Volume 43 l October 2020
Weekly eConnection
801 West Bay Drive, Suite 602 Largo, FL 33770
Tel: 727-584-2321 Fax: 727-586-3112

Advocacy & Economic Development Edition
Thank you to our Trustees and Newsletter Sponsors
Bay Care/Morton Plant Hospital
Brown Insurance Services
Duke Energy
Encompass Health Rehabilitation Hospital
Home Instead/Be a Santa
Jackson & Associates CPA
Melody Hunter, Charles Rutenberg Realty
MidFlorida Credit Union
Nova Southeastern University - Tampa Bay
Paradise Air
Piper Fire Protection
Platinum Information Services
Regions Bank
Spectrum Reach
The Palms of Largo
Valley National Bank
Wealth Builders
We appreciate your continued support and loyalty!
One Week Until Election Day. Then it’s Over! We hope!

For Pinellas County voter information, please visit: www.votepinellas.com/Election-Information.com
Help Grow Your Chamber! Get $50 Each Recruit!
Won’t you help! Your Chamber recently kicked-off a new initiative “We’re Chamber Strong!” to promote the essential role we play in assisting businesses while helping to grow our membership base.
-----Join us to learn more at one of two special We’re Chamber Strong! sessions being conducted by Sandler Training this Thursday, Oct. 29. You can earn a $50 Chamber membership renewal credit for every member you recruit! And be a part of our first Happy Hour since March on Nov. 18 at the St. Pete Marriott Clearwater!
-----You’ll also gain some valuable information that could help with your business while supporting us!
Here’s how to register:

THIS Thursday, October 29
-----8:30 to 9:30 a.m.
In person session at the Chamber – 801 West Bay Drive, Largo 33770, Suite 602 (6th floor). Send an “I’ll Help!” email directly to Chamber President Tom Morrissette at tom@CentralChamber.biz
-----10 to 11 a.m.
-----Thank you for you continued Chamber loyalty and support!
Largo City Candidates/Chamber GAP Roundtable
The Chamber’s Government Advocacy Panel (GAP) met last week with the candidates in the one contested Largo City Commisioners race. Seat 3 three-term incumbent Curtis Holmes (back) and challenger Eric Gerard (forefront) answered a variety of questions pertaining to City of Largo operations and the budget impact from COVID. The candidates also took part in a Chamber online forum a few weeks ago. It’s available to view here: 2020 Largo City Commission Candidates Forum. If you have a problem with the audio, copy this link and place directly to your internet browser: https://youtu.be/LQosL4n9Vvw
We’re Back! Chamber Leads Teams are now rotating between virtual and live meetings keeping to CDC protocols. David Cesare of Centratel, seen here, spoke at our Downtown Central Team gathering on Friday at Benedict’s, West Bay Drive, Largo. He filled us in about new technologies in telecommunications that are sure to impact us all in the very near future. If you’re interested in joining one of our three Leads Teams, contact the Chamber at 727-584-2321 or email Tom@CentralChamber.biz
 Chamber Leadership Recommends NO on Florida Amendment 2
Amendment 2 asks whether to raise Florida’s minimum wage.

