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.”

An influx of affordable housing is coming to Orlando

An influx of affordable housing is coming to Orlando

By: Beatrice Silva 

2 min read September 2020  — Affordable housing has been a major cause for concern in Florida for decades. Homes in the sunshine state are overpriced by almost 20%, the highest level in eight years, according to a study done by Florida Atlantic University. The pandemic has served as a reminder of just how fragile the line between having a place to live and experiencing homelessness is for families. This past year, Central Florida added seven affordable rental options for low-income households, which has raised the total count to 20, in an effort to subdue this crisis.  

On Dec. 17, 2019, Orange County commissioners signed off on a 10-year plan to create new affordable housing projects, injecting $160 million into a fund with a goal to build 30,300 units by 2029. Among other grants and strategies, developers and nonprofits can seek financial help to build or upgrade low-income properties. “In the end, all those things are going to help, but they are going to have to have dedicated resources,” Shannon Nazworth, CEO of Jacksonville-based Ability Housing, previously told Orlando Business Journal. “There have been communities like Los Angeles that have gotten permission from their populous to do a bond issue to develop affordable housing and meet the need, and if Orange County were to do that, I think the return on investment would be demonstrative.”

Residential Communities LLC and New South Residential LLC are the most recent developments to undertake an affordable apartment complex. Construction on the 77,473-square-foot senior housing facility is set to begin in early September at 5800 S. Rio Grande Ave, according to Orlando Business Journal. This project is one of the many that are needed to help bring more affordable housing options to the region. Families are struggling, perhaps now more than ever, to simply pay rent. To put things into perspective, a minimum-wage worker in Florida makes around $445 per month while the average one bedroom apartment costs around $1,027 per month, according to the National Low Income Housing Coalition. Rent at that price point is simply out of reach even for median-waged workers like nursing assistants, janitors and cashiers. 

While paying rent is difficult, for some people owning a home may seem unfathomable. However, renting a single-family home provides the experience of owning without the costly fees and obligations associated with purchasing a property. As a result, the single-family rental sector is booming in Orlando. “If you can find single-family housing that you can rent that’s within close proximity of multifamily housing, the single-family housing is going to beat it out every time,”  Brad Hunter, managing director of real estate consulting firm RCLCO, told Orlando Business Journal

The rise of rentals could be another form of relief for low-income families. The increase in occupancy will eventually lead to more single-family rental communities being built that then provide more affordable housing options. However, when it comes down to it, the majority of the responsibility to help reduce the burdens of housing costs and minimum wages falls on elected officials. Without the support of the local and state government, deploying a plan to promote affordable housing is left in the hands of developers and the community. 

Industrial investors eager to pounce on faltering retail properties

Industrial investors eager to pounce on faltering retail properties

By: Beatrice Silva 

2 min read August 2020 — Before April, e-commerce was already a booming business but COVID-19 has skyrocketed digital commercial transactions to a whole new level. Despite the current flash recession, the demand for industrial real estate has grown in almost every market. As a result, industrial real estate investors are eager to pounce on faltering hospitality and retail properties. Vacant or unprofitable large-acre facilities are being eyed up as potential warehouses and distribution centers. 

Businesses like hotels, theme parks, restaurants and others in the hospitality industry have taken the greatest hit financially among all major sectors. In Orlando, tourism disparities are now trickling down to those industrial companies that succor these industries. “Orlando’s weakness is that we’re a community built on tourism and convention services. When those industries suffer, typically our market suffers too,” Bo Bradford, industrial expert and co-president of Lee & Associates Central Florida, told Orlando Business Journal

However, with every crisis comes opportunity. If building vacancies do start to emerge as a result of the current economic slowdown it will give new operations a chance to plant roots in Orlando’s limited industrial market. One example is the area around the Orlando airport. In July, two flex industrial warehouses were proposed on 61.8 vacant acres at 6249 S. Goldenrod Road, according to the Orlando Business Journal. Orlando Office Center LLC are the property owners and Kelly Collins & Gentry Inc. are reported to be the project engineers. 

The increase in demand for industrial properties is making real estate investment companies get creative. Simon Property Group Inc. is considering converting vacant Sears and JCPenney stores into distribution centers, according to the Orlando Business Journal. However, in early June, the group decided not to proceed with an agreement with Taubman Centers that could have added various retail properties to its portfolio. “The COVID-19 pandemic has had a uniquely material and disproportionate effect on Taubman compared with other participants in the retail real estate industry,” Simon Property Group said in a press release. The real estate investment company has four properties in Orlando and if it does decide to transform even one of its properties into an industrial building, it could be a win-win for both parties involved in the transaction. 

Since the pandemic began, retail stores have suffered as more and more people shift to online shopping. Within a few years, traditional malls and outlet stores could become a thing of the past. For companies like Amazon, large vacant retail properties provide vital space in a limited market. 

