Palm Beach County shows patriotic spirit this Fourth of July

Palm Beach County shows patriotic spirit this Fourth of July

By: Felipe Rivas

2 min read July  2020 — Is COVID-19 casting a dark shadow on your Fourth of July weekend plans? Every year Floridians eagerly look forward to Independence Day for peak summer fun, beach and outdoors activities, and family cookouts. However, the rising number of coronavirus cases have prompted Palm Beach County officials to again place the beaches on lockdown in an effort to curb further spikes in infections at a time when many residents were expecting to enjoy time by the water. Along with beach closures, many fan favorites and fireworks displays also erred on the side of caution to prevent more cases of COVID-19. 

Though celebrating the nation’s birthday looks entirely different this year, there are a slew of in-person and virtual events for the entire family to enjoy. Here is a list of activities we are looking forward to in Palm Beach County during the Independence Day weekend. 

Catch some waves at Rapids Water Park

 Bummed that you can’t catch some waves at the beach this Fourth of July weekend? Then spending a lazy day at Rapids Water Park’s lazy river is a great alternative. The Riviera Beach water park, known for its colorful, thrilling slides and family/friendly water attractions, will be open for business this summer following all guidelines and cleaning standards, of course. “I thank you for your patience as we work through the many new challenges this pandemic has presented. We are excited to reopen and provide an entertaining break from the day-to-day world,“ General Manager Bryan Megrath wrote on the park’s website. Tickets must be purchased in advance and the park will feature extended hours from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m.

For more information, vist: https://www.rapidswaterpark.com/covid-19-safety/

West Palm Beach’s surprise fireworks show

Those wishing to see traditional fireworks shows will have to hang out in the city of West Palm Beach and look very closely skyward once night settles. The city’s traditional fireworks show will not launch near Flagler Drive as usual, but instead from two undisclosed locations north and south of the city, wowing families socially distancing at home. “While some will be able to see the fireworks from their home, all residents will be able to view them by tuning into WPBF 25’s Project CommUNITY: Fireworks From Home at 9:00 p.m. on July 4,” the City of West Palm Beach wrote on its website.

For more information, vist :https://www.wpb.org/government/community-events/community-events/4th-on-flagler

Gardens 2 Go Drive-Thru Market

Feeling lethargic after a good Fourth of July family cookout? Head over to Palm Beach Gardens to access fresh produce, meats, dairy and more while helping local vendors in the process. Every Sunday, local Palm Beach Gardens residents can get ahead on their grocery shopping from the comfort of their own cars by visiting Gardens 2 Go Drive-Thru Market. “Gardens 2 Go will provide residents and visitors with a safe and socially-distanced way to access quality produce, bread, coffee, eggs, meat, seafood, dairy and cheese from local vendors,” the city wrote on its website. 

 

For more information, visit: https://www.pbgfl.com/1067/Gardens-2-Go?fbclid=IwAR2eTUe4tcd4u90VfvyRBjniUdqqFwWsduqX9lewWMbLDDmAEegeK5K2YlU

Virtual trivia 

Want to flex your knowledge of American history as you celebrate the nation’s birthday? Delray Beach has you covered. The city of Delray Beach will host two trivia games set to challenge even the smartest of history buffs. “Your knowledge of Delray Beach and America will be tested. Each game will consist of two rounds of questions (one round on Delray Beach and one round on America) with 20 questions in each round. You earn more points the faster you answer correctly,” the city of Delray Beach wrote on its website. Games are free to enter and family-friendly. Players are playing for bragging rights and a gift card. Game 1 and 2 begin at 2 p.m. and 7 p.m., respectively, on July 4. 

For more information, visit: https://www.delraybeachfl.gov/our-city/things-to-do/4th-of-july

Orlando scores a win for its tourism sector

By: Felipe Rivas

2 min read June 2020 — Hospitality leaders and sports fans alike are cheering for the Central Florida region as the city of Orlando prepares to score a major win for its embattled tourism sector this summer. 

 

 Orlando will be the epicenter of professional sports this July as both the National Basketball Association and Major League Soccer set up camp at Disney’s ESPN Wide World Of Sports Complex in an effort to resume their respective seasons following the aftermath of the coronavirus outbreak. 

