We hope you’ve enjoyed the Greenspoon Marder Innovation Summit so far! Today, panelists engaged a nationwide audience in discussions around real estate development, education, travel bans, cannabis and more. And, Gerry Greenspoon and other Florida trailblazers talked about leadership lessons in trying times; a rare look inside the minds of key decision-makers. In case you missed it, explore our session recaps below.
Immigration Coffee Talk: European Travel Bans
In the wake of COVID-19, many activities that were once relaxing and enjoyable have become stressful and confusing. Perhaps nothing more so than travel. With the constantly changing travel restrictions and their many loopholes, exceptions, and intricacies, Immigration attorneys sat down to discuss the most recent updates regarding travel bans. “The country bans are probably the most prominent ones,” said Marcela Bermudez, Partner at Greenspoon Marder. “We still have a ban with China, Iran, EU, Schengen countries, UK, Ireland, and Brazil. We also have border restrictions with Canada and Mexico” she continued.
The speakers emphasized the importance of staying informed of all bans and restrictions before traveling to avoid any surprises. “What we are quickly learning is that it’s different everywhere,” said Maria Patsalos, Partner at Mischon de Reya. “There are a tremendous amount of things to consider,” agreed Patricia Gannon, Partner at Greenspoon Marder. “Everything changes so rapidly.” They also explained that besides being more complicated, travel is now becoming more costly in some cases. For example, if you fly into Singapore, you are required to quarantine and pay for a hotel room during the duration of your quarantine. Other countries have implemented different travel restrictions such as required COVID-19 testing before and after landing, online forms that are to be submitted prior to boarding planes, spot checking, and fining travelers that they catch breaking quarantine.
To stay up to date with the various travel bans, be sure to tune into Patricia and Marcela’s monthly “Immigration Coffee Talk” series.
Development in the Age of COVID-19. How Can Developers Keep Things Moving?
Some see the light at the end of the tunnel, while others see a train. Our real estate panel had mixed thoughts on what is to come in real estate and development, with several panelists seeing a slow, but steady, uptick in each of their industries. According to Gregg Logan, Managing Director, Director of Community & Resort of RCLCO, residential real estate is roaring back quickly. “With more people working from home, houses have become even more important than ever,” notes Gary Gold, Executive Vice President at Hilton & Hyland, as he points out the lack of inventory due to high demand in residential real estate.
“It is going to take some time for corporate users to figure out how they want to move forward,” commented Rocco Ferrera, Chief Investment Officer and Board Director at Stiles, as he discussed tenants and their plans for lease renewals or possible lease restructures. Jake Wurzak, President of Wurzak Hotel Group, noted his hotels had seen an uptick in June due to summer travel, but that has now leveled out, adding, “We are probably at the early stage of a new real estate cycle.” James Tate, President of Tate Capital, recognized unemployment as a key factor in determining where the economy is headed. In closing, our panelists agreed that the capital is there for the right opportunity.
Education in a Pandemic: From Crisis Teaching to Distance Learning
Run by a panel of esteemed leaders in the education sector, this session detailed how the pandemic has revolutionized the education system. While this revolution was initially a response to the global crisis, academic professionals believe that this new approach to education will persist even after a vaccine is developed. While 1 out of 25 students were homeschooled prior to quarantine, the pandemic has created an environment in which a much greater number of parents and educators have turned to remote learning. “There has always been the need for technology and online learning, but the pandemic accelerated the adoption from our K-12 program through grad school,” said Dr. Harry Moon, Executive Vice President/Chief Operating Officer of Nova Southeastern University.
The pandemic also presented an opportunity for educators to rethink accessibility to education and to design innovative learning options so that students could choose how they wanted to learn while keeping safe. “I think that we learned that innovators really found some success in the chaos that ensued as a result of COVID,” said Antonio Roca, Managing Director of Academica Virtual Education. For example, by investing in new technologies, Nova Southeastern University was able to implement a BlendFlex educational model that offers in-class instruction, synchronous remote instruction, and online-taped lecture instruction. The integration of technology in the classroom provided flexibility and choices for parents, customers, and students during a time when they needed it most. “The idea that we can build in flexibility can really enhance the person’s life,” asserted Denise Ganz, Partner at Greenspoon Marder.
View From the Top: Lessons on Business, Operations and Management in a Pandemic
With powerhouse leaders like City of Miami Mayor Francis Suarez and Bob Swindell of the Greater Fort Lauderdale Alliance on the panel, our moderator cut right to the chase. “What’s your reaction to the [Florida] Governor’s
executive orders released on Friday,” asked Gerry Greenspoon, co-managing director of Greenspoon Marder.
“It was a gamble,” leveled Mayor Suarez, explaining that he hopes citizens and business owners can follow guidelines to open up effectively, but it does not come without risk. Bob agreed, saying that there is a delicate balance of invigorating the local economy while always keeping health and safety top priority. Bob is hopeful to demonstrate this exact balance at the upcoming
Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show, where government and businesses have worked diligently to be able to host the show with appropriate safety measures in place.
On the topic of leadership, the panel agreed that a more hands-on approach is necessary right now, and the spotlight on their actions is even brighter. “You’re reminded of the fact that when you’re a leader, you have to set the example,” said Mayor Suarez. Bob cited a few business leaders in his constituency, noting that now is the time for resiliency and to examine how you can reposition or pivot your business. This is what the entrepreneurial spirit of America is built on, he said.
Fortunately, both Bob and Mayor Suarez expressed optimism about the future of the economy in South Florida. The region is attractive to employers, employees, investors and tourists, and that diversification has pulled it through past economic recessions.
The people, though, are what make South Florida great and each panelist expressed a deep gratitude and genuine concern for their own constituents and employees. “The key thing on our part is flexibility and compassion,” said Gerry. “It’s amazing and impressive how quickly people – business owners, managers and employees – have been able to adapt.”
Evolution on the Fast Track: The Cannabis Case Study
There’s a lot to learn from the way the cannabis industry has responded to the pandemic. In March, the mayor of Denver issued an order that would close dispensaries until further notice, causing consumers to flock to retail stores to panic stock. Mike Leibowitz, founder of Veritas, Olio, and Higher Grade, recalls the moment as “horrifying” and having the exact opposite of the desired effect. Quickly, advocates and business owners convinced regulators to follow cities like San Francisco, declaring cannabis an essential business, allowing them to remain open.
Though the industry was essential, it was excluded from the PPP loans. The panel agreed that the SBA may have over-reached its authority in that regard, since loans should have been available to any business under 500 employees. Cannabis entrepreneur Tony Frischknecht commented that “changes are not going to happen overnight,” and that despite the loan setback, the industry is starting to prove itself – especially in Colorado – as an economic catalyst.
Rachel Gillette, partner and chair of the cannabis team at Greenspoon Marder, agreed that she likes the pace of growth of the industry. “Slow and steady” is what’s going to win this race, she said.