Volume 36 l September 2020
Weekly eConnection
801 West Bay Drive, Suite 602 Largo, FL 33770
Tel: 727-584-2321 Fax: 727-586-3112

Advocacy & Economic Development Edition
As the COVID-19 situation grinds on, your Chamber will continue to keep you in the loop on resources available. Our gatherings may have been curtailed for the time being, but we remain at your service. We’re all in this together!
Thank you to our Trustees and Newsletter Sponsors
Bay Care/Morton Plant Hospital
Brown Insurance Services
Duke Energy
Encompass Health Rehabilitation Hospital
Hampton Inn & Suites Largo
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
Village Inn
Wealth Builders
We appreciate your continued support and loyalty!
A time for everyone to Rise to Shine!
Your Chamber President Tom Morrissette was among those who attended the "Rise to Shine" campaign kickoff last week at Pier 60. Rise to Shine is an effort to promote Pinellas County's mask and social distancing rules to visitors. Steve Hayes of Visit St. Pete Clearwater hosted the program that featured elected leaders, other chamber executives, media and the public.  The nearly $2 million campaign was developed with chambers and local municipalities to give Pinellas County businesses a unified approach communicating expectations during COVID-19. Learn more here: Rise to Shine
Chamber to Host Largo City Commission Candidates Forum, Seeks Community Input
Curtis Holmes
Eric Gerard
-----Your Chamber will host a Largo City Commission Candidates Forum on Thursday, Sept. 24 at 8:30 a.m. It will be a live Zoom broadcast. A link to register will be available on the Chamber’s website www.CentralChamber.biz beginning Monday, Sept. 21.
-----There is only one contested race, that between three-term incumbent Curtis Holmes and Eric Gerard, husband of County Commissioner Pat Gerard also former Mayor of Largo. You can learn more about each candidate at their websites – Curtis Holmes: www.Holmes4Largo.com and Eric Gerard: www.GerardforLargo.com.
-----The Chamber’s Government Advocacy Panel (GAP) is looking for the community to provide questions to consider for the forum. Please send them to tom@CentralChamber.biz by Monday, Sept. 14. 
New position for a Chamber friend
Teresa Brydon, a longtime contributor to the Chamber’s Economic Development Committee representing the City of Largo, has a new job. She’s joined Pinellas County Economic Development to focus on community redevelopment that facilitates job creation with connections to affordable housing and transportation. During her 12 years with Largo, Teresa was responsible for expanding employment opportunities and increasing the economic sustainability of the City's activity centers. She has over 18 years of experience in economic development and redevelopment and has earned the Florida Redevelopment Association's Redevelopment Professional (FRA-RP) designation. Congrats Teresa!
A Hurricane Simulation for Tampa Bay Small Business Recovery
The Tampa Bay Regional Planning Council (TBRPC) has produced a fictional hurricane video entitled “Hurricane Phoenix 2.0” which can be accessed here http://www.tbrpc.org/phoenix/. This video is 20 minutes in length and focuses on small business recovery after a disaster.

It is comprised of six chapters that run back to back beginning with development of a hurricane in the Gulf of Mexico. Tampa Bay NBC news affiliate News Channel 8 meteorologists and morning news anchors participated in the development of this video that fictionalizes a Category Five hurricane making landfall in Indian Rocks Beach. A storm of this magnitude would have catastrophic impacts throughout the Tampa Bay region. It’s estimated that damage caused would exceed $300 billion dollars with over 50 million tons of debris that would need to be removed.

The last three chapters focus on the impact of Hurricane Michael that made landfall in Mexico Beach Florida in 2018. Three small business owners, including the Mayor of Mexico Beach, share their personal stories of recovery and provide suggestions to small business owners on how best to plan, prepare and recover from a disaster. TBRPC employs a full time Disaster Recovery Coordinator, Brian Ellis, who is available to make a presentation to your organization about how best to plan, prepare and recover from a disaster. Call TBRPC at 727-570-5151.
Tampa Bay Regional Planning Council selected for Solar Energy Innovation Network project

An innovative project, led by the Tampa Bay Regional Planning Council (TBRPC), has been selected by the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) to participate in a collaborative research effort to develop novel applications of solar energy. NREL is leading the Solar Energy Innovation Network (SEIN) with funding from the U.S. Department of Energy’s Solar Energy Technologies Office. NREL pursues fundamental research and development of renewable energy and energy efficiency technologies to transform the way we use energy.

The Clear Sky Tampa Bay project is creating a regional technical and economic framework for integrating disaster risk reduction and other resilience factors into solar-plus-storage siting and cost-benefit analyses. The Clear Sky project is one of eight around the country selected to participate in the Solar Energy Innovation Network. The project award includes financial, analytical, and facilitation support. Recent technical reports produced by NREL, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, and other institutions have identified the need to create a consistent framework for assessing and defining the value of disaster resilience benefits.

The City of Largo has also made major commitments to increasing the use of clean energy. “Evaluating the use of solar energy for critical facilities and community buildings requires a comprehensive analysis,” said Largo Mayor Woody Brown. “And this project will help support our goals.”

Why Join?
 When businesses reach out to me and ask, “why join?” our Chamber during COVID, and “what have we done?” I’m proud of my reply and hope you will share!

 “The Central Pinellas Chamber has been doing bi-weekly Zoom networking programs called “Morning Connections” that have been very successful since April. We have and are planning another “in-person” only Coffee An’Networking program following COVID guidelines. All of our committee and programming meetings including our three Leads Team networking groups have been hybrid, i.e. in-person and Zoom since June. We have been a regional leader in providing information and connections to our members for COVID assistance including PPP, SBA and county and local grants through Zoom, emails, our social media platforms, and electronic newsletters. And, our Chamber office has remained open through the pandemic.”