Earlier this month, Major League Soccer announced plans to restart the 2020 season with all 26 clubs competing in the “MLS is Back Tournament,” a month-long World Cup-style tournament set to begin on July 8. The tournament, which will be played without fans in attendance, allows the league to salvage its 25th season. 

“We are pleased to team up with Disney to relaunch the 2020 MLS season and get back to playing soccer,” said MLS Commissioner Don Garber, according to a press release. “The opportunity to have all 26 clubs in a controlled environment enables us to help protect the health of our players, coaches and staff as we return to play,” he said. 

In similar fashion, NBA fans will cheer for their favorite team from afar as players, coaches and staff settle in Orlando for the coming months. A 22-team NBA season is set to resume on July 31 with the playoffs slated to end in early October.  

Though the different games will be played without fans in attendance, these major sporting events will likely introduce visitors to the ESPN Wide World Of Sports Complex, further solidifying Orlando’s penchant for holding world-class events while helping mitigate the immediate impact of the coronavirus on Orlando’s hospitality and tourism industry. 

“Event organizers are familiar with Orlando as a destination, but for the public, they’ll learn an awful lot about what a wonderful venue the Wide World of Sports is,” Greater Orlando Sports Commission President and Chief Executive Officer Jason Siegel said, according to Front Office Sports. “It enhances the already great perception of the community for when we have the next conversations with FIFA as it relates to the World Cup or the bids we’ve put out for the 2022 to 2026 NCAA championship events. It just lends itself to an already robust portfolio of hosting marquee events,” he said.

 

Since March, 13 events have been canceled and not rescheduled, according to Front Office Sports, while another seven have been postponed, costing the region more than $49 million in economic impact. 

Another estimate by Orange County Comptroller Phil Diamond showed that tourism and development tax dollars dropped 97 percent in March, according to WKMG News 6. Diamond’s report said last year in March, the county collected nearly $27 million in tourism and development tax dollars. This March, less than $800,000 was collected, WKMG News 6 reported. 

Hoteliers and theme park officials are also rooting for the success of the region’s tourism sector. Hotels and parks are beginning to open up after more than three months of closures and severe layoffs and furloughs. 

Major parks like SeaWorld, Universal, and Islands of Adventures are operating under limited capacity and following the CDC guidelines, while Disney World is expected to begin its phased opening in July. “We are seeing the impact slowly coming back,” Visit Orlando CEO and President George Aguel told WKMG News 6. “Seeing Universal kicking off, SeaWorld following and naturally Disney coming into their own in July is big news.”

 

Charlotte begins reopening process, Altanta ramps up COVID-19 testing

Charlotte begins reopening process, Altanta ramps up COVID-19 testing

By: Felipe Rivas

2 min read May 2020—Southeast metro areas like Charlotte and Atlanta have been a popular destination for families, businesses and large corporations looking for affordability, dynamic business fundamentals and a high quality of life. In the landscape of the coronavirus, much of the national attention was placed on the Southeast in late April as Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp led the nation in the reopening timeline, terms and guidelines. Following Georgia’s example, North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper announced Tuesday the loosening of his stay-at-home and transition into phase one of his economic recovery plans effective Friday, May 8. 

 

“COVID-19 is still a serious threat to our state, and Phase 1 is designed to be a limited easing of restrictions that can boost parts of our economy while keeping important safety rules in place,” Gov. Cooper said in a press release. As of May 5, Mecklenburg County, where Charlotte is located, reported more than 1,700 residents have tested positive for the novel coronavirus and 52 deaths due to COVID-19, according to Mecklenburg County Public Health. “This is a careful and deliberate first step, guided by the data, and North Carolinians still must use caution while this virus is circulating,” Cooper said

Gov. Cooper’s orders remove the distinction between essential and non-essential businesses. Retail businesses are allowed to open at 50% capacity and must follow strict health guidelines and best practices, such as social distancing, perform frequent cleanings, provide hand sanitizer when available, and screen workers for symptoms. The order also allows people to leave their homes for commercial activity at any business that is open, bringing potential economic activity to small businesses that were shuttered during March and April. “We must continue to protect our families and neighbors as we take this cautious step forward,” Secretary of the NC Department of Health and Human Services Dr. Mandy Cohen said. “When you leave your home, follow the three W’s: Wear a face covering, wash your hands, and wait six feet apart.”  