Brightline and Virgin sever rail ties

Brightline and Virgin sever rail ties

By: Beatrice Silva

2 min read August 2020 — Brightline is passing on Virgin Trains. On Aug. 7, the high-speed passenger train operator announced that it would not be rebranded as Virgin Trains USA and would continue its operations under Brightline LLC. The withdrawal represents a sudden and apparently astringent end to the link between Brightline and Virgin Group. 

Brightline originally announced its strategic partnership with billionaire Richard Branson, founder of the Virgin Group, two years ago. Brightline quickly welcomed this new partnership and underwent a complete makeover. Virgin Trains USA was officially supposed to debut its rebranding transformation this summer. However, COVID-19 related issues looks to have stopped the deal dead in its tracks. 

Originally, the relationship seemed like a match made in transit heaven. Branson and his team have carved out a successful enterprise in the transportation and hospitality industry with a fleet of carriers ranging from airplanes to cruise ships. “It’s already a very good experience,” Branson told the South Florida Business Journal in 2019. “We just need to sprinkle a bit of magic dust over it. We need to make sure the two hours, 45 minutes to Orlando is magical, and we are used to doing that in the UK, where we have longer train journeys.” 

Unfortunately, that seamless experience of having guests fly in on Virgin Atlantic then transported on a Virgin Train to their Virgin Voyage will have to be postponed. Branson’s lucrative business, like many others in the hospitality industry, came to a halt as a result of the pandemic. To make matters worse, Brighline’s 2019 passenger count was less than half what it projected and its revenue was less than a fifth of its expectations, according to The Palm Beach Post. The future of Virgin Atlantic Airways remains uncertain after the airline filed Chapter 15 bankruptcy earlier this week. 

Brightline, however, seems to be moving along. Its current routes consist of Miami, Fort Lauderdale and West Palm Beach. Progress also continues to be made on its fourth station in Florida at the Orlando International Airport. Operations are scheduled to begin sometime in 2022. There has also been talk of building additional stations in Aventura and Boca Raton. 

The Miami-Dade County Commission was negotiating terms regarding proposed stations with Virgin Trains USA but it’s unclear whether the county will agree to a new county commuter service. “We really need to think about what is the future of transit and how people will get around this town…” Mayor Carlos Gimenez told The Real Deal in June. “We may have as many of 20 to 30 percent of people working out of their homes.” How Brightline’s withdrawal from its Virgin deal will impact the commission’s decision remains unknown.

Although the future of the Brightline expansion may be up in the air, if more stations do pop up it could leave a positive impact on the local economy. Brightline’s expansion could bring over 5,000 jobs on average per year after rail-line construction is complete through 2021 and have a $6.4 billion direct economic impact to Florida’s economy over the next eight years, according to Washington Economics Group, Inc. 

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.

 

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.”

 

Spotlight On: Tom Slagle, CEO, Rasmussen College

Spotlight On: Tom Slagle, CEO, Rasmussen College

By: Max Crampton Thomas

2 min read June 2020 —With a history spanning more than 119 years, Rasmussen College is well-positioned and experienced in adjusting to unforeseen circumstances like the current pandemic the world is working to eradicate. CEO Tom Slagle spoke to Invest: Orlando about the school’s advantage as a leader in online education for over 20 years. He also spoke about the school being welcomed by the community in Orlando as one of the newest entrants into the local higher education sector. 

 

How is Rasmussen College positioned in Florida?

Rasmussen has been around since 1900. Rasmussen College acquired Webster College with campuses in Holiday and Ocala, Florida, in 2004. These campuses were merged into the Rasmussen College system in 2007. Later, the college expanded into Fort Myers, Tampa and Orlando. Overall, we have campuses in six states and a national online team serving more than 17,000 students. Healthcare education is a strength for the college, particularly licensure-required fields such as nursing. We are the largest producer of ADN (first licensure) nurses in the country and also offer a bachelor’s (BSN) and master’s in nursing (MSN) and soon a doctoral (DNP). We pride ourselves on providing affordable degrees and a student support network with individualized services. Our primary target market is the adult learner seeking to advance or change their career, more so than the traditional high-school graduate. 

 

What role does the school play in the Orlando education sector?

We are excited about our new campus in Orlando. We believe we pinpointed some real gaps in the local education market. Our healthcare portfolio is a great fit, and our offerings in business, technology and social services are also in strong demand. The opportunity to provide affordable and relevant credentials that employers are seeking from graduates is where we excel. Our goal is always to be deeply engaged in the communities in which we live and work, this is why we believe in our local campus network. Our programs offer tremendous flexibility with many fully online, but they also provide the campus-based learning environments necessary for labs and simulations. We have been welcomed by the employer community in Orlando and have developed strong relationships with the local healthcare institutions, which support our graduating students with employment opportunities. We want Orlando to become one of our larger campuses in Florida over the next three to five years.

