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Economic Scene Newsletter - May 10, 2021

COVID-19 FUNDING PROGRAM UPDATES

SOAR FUND FOR FLORIDA SMALL BUSINESSES IMPACTED BY COVID

Small businesses still in need of help getting through the pandemic have a new route to recovery. Business owners and nonprofits with fewer than 50 employees in Florida and other southern states can apply to the recently launched Southern Opportunity and Resilience Fund (SOAR) for the lesser of $100,000 or 100% of their revenue for any three-month period during 2019 or the first quarter of 2020. The SOAR Fund provides flexible, affordable capital at low interest rates and free business support services to small businesses and nonprofits across the South and Southeast to help them navigate and rebuild from the COVID-19 economic crisis. The fund works with and through local Community Development Financial Institutions, which have been serving the types of underinvested businesses the SOAR Fund aims to help. Determine if your business meets the eligibility requirements to apply.

GENERAL PAYCHECK PROTECTION PROGRAM FUNDS DEPLETED

The Small Business Administration (SBA)  has stopped accepting new Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) applications from most lenders almost a full month before the $292 billion program’s application deadline. The SBA informed lenders that the PPP general fund was out of money. The agency also has set aside $6 billion for PPP applications still in review status or needing more information due to error codes. The SBA is offering PPP loans originated only by participating community financial institutions including certified development companies, SBA microlenders, community development financial institutions, and minority depository institutions until May 31 or until remaining funds are exhausted. Please note that not all community financial institutions are participating in PPP. Find an eligible lender that is participating in PPP.

BUSINESS NEWS

APRIL CONSUMER SENTIMENT CONTINUES TO RISE

Consumer sentiment among Floridians ticked up 1.7 points in April to 83 from March’s revised figure of 81.3. Similarly, national consumer sentiment increased 3.4 points. According to Hector H. Sandoval, director of the Economic Analysis Program at UF’s Bureau of Economic and Business Research, consumer sentiment dropped to an unprecedented rate in the second quarter of 2020, when it tumbled 26 points between February and April. One year later, consumer confidence remains 19.3 points below pre-pandemic levels (102.3 points in February 2020). Floridians’ opinions about current economic conditions were mixed. On one hand, perceptions of personal financial situations now compared with a year ago increased 4.2 points from 68.4 to 72.6, the greatest increase of any reading this month; however, opinions varied by demographics with men and people older than 60 reporting less-favorable opinions. Future economic expectations portrayed an improved outlook in April. Expectations of personal finances a year from now increased 1.7 points from 90.6 to 92.3. Read details of this month’s survey and archived data.

INDUSTRY NEWS

ABB MAKES MULTIMILLION-DOLLAR INVESTMENT IN ORMOND BEACH

ABB Installation Products Division (formerly Thomas & Betts) is making a multimillion-dollar investment this year and filling more than 25 full-time positions to expand its production capabilities in Ormond Beach. The investment will enable the business to meet growing demand for electrical equipment and solutions. The integration of new design technology (and team members) is expected to be completed by the end of the third quarter 2021 and will help boost production of made-to-order solutions and custom configurations of certain parts to complement and extend the Color-Keyed® compression system line of ready-made products. ABB’s Ormond Beach facility manufacturers medium-voltage products under the Homac® brand name used by electric utilities in substations and underground power lines to supply electricity to neighborhoods and businesses. It also produces electrical products under the Blackburn® brand, including overhead, grounding, mechanical and compression connectors for a range of construction applications.

WORKFORCE UPDATES

FLORIDA COLLEGES PARTNER WITH SKILLUP TO HELP DISPLACED FRONTLINE WORKERS WITH NEW CAREER PATHS

A new partnership among four state colleges (including Daytona State College), the Florida Department of Education (FDOE) and the national nonprofit SkillUp Coalition has been established to create new pathways to opportunity for workers throughout the region. More than 500,000 jobs in Florida have yet to return – most of them frontline roles in fields such as retail, hospitality and tourism. Designed to address the impact of the COVID-19 crisis on the most vulnerable communities in the workforce, the SkillUp Coalition works with local organizations to create new pathways to economic mobility for millions of Americans affected by the pandemic. The SkillUp Florida partnership builds on Get There, the FDOE’s statewide workforce education initiative, which is aimed at raising awareness of quality, in-demand career and technical education programs available at Florida College System institutions and technical colleges. Workers and job-seekers across Central Florida can learn more about SkillUp and access career navigation resources. If you’re a training provider, employer, technology and service provider, or nonprofit interested in joining the coalition, visit skillup.org/partners/.