Days into phasing the reopening of the Georgia economy, health, university, local and state officials are ramping up COVID-19 testing in the Peach State. On April 30, the state reported conducting over 20,000 tests, a single-day record for COVID-19 testing, according to the governor’s office. “Thanks to Georgia’s partnership with our university system, the private sector, and local public health officials, we ended April by setting a single-day testing record, reporting over 20,000 tests on April 30 alone,” Gov. Kemp said. “This is great progress for our state, but we refuse to rest on our laurels. In the days ahead, we will continue to increase access to coronavirus testing across Georgia.”

In March, the state of Georgia announced partnerships with the University System of Georgia, Georgia Public Health Laboratory and Emory University to process over 3,000 samples a day.  Since that time, Georgia, a state with large rural areas, has partnered with companies like CVS, Walgreens, Walmart and eTrueNorth to launch drive-thru testing sites throughout metro Atlanta and deploy mobile testing units to areas with limited access, according to the governor’s office. “We have the capacity, we have the bandwidth, and now we need the patients,” Kemp said. He encourages residents who are experiencing symptoms as well as asymptomatic medical and frontline workers to schedule a COVID-19 screening and visit one of the state’s more than 50 active testing sites if necessary. “We will continue to work diligently to innovate and increase testing in Georgia, and together, we will win this fight,” Kemp said.

 

To learn more, visit:

https://governor.nc.gov/news/governor-cooper-announces-modified-stay-home-order-and-transition-phase-1-easing-restrictions

https://www.mecknc.gov/news/Pages/Mecklenburg-County-COVID-19-Data-for-May-3.aspx

https://gov.georgia.gov/press-releases/2020-05-01/georgia-sees-banner-week-covid-19-testing

 

 

Federal, state govts rally to help homeless during COVID-19 outbreak

Federal, state govts rally to help homeless during COVID-19 outbreak

By: Felipe Rivas

2 min read  — Since March, shelter-in-place measures have become the norm across the nation, shuttering nonessential businesses, schools and public gathering spaces. While the majority of people transitioned to a new way of life during the quarantine, including remote work and distance learning, the U.S homeless population risks COVID-19 infection as they lack access to testing and basic hygiene facilities, among other measures to combat infectious diseases. Additionally, for the homeless population, many are older adults or have underlying medical conditions, increasing the likelihood of contracting COVID-19. As such, states, municipalities, local health departments, housing authorities, among other institutions, have been working to meet the food, shelter, hygiene and testing needs of the homeless population.   

 

In South Florida, the Miami-Dade County Homeless Trust, in collaboration with various state and federal agencies, has been helping to protect sheltered and unsheltered homeless households and its staff in the face of the COVID-19 threat. “The Homeless Trust is proactive in engaging our housing and support service providers to offer guidance, assess needs and facilitate vital connections to local, state and federal resources,” said Trust Chairman Ronald L. Book in a press release. “Our preparations have to consider the fact that much of our population does not have a ‘home’ with which to self-quarantine; therefore, we have broader issues to consider. We will continue to work to ensure homeless households have access to shelter, care and food while doing all we can to mitigate the virus’ spread.”

As part of its outreach efforts, the Miami-Dade County Homeless Trust is distributing hygiene, safety and food kits to unsheltered homeless persons throughout the county along with educational information. Outreach teams are taking temperatures of unsheltered homeless persons to pre-identify those with symptoms, among other measures to help prevent the spread of COVID-19.

In Pinellas County, the city of Clearwater has taken similar steps to help the homeless population of the region. As part of its mission, the city’s economic development department is focused on economic growth and the vitality of the community, which includes the homeless population. As such, the department is encouraging restaurants that have had to close or limit their operations temporarily to donate food to food banks, which then distribute the food to the most vulnerable segments of the community, Economic Development and Housing Director Denise Sanderson told Invest: Insights in an interview. “We have not seen a big increase in street level homelessness,” she said. “We have seen an increase in the presence of our homeless community. Primarily because we have had to close down our recreation centers and libraries.” As those facilities closed, the department pivoted to placing porta-potties and mobile shower units throughout the city to help the homeless community stay clean during this time. “To date, we have not had any cases, at least known to us, where COVID-19 has affected the homeless population.” Sanderson said. 