-----The Chamber’s Government Advocacy Panel (GAP) and Economic Development Committee have recommended a NO vote on Amendment 2. While the question is straightforward, the decision on whether to support or oppose it involves unintended consequences. Mainly, having wages tied to the State Constitution rather than the economy and annual inflation.
-----Florida’s minimum wage is currently $8.56 per hour. Amendment 2 proposes to raise it to $10 per hour, effective Sept. 30, 2021, then an additional $1 per hour each year for five years, until September 30, 2026, when it would become $15 per hour. Only after that, minimum wage increases would be tied to annual inflation adjustments, as it is currently.
-----While an increase in minimum wages would give workers in Florida who earn the least more money, those same workers might face the toughest consequences. Businesses across the state, especially those hit hard by pandemic loss, have indicated that paying higher minimum wages will result in cutting work hours — or even cutting jobs.
-----Keep wages out of the State Constitution. Vote NO on 2!
October 26 Tampa Bay COVID Update!
The COVID-19 Regional Re-Opening Dashboard tracks the critical and official public health metrics that guide Tampa Bay residents and policymakers to safely re-open our economy. It’s produced by the Tampa Bay Partnership.
Case growth in Tampa Bay increased this week, and the percentage of residents testing positive for COVID-19 increased for the third consecutive week. At 4.94%, Tampa Bay's positive testing rate over the past week remains below the 10% threshold outlined in state and federal re-opening guidelines, but it represents an increase from last week’s 4.89% rate and a high-water mark since the week ending August 22 (5.18%). Statewide, the positive testing rate stayed below the 10% threshold for an eighth consecutive week, falling from 4.87% to 4.80%. Here’s the link to more of the report: COVID-19 Regional Re-Opening Dashboard
Celebrate Largo's Small Businesses
with Restaurant Roundup!
-----Help the City of Largo's great local restaurants and celebrate Largo Small Business Month every Sunday in November (weather permitting) from 12pm to 4pm, in Largo Central Park for Restaurant Roundup.
-----This drive-through event will feature area restaurants at Lot 1 in Largo Central Park, where guests can drive up, peruse the menu and call to order your food. Just tell the restaurant your spot number and they'll bring your food right to your car. Both cash and touchless payment options available.
-----It’s a great way to try Largo good eats and keep business local. There is no cost to restaurants and registered food vendors to participate. There is still room available on select dates. Must be a Largo business, or a registered City of Largo vendor to qualify.
To register, visit www.PlayLargo.com/Roundup
Funding still available…
Pinellas CARES Local Business Grants
-----The Pinellas County Board of County Commissioners has approved additional funding to develop new business assistance programs. Pinellas CARES is now offering expanded grant funding for Pinellas-based businesses most affected by the pandemic. In general, this includes businesses that were required to shut down or whose customers were required to shut down or stop doing business. A list of eligible business types can be found HERE
-----Applicants are strongly encouraged to take their time to submit a complete and accurate application, including all required documentation, for the quickest response. Grant awards will be based on review of complete and eligible applications and not on how early a partial application is submitted. Submitting an incomplete application will delay the review process.
-----To get an application and for more information, click here Pinellas CARES Business Grant
Tampa Bay Racial Sentiment Findings
As race, racism and racial equity moved to the forefront of public discourse this summer, the Tampa Bay Partnership set out to explore the emotionally (and politically) charged topic in a meaningful and actionable way. Its Tampa Bay Racial Sentiment Survey, like the 2020 Regional Equity Report which preceded it, reveals many areas where the experiences of Tampa Bay’s Black and white residents are starkly divergent. Follow this link to a selection of key findings focused on the perceptions of, and sentiment toward, racial issues in our community: FINDINGS - Tampa Bay Racial Sentiment Survey
The failure to reach an agreement on a new fiscal stimulus bill soured investor sentiment and sent stocks modestly lower for the week. The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 0.95%, while the Standard & Poor’s 500 lost 0.53%. The Nasdaq Composite index slipped 1.06% for the week. The MSCI EAFE index, which tracks developed overseas stock markets, declined 0.44%.
Markets Disappointed with Stimulus Impasse 
Stock prices ebbed and flowed all week, pulled by the gravity of fiscal stimulus talks in Washington, D.C. As investors saw improving prospects for a new fiscal stimulus bill, stocks rose. As prospects dimmed, stocks turned lower. Hopes for striking a deal were raised late in the week as comments from a key negotiator suggested that a deal might be getting closer to fruition. The week ended, however, without an agreement, cementing a disappointing week of performance. Market sentiment was further weighed down by the continued rise in COVID-19 cases in the U.S. and Europe, though anxieties were tempered by the belief that a full economic lockdown was unlikely.
New Jobless Claims Fall 
Markets have been focused on weekly initial jobless claims as an important input into the state of economic recovery. After weeks of 800,000+ new jobless claims, last week’s report reflected an improving labor market, as new jobless claims rose by 787,000, below consensus estimates of 875,000, while continuing jobless claims fell by more than one million. The report wasn’t entirely positive, however, as more than 500,000 individuals were added to the emergency assistance program that extends unemployment benefits to those who have run out of state unemployment benefits.
Florida now in “Phase 3” reopen mode
More than 6 million Floridians have already voted
About 42 percent of Florida’s registered voters have already cast ballots in the 2020 general election following the first weekend of early in-person voting. With eight days to go until Nov. 3, more ballots have already been cast — 6,018,430 — than the total number of mail and early in-person ballots cast in the 2018 general election. The total so far includes Florida’s most high-profile resident; President Donald Trump voted in person Saturday in Palm Beach County. More from the Tampa Bay Times.

