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. 

 

 

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.

To learn more about our interviewees, visit:

http://www.rieberdevelopments.com/

https://www.onerealestateinvestment.com/

Florida’s phase 2 reopening and what it means for South Florida

Florida’s phase 2 reopening and what it means for South Florida

By: Beatrice Silva 

2 min read June 2020 On June 3, Gov. Ron DeSantis announced his plans to transition the majority of the state into the second phase of its recovery plan. However, the three southeast counties hit hardest by COVID-19 — Miami-Dade, Broward, and Palm Beach — will not be included in the reopening. 

 

 “We’ll work with the three southeast Florida counties to see how they’re developing and whether they want to move into phase 2,” DeSantis said during a news conference in Orlando on June 3. “They’re on a little bit of a different schedule.”

 

Gov. DeSantis will allow the three southeast counties to enter phase 2 under certain circumstances. The county mayors or county administrators will have to seek approval to enter phase 2 with a written request. Palm Beach County Mayor Dave Kerner and County Administrator Verdenia Baker wasted no time sending their request letter to DeSantis. 

 

“Palm Beach County is ready to go into ‘phase 2,” said Kerner at a news conference on Friday afternoon. “But we want to do it with some particular carve-outs that are necessary for the unique nature of Palm Beach County.” The county’s public officials are waiting for approval from Gov. DeSantis. 

 

As for Miami-Dade, their previous reopening date was pushed back by protests against police brutality. Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez lifted the countywide curfew on June 8, and approved the reopening of gyms and fitness centers under Amendment 2 to Miami-Dade County Emergency Order 23-20. Although the city isn’t officially included in the initial phase 2 reopening date, Gimenez says he is working with the state on reopening locations very soon. 

 

Upon approval, restaurants may allow bar-top seating with appropriate social distancing. Bars will be able to operate at a 50 percent capacity inside and full capacity outside. Retail stores are going to be allowed to operate at full capacity and entertainment venues like movie theaters and bowling alleys will be able to welcome back guests at a 50 percent capacity. Residents who do decide to venture out will still have to follow CDC guidelines like wearing a mask, social distancing, and frequently washing their hands.

 

Although the north and south regions of Florida are on different opening schedules. State universities will have to submit their blueprints by Friday. The State University System of  Board of Governors recommends things like social distancing, disinfecting, face masks and student’s desks being as far away from one another as possible. School districts on the other hand, will be given the final say on their own social distancing protocols. It is expected that students will have a much different learning experience upon returning to the classroom. 

 

“We have a great opportunity to get back on good footing,” DeSantis said. “I know our kids have been in difficult circumstances. … Getting back to the school year is going to be really, really important to the well-being of our kids.”

 

Broward County school districts are in the process of surveying parents to gauge what they would like their child’s school to look like this coming fall. “We will have schools open. We will have teachers in schools. We will have students in schools … including hybrid models that some parents are rightfully demanding,” said Alberto Carvalho, superintendent of Miami-Dade County Public School, at Wednesday’s school board committee meeting. 

 

Within the past four months, there have been 70,971 confirmed COVID-19 cases and 2,877 related deaths in Florida, according to the Florida Health. 

 

For more information visit: 

 

https://floridahealthcovid19.gov/#latest-stats/

 

https://www.miamiherald.com/news/local/education/article243464791.html

 

https://miami.cbslocal.com/2020/06/11/governor-ron-desantis-plans-reopening-schools-fall/

 

https://www.abcactionnews.com/news/state/florida-state-universities-must-submit-fall-reopening-plans-by-friday

 

 

Spotlight On: Andrew Burnett, Senior Principal, Stantec

Spotlight On: Andrew Burnett, Senior Principal, Stantec

By: Max Crampton-Thomas

2 min read June 2020 —Global design and engineering firm Stantec likes to think beyond traditional traits to focus on building communities,  Senior Principal Andrew Burnett told Invest: Miami in an interview. The company goal is to deliver continuity while protecting diversity and creative thinking. Stantec calls it “cultural resilience.”

 

 

What recent Stantec landmarks in the Miami-Dade region would you like to share? 