In Orlando, the shelters are preparing for an influx of homeless people. Shelters are down beds because social distancing precautions require separation of beds, Spectrum News reported. Shelters are concerned with bringing in people who may have the virus. “Right now we have a campus that is fairly safe. How do we bring people on without introducing that,” John Hearn, president and CEO of the Coalition for the Homeless of Central Florida, told the news outlet. Hearn’s shelter has been screening everyone before they enter the campus. The shelter set up isolation areas for people showing symptoms. This move, along with social distancing measures, cost the shelter close to 50 beds, Spectrum News reported. His shelter has increased the distribution of meals to three times a day and still has open beds available, according to the news outlet. 

At the federal level, the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, a $2 trillion funding package aimed at protecting the population, industries and businesses from the impact of the coronavirus, set aside more than $12 billion to help the homeless population and those who serve them. Community Solutions, a nonprofit organization focused on ending homelessness, detailed the portion of the CARES act aimed at helping those experiencing homelessness. The Department of Housing and Urban Development would divvy up the funds for Emergency Solutions Grants to assist homeless shelters and outreach workers who keep people who are homeless safer from coronavirus, different rent assistance programs, and other assistance programs aimed at the elderly, Native Americans, and people with AIDS, among other initiatives, according to Community Solutions. Federal, state and local agencies must work together to optimize resources and help for the homeless population, the nonprofit wrote on its website. “While we are pleased that our federal lawmakers provided this needed fiscal relief, we need to ensure that people experiencing homelessness, and those who serve them, continue to be supported as state and local governments work to administer funds and in any forthcoming stimulus package, Community Solutions said. “Following the injection of this stimulus funding, state and local governments must focus on allocating this new funding to protect people experiencing homelessness and homeless response staff, and limit inflow into health care and hospital systems. This includes ensuring people experiencing homelessness — and the people helping them — have immediate access to housing, health and safety training, personal protective equipment, facilities for hand-washing, medical treatment, testing options and ultimately, safe places to quarantine.”

 

To learn more about our interviewees, visit:

https://www.centralfloridahomeless.org/

http://www.homelesstrust.org/

https://www.myclearwater.com/government/city-departments/economic-development-housing

https://community.solutions/covid-19-and-homelessness/

Let’s get virtual: Six must-read tips for engaging online

Let’s get virtual: Six must-read tips for engaging online

By: Abby Melone

It’s a brave new world for everyone. Quarantine, lockdown, self-isolation and sheltering in place characterize the new normal imposed by COVID-19, the illness caused by the new coronavirus. In a virtuous cycle, people depend on strong businesses, which depend on a strong economy, which depends on strong businesses that depend on people.

 

The fact is that people, businesses and the economy shouldn’t just stop, even in such unprecedented times, and perhaps more so because of this crisis. Fortunately, this is also the era of high technology, and there is no time like the present to show just what that technology is capable of, especially in business dealings.

 

As the pandemic stretches on, more businesses are turning to virtual meetings to get things done. Skype, Zoom … these are the most vital tools for business today. But as everyone has intimately discovered, when an in-person meeting becomes virtual, much can be lost, and the road to disaster can be perilously short when you’re online. We all want to be as effective as if we were physically there, but how do we stay engaging and charming and avoid as many distractions, hiccups and potential disasters as possible?

 

Like any good professional, you need to know the tricks of the trade. Here are some tips to help:

 

Positioning of the camera. A wacky camera angle can be extremely distracting. Who wants to see directly into the inside of your nose? Pull down your computer screen slightly to make sure the camera is dead on rather than pointing upward, which most likely is your more natural way to position the screen.

 

Background noise. There is no better way to turn off the person you are meeting with than some distracting noise. Be conscious of your surroundings, especially now that you are most likely working from home: clanking jewelry, dog barking, roommate or significant other also working from home. 

