Contact Us At  (727) 443-0217
NEWSLETTER                                                           October/November 2019

Welcome to the latest edition of the Clearwater Business SPARK bi-monthly newsletter. Inside you will find a lot of great information such as educational opportunities, helpful hints, events, news and insight into the variety of programs and services provided by our network partners.

Our top priority continues to be helping entrepreneurs and small business owners connect with the support they need to start, grow or expand their business. If there is an area where you seek professional guidance, give us a call today and we will connect you to one of our partners.

Clearwater Business SPARK - Where Success Begins.
About Us
Launched in 2016, Clearwater Business SPARK is a network of partners that support local small businesses and entrepreneurs looking to start or grow their businesses.

Clearwater Business SPARK provides business programs and services including business coaching and mentorship, networking opportunities, educational programs, bilingual business resources, and guidance for doing business with the federal government and international markets. Clearwater Business SPARK also offers access to databases and market research tools, and hands-on tools and activities through the Maker Studios, a unique makerspace located at the Clearwater Main Library and Countryside Library. 

Current network partners include St. Petersburg College, Tampa Bay Black Business Investment Corporation, Pinellas County SCORE, Amplify Clearwater (formerly known as Clearwater Regional Chamber of Commerce), Clearwater Public Library System, Prospera, the city of Clearwater’s Economic Development and Housing Department, and Florida Small Business Development Center at Pinellas County Economic Development.
Marketing Mondays @The Ring
Start your week with a new idea!

Struggling to get in front of the right audience? Tired of spending your time and money on marketing tactics that do not work?

Clearwater Business SPARK and  SCORE mentors  have the solution for you—Marketing Mondays @ The Ring!

Visit  or call 727-443-0217 to schedule your FREE one-hour marketing consultation to put your business on the right track.
St. Petersburg College recently launched a Digital Video Program. This is a great opportunity for individuals and business owners to learn video production. 

These three, non-credit courses, are geared toward digital arts
professionals, GFX designers, creative content producers, website
developers and anyone who wants to learn video production to
enhance their resume and increase their skills level.

Helping Hispanic Entrepreneurs Grow
Whether you’re an existing business or a startup, new to the country or born here, now you can partner with an organization that wants to see you succeed and achieve new levels of growth in your business.

Pinellas County Reverse Tradeshow
Unleash your business potential and engage in opportunities with local government agencies. During the Pinellas County Reverse Tradeshow, you will meet Pinellas County Government buyers, contract administrators and procurement staff from organizations throughout the Tampa Bay region.

Registration begins at 8:30 a.m. and is FREE to attend.

This event will be held October 18 at The Conference Center on St. Petersburg College's Seminole Campus, 9200 113th Street North, Seminole, FL 33760  
Creating a Winning Capability Statement & 30- Second Business Pitch

Prime contractors and procurement agencies are interested in your company’s capabilities. Learn the 5 key pieces of an effective capability statement and the skills needed to present a memorable 30-second business pitch to propel your business to the next level.

This class will be held at the EpiCenter , 1 3805 58th Street North, Clearwater from 12 to 2 p.m. on Oct. 18. Cost is $20.00. Click here to register.
Amplify Clearwater

Congratulations Clearwater Beach Chamber of Commerce and Clearwater Regional Chamber of Commerce on joining forces to become Amplify Clearwater. The unification of the two chambers took place Oct. 1.

Stay tuned for more exciting details!
Visit the Inaugural “Crafty Entrepreneur Showcase”

Crafty Entrepreneurs Unite! Come browse local artisans as they showcase their handiwork. Learn about how they created a thriving business out of something they love. This event will be held from 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. on Oct. 26 at the Clearwater Main Library, 100 N. Osceola Ave.
Clearwater Libraries now offer Wi-Fi hotspots for checkout
Stay calm, cool, and connected with the Clearwater Public Library System’s new Wi-Fi hotspots. The Coolpad Surf has a battery that supports more than five hours of continuous use. Library Wi-Fi hotspots are on the 4G LTE Sprint network, and can connect up to 10 devices at the same time to share with family and friends. Hotspots can be checked out for free for up to two weeks with your Clearwater library card. Reserve a hotspot today by calling 562-4970 or visiting any Clearwater library.

Tampa Bay Black Business Investment Corporation celebrates as 28 entrepreneurs graduate from its CATCH program

CATCH is a small business training program designed to help business owners excel in their current business and provide new entrepreneurs with the skill set to develop their concepts into a business.

