Volume 49 l December 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
Cloud Law Firm PA
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!
Please join us this Wednesday, Dec. 9 at 7pm online for the first ever Chamber Holiday Follies presented by the Women's Leadership Committee. You don't have to wait until the show to contribute to the Chambers Education Fund! Donations have begun flowing in and we truly appreciate it! You may donate on our website here: CP Chamber Holiday Follies
Pinellas residents and businesses urged to follow mask ordinance as COVID cases rise
With COVID-19 cases reaching levels not seen since the summer, Pinellas County leaders are urging businesses and residents to follow the local protocols requiring face coverings at indoor public places and social distancing to stop the spread of the virus. Over the past month, new cases per day have tripled and the percentage of people testing positive has doubled, reaching 8.4 percent on November 29 compared to 4.2 percent on October 30. The Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office is placing new signage at local businesses to remind staff and patrons of the protocol and will follow up at those businesses reported to be consistently violating the ordinance.  Pinellas County has also extended its State of Local Emergency for COVID-19. The extension keeps in effect a County ordinance requiring face coverings within public places, and restaurants and bars to serve only patrons who are seated. Pinellas County Administrator Barry A. Burton and Sheriff Bob Gualtieri will host a Facebook Live Event on Friday, Dec. 4, at 11 a.m. to answer questions about the new countywide compliance effort. Read more about this initiativewatch the video of Thursday’s news conference and visit Pinellas County’s Covid-19 Response and Recommendations website for updates.
This Thursday, Dec. 10…
Florida CFO Jimmy Patronis Rally at the Restaurant
Business Liability Tour

It will take place at Ulele (1810 North Highland Ave, Tampa, FL 33602) on Thursday, December 10th at 3 PM.

The invitation is extended to Tampa Bay Chambers and their members. Masks and hand sanitizer will be provided, and social distancing will be practiced. 

During the 2021 session, CFO Patronis’ priority will be the passage of meaningful legislation to protect Florida businesses affected by COVID-19. This link is the CFO’s guiding principles for business liability protection

Help Grow Your Chamber! Get $50 Each Recruit and $1,000 in Biz Training!
Won’t you help! Your Chamber’s “We’re Chamber Strong!” campaign is now underway. The goal is to promote the essential role we play in assisting businesses while helping to grow our membership base.
If you recruit a new member to the Chamber, you will receive special Sandler Training programs valued at $1,000 plus $50 off your next Chamber membership renewal for each recruit. Please Show your Chamber spirit and volunteer! Contact Tom at the Chamber to learn more – tom@CentralChamber.biz. 727-584-2321. 
E-Verify takes effect Jan. 1!
-----Be ready! On January 1, every public employer, contractor, and subcontractor in the state of Florida must enroll in and use E-Verify to confirm the employment eligibility of all newly hired employees.
-----To hit the ground running E-Verify is offering some live webinars. There’s one scheduled for Tuesday, Dec. 15 at 1 p.m. Here’s the link: Join Webinar -Dec 15
-----It’s free and interactive and includes:
  • Reminders of Form I-9 requirements and how they pertain to E-Verify
  • Creating E-Verify cases
  • How to resolve a Tentative Non-Confirmation (TNC)
  • E-Verify compliance
  • E-Verify user roles and how to add new users
  • Live demonstration of creating cases in E-Verify
  • Question and answer session.
-----E-Verify uses Cisco WebEx as its webinar platform. If you have never joined a Cisco WebEx session before, prepare your web browser before the session by visiting the webinar page for instructions.
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 rates in Tampa Bay increased this week, as did the percentage of residents testing positive for COVID-19. At 7.43%, Tampa Bay's positive testing rate over the past week remains below the 10% threshold outlined in state and federal re-opening guidelines, but represents an increase from last week’s 6.70% rate. Statewide, the positive testing rate stayed below the 10% threshold for a twelfth consecutive week, but rose from 7.03% to 8.10%. The 7-day rolling average of Tampa Bay patients hospitalized with a primary diagnosis of COVID-19 increased by 7.46% in the past week and, as of Sunday, 1,039 such patients were hospitalized.
-----U.S. Markets - Stock prices powered higher and emboldened investors in November thanks to a series of positive news events. The Dow Jones Industrial Average, which has lagged much of the year, led the rally, jumping 11.84 percent. The Standard & Poor’s 500 Index tacked on 10.75 percent while the Nasdaq Composite rose 11.80 percent.