 

Distracting background. Make sure you do not give the person you are meeting with the opportunity to focus on a picture of the sports team you love but they hate. Position yourself against an empty wall or something non-distracting.

 

Don’t look at yourself in the video. Very few of us can resist glancing, or even staring, at our own camera window. Don’t! The person you are meeting can see you are distracted by you and not them. Also, you miss loads of cues from the other person when you are staring into your own eyes. Is the person you are meeting with interested? Engaged? Bored? Distracted? You won’t know unless you are looking at them.

 

Try to maintain a dialog. It’s easy to steal the “conversation” and talk and talk and talk. Be sure to make time in your presentation to see where the other person is, do they have questions, are they following along?

 

Know your demo tools: both the functionality of the platform as well as the material you will be showing. The person on your computer screen is watching your every move, so the more comfortable you are with your tools, the more flawless (and therefore impressive) you come across in your meetings. Close out all windows you would not want someone to see before your meeting starts (email, social media, YouTube). Remember: when technology goes wrong, it can take you from being competent and impressive to the alternative in seconds.

Spotlight On:  Arnold Johnson, Market Director – Banking, Chase Bank

Spotlight On: Arnold Johnson, Market Director – Banking, Chase Bank

By: Yolanda Rivas

2 min read March 2020 — Chase is the U.S. consumer and commercial banking business of JPMorgan Chase & Co., a leading global financial services firm. Chase serves nearly half of America’s households with personal banking, credit cards, mortgages, auto financing, investment advice, small business loans and more. The bank began expanding into the Delaware Valley in 2018, opening its first local branch in Camden. Chase’s Delaware and South Jersey Market Director Arnold Johnson spoke with Invest: about the bank’s expansion efforts in the region, why Chase is unique and some of the challenges facing the banking sector.

What is the status and impact of your expansion effort in the South Jersey region?

One of our main efforts in the region is making sure we are opening enough branches to support the community. In the past year, we have opened four new branches: Camden, Cinnaminson, Mount Laurel and Marlton. We are excited to be expanding in Southern New Jersey and our fifth location, in Cherry Hill, is scheduled to open this summer. From a performance standpoint, we’ve been doing very well. The community has received us well and we are glad to be taking care of all their financial needs. 

 

Is there anything different or new about these new branches?

The branches we are building, as we expand, have a home feeling. For example, we have a living room-style setting in each branch’s lobby. We have digital technology, which provides Wi-Fi, charging stations, and enhanced ATM machines both inside the lobby and at standalone locations. One of our goals is to make sure that we are talking about our digital opportunities, so that people know we facilitate the tools for customers to experience the total digital power of Chase. 

 

What makes Chase unique?

We are focusing on providing a holistic approach to our customers. We offer expertise within the branch in the whole life cycle of a customer. We are able to take care of basic checking and credit card needs, but also holistic needs, whether it’s retirement, buying a home, small business or learning about the financial aspects of life. For example, we offer Chase Chats, which are Chase-led conversations held in our branches on a variety of topics, especially financial health. We’ll do them in every Chase branch in 2020, across the country, including right here in Southern New Jersey. The Chase Chats allow our customers to visit us and learn about banking and how to help make the most of their finances. It’s an example of one of the things we always offer: education. By helping customers from a financial and educational standpoint, we are able to build solid relationships with the communities we serve. 

 

What are some challenges in banking?

Some of the challenges that banks may see in their brick and mortar locations would be traffic coming into the branch. For Chase, we really utilize technology within the branch to help make sure we’re helping all of our customers as efficiently and effectively as possible. As an example, our enhanced ATMs can perform close to 70% of routine transactions. Our Associate Bankers are always on-hand to help customers however they would like to transact. Whether that’s helping them open an account digitally, or processing a traditional transaction at the window, we want our customers to know they can come in and be serviced the way they prefer to be serviced. That’s why it’s such a big deal for us to be increasing our presence in South Jersey. We were not local before, so many of our clients had a particular product with us, like a credit card. Now that we have a physical presence in the region, we want our customers and prospective customers to know that we are here as your local bank. Our challenge is to get the message out, let the communities know that we are open and help them understand that we can serve all of their financial needs.