 

How has COVID-19 impacted the college?

We have been an online leader in education for almost 20 years, so we know how to educate students in an online environment. It is not always simple to incorporate the proper content, curriculum, experience and assessment criteria on a digital platform, but fortunately, we have a lot of experience in that field. As an example, all of our nursing simulation, which typically takes place on campus or at clinical sites, was moved to an online environment, allowing no disruption to our nursing students’ educational journey or graduation. Also, we have seen that individuals displaced by the current environment want to build on their knowledge and competencies to better prepare themselves for the current and future workforce. We made the decision to support our communities by providing our eRasmussen Professional Certificates portfolio (eRasmussen.com) at no cost. We’ve had nearly 9,000-course registrants for the professional certificates so far. We have also sought ways to support our communities by donating much of our PPE to local healthcare organizations to ensure their readiness during this pandemic.

 

Which industries are driving the strongest demand for educational programs in Orlando right now?

Healthcare is probably top of the list, but we are also seeing strength in areas like technology and other business-related programs. Many applicants are looking for short-term certification to improve their options once they rejoin the workforce. Our Early Childhood Education portfolio also continues to perform well. Our model allows us to serve a segment of the population that has traditionally been underserved by other institutions. We are tremendously optimistic about the breadth of opportunities in the Orlando market.

 

What does the future hold for Rasmussen College in Florida?

With the economy potentially moving into a short-term recession, education tends to be countercyclical. As individuals are out of work, they look for ways to position themselves in a competitive market with enhanced skills to get a better job. There are also many people looking to make career changes, and we can help with that and make our local communities stronger. Our enrollment rate has continued to grow, and we believe that demand for our programs will remain strong given the unique experience Rasmussen provides our students. 

 

To learn more about our interviewee, visit: 

https://www.rasmussen.edu/

 

Spotlight On: Sandi Bargfrede, Managing Partner, ACRE Commercial Real Estate

Spotlight On: Sandi Bargfrede, Managing Partner, ACRE Commercial Real Estate

By: Max Crampton-Thomas

2 min read May 2020 — The real estate market will know a before and after COVID-19 as soon as activities resume. Sandi Bargfrede, managing partner of ACRE Commercial Real Estate, talks to Invest: about what to expect from Orlando’s market as the pandemic unfolds. 

 

How did ACRE Commercial Real Estate close 2019? 

2019 was a stellar year as not only did we see a tremendous increase in volume, but we also saw an impressive uptick in new retail concepts entering the Central Florida/Orlando market. ACRE specializes in retail third-party leasing, property management and tenant representation and we had never seen such a stronger increase in all aspects of our business than we did in 2019. In addition to strong growth in tenant representation, in the last year we also secured a significant stronghold in the Downtown and surrounding area in the mixed-use sector. 

How does your company capitalize on being an all-female commercial real estate firm? 

Women provide a different perspective on retail as we are typically the shoppers and we usually plan the family social activities. We are able to use this to our advantage as we can bring a different point of view to a project. ACRE did not set out to be an all-female firm. That said, we are all-female-owned but we are always open to hiring exceptional professionals, male or female. My business partner and I have been in this business for 20-plus years each and we have witnessed the industry evolve with more 

professional women entering the historically male-dominated field now more than ever. We believe this trend will continue and we will continue to provide the required mentorship platform for all in the business looking to thrive. 

What unique business opportunities does Orlando offer to your business and operations? 

Seventy-two million people per year visit Orlando, bolstering a strong service and hotel industry, where retail spaces are required to provide for these visitors. The retail opportunities are therefore exponential. We are seeing a significant wave of people moving here due to recent job growth figures, with close to 12 percent overall job growth in Orlando itself. With all of this growth, we are seeing a surge in new development from shopping centers to urban mixed-use communities. These new developments provide ACRE the opportunity to use our experience to work with developers before they break ground. Utilizing our extensive background in leasing, tenant representation and development allows us to create a project with not only the proper infrastructure but also the ability to create the synergistic tenant mix required for a project to be successful for the retailer and developer alike. 

What is your assessment of Orlando’s commercial real estate market? 

It is very strong as there are many vibrant areas that are growing in the Metro Orlando market, such as Hamlin, Lake Nona, Apopka, Clermont and downtown to name a few. We are seeing a housing boom in Orlando and these areas are all creating retail destinations for services and amenities along with community-driven gathering spaces for their residents and visitors. 

How has the COVID-19 outbreak altered the Central Florida real estate market? 

