hybrid model or they can select a fully online format. The third principle is maintaining the use of the classroom and we will take responsibility for making sure that students always have the right tools. The last principle is that we will always consider alternative testing as a result of this pandemic. Certainly, we are still in a very fluid situation but having a plan allows us to prepare for scenarios.

It is important that we retain students and they stay in school. This is a very difficult time for students as many of them or members of their families lost their jobs. To survive this lockdown, everybody has to chip in, and we allocated some of our CARES Act funds to provide financial support.

How do you balance face-to-face education with technology and virtual learning and what does this mean for higher education?

Quelch: The need to switch to virtual teaching to deliver our spring semester courses was not as disruptive as I expected. We all pulled together and did pretty well, though we must improve our online teaching skills further as student expectations will be higher when we reconvene in the fall. We completed our tenure-track hiring early in the year so we will have five new tenure-track professors joining us in the fall.

The area where we are having to do the most reinvention is non-degree executive education. We had approximately $1 million worth in contracts that had to be postponed. We are exploring how to move from a 100% face-to-face delivery proposition to a value-added proposition that includes a more blended solution, often with modular engagement. We are breaking programs into bite-sized learning modules that can be delivered virtually over a week, a month or a couple of months.

Regarding our graduate and undergraduate programs, the challenge as we move into the next semester is to figure out how to best leverage our physical space on campus to maximize the percentage of course delivery that can be face-to-face. We hope to deliver a hybrid solution, balancing face-to-face and online modalities, dividing classes into subgroups to insure physical distancing. We have not seen reductions in applications; in fact, at the graduate level, we have seen a strong uptick, particularly in applications to our online and full-time MBA programs.

Li: We conducted a student survey during the COVID-19 changes, asking about home and education arrangements. Many said they would like to come back and interact with their professors and fellow classmates. This means we have to be better in being learner centric. We need to ensure student learning takes place and student success is achievable regardless of the delivery method. We can do this by making the environment a lot more conducive for the learner. We need to make discussions meaningful on an online platform. At FIU Business, we intend to accommodate students who prefer to show up in person as well as those who want to remain remote. We will vastly implement technology, both hardware and software, to encourage the interactions. The technology is not new, but the teaching pedagogy and implementation are. Now, there is no excuse. We cannot unlearn the lockdown, so we may as well make ourselves very good at adapting. This is a defining moment for higher education.

To learn more about our interviewees, visit:

https://business.fiu.edu/

 

https://www.bus.miami.edu/

 

 

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. 

 

 

Startup ecosystem has a new Silicon Valley: Philadelphia

Startup ecosystem has a new Silicon Valley: Philadelphia

By: Beatrice Silva

2 min read July 2020The term “startup” may bring to mind a group of motivated mid-20-year-olds huddled together in a high-tech office somewhere in Silicon Valley. However, the southern part of San Francisco Bay is no longer the only hotspot for young, ambitious people. The Philadelphia Business Journal recently reported that Philadelphia has one of the top emerging startup ecosystems in the United States, according to a new study from the Startup Genome. Although startups are often small enterprises, the role they play in economic growth is extensive. With new entrepreneurs come new ideas, new innovations and new competition for bigger corporations. 

 

While all startups have the ability to transform into a big business, there are many differences between the two. Along with having different visions for growth and sustainability, startups also tend to have a unique relationship with funding. Unlike a traditional business, startups often rely on capital from outside investors or venture capital firms. Running out of money is the second-most common reason for a startup’s failure. An estimated 29% of startups fold because they ran out of cash, according to CB Insights. With that being said, more and more entrepreneurs are opening up shop in Philadelphia because it has a diverse population, an urban atmosphere and most importantly affordable rents. 

“People who do tech startups in Philly still feel that giddy sense of wonder and magic that comes from starting something totally new. We don’t take it for granted. We still feel lucky and grateful to be doing what we’re doing. We’re scrappy. Philly tech is the way I imagine Silicon Valley must have been before the personal computer boom, the first internet boom, and the second internet boom made startup success feel like a foregone conclusion. In the Valley, most employees don’t remember those days. In America, we’re used to thinking of the East as the past and the West as the future. But when it comes to tech, the tables are turned. The Valley is experienced and satisfied. Philly is young and hungry,” Michael Idinopulos, a social business pioneer, wrote in a blog originally for PeopleLinx, now FRONTLINE Selling, and reposted on Robin Hood Ventures

Startups and small businesses are also a crucial part of Philadelphia’s economy. Startups have been proven to boost employment patterns, which leads to more job opportunities. In 2019, small businesses created 57,377 net jobs. Firms employing fewer than 20 employees experienced the largest gains, adding 34,585 jobs, according to Pennsylvania Small Business Economic Profile. Other than economic growth, startups also tend to revolutionize technology. Exyn Technologies, founded in 2014 by Nader Elm, is just one of the many startups using research to create technology designed to keep more people out of harm’s way. Exyn Technologies pioneers autonomous aerial robot systems to improve operational efficiencies and safety for data gathering in underground mining. 

