Volume 48 l December 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
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!
From the President's Desk...
-----Season’s Greetings to all!
-----While this may not be a traditional holiday season, it won’t be soon forgotten. As time passes, we’ll probably recall it more than all others we’ve celebrated. I experienced many big snowstorms my 42 years in New England, yet the great Blizzard of ’78 that buried the Northeast for weeks is the only one I remember. It’s how we’re wired.
-----And, while it may take a bit more time before we reach anything resembling what passed for normal, it will come. Meanwhile, I hope you all enjoy this special time of the year and maybe even create a new tradition or two.
-----Of which, we have one! Our Women’s Leadership Committee is planning a special online Holiday Follies next Wednesday, Dec. 9 live at 7 p.m. It’s supporting our Chamber Scholarship Fund for the kids. There’ll be several of our members featured with seasonal entertainment and how-to videos. I hope you’ll check it out. Here’s the link: 2020 CP Chamber Holiday Follies. You can watch it again or stream for the first time if you miss. We’ll have it running through the month. 
-----Happy 2021! Continue to be healthy, safe and happy. And as always, thank you for your continued Chamber support and loyalty!
-----Tom Morrissette, President 
Welcome Cloud Law Firm to Chamber Board of Trustees!
Mia Cloud, Cloud Law Firm
801 West Bay Drive, Suite 603, Largo, FL 33770
727-408-5100, mia@cloudlawfirm.com

Your Chamber is pleased to welcome Cloud Law Firm as the newest Silver Tier member of our Board of Trustees! The firm is owned and managed by attorney Mia Cloud, a Chamber Director and a member of our Pinellas Central Leads Team.

The firm’s main office is located at 801 West Bay Drive, Suite 603 in Largo, right down the hall from the Chamber. It represents clients in the surrounding cities of Clearwater and St. Petersburg as well as all of Pinellas and Hillsborough counties who face legal challenges involving personal injury and Social Security Disability claims.

With more than 10 years of legal experience, Mia’s efforts have secured substantial awards and settlements on behalf her clients, and has recovered tens of thousands of dollars in back pay and ongoing monthly payments for disabled individuals who can no longer work.

The Chamber Board of Trustees is an exclusive business advantage program that provides credibility and a host of marketing and promotional opportunities within the organization and region. As importantly, it demonstrates a heightened level of dedication and loyalty to the Chamber. To learn more on becoming a Trustee, please contact Chamber President Tom Morrissette at 727-584-2321 or email Tom@CentralChamber.biz.
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. 
The recent "We're Chamber Strong!" Pep Rally/Happy Hour was a great opportunity for us to share how we've been essential during COVID. And how businesses actively engaged with the Chamber will do better when this is all over. The ongoing “We’re Chamber Strong!” campaign was also celebrated. This pro-Chamber messaging and business recruitment initiative provides $1,000 in Sandler Training programs to participants plus more. Please support this effort if you can!
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 past week, but the percentage of residents testing positive for COVID-19 decreased. At 6.70%, Tampa Bay's positive testing rate over the past week remains below the 10% threshold outlined in state and federal re-opening guidelines and represents a decrease from last week’s 7.00% rate. Statewide, the positive testing rate stayed below the 10% threshold for an eleventh consecutive week and fell from 7.55% to 7.03%. The 7-day rolling average of Tampa Bay patients hospitalized with a primary diagnosis of COVID-19 increased by 7.96% in the past week and, as of Sunday, 974 such patients were hospitalized. Here’s the link to more of the report: COVID-19 Regional Re-Opening Dashboard
Stocks surged last week, ignited by another COVID-19 vaccine announcement, encouraging economic data, and the easing of political uncertainty. The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 2.21%, while the Standard & Poor’s 500 added 2.27%. The Nasdaq Composite index, which has led all year, gained 2.96%. The MSCI EAFE index, which tracks developed overseas stock markets, climbed 1.54%.

Dow Breaks 30,000
For the third consecutive week, markets opened on Monday to yet another announcement of a potential COVID-19 vaccine. Stock prices found additional support on news that President-elect Biden would be nominating Janet Yellen, the former Chair of the Federal Reserve, to be Secretary of the Treasury. Investors reacted well to the choice, encouraged by her previously voiced support for greater fiscal stimulus and relieved that a candidate less antagonistic to the industry was selected. Positive momentum continued into the following day, driving the Dow Jones Industrial Average, S&P 500 index, and the Russell 2000 to record high levels, with the Dow closing above the 30,000 milestone. Stocks eased off their highs in pre-Thanksgiving trading, though they recovered some of those losses on Friday, as the S&P 500 and NASDAQ Composite closed with fresh record highs.

A Microcosm of the Economy
The economic outlook has been difficult to figure out due to conflicting signals. One day it’s a historic jump in economic growth; another day it’s a record high in new COVID-19 infections. Last week was a good illustration of this. Reports of healthy consumer spending, a solid rise in durable goods orders, and sales of new homes remaining near almost-14-year highs were balanced by a jump in new jobless claims, a decline in household income, and new state and local COVID-related restrictions. Last week investors chose to see the glass half full and look past the near-term challenges the economy faces. 
Florida remains in “Phase 3” reopen mode
 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 
Giving Tuesday allows Florida nonprofits to raise money as needs grow while donations fall
Nonprofit organizations hit hard by the pandemic will get their moment in the sun today as the focus of the holiday season turns from shopping to donating to a worthy cause. Giving Tuesday is a dedicated day for nonprofits of all sizes to band together to draw attention to the work they do year-round, and to raise a few dollars to continue that work. This year’s Giving Tuesday brings extra urgency for many organizations that have seen donations drop while the need for their services grows because of the pandemic. More from the Sarasota Herald-Tribune, the Tampa Bay Times, the Orlando Sentinel, and WINK.

Amazon is growing fast across South Florida. It wants to build even more.
Amazon, the e-commerce giant that has rapidly expanded across South Florida, has even more plans to build for speedier deliveries: It wants to open a distribution warehouse on a gem of undeveloped land near Pembroke Pines. It has its eyes set on 61 acres situated near U.S. 27 and Sheridan Street, the largest chunk of undeveloped land owned by Broward County. For the online retailer, it’d be the latest in a string of new stations and warehouses across the tri-county area. With data showing South Florida is still a growing destination, Amazon wants a piece of that, experts say. More from the South Florida Sun-Sentinel.

Reefer Madness? Recreational marijuana supporters hope Florida turns green 
Forget about blue waves and red waves. A green wave is surging across the U.S. A mix of red, blue and purple states in November voted to either legalize or decriminalize the use and possession of cannabis. And Florida could be next. A 2015 Duke University study found that Florida could reduce the amount of money it spent each year on prosecuting marijuana cases by $25.5 million and increase its tax revenue by $120 million by legalizing marijuana. [Source: Lakeland Ledger]

How a Florida wind and solar firm toppled Exxon from its place as America’s top energy company
In early October, the world passed a milestone in the clean energy transition that, until very recently, seemed unthinkable: Exxon was unseated as the most valuable energy company in America. And not by Chevron, its closely-trailing oil and gas competitor. No, Chevron got leapfrogged too—by NextEra Energy, a company that has built the world’s largest collection of wind and solar farms. [Source: Quartz]

Florida makes it official: Remote learning will continue next semester 
Families fearing they might have to send their children back to in-person classes despite their coronavirus concerns can rest easier. The Department of Education on Monday released a new emergency order for second semester that keeps live remote classes available as an option, along with the funding that allows school districts to provide the model. Schools would be expected to continue face-to-face classes, as the state previously required. [Source: Tampa Bay Times]
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