Tom Morrissette, President
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
A late week sell-off sent stocks broadly lower as investors took some profits after stocks reached all-time highs earlier in the week. The Dow Jones Industrial Average slid 1.82%, while the Standard & Poor’s 500 slumped 2.31%. The Nasdaq Composite index dropped 3.27% for the week. The MSCI EAFE index, which tracks developed overseas stock markets, fell 0.62%.

Gravity Reasserts Itself
Stocks hit a wall late last week as the technology companies, which had led the market higher, slipped in Thursday and Friday trading, dragging down the overall market. The week began on an upbeat note as August momentum continued into the start of September. While participation in the rally on Tuesday and Wednesday was fairly broad, technology stocks continued to be the focus of market strength. But that sentiment changed quickly on Thursday. With little warning and no obvious catalyst, it remains unclear whether the technology selloff last week was the result of market technicals or a fundamental change in investor outlook. The coming weeks may provide some clarity in this regard.

Labor Market Recovery Sputters Forward 
Last week saw a series of employment-related reports that evidenced a continued labor market recovery. The Automated Data Processing (ADP) employment survey showed that private payrolls increased by 428,000 in August, falling short of consensus expectations of over 1.1 million. News turned more positive as new jobless claims checked in at 881,000—an improvement from the over one million new claims the prior week. Americans receiving unemployment declined by 1.24 million to 13.3 million—half the peak number in May. Finally, the monthly jobs report indicated that nearly 1.4 million nonfarm jobs were added last month, with the unemployment rate declining to 8.4%. The progress was predominantly attributable to government hiring, primarily of new Census workers, though the retail, leisure and hospitality sectors saw gains in new hiring.
It hardly seems possible, but the presidential campaign is about to amp up in Florida
Don’t for a minute think there have already been more than enough presidential campaign ads, polls and punditry, and vitriol on Facebook. With just three weeks until millions of Floridians start receiving their mail ballots, it’s about to get more intense — much more intense. The fall campaign season will bring bursts of attention to other states and campaign surprises, but Florida is about to assume its position as the biggest, most important battleground state in the presidential election. More from the South Florida Sun-Sentinel.

Tampa cybersecurity firm inks deal with NFL team
While offensive linemen protect new Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady, cybersecurity firm ReliaQuest will safeguard the team’s digital network. According to a press release, Tampa-based ReliaQuest has entered into a partnership with the Bucs that will see it become the team’s official cybersecurity partner. The Bucs organization will use ReliaQuest’s GreyMatter product to fend off data security breaches. ReliaQuest enjoys a similar relationship with the NBA’s Boston Celtics. More from the Business Observer.

Florida is privatizing state-run COVID testing sites 
Less than two months after state-run COVID testing sites were overwhelmed with demand amid a surge in new infections, Florida officials are turning to a single private vendor to reduce operating costs for the sites, beginning with a Broward County site at the busiest intersection in Pembroke Pines. The state will consolidate vendors for nurses, equipment and lab work at the testing site at C.B. Smith Park, according to Division of Emergency Management Director Jared Moskowitz. [Source: Tampa Bay Times]
U.S. Census 2020 deadline extended to Sept. 30
Stand up and be counted!
It’s a fact – after the Great Pandemic of 1919 came the Roaring 20s! And Jeff and Ellen Petracco of Wealth Builders/Value Properties know the importance of being counted now for when the nation is fully recovered. The U.S. Census counts every person in the country, and those figures are used to determine a host of benefits, from a state's share of federal dollars to its representation in Congress. As the nation's third-largest state, Florida needs to receive its fair share!  Due to COVID-19, the Census deadline has been extended to September 30, which gives everyone plenty of time. So please stand up and be counted! It all starts at: www.my2020census.gov
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
Schedule a “We’re Back”, Grand Opening, etc. Ribbon-Cutting
Celebrate your return to business, company achievement or your grand opening with a Chamber Ribbon-Cutting Ceremony. Cost is $150. Includes photo/video placement on Chamber social media platforms and a copy for your business to share. Call us to book a date/time today! We recently commemorated the Source 1 Solutions' new Global Technical Services Center in Clearwater. The expanded state-of-the-art space is adjacent to its global headquarters. It's great to belong!
Mask Distribution Locations
Cloth face masks are available on a first come, first served basis at the following Central Pinellas locations. You’re encouraged to call before heading out to check mask availability. The county said supplies are limited and will be replenished as often as possible.
Largo Public Library, 120 Central Park Dr., Largo, (727) 587-6715
Highpoint Neighborhood Family Center, 5812 150th Ave. N., Clearwater, (727) 533-0730
Clearwater Main Library, 100 N. Osceola Ave., Clearwater, (727) 562-4970
Barbara S. Ponce Public Library, 7770 52nd St. N., Pinellas Park, (727) 369-0669
Chamber Office Open (but wear a mask)
The Chamber’s 801 West Bay Drive, Largo office is now open for regular business. However, we require that you wear a mask to enter for your safety and ours. This is a public building, and visitors need to take an elevator to get to our 6th floor headquarters.

Please note our hours of operation until further notice.

Chamber Summer Office Hours
Monday – Thursday, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Closed Friday
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!
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Contact Kelvin at the Chamber, 727.584.2321 or events@centralchamber.biz