We do not believe it will resemble the 2008 crash, especially if we can get back to work sooner than later. It will definitely change the landscape considering the ever-changing social distancing guidelines and measures. These will certainly have a lasting effect on retail and restaurant margins. However, it will also open the door for reinvention and creativity toward preservation. 

We have always been outside-the-box thinkers. Recession-proof and Amazon-resistant have been part of our vocabulary and now we added pandemic and social distancing to the mix. We will find new ways to create tenant mixes that reflect the changes in our “new normal.” We offer consulting and advisory services to our clients and believe these services will be more valuable than ever to assist with navigating this new unknown landscape together. We have always treated our projects like they are our own and will continue to do so. 

What is your outlook for 2020-21? 

There will be a slight correction in the retail portion of the commercial real estate landscape. This will translate into greater inventory of second generation space available, which will most likely result in a reduction of rental rates until the absorption of inventory is stabilized. We do have a positive outlook as we head into 2021 and businesses start to recover. That said, it is difficult to predict as the COVID-19 effect is still unknown. All in all, we believe there is room for a fast recovery and in the end, Orlando will be stronger than before. 

 

To learn more about our interviewee, visit: 

https://www.acrefl.com/

Spotlight On: Kenneth Rosenfield, Managing Partner, Rosenfield & Company PLLC

Spotlight On: Kenneth Rosenfield, Managing Partner, Rosenfield & Company PLLC

By: Max Crampton-Thomas

2 min read May 2020 — In a crowded accounting and consulting services marketplace, it can be hard to differentiate from the masses. Kenneth Rosenfield, managing partner of Rosenfield & Company PLLC, is accomplishing this by putting a greater investment into his people and by creating a culture that is strong enough to be listed among the “Best Places to Work” for CPA firms last year. He also speaks to his firm’s adaptability as being key to navigating the COVID-19 pandemic, and while most businesses have seen a major slowdown in activity, his firm is experiencing an influx of demand as it works to process SBA loans for its clients.

 

How is the Orlando market conducive to your firm’s success? 

 Orlando’s economy has been doing really well and has been a great place to work. The workforce is plentiful and the universities here are fantastic. We are lucky to have access to the largest university  in Florida, which has been really great for recruiting to our firm. UCF has been fantastic to work with. The manufacturing industry, which is one of our core industries, has been doing really well in Orlando as well. A lot of people have the perception that Orlando is Disney World, but that is actually the third-largest industry in this region behind healthcare and manufacturing. We are big in the automotive retail industry, and Central Florida is the third-largest automotive market in the country. We have a variety of car dealerships in Orlando, including some of the largest in the country, which are all clients of ours, and is one reason our headquarters is located in Orlando. The automotive retail sector is usually the first to go into a recession and the first to come out of it. 

 

In searching for a new office space, what have you identified in regard to vacancies in the Downtown area?

 Downtown is challenged due to the consolidation of space. There are a lot of vacancies in Downtown Orlando. A lot of this is caused by banks and law firms downsizing in that area. I’m not sure what the exact cause is because everybody seems to be doing well. I believe this could be because the thought process has changed. Everyone used to want a big office, but now everyone is going more toward a collaborative workspace, which takes up a lot less space. That has created a big hole in the market and it has caused the rate per square foot to come down. So much space is now available.

 

How do you remain competitive with firms of your size and the larger national firms? 

 We compete with the big national firms for staff and clientele. We have to offer the same level and more creative types of compensation while also offering a completely different work atmosphere that those firms don’t supply. We also have to be different from all the firms our size and price competitive with the large firms. Ultimately, this leads us to making a greater investment in our people. We don’t have the “grind them up and chew them out” environment that the big firms have. We also have made the investment with the local colleges to acquire the best available interns. We have to maintain a really great intern program that allows them to do exciting things and also receive practical work experience. If you don’t provide that environment, you won’t get to participate in that talent pool. Having a great work environment leads to more productivity and ability to serve our clients better. We are really proud to have won, Best Places to Work for CPA firms last year. We also invested heavy into technology over the years, and we are much more efficient than our competitors in serving our clients. 

 

How has the COVID-19 pandemic affected your operations? 

 Today, we are extremely inundated with processing SBA loans for our clients. Other people had also heard about us doing this, so if they are big enough we have algorithms to figure out the best method to accomplish this. We then put together loan packages and submit them to the banks. We have already completed over 150 of them and these are big SBA loans valued at over half a million dollars, at least. Tax filings were pushed back, so we are still working on those but not as much as we are working on these SBA loans. We also do SEC work, so we have a lot of quarterly and annual filings coming up that we are still working on. Our audit team is very busy. We are going to see a lot of merger and acquisition activity in the coming months, which we are also proficient at. 

 

To learn more about our interviewee, visit: 

https://www.rosenfieldandco.com/