HOUSING AND REAL ESTATE

MORE BUYERS ARE SEEKING NEW HOME CONSTRUCTION

A recent housing trends report from the National Association of Home Builders revealed that 16% of adults are planning a home purchase in the next 12 months. Among that group of prospective buyers, 42% are looking to buy a newly built home and 30% an existing home. Compared with a year earlier, in the first quarter of 2020, only 24% of buyers reported a preference for new homes, while 40% were looking for existing homes. These changes provide evidence that a growing number of buyers are looking specifically at new home construction. When broken down by generation, a majority of millennial buyers (56%) would prefer a new home, the most of any generation. In contrast, 44% of boomers and 41% of Generation Z buyers are looking for an existing home. Locally, Volusia County permit activity for new residential home construction indicates this growing trend with 2020 closing out with the most permits issued since 2005.

WEBINARS, WORKSHOPS & VIRTUAL CONFERENCES

PNC TO HOST WOMEN IN BUSINESS WEEK VIRTUAL PROGRAMMING

Beginning May 10, PNC will host a week of virtual programming to commemorate its 11th Annual Women in Business Week. Programs will include a conversation with Jessica O. Matthews, the CEO of Uncharted Power who invented the SOCCKET, an energy-generating soccer ball; as well as sessions on “Big League Entrepreneurial Advice” and “Women in Tech.” Check out the full lineup of virtual programs

CELEBRATE WORLD TRADE MONTH ON MAY 19

Join the Central Florida International Trade Office to celebrate World Trade Month with U.S. Congresswoman Stephanie Murphy and Orange County Mayor Jerry L. Demings at 10 a.m. May 19.  They will share their insights on why trade matters to Central Florida and what is on the trade agenda for the 117th Congress. Also participating will be Enterprise Florida’s  Senior Vice President for International Trade & Business Development Manny Mencia and the National Entrepreneur Center’s CEO Jerry Ross. Register today.

County, Sparton team up to help the economy and the environment

Operating out of its vast manufacturing facility in DeLeon Springs, Sparton has been a good neighbor, a good corporate citizen and one of Volusia County’s largest private-industry employers for more than 50 years. For Sparton and the local community, being socially responsible takes on added significance given the company’s close proximity to a delicate watershed that includes the natural spring at DeLeon Springs State Park about a mile away. And that’s why Sparton’s recent overhaul of its onsite wastewater disposal system to a more environmentally-friendly treatment plant was cause for celebration. And it all happened with the help of a grant from the county – an investment in Sparton, the local economy and the protection of precious water resources.

INFORMATION AND GUIDANCE FOR BUSINESSES AND EMPLOYERS

VOLUSIA BUSINESS RESOURCES  – The COVID-19 pandemic has caused major NEW disruptions to the business community. But at the same time, this global health crisis has resulted in countywide collaboration among economic development and emergency response teams to harness countless economic resources and present it all in one virtual location. Volusia County’s Economic Development division is leading the effort, serving as the coordinator between cities and agencies, as the clearinghouse of information, and by creating a new website -- VolusiaBusinessResources.com -- to serve as a countywide source of assistance and incentive program information for businesses. The website includes all federal, state, regional, county and private-sector resources, webinars and provides direct links to Volusia County’s cities’ resources pages. Read the complete release here.

VOLUSIA COUNTY COVID-19 UPDATES – Stay up to date with COVID-19 related news and emergency information via Volusia County’s public information network.

VOLUSIA COUNTY BUSINESS ASSISTANCE

For business assistance from the Volusia County Division of Economic Development, call 386-248-8048 or e-mail vced@volusia.org.

What We Do

The Volusia County Division of Economic Development assists business owners and works collaboratively with local stakeholders. We provide assistance at no cost to businesses with the desire and potential for growth within Volusia County.

The Division can help start-ups, second-stage, or maturing businesses directly or refer owners to other qualified organizations. Our economic development ‘ecosystem’ is focused on creating higher value, higher wage jobs.

While other community partners focus on recruiting new businesses to our county, the Economic Development Division assists existing Volusia County firms and entrepreneurs who are positioning themselves for new growth.  Incrementally growing the 14,000 plus established businesses already in our county offers the potential for significant economic growth and long term economic health.

In 2019, Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of Volusia County, was $17 billion. Our rapidly growing economy, now in the top 40% of all MSA's nationally, is driven by thousands of local enterprises that produce a variety of goods and services, creating jobs and stimulating even greater investment. Area companies not only support local commerce but also transact business throughout the world generating up to $295 million in exports, annually.