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. 

How has your emphasis on cultural resilience unlocked your success? 

From a business perspective, a model that focuses on a single person is inherently limited to that individual. Whereas a business with tremendous expertise and resources in multiple channels, like Stantec, focuses on collaboration and the bandwidth to achieve more. When we empower people and foster collaboration, we are able to affect more positive change, get more involved in opportunities and better affect our clients’ bottom line. 

How would you rate local industry efforts on environmental resilience? 

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 opportunities and innovations can we expect from the post-COVID-19 period? 

There is a shift of trust and working in a different way. It may pose opportunities to bring in industry experts who normally could not access a project in South Florida. Now, they can have an influence and we can tap into knowledge we may not have been able to tap into before. Companies can even attract a different type of workforce that we could not attract before by operating with new flexibility. Also, we take proximity for granted and do not always make the best use of our time because of it. When it is an amenity or a luxury, you make better use of it. 

What will 2020-21 look like for Stantec and Miami-Dade? 

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, visit: 

https://www.stantec.com/en

 

 

Spotlight On: Joseph Fernandez, Regional President – Florida, BNY Mellon Wealth Management

Spotlight On: Joseph Fernandez, Regional President – Florida, BNY Mellon Wealth Management

By: Max Crampton-Thomas

2 min read May 2020 — Wealth management services have undergone significant transformation over the last two decades, as the financial landscape grows in sophistication. Joseph Fernandez, regional president of BNY Mellon Wealth Management, shares his insights on what makes a financial firm successful in catering to today’s needs and into the future.

 

 What significant milestones did BNY Mellon achieve in the Miami market over the last year?

We have been operating in the Miami market for 23 years. We came to this market by acquisition. BNY  Mellon acquired an investment advisory firm in 1997 with the belief that being in South Florida, and Miami particularly, was extraordinarily important to the continued growth of the business. The firm was a smaller multimillion-dollar operation and had limited offerings for clients. We now have a midsize office in the overall Florida market with over half of our staff based in Miami and a robust wealth management offering. BNY Mellon Wealth Management’s total assets exceeded several billion dollars in the Florida market. 

Thinking about how migration has worked for a long time in this county is paramount. On the one hand, as clients migrated from the North toward the warmer climates of the South, it made sense to follow them and provide support in those areas, doing it in a way where we truly internalized the “biggest small town” personality of Miami. You needed people who knew the community well. On the other hand, you also have south to north migration, from Latin America to South Florida, which has evolved over decades. Seventy percent of Miami-Dade County’s population is Latin-American, and more than half is foreign-born (2010 US Census). The company had the vision to see the confluence of these factors as an enormous growth driver.

 

How have you seen clients’ needs shift in recent years?

Wealth in the United States has continued to grow. The composition of wealth changes as wealth transfers from one generation to another. The preferences of the wealthy change, often as a result of that transition. The need for digital tools and capabilities to interact across platforms with wealthy clients and their families, conferring digital interaction options between clients and the firms that serve them has truly taken off. The adoption curve is at its highest point. In 1995, the complexity of the financial services business was rather straightforward, with a U.S.-centric portfolio. Over the last several years, multijurisdictional families have become more prevalent. The preference for investment beyond just the United States and having representation and portfolios of more diverse geographic holdings has also increased dramatically. The other evolution is a shift from the traditional asset-side focus—cash, stocks, bonds—to the liability-side of the equation and managing the tax implications of it all to the level of sophistication that a wealthy client requires from their advisory firm.

 

There is an upward trend in recent decades of people building up and selling businesses, as private equity has been active in taking out businesses and creating consolidation. The latter, in turn, created several former business owners and CEOs with significant levels of wealth and a serial entrepreneur profile to a point where you become the client’s CFO and chief investment officer because that is the level of sophistication they require for their personal wealth. Our active wealth process boils down to five practices: invest, borrow, spend, manage, protect. 

 

How has your company continued to oversee its regional business throughout the COVID-19 outbreak?