After 12 weeks of training, 28 entrepreneurs and small business owners graduated from the Clearwater and St. Petersburg cohorts of the CATCH program on Sept. 24 . The city of Clearwater hosted the training for the Clearwater cohort at the North Greenwood Library . City Manager Mr. Bill Horne delivered the evening's welcome address, providing encouragement to the graduates. He let them know that the support they received did not end that evening. There are numerous programs, including the Clearwater Business SPARK network that has many valuable resources for the business community to tap into. Dr. Cynthia Johnson, director of the Florida Business Development Center, and a Clearwater Business SPARK partner, echoed a similar message of encouragement for the graduates.
Albert Lee, President and CEO of Tampa Bay Black Business Investment Corporation speaks at the 2019 CATCH graduation.
The Tampa Bay Black Business Investment Corporation, Inc. (TBBBIC) is a U.S. Treasury certified Community Development Financial Institution dedicated to providing business and funding opportunities for the long-term growth and success of small businesses.
(FDOT) Construction Management Development Program
Enhance your technical and management skills for small and disadvantaged contractors. Become a Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) Contractor covering four key areas including: plan reading & estimating, constructing and submitting a bid, project planning & scheduling and fundamental business operations.

All participants who successfully complete the program will receive a Construction Management Development Program Certificate of Proficiency. Disadvantaged Business Enterprises ( DBE’s) who successfully complete the program are eligible to participate in the Bond Guarantee Program. 

The program is presented by the Construction Estimating Institute (CEI).

To register click here or call 1-800-423-7058

This FREE class is available at the EpiCenter, 1 3805 58th Street North, Clearwater from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. on Oct. 8, Oct. 15 and Oct. 22. 
Clearwater Brewing Company made a big splash when it opened in May
Hundreds of people showed up to taste the brews and oohed and aahed at the new brew pub along North Fort Harrison Avenue.
The renovations were amazing to a building that has had numerous lives since it was built in 1958. It started as a garage and over the years became a carpet store, detailing business and stucco shop. Now it has been revitalized again to a beautiful establishment drawing neighbors and people from all over Tampa Bay.
The hard work and determination of Clearwater Brewing Company contributed to the beautiful renovation, and also was enhanced by the city of Clearwater's Community Development Block Grant Façade Improvement Program. Clearwater Brewing Company was awarded $35,000 for improvements to the façade of their building. The Façade Improvement Program is a loan-to-grant program administered through the city's Housing Division.
"It was just what we needed to make the difference in opening as soon as we did," said F. Bowling, one of the owners of the Clearwater Brewing Company. "It increased our budget for our exterior. It was instrumental for us to open on time."
The city's Housing Division administers the program to help businesses in low-to-moderate income neighborhoods and works directly with all applicants, including Clearwater Brewing Company.
Once a business qualifies for a façade enhancement through the city, the program has a ripple effect in communities, said Charles Lane, the city's Economic Development and Housing Department assistant director. It enhances a building and then nearby homeowners and business owners are motivated to improve their property. Three homes located near Clearwater Brewing Company have been recently rehabilitated, Lane said.
"People are investing in their homes," Lane said. "People see that investment. They see that the neighborhood is getting better and feel that they have to do their part to continue to enhance the area."
The Façade Improvement Program's objective is to attract investment in private property that help to revitalize neighborhoods, specifically low-to-moderate income areas. Funding is through a zero-interest loan that converts to a grant over the five-year loan term. The maximum amount for a façade loan is $35,000. 
"You want the public investment to be catalytic," Lane said. "Private investment will typically follow the public investment. It encourages people, and it creates a level of excitement."
 "And I think that is what the Clearwater Brewing Company investment has done in this community," Lane said.
The North Marina Area, which is just north of Downtown Clearwater and in the vicinity of the Clearwater Brewing Company, has recently been gaining interest and a buzz. The city has directly invested or partnered with investors to help the area thrive.

Here are a few examples:

Seminole Boat Launch : The city has invested $6.5 million in 2019 for enhancements for the Seminole Boat Launch that includes landscaping, floating docks, kayak launch, new parking areas, public walkways, public benches and additional green space.

North Ward School : The city purchased the North Ward School for $1.8 million in 2019 from the Pinellas County School District with the goal of attracting an investor to enhance the historic school that opened in 1915 and closed in 2009.

Garden Trail Apartments : 76 apartment units completed in 2017 that were partly funded by the city's HOME Investment Partnerships Program and in partnership with Pinellas County.
North Garden Avenue Project : 12 homes completed in 2018 partially funded through the city's HOME Investment Partnerships Program and the Pinellas County Housing Trust Fund.
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(727) 443-0217