Kennel Club plans layoffs as dog racing ends
The St. Petersburg Kennel Club, which operates as Derby Lane, will begin laying off employees Dec. 27 after Florida voters in 2018 overwhelmingly approved a proposal to halt greyhound racing by the end of this year, according to a notice filed with the state Department of Economic Opportunity. Kennel Club Chairman and President Richard Winning advised the state the layoffs would start Dec. 27 and continue through April. More from the News Service of Florida.

Florida real estate enjoyed a strong September with sales and prices on the rise 
In September, Florida’s housing market reported more closed sales, more new pending sales, rising median prices and more new listings compared to a year ago despite the ongoing pandemic, according to the latest housing data from Florida Realtors. Single-family existing-home sales rose 22 percent compared to September 2019. “Florida’s housing sector continues to be a bright spot for the state’s economy amid the ongoing pandemic,” said Florida Realtors President Barry Grooms. More from Florida Daily, the Tampa Bay Times, the Real Deal, the Sarasota Herald-Tribune, and the Daytona Beach News Journal.

Landlords ask judge to stop CDC eviction moratorium in early hearing 
A federal lawsuit challenging the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s sweeping eviction moratorium forged ahead last week, with lawyers from both sides arguing over Zoom whether the judge should invalidate the moratorium while the trial is ongoing. The plaintiffs are landlords, who argue that in addition to experiencing unsustainable financial harm from being forced to allow non-paying tenants to stay, they’re being deprived of their own properties and their rights to the court system. [Source: Tampa Bay Times]

Covid pummeled shopping centers, but their parking lots are thriving 
While many traditional streams of income for landlords have slowed or dried up due to the pandemic, one has proven to be a surprising earner: parking lots. Landlords of large parking lots and garages have been renting out those spaces for a variety of activities, including open-air retail, job fairs, polling stations and drive-through COVID-19 testing, the Wall Street Journal reported. [Source: The Real Deal]
 Share info about your business…
Central Pinellas BizReach Connection
For a nominal fee of $35 per issue or $100 a month, you can highlight news about your business opening and specials. Here are the details.
One entry for $35, four entries for $100 (you can edit from week to week).

What: Central Pinellas BizReach 
Who: All Chamber members are eligible to provide business updates and special member-to-member offers/discounts.
When: Central Pinellas BizReach is distributed weekly on Fridays. Provide information/updates by noon the Wednesday prior. 
How: Provide the following via email to Kelvin Mack at events@CentralChamber.biz 
1. Business Name
2. Current business operations (i.e. restaurant with take out only from 9a to 9p).
3. Member offerings/discounts etc. (i.e. 20% off for chamber members, free webinar series on working remote, 20% of for first responders, etc.).
4. Images in jpg or png format with offer will be accepted. Please keep the image 3" x 3" in respect to others.
Email events@CentralChamber.biz or call 727-584-2321 
The Weekly E-Connection is made possible by the following generous sponsors:
We’re about Value!

A new Chamber program year is upon us! And we’ll be continuing to tout our five “value” principles and how each relates to being part of the organization.
           Value of Investment - The Chamber brings members valuable cost-savings resources that directly impact their bottom line. From member-to-member discounts to affinity partnerships - all are designed to lower the cost of doing business.
           Value of Information – The Chamber brings members unique resources. Roundtable discussions, workshops, advocacy on local and state issues, contacts, reference to other businesses, expertise, etc. Information that is timely and relevant to the success of all business operations.
           Value of Influence – The Chamber represents the interests of its members and communities. Whether at the local, state or federal level, it is the advocate on all issues of importance to business.
           Value of Interaction – The Chamber provides its members opportunity. People want to do business with people they know, like and trust. Networking events, B2B programs, and partnerships foster relationships that encourage leads, referrals and more business for our members.
           Value of Impact – The Chamber is one of the few, if not the only, organization that can impact the three main pillars in its service area – government, citizens, and businesses. We deliver results that directly benefit our members.
If you would like to assist in volunteering on a committee to help influence these values, just give us a call. It’s another sure way to build business connections. It really is great to belong!
Reserve your space now!

Run your Ad or Logo in the Central Pinellas Chamber of Commerce's eConnection Newsletter that publishes weekly. Be seen by over 2,000 members and friends. Take advantage of an open/read rate that exceeds 25%.
Contact Kelvin at the Chamber, 727.584.2321 or events@centralchamber.biz