After the first few months of COVID 19
By; Edda Pujadas
While sectors especially aimed at the public such as restaurants, shops, and hotels have been the most affected, there was growth in the areas of cargo, health, and real estate.
“We have a solid, spacious, multi-varied industrial sector and area and we are very close to Miami International Airport.” With these words, the Director for Economic Development of the City of Doral, Manuel Pila, explained why our municipality has experienced a rapid recovery after the first months of COVID 19.
Pila explained that similar to what has been happening nationwide, Doral has suffered the financial impacts of the pandemic. This was evident not only in the problems that restaurants, shops, hotels, and shops, in general, were having but also in the decline of applications received by the City of Doral for the opening of new businesses.
Earlier this year, the City was receiving more than 100 applications per month for new businesses, but when we started to be affected by COVID 19, this figure decreased by 80%. Fortunately, these figures are beginning to recover, and between 80 and 98 new companies have already been registered in August and September.
Pila explains that there have been sectors that have contributed to Doral’s economic recovery. Sectors such as cargo, health, and real estate, including industrial real estate have experienced growth during the pandemic. “Technology manufacturing, medical testing kits, and pharmaceutical product manufacturers, among others, want to be in Doral.”
“Doral is a city that offers a large industrial park, as well as security to its residents and merchants, so people do not only want to have their businesses in the city, but also want to live here, where they find good schools for their children, parks, and restaurants.”
Speaking about restaurants, Pila noted that, unfortunately, there were some who had to close their doors, but most have been able to get ahead. Likewise, it is important to note that many commercial spaces that were vacated by restaurants that had to close their operations have already been leased by new food establishments.
One of the ways in which the City of Doral has helped the restaurant sector is by granting temporary permits for outdoor operations. These permits are going to be extended until the end of this year and probably until next year.
The “Spend Local, Save Local” program that links and encourages Doral companies to incentivize residents and visitors to purchase the products and services and that is offered by our City has also been strengthened. “Now these businesses, in addition to having their link in the City of Doral website, are also offered the creation of a free video about their business,” indicated Pila.
Pila also highlighted the work of the Department of Code Compliance of the City of Doral, which is responsible for being in constant communication with shops and businesses, to ensure that the rules and procedures for COVID 19 are met. They have also been providing assistance to businesses so that they can apply to loans and local, regional, state, and federal assistance programs.
Among these assistance programs, Pila mentioned the Miami-Dade County BizHelp that is aimed at small businesses recovery. You can learn more about this program in their website at https://www.bizhelp.miami/, where the federal financing programs that are still available are explained, how to apply to reimbursement opportunities of up to $10,000 dollars, alternative financing options through foundations or other local organizations specific to each industry and the way in which you can get connected directly with a network of qualified financial advisors.
The City of Doral is part of this program through its Doral CARES grant system. The group is formed by the Greater Miami Visitor and Convention Office (GMCVB), the Miami-Dade Beacon Council, and other partner organizations that work to help small businesses identify additional financial resources (grants and low-interest loans) and assist with the application process and documentation requirements for loans and/or grants.
The City of Doral is also offering educational programs such as Grow with Google events, which are a series of free webinars presented in Spanish, aimed at business owners and entrepreneurs. These workshops are training the participants on how to use Google’s free tools, such as Google Sheets, Google Maps, and Google Ads, to help them increase their presence online.
The economist Iván Jiménez states that one of the reasons that Doral has been affected by the pandemic is that the city, in normal situations, receives many people who come for business purposes from Latin America or who have a second home here and who have now not been able to come or if they were here have not been able to travel back, which is a fundamental part of their business.
For Jimenez, another of the largely affected businesses are child-care sites known as “Day-Care” and “After-Care” that have been closed for a long time, like schools. “I believe that this has revalued the task of teachers and educators because now parents recognize more the work of teaching professionals.”
The opposite has happened with the real estate sector, says Jimenez. “We are witnessing a scenario in which inventory shortages are combined with a significant decline in interest rates; this has been a catalyst for the growth in the sale of homes, and therefore the construction of them. Let’s remember that the construction sector accounts for 20% of the American economy.”
Jimenez explains three important factors in Doral’s economic recovery. The first is that, according to the 2010 Census, the residents of Doral have a high level of education, so they generally perform qualified work that can be done from home, so they have not given up their professional duties, nor have they stopped receiving income.
Secondly, he mentioned that Doral has a large fiber-optic infrastructure, which gives it access to better communication services, and finally. We have about 20,000 small and medium-sized companies that have been able to access financial assistance providers and programs. This money is reinvested in Doral.
Speaking about the near future, the economist Jiménez assures that we are moving towards the increase of health and cleanliness because it will become a common practice and not just a punctual behavior by the pandemic. We will see antipathy towards hotels and continued use of gloves and masks by people who work serving food. Likewise, he mentioned that we are heading to a completely digital society in which learning on the web will be normal and will give us access to a universal education.