“I think it is interesting as we are watching the use of drones following the emergence of COVID-19. A lot of companies have started testing and demonstrating the capability of using drones to disinfect public areas. I think that is super relevant and very important not only for this pandemic, but it also shows how the industry at large is adopting autonomous tech in all kinds of environments. Also, it is fascinating to think about autonomous inspections and data collection for heavy industry,” Joe Snodgrass, field engineer at Exyn Technologies, told My Dear Drone. 

 

How Orlando is improving its transportation infrastructure through technology

How Orlando is improving its transportation infrastructure through technology

By: Beatrice Silva

2 min read  — Public transportation is a vital contributing element to urban sustainability. Practical transportation networks that integrate public travel can help lower a city’s per capita carbon footprint. It also makes metropolitan areas more livable by easing commute times and expanding accessibility. Over the last few decades, technology has played a critical role in the evolution of transportation. Transportation technologies most often tackle challenges involving alternative fuels, demographic shifts, traffic analytics, safety and security. 

 

 

Almost 300,000 people live in Orlando and an estimated 75 million people visit the city every year, according to Visit Orlando. These figures are just part of the reason why Orlando has issues with its transportation system. Among companies tackling these challenges is Omnimodal LLC, an interdisciplinary team of mobility tech experts that has created smart mobility management solutions to ease congestion by helping to make public transportation easier to navigate. 

 

“Let’s say you live over by Orlando Health, but you work in Winter Park. You have to take a bus or catch a bike share to get to the [train] station. You’re having to possibly download the Lynx bus tracker app. You have to download whatever scooter or bike-share app you want to use. Then you have to download the SunRail app. They all possibly have separate payment interfaces as well. The future here is how do we integrate things to let folks download whatever app they want? Let’s allow the data to flow and have interoperable payment options, so folks use what’s going to work best for them. Otherwise, you have 16 apps on your phone that you’re kind of playing bingo with to figure out,” David Thomas Moran, CEO of Omnimodal LLC, told Orlando Business Journal.

Beep, a driverless and electric shuttle, is another company making big changes within Orlando’s transportation industry. The company uses key hardware and software to enhance safety, sustainability and mobility. Not having a human driver may seem like something out of a science fiction novel, but it is actually quite common and effective. Beep believes that its technology eliminates human error when it comes to driving. The shuttle is equipped with scanners, sensors and cameras that make its reactions similar to a human driver but without having to worry about the human distractions. As for sustainability, it’s electric-powered motor makes it extremely environmentally friendly. “Look at the passenger count we had, which was 14,000 riders, equivalent to 7,000-9,000 cars off the road. That starts to show the impact these vehicles can have in not only eliminating road congestion and removing or reducing parking requirements but also impacting safety,” Joe Moye, CEO of Beep, told Orlando Business Journal. 

 

As transportation continues to be transformed, safety will always be a top priority. Autonomous vehicles will reduce the reality of human error which is the cause of 85% of all accidents on roadways. Improved safety is a result when combined with a reduction of cars on the roadways due to this mobility service, according to Beep’s Mobility Platform. 

 

Undoubtedly, technology will continue to impact the way people commute. Today, travelers are demanding more and more mobility alternatives. A city’s sustainability relies deeply on the different ways it’s able to offer transportation for its community. To ensure a region’s success and growth, metropolitan areas must continue to find more effective solutions to increase the overall quality of their transportation services.

 

Face Off: Miami-Dade ripe with opportunity

Face Off: Miami-Dade ripe with opportunity

By: Max Crampton Thomas

4 min read July 2020 While the ongoing pandemic has been nothing short of a gut punch to what was set up to be another monumental year for economic growth, real estate development and investment has continued to adapt and move forward through a somewhat uncertain landscape. Invest: recently spoke with two Miami-Based leaders within these spaces. Real estate investor Jeronimo Hirschfeld, chairman, founder and CEO of One Real Estate Investment (OREI), and commercial real estate developer Bernardo Rieber, president and CEO of Rieber Developments, both spoke to the immediate effect and changes the pandemic has created for their projects and industry, as well as why they continue to believe in the Miami-Dade marketplace regardless of the roadblocks thrown up by COVID-19. 

What advantages does the Miami marketplace offer to your business operations?

Bernardo Rieber: I think that Miami is one of the greatest cities in the world. I travel a lot, especially in recent years, and it is hard to find a city like Miami where everything works. It’s new, beautiful, with great weather most of the year. People are amazing, and the properties in general are still less expensive than in other major urban centers. The airport is one of the top in the nation and they have done a great job of expanding to meet the need. I think that Miami will continue to grow. Money will continue to be invested here.

