Volume 4 l January 2020

Weekly eConnection
801 West Bay Drive, Suite 602 Largo, FL 33770
Tel: 727-584-2321 Fax: 727-586-3112
Advocacy & Economic Development Edition
The Weekly E-Connection is made possible by the following generous sponsors:
Central Pinellas Chamber Upcoming Events
Check our home page for registrations, times and locations

2/5 - Coffee An' Networking at SPCA Tampa Bay - 7:30a - 9:30a   
2/13 - Wine Tasting presented by the WLC - 5:30p - 7:30p     
2/20 - Chamber B2B Happy Hours at Slyce Pizza - 5:30p - 7:30p     
3/5 - 14th Annual Business Expo / After Hours - 4:30p - 7:00p      
3/31 - Coffee An' Networking at Keiser University - 7:30a - 9:30a  
Focus 2020: Industry forecasts, top predictor
        “The first step toward a better future is the ability to envision it.”
Tony Dungy, NFL Coach, Player and Author
These words of inspiration grace our annual Economist of the Year trophy presented at the Chamber’s Focus on 2020: A Tampa Bay Economic Forecast breakfast. About 100 people attended this signature annual program last week, and it heralded a great start to the year.
Congratulations to Bill Liberis of Liberty Payment Solutions (in photo) who earned the top economist honor. His predictions on how 2019 would end to various economic indicators (price of gas, oil, gold, stock market, etc.) was incredibly close to the mark. Especially how high the Dow soared!
Thanks to each of our Focus panelists who delivered insightful presentations –Economist Dr. Jerry Parrish of the Florida Chamber Foundation, Duke Energy Florida President Catherine Stempien, Tourism Expert Jay Salyers of Miles Partnership and Florida Department of Nursing Executive Director Mary Lou Brunell. Our sincere appreciation to our Presenting Sponsors who made the program possible – Regions Bank, Duke Energy, and Sheraton Sand Key Resort.
Chamber Advocacy Action! The Survey Says…
        For the fourth consecutive year, local infrastructure, workforce development and quality of life are most the important factors to businesses based on results of the Chamber’s 2020 Business Survey .
               The findings are being shared with local, county and state officials and are part of the Chamber’s Government Advocacy Panel’s (GAP) action agenda. The survey had an 14.3% response rate of 367 total delivered by email to Chamber member businesses.
               On the question “What are the biggest education and workforce development challenges facing our region?” the top four selections of 14 listed were failure to prepare students for careers, quality of local schools, preparing students for tests and not careers and homelessness/poverty. Homelessness/poverty moved up to fourth highest selection from sixth a year ago.
               Other findings: Of 12 selections listed, location in a vibrant economy, ability to recruit talent, and a good quality of life were chosen again by responders as the three things most important to the continued success of their business. And, local and county government scored a combined 73% as being responsive to the Central Pinellas business community.
               A solid majority – 73% – have a favorable perception of the Tampa Bay business climate (75% last year), with 52% saying they will be adding employees in the upcoming year. Thanks to all of you who took part!
First Coffee An' Networking Event of 2020!
FREE Member Event! $25 for Non-Members
B2B Coffee An' Networking - Wednesday, Feb. 5 - 7:30 to 9a.m.
SPCA Tampa Bay, 9099 130th Avenue N, Largo

Start your day off right with networking, a leads exercise and coffee! Ohana Coffee Kava Tea will provide the coffee. Registration in advance is appreciated. To place your reservation please visit www.centralchamber.biz , call (727)584-2321 or email Events@CentralChamber.biz .
Thanks to our event host and sponsors:
Florida’s unemployment rate hits 3 percent, lowest on record
The state’s unemployment rate dropped into record territory in December. For the first time since current records began in 1976, the rate hit 3 percent. The state added 16,000 jobs, according to the monthly report from the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity, a solid total given the record length of the current economic expansion. The civilian workforce grew slightly to 10.5 million; 311,000 people were unemployed. More from the  Tampa Bay Times  and  WINK News .
Florida has a robust gig economy
The gig isn’t up. The gig economy, that is. Multiple national surveys reveal that the while defining exactly what a gig employee is or isn’t varies, by most counts it’s on the rise. And in the Sunshine State, according to a new report from CareerSource Florida, there’s even greater opportunity for the gig economy to prosper. [Source:  Business Observer ]
Florida won’t vote on legalizing pot this year
Despite strong support, Florida voters won’t get to decide this year whether to make recreational marijuana legal. A group pushing a constitutional amendment said last week that it will drop its bid to get the proposal on this year’s ballot and instead will focus on 2022. The decision means Floridians, for now, could be left out of a marijuana movement that is sweeping the nation. More from the  South Florida Sun-Sentinel , the  Tampa Bay Times , and the  Miami Herald .
PIE sets record with 2.2 million passengers in 2019
For the fifth consecutive year, St. Pete-Clearwater International Airport set an all-time passenger record with 2,288,692 passengers in 2019, an increase of 2 percent over 2018. More than 196,000 domestic passengers flew into or out of the airport last month, up more than 12% compared with Dec. 2018, making the month the largest December in the airport’s history. [ Tampa Bay Times ]
Last week on wall street  
Stock prices fell last week as investors considered the potential health and economic risks of the flu-like coronavirus. Foreign stock markets, as tracked by the broad MSCI EAFE index, fell 1.03% for the week. Coincidentally, the S&P 500 lost exactly that much across a 4-day Wall Street trading week. The Dow Jones Industrial Average declined 1.22%, the Nasdaq Composite 0.79%.
Fewest homes for sale in 20 years!
Existing home sales improved 3.6% in December, according to the National Association of Realtors. This happened even as the number of listed properties hit a 20-year low. The NAR says that the rate of total U.S. home sales (existing and new) increased 10.8% in 2019.
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