Volume 40 l October 2020
Weekly eConnection
801 West Bay Drive, Suite 602 Largo, FL 33770
Tel: 727-584-2321 Fax: 727-586-3112

President's Desk
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!
From the President's Desk...
-----A happy October to all! Am doubtful that any real ghouls or goblins are brave enough to venture out in 2020. Just saying! 😊
-----This month officially starts a new Chamber Program Year and we’re kicking it off with an initiative called “We’re Chamber Strong!”
-----It’s a pro-Chamber messaging and business recruitment campaign. The goal is to promote the essential role we serve in assisting businesses and to expand our membership base. Shelly Starks and Rob Howard of Sandler Training (www.RCHowardSandler.com) are co-partnering and will be providing valuable programs to anyone who takes part. Look for much more in the upcoming weeks.
 -----I recently announced that due to the COVID-19 disruption, the Chamber’s 2020 Program of Work (goals & strategies) has been extended through 2021. Our Executive Committee and Board of Directors have also agreed to continue in their current capacity. My personal thanks to them for their commitment. I’ve included our full Board roster below.
-----I hope you all continue to be healthy, safe and happy as we venture into the holidays. And thank you for your continued Chamber support and loyalty!

Tom Morrissette, President
WELCOME SANDSTONE INSURANCE PARTNERS! Connor Flaherty, right, of Sandstone Insurance Partners, receives his Chamber membership plaque from Dan Shipman of Full Torque Fitness and Chamber Director/Membership Mentor Melody Hunter, Realtor. Sandstone Insurance Partners is committed to excellence in providing group benefits, commercial insurance, and personal risk management solutions. To learn more about the business, please visit  www.SandstoneIns.com.
 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 decreased this week, as did the percentage of residents testing positive for COVID-19. At 4.34%, Tampa Bay's positive testing rate over the past week remains below the 10% threshold outlined in state and federal re-opening guidelines, and less than last week’s 4.46% rate. Statewide, the positive testing rate stayed below the 10% threshold for a fifth consecutive week, falling from 4.55% to 4.43%. 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
Pinellas County has seen a dramatic rise in local home prices in recent years. How do we ensure our current residents can continue to afford to live here, while giving new arrivals the opportunity to live and work in Pinellas? 
 To tackle that question, Pinellas County and Forward Pinellas are bringing together community leaders and subject matter experts in a series of five webinars this fall, beginning Oct. 9, 2020. Join us for focused, productive conversations about how to create, improve and sustain homes that are affordable to our residents.

REGISTER HERE: Homes For Pinellas Summit 
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 
What the potential death of the Affordable Care Act means for Florida 
If the election goes one way, your health care will be taken away. If the election goes another, President Donald Trump will unveil an alternative that’s so great, you wouldn’t believe it. That is the state of the rhetoric around health care as we approach Nov. 3. Few states would be more affected than Florida by the demise of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare. The Trump administration is currently arguing before the Supreme Court that the entire law should be terminated. [Source: Tampa Bay Times]

Hurricane Delta expected to approach Gulf Coast as major Cat 3 storm; part of Florida in cone 
A rapidly strengthening Hurricane Delta is expected to become a major hurricane on Wednesday before approaching the Gulf Coast, including Florida’s western Panhandle, the National Hurricane Center said Tuesday morning. “There is a significant risk of dangerous storm surge, wind and rainfall hazards along the coast from Louisiana to the western Florida Panhandle beginning Thursday night or Friday,” the NHC said in its 5 a.m. advisory. [More from the Orlando Sentinel and the Tampa Bay Times.

More than 500K vote-by-mail ballots returned so far in Florida 
Supervisors of Elections across the state have already counted more than half a million vote-by-mail ballots less than a month out of the 2020 presidential election. According to the Florida Division of Elections website, a total of 571,574 vote-by-mail ballots have been returned as of 8:20 a.m. Monday. Of the returned mail-in votes, 305,982 came from registered Democrats, while 157,855 came from registered Republicans. More from WCTV and the News Service of Florida.

Coronavirus pandemic clouds future for Tampa Bay’s downtowns
In both Tampa and St. Petersburg, business owners, patrons and analysts alike are wondering whether the face of the region’s downtown areas will be forever changed by the coronavirus pandemic and its forceful shift of many employees to remote work. While the answer to that question is still coming into focus, there are early warning signs that Tampa Bay’s downtown economies have taken a blow. More from the Tampa Bay Times.
Florida now in “Phase 3” reopen mode
Census Count re-extended to Oct. 31!
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 
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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