In the commercial segment, I also see a strong market, for several reasons. In particular, more and more people are moving to South Florida. It might be because of low taxes, and the fact that it is becoming more of a global city, compared to 40 years ago when it was beaches and malls. Now, we are a culinary center, with new cultural centers, museums, a lot of great things happening. People move here from the East Coast, from South America and Europe. There are a lot of young professionals in areas such as Brickell. There is great demand for offices because a lot of international companies in the financial world are doing business here.

But there has also been a situation related to traffic, in which smaller municipalities, like Aventura, have been developing more commercial infrastructure to accommodate the people who live there and don’t want to commute into Downtown Miami. More offices are needed, and that’s fueled the market. In my particular case, as I am a developer of mostly medical spaces, I see Miami as a tremendous hub for medical tourism. I am right next to the Aventura Hospital and Medical Center, which is a level two trauma center, with 500 beds. I am finishing an extended stay hotel next door, and a total of 80,000 square feet of offices.

Jeronimo Hirschfeld:  In today’s market, especially in the asset class that OREI operates in, which is multifamily, I believe there are going to be many opportunities here. In previous years, there were a lot of developers and investors deploying money into these investments, but as more uncertainty surrounding the real estate sector becomes apparent, opportunities begin to arise for firms like One Real Estate Investment.  What we are seeing today is that these investors are now realizing that their strategy and their returns are not what they expected, so they are turning around and selling.

Bernardo Rieber

Jeronimo Hirschfeld

 

 

Multifamily assets are commonly tiered in A, B, C, and D categories based on the asset, location, and tenant base. In the market where I play, which is typically workforce housing in the B+ to C+ space, the assets tend to have a level of insulation from macro market drivers and economic factors. This is because when there’s a crisis and we see unemployment increase, many people begin to downsize to a living space that is more economically practical and feasible. So, when looking in multifamily real estate, you’ll see renters that were previously paying $4,000 in rent coming down to $3,000, and so on. Looking at the assets I invest in, the rents average between $750 and $1,200. These assets tend to perform in times of crisis because, as I mentioned, when people adjust their lifestyle, rent is usually a major expense that can be altered. As individuals who were once living in the Class A and B apartments begin to see a decrease in income, they will make the shift to a B or C class apartment. Ironically, I’ve seen the occupancy of my properties across the board tends to increase during a crisis between 1 to 2% because in addition to the individuals downsizing, many tenants who currently reside at our properties work blue collar jobs that aren’t drastically affected by a downturn. We feel very good about where we sit and what we are doing. Our competitive advantage is showcased through finding the right opportunity, taking advantage of the right deals and making sure we put the appropriate debt structure in place. Multifamily is an asset that sustains itself and performs very strongly during these times.

 

Where do you see the real estate market in Miami going over the next couple of years?

Rieber: We are mostly focused now on selling office condominiums in the medical sector, and there’s been a great response. We are sold out at our project Ivory 214 and we broke ground on our 12|12 Aventura mixed-use development in early 2020. We demolished the previous structure, prepared the land, started piling, and we are now about to start the foundations. We are on schedule to be up and running by the first quarter of 2022. Of course, since the COVID-19 situation began, we have had to adjust our sales process, but we continue to have interest in our offering and I expect to fully rebound.

Hirschfeld: In terms of neighborhoods, Wynwood is pretty hot, and you have nearby Allapattah, which is also a growing area with a lot of opportunities. It is still industrial, but as population and developments move up north, all these industrial neighborhoods will start changing into places where people are going to be living, playing and working. That’s what we saw with Wynwood. OREI is still very much in acquisition mode, as we are consistently sourcing new deals, while bringing in new equity groups and private investors who are interested in the multifamily space. 

How has the fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic altered your developments at least for the near term?

Rieber: It’s been a shock from a business perspective. We are monitoring the situation daily. Of course, there have been ripple effects because Miami-Dade County’s building department closed, and you cannot call for inspections, which you need to continue building, and permits are delayed, but everyone is powering through and adjusting as best as possible during this unprecedented time. I truly believe that this short-term pain does not compare to the long-term potential of this community. 

Hirschfeld: (With  more people working from home in the future) there are a lot of things that we are implementing. We are implementing USB outlets in new projects, to make sure people can connect their devices directly. We are also implementing smart thermostats that you can control remotely through your phone, making it more efficient because you can set it up to emit minimal power every time you leave and to start cooling five, 10 minutes before you return to the apartment. In our Wynwood project, we have a large bike space at the street level.

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http://www.rieberdevelopments.com/

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