 

To learn more about our interviewee, visit:

Chase Bank:  https://www.chase.com/ 

 

 

Spotlight On: Darryl Dewberry, CEO, The Spectrum Companies

Spotlight On: Darryl Dewberry, CEO, The Spectrum Companies

By: Felipe Rivas

2 min read March 2020 Charlotte has recently become the new headquarters for several national corporations, with tech giant Honeywell and online lender Lending Tree among those moving into the city. Goodwill on the part of the city’s officials and private sector leaders has allowed the city to promote itself more aggressively in recent years. In an interview with Invest: Charlotte, The Spectrum Companies CEO Darryl Dewberry talks about infrastructure challenges and reimagining affordable housing to make it happen.

What is making Charlotte a more attractive city for company relocations?

Over the last few years, several elements have come together to make Charlotte an even more attractive city to live and work and to help promote Charlotte in a more powerful way that includes surrounding counties as one unified region. The Charlotte Regional Business Alliance brings the region together in a new way from an economic standpoint. Charlotte Center City Partners has made changes that expanded its reach outside the CBD to both the south and north. The latest game-changer was the city creating a group headed by Tracy Dodson as an assistant city manager to focus on coordinating the private and public sectors in the recruitment of new companies to our city. 

 

How do you work the mixture of new-from-scratch to refurbishing older structures when looking at one of your projects?

It depends on where you are. Charlotte is not blessed with a lot of what I call the “brick and beam” stock, those older industrial buildings such as in south of Market in San Francisco that have been reimagined without being torn down. Charlotte’s South End has some of those authentic buildings, but most of what we’ve had to do as a community is create that. It takes a lot of imagination and a commitment to quality, but we are creating environments that have a soul, even without the benefit of those original brick-and-beam buildings. And while this poses some unique challenges, we’ve been successful in developing mixed-use neighborhoods and projects that have a great energy and synergy that attracts people and companies. 

Spectrum is in the mixed-use, multifamily residential and office business. We also do some hospitality. What we have found to be most powerful is bringing together multiple uses such as hospitality, office, retail, multifamily and other combinations. It makes it more complex, and it takes longer, but if you do it right and create synergies, you create soul. The projects change lives by creating special places, which is the mission behind everything we do.

 

What strategies are being put in place in the city to promote affordable housing?

We need a more comprehensive plan that brings together the public and private sectors locally and at the state level to address our critical lack of affordable housing. We’ve been talking as a community about building 300 truly affordable housing units a year, but we need more supply than that. The public-private effort that has raised more than $100 million for affordable housing is a good start, but it is not going to go that far.

 

What challenges could Charlotte start facing as it continues to grow?

Charlotte has to make sure it does not become complacent. We have transformed our public sector, adding a lot more perspectives than we had 10 years ago. It causes some friction, but overall, everybody works together really well. There is a lot of collaboration and different perspectives coming together as the community becomes more diverse, and this is producing ideas and developments that are more dynamic and attractive long term.

One of our biggest challenges is to make sure that we have the infrastructure in place: water, sewer service, electricity, and services in general. That is an area where our community has done a great job relative to competitor locations.

Another challenge, on a regional basis, is transportation. People talk about affordable housing, which is a serious need in every community, but you have to be able to get people to and from their jobs as well. We really need to step on the accelerator on developing the east-west light rail Silver Line, which would dramatically increase access to jobs. We also want to make sure that we continue to invest in our airport, which continues to be one of Charlotte’s primary economic drivers because it can easily take people anywhere in the world. 

 

To learn more about our interviewee, visit: https://www.spectrumcos.com/

 

 

Coronavirus: Gov. Roy Cooper declares state of emergency

Coronavirus: Gov. Roy Cooper declares state of emergency

By: Felipe Rivas

2 min read March 2020 — There are now seven confirmed coronavirus cases in North Carolina, prompting Gov. Roy Cooper to declare a state of emergency as leaders and health officials deal with the coronavirus outbreak. Of the seven people who have tested positive for COVID-19, six are from Wake County and one is from Chatham County, according to health officials. The declaration activates the Emergency Operations Center to facilitate the purchase of medical supplies, protect consumers from price gouging, and increase county health departments’ access to state funds. 

