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This Week's Regional Perspective | April 10, 2020

This week’s regional perspective is focused on the current global effort to flatten the curve and prevent the spread of COVID-19 in the Orlando region. Our online COVID-19 Business Resource Center can be found at Orlando.org/covid19.

1. Acceleration and adaptation – Take a moment to go back in time, seemingly years ago, to a world far different from the one we’re in today. While it may feel like a long time ago, back in February 2020, just two months ago, leaders in the Orlando region gathered to discuss our opportunities and challenges. We focused on innovation and economic development, talent, health, affordable housing and transportation. All still very relevant; all still our opportunities and challenges. Maybe in a different context, but still the topics of the day. While today we are appropriately and imminently focused on the pandemic and the immediate health and economic needs of our community, the issues we’ve been focused on have the same importance they did two months ago. They’ve just accelerated. So, we must adapt. This week, I reaffirmed the Partnership’s and the region’s commitment to addressing its most pressing opportunities and challenges. Now, more than ever, it is critical we sustain intensity and focus to further our mission of advancing broad-based prosperity™. You can read how we will accomplish this here.

2. COVID-19 Business Impact Survey Release 2 – Yesterday, the Partnership released its second COVID-19 regional business impact survey on Orlando.org/covid19. The information will be used to inform regional, state and federal leaders with real-time impact information which is crucial to align policy to the true challenges facing the business community. It will also be used to help funders prioritize relief efforts. Businesses are encouraged to answer this second survey, even if they took the first one distributed two weeks ago, as it is meant to measure the continued impacts on the business environment during this rapidly evolving situation. This survey will close Wednesday, April 15 at 5 p.m., with the next release scheduled for April 30 at 9 a.m. Take the survey today.

3. Q1 2020 Economic Update – While the full extent of the impact of coronavirus on the job market will not appear in government data sources for some time, the global scope of this pandemic and Florida’s dependence on consumer spending means Central Florida will feel the impacts of this virus even after social distancing measures subside. Partnership Director of Research Phoebe Fleming digs into the data in a Q1 2020 Orlando Economic Update that addresses the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on jobs, Central Florida’s specific exposure to the economic downturn, and indicators to consider in response efforts as well as those to watch for signals of recovery in quarter two. Read the Q1 Economic Update here.

4. Federal stimulus update with Congresswoman Stephanie Murphy – In the seventh installment in a series of webinars presented by the Partnership and the Orlando Regional Chamber, I hosted U.S. Congresswoman Stephanie Murphy of Florida’s District 7 who provided an update on the recent happenings in Washington, D.C. in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Congresswoman Murphy gave an update on the three phases of the stimulus package, including the recently passed $2.2 trillion CARES Act and the support it provides small businesses. She also highlighted the provisions she championed in the package and what is on the horizon for future phases. For those who couldn’t attend the live webinar, you can watch the replay here.

5. OUC-The Reliable One announces community assistance – OUC’s Board of Commissioners is scheduled to vote next week on far-reaching recommendations totaling $12.1 million to help OUC customers and the Central Florida community impacted by the COVID-19 crisis. The proposal offers immediate relief by lowering utility bills and provides additional solutions to customers over the next year. Recommendations include $7.5 million to lower electric fuel rates for May bills by 39 percent with OUC passing to customers fuel savings from lower-than-budgeted natural gas prices; a $2.6 million contribution to Project CARE, OUC’s utility assistance program for qualified residential customers during times of crisis; $1.5 million for utility bill payment assistance to qualified small businesses; and $500,000 to waive the first monthly customer charge for new customers enrolling in OUC’s Power Pass prepaid utility program. OUC also plans to continue its suspension of electric and water disconnections for nonpayment and waive late payment fees until further notice. We applaud OUC’s commitment to bringing much needed relief to the community and customers during this difficult time. Read more about OUC’s planned assistance programs here.

6. WKMG town hall – I had the honor to join Orange County Mayor Jerry L. Demings, Director for the Institute for Economic Forecasting Dr. Sean Snaith and CEO of CareerSource Central Florida Pam Nabors for a digital town hall on WKMG News 6. Titled "Central Florida’s Financial Fight" and hosted by News 6 anchor Matt Austin, the virtual town hall focused on the impact of COVID-19 on Orlando’s economy and was live-streamed on ClickOrlando.com. You can watch the replay here.

Looking Ahead…
The Partnership and the Orlando Regional Chamber launched a series of webinars focused on sharing guidance on how best to respond to the realities of COVID-19. Future webinars will be announced in the events section of news.orlando.org. If you missed any of the first seven webinars, replays are available in our online resource center and below:

  • Federal Stimulus Update featuring Congresswoman Stephanie Murphy of Florida’s District 7 | Replay
  • Finding Success Interviewing, Hiring and Onboarding Virtually featuring Nicole McMurray, AppleOne regional director for Orlando and Tampa, and Tracy Rebar, executive director and HR business advisor for JPMorgan Chase | Replay
  • Detailed Review of How the CARES Federal Stimulus Act Can Help Business featuring City of Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer and Align Public Strategies Managing Partner Joe Kefauver and Partner Franklin Coley | Replay
  • Community Action and Support featuring John Rivers, founder and CEO of 4R Restaurant Group & The 4Roots Farm, and Brendan O’Connor, editor-in-chief at Bungalower | Replay
  • State Action and the Impact on the Business Community featuring Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation (DBPR) Secretary Halsey Beshears | Replay
  • DEO Reemployment and Recovery Assistance featuring Ashley Bell, Esq., regional administrator for the U.S. Small Business Administration for Region IV, and Michael W. Myhre, CEO with Florida SBDC Network Headquarters | Replay

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