-----All Eyes on the Election - Stocks opened the month strong, climbing throughout election week as bargain-hunting investors appeared to swoop in following a weak September and October. While the immediate outcome of the presidential election was undecided, the projected results suggested a divided Congress, which investors interpreted as a productive environment for businesses.

-----Vaccine Booster - Stocks climbed higher on news of positive stage-three COVID-19 trial results that suggested a highly effective vaccine may be near at hand. Stocks that had been hurt by economic lockdowns surged on the news, while the stay-at-home stocks suffered steep declines. Bond yields and oil prices both moved higher on expectations of increased economic activity. Positive momentum carried the Dow Jones Industrial Average, the S&P 500 index, and the Russell 2000 to record-high levels, with the Dow closing above the 30,000 mark.

-----Companies Report Solid QuarterWhile the U.S. election and progress on a coronavirus vaccine dominated the news cycle, companies in the S&P 500 reported solid earnings in the third quarter. As expected, the S&P 500 reported a year-over-year earnings of -6.3 percent. But when three hard-hit industries—energy, airlines, and hospitality—were excluded, earnings for S&P 500 companies grew by 4.3 percent.

-----Sector Scorecard -All industry sectors moved higher in November, except Utilities, which fell 1.42 percent. The month saw strong gains in Communication Services (+7.34 percent), Consumer Discretionary (+5.49 percent), Consumer Staples (+3.95 percent), Energy (+34.54 percent), Financials (+17.50 percent), Health Care (+3.35 percent), Industrials (+14.74 percent), Materials (+12.50 percent), Real Estate (+5.96 percent), and Technology (+5.33 percent).
 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 
Floridian of the Year: Florida's non-profit sector during the pandemic 
As the economy unraveled in 2020 amid mass layoffs and uncertainty, an army of helpers in Florida’s nonprofit sector — Florida Trend’s 2020 Floridian of the Year — kicked into high gear, delivering food to the hungry, offering financial assistance to the unemployed and providing emotional support, guidance and other services. Nearly 40% of non-profits have experienced an increased demand for services over the past several months, according to a survey by the Florida Nonprofit Alliance. Many answered the call even as the pandemic created big challenges for their organizations — from shrinking pools of volunteers to challenges in raising money. [Source: Florida Trend]

Study: Florida’s tourism industry slowly recovering as pandemic continues 
Florida’s tourism industry is slowly recovering, as impacts from the COVID-19 pandemic have lessened since October, according to a study from Destinations Florida released Monday. The study says since the reopening of Florida, the tourism industry has started to see positive trends in employee retention, an increase in hotel occupancy rates and a higher percentage of revenues and profits since July. Although there are positive trends, more than half of the tourism partners surveyed in the study say they believe the impact of the pandemic will still be felt until around the third quarter of 2021 and the first quarter of 2022. [Source: WCTV]

Goldman Sachs mulls moving asset management HQ to Florida
Goldman Sachs is one of Wall Street’s best-known firms, its identity indelibly tied to New York. Yet it may move at least some parts of a major division to Florida, with costs and the pandemic in mind. It’s not clear how much of the business, which generates about $8 billion in annual revenue, might move. The firm has reportedly looked at areas around Miami, but may ultimately choose to move elsewhere (or not at all). More from the New York TimesBloomberg, and the Street.

Florida gas prices see 13-cent spike in past week
Average gas prices saw a substantial increase in the past week thanks to optimism over pending vaccines to help control the outbreak of coronavirus, according to AAA Florida Auto Club data released Monday. A gallon of gas now costs about $2.15 across the state, which is about 13 cents higher than a week ago. It’s the first serious uptick since early October as prices had been falling for most of the fall months while COVID-19 had started to take its toll in a resurgence not only in Florida, but across the nation. More from Florida Politics.
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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!

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Contact Kelvin at the Chamber, 727.584.2321 or events@centralchamber.biz