“The health and safety of North Carolinians is our top priority. We are taking the necessary steps to ensure that North Carolina is prepared and responding to this virus, and this order helps us do that,” Cooper said in a press release. “Though we are still in the early stages in North Carolina, time is a valuable resource and we must work together to slow the spread while we can.”

There are 120,944 global COVID-19 cases as of Wednesday morning, with 1,039 cases reported in the United States, according to the Center for Systems Science and Engineering (CSSE) at Johns Hopkins University. However, at this time, the risk to the general public in North Carolina is low, Mecklenburg County reported. 

As of Wednesday, Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools is suspending all travel. The travel limitations apply to district-sponsored trips of any kind for staff or students. “The safety and care of our school family is my top priority as superintendent,” said CMS Superintendent Earnest Winston in a press release. “In situations like these, we come to a deeper understanding of how closely connected we are, and I thank you for your help in our efforts to be prepared.” 

Cleaning standards are being reinforced at schools and office buildings, while families are encouraged to keep children at home if they are sick, the school system reported. 

Similarly, American Airlines, the main carrier at Charlotte Douglas International Airport, also implemented travel limitations, cutting domestic and international flights due to decreased travel demand following the proliferation of COVID-19 cases globally. American Airlines will reduce domestic capacity in April by 7.5 percent and reduce international capacity for the summer peak by 10 percent, including a 55 percent reduction in trans-Pacific capacity. The airline is also suspending flights from CLT to Rome (FCO) and Milan (MXP), as there are over 10,000 confirmed COVID-19 cases in Italy, according to the Center for Systems Science and Engineering. 

 

To learn more, visit:

 https://www.mecknc.gov/news/Pages/Update-on-Novel-Coronavirus.aspx

https://governor.nc.gov/news/governor-cooper-declares-state-emergency-respond-coronavirus-covid-19

https://www.arcgis.com/apps/opsdashboard/index.html#/bda7594740fd40299423467b48e9ecf6

http://news.aa.com/news/news-details/2020/American-Airlines-Update-on-China-Flights-OPS-DIS/default.aspx

 

 

Spotlight On: Reynold P. Cicalese, Managing Shareholder, Alloy Silverstein

Spotlight On: Reynold P. Cicalese, Managing Shareholder, Alloy Silverstein

By: Yolanda Rivas

2 min read MARCH 2020— Alloy Silverstein is a regional full-service accounting and advisory firm, headquartered in Southern New Jersey. In an interview with Invest: South Jersey, Managing Shareholder Reynold P. Cicalese discussed the changes in the sector and the firm’s support for small businesses in the area.

 

 

What changes have you experienced in the accounting sector over the last few years?

Technology has brought significant changes to our industry, allowing us to better serve our clients beyond just preparing a tax return or financial statement. We are on the cloud ourselves, encourage our clients to be on the cloud, and we use technology to help and collaborate with clients on a daily basis. Our advisers are proactive in helping design our clients’ future, as opposed to only telling them what they historically have done. We use software and apps that allow us to create KPI dashboards for our clients so they can have real-time data to make better decisions based on today’s information – not from last month or last year. We also have clients all around the world and we use meeting apps to constantly communicate with them.

Artificial intelligence is severely disrupting the industry. The investment in AI will significantly increase within the next five to six years. We need to keep an eye on this trend and make sure we remain competitive. With regard to audits, for example, it is expected that AI can look at every transaction and provide an efficient audit report. For regional and smaller firms it will be a challenge to compete with larger firms that have the capacity to invest in AI. 

How do you support the small-business community?

 

We find that many startups are underserved. We recently launched our Startup Hotline, which is a complimentary CPA Q&A for new and emerging businesses. Micro businesses may have questions regarding the type of entity they should start, for example. Through this tool, we give them access to our team of advisers and experts who can provide guidance on accounting, tax, payroll, and many other general business topics.

 

In addition, we add value for our clients and other small businesses in the community by hosting complimentary monthly lunch workshops, which we call “Alloy Academy.” What started as presentations on accounting software has evolved to bringing in guests so we can cover a wide variety of topics that may be important to a business owner or their employees.

 

To learn more about our interviewee, visit:

Alloy Silverstein: https://alloysilverstein.com/