Volume 41 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
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Piper Fire Protection
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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!
 That was the topic of our Coffee An'Networking event at Cove Cay Golf Club last week. Rob Howard and Shelly Starks of Sandler Training discussed this new Chamber initiative. Its aim is to promote the essential role of our Chamber in assisting businesses while helping to grow our membership base. The Sandler team will be providing valuable programs to “Chamber Strong!” participants. Look for more next week in our Membership Edition of EConnection.
It's Great to Belong!

Register for our next Coffee An' Networking at Cove Cay on December 17th here: CP Chamber Coffee An'
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 past week, as did the percentage of residents testing positive for COVID-19. At 4.63%, 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 4.34% 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 a sixth consecutive week, falling from 4.43% to 4.33%.
Here’s the link to more of the report: COVID-19 Regional Re-Opening Dashboard
 See the attached link to view!
Chamber hosts Largo City Commission Candidates Forum
The Chamber’s Government Advocacy Panel (GAP) recently held a forum for candidates in the one contested Largo City Commisioners race. For Seat 3, its three-term incumbent Curtis Holmes being challenged by Eric Gerard seen in photo with Chamber Chairman Rob England of England Brothers Construction. The candidates responded to a series of questions provided by Largo citizens and GAP. Special thanks to Piper Fire Protection for hosting and recording the program. The forum is available to view here: 2020 Largo City Commission Candidates Forum

If you have a problem with audio, please copy this link and place directly to your internet browser: https://youtu.be/LQosL4n9Vvw
Telemedicine takes big hit in federal healthcare fraud takedown in Florida
As the advertising folks like to say, telemedicine is the wave of the future. But it is also the latest hot spot in healthcare fraud in Florida and other regions of the country, federal authorities say. This week, 10 defendants appeared in Fort Lauderdale federal court on fraud charges. Their network of marketing and telemedicine companies is accused of soliciting patients, prescribing medications for purported injuries and billing millions for unnecessary services to a U.S. military health insurance program. [Source: Miami Herald]

Amid pandemic, Florida’s smokable medical marijuana industry is on fire 
While many business sectors have sharply contracted over the past six months due to COVID-19, Florida’s medical marijuana industry, by several measures, appears to be thriving. Growth in the number of patients, doctors, dispensaries and in product sales have all increased – with dispensation of consumable products doubling in multiple categories since the start of 2020. [Source: The Capitolist]

Florida is a swing state again. These battleground regions could decide the race.
When polls throughout the summer showed Democrat Joe Biden with a commanding lead in Florida over President Donald Trump, many political analysts were skeptical. Blowouts just don't happen in Florida politics. Polls show a close race between Donald Trump and Joe Biden in Florida, America's largest swing state. Here's a look at four key Florida battlegrounds that could tip the 2020 race. [Source: Sarasota Herald-Tribune]

Voting on Florida's upcoming six constitutional amendments 
Florida voters will consider six amendments to the state constitution when they go to the polls next month. Each proposal requires at least 60% approval by voters. Here's a rundown of each amendment and what it would do
Census Count re-extended to Oct. 31!
Latest Response Rates (Oct. 8) - 66.8% (Pinellas); 63.6% (Florida); 66.8% (National)
For a detailed look at Pinellas County’s undercounted tracts, see the Hard-to-Count Map.
We only get one chance every 10 years! Take 10 minutes to shape the next decade for your community: http://My2020Census.gov (13 languages) or call 844-330-2020 #MakePinellasCount #PinellasCensusChallenge #PinellasCounty 
Florida now in “Phase 3” reopen mode
Additional funding now 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
 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