It is a tribute to preparation, infrastructure and adaptability that I believe is the hallmark of our business and organization. We leverage technology, working in a cloud-based environment that enables us to deploy a quick home-office capacity. We are providing resources to our employees, whether technology or health and wellness-related, eliminating insurance co-payments relative to COVID-19 treatments and holding daily check-ins with our teams. 

 

What notable developments in the market are you keeping a close eye on? 

The obvious one iterating over the last 24 months was the introduction of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, which created a limitation on state and local income tax deductions. We have seen that translate into a North-to-South migratory pattern that has been accelerating quite dramatically to the benefit of Miami-Dade County, as we have no state income tax, relatively low business burdens, more affordable costs of living and a favorable climate. The collateral implication of this has been a couple of things. One is that for many years the narrative around the technology space here was well ahead of the reality. Now the latter has caught up with the former. Our colleges and universities have done a spectacular job in preparing the workforce for those types of jobs. Financial services firms are also multiplying due to the available talent. 

 

To learn more about our interviewee, visit: 

https://www.bnymellon.com/

 

 

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/

Maintaining unity through webinars and industry-specific virtual talks

Maintaining unity through webinars and industry-specific virtual talks

By: Felipe Rivas

2 min read April 2020The novel coronavirus forced a global halt to major international, regional and local events. From the NBA season to networking conferences, all gatherings of any size stopped abruptly in an effort to flatten the curve and prevent COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus, from spreading further. However, as the population at large becomes accustomed to social distancing, stay at home orders and self quarantining, many events went from a hard stop to full speed ahead virtually. As the business community adjusts to the challenges of the disruption caused by the coronavirus, many institutions are building value and maintaining relationships with patrons by maximizing the use of webinars, online classes, video conferences and even virtual happy hours. 

 

In South Florida, a region known for its events and conferences, different institutions have embraced virtual meetings to build value and maintain close relationships with clients in the midst of social distancing. For the Coral Gables Chamber of Commerce, a chamber known for its networking events focused on covering top-of-mind issues for its members, virtual meetings and webinars have become the go-to instrument to stay connected to its members and coach them through this new business landscape. “At this point in time, in an era of social distancing, we are gearing our efforts toward creating webinars that give our membership and beyond a chance to find out what resources are available to them, how to maintain their business in this socially disconnected economy and coaching them on how to bounce back when that time comes,” Spokeswoman Morgan Mongelia told Invest: Miami. “All our regularly scheduled monthly programming had to be moved to a virtual platform and format,” she said. As part of its virtual offerings, the chamber has a full slate of virtual webinars, in addition to industry-specific teleconferences. “We are also using this time to support fellow community organizations and businesses via personal phone follow-ups to ensure the long-term success of the Coral Gables business community as a whole,” Mongelia said. 

The video conference platform, Zoom, has quickly become ubiquitous across the virtual events space. Across economic sectors, different institutions are taking advantage of Zoom and similar platforms. To host a successful virtual event, event planners must decide between hosting a virtual meeting or a webinar. “If you expect attendees to mostly just listen,” the best option is a webinar, Zoom advises as part of its digital event best practices. “When you need more back and forth between the audience and the host,” planners should choose a virtual meeting, the platform advises. 

Once the type of digital event has been narrowed down, hosts should hardwire the internet connection to prevent any Wi-Fi-related hiccups or virtual lag. In terms of audio, hosts should test speakers and audio prior to the meeting and minimize any background noise, according to Zoom. Additionally, hosts should dress to impress and make sure to start the virtual event on time. It is important to set the tone of the event and encourage Q&A’s during the virtual meeting or webinar. As a best practice, Zoom recommends the use of the Chat function to keep track of questions and comments. For larger webinars, Zoom offers a PayPal integration to charge the registration fees seamlessly. 

Social distancing will be part of the mainstream business landscape until at least May. However, many institutions are adjusting and pivoting more and more to the virtual hosting model to build value, share information and regain a sense of community in a time where residents are being asked to self-isolate as much as possible.  

To learn more visit: https://blog.zoom.us/wordpress/2020/03/04/best-practices-for-hosting-a-digital-event/

https://www.facebook.com/CoralGablesChamber

https://site.coralgableschamber.org/events

https://coralgableschamber.org/