Volume 43 l October 2019

Weekly eConnection
801 West Bay Drive, Suite 602 Largo, FL 33770
Tel: 727-584-2321 Fax: 727-586-3112
Economic Development & Advocacy Edition
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Central Pinellas Chamber Upcoming Events
Check our home page for registrations, times and locations

10/23 - Ribbon Cutting at National Molding - 11:00a   
10/30 - Annual Business Showcase - 4:00p - 7:30p   
11/20 - Chamber B2B Happy Hour - 5:30p - 7:30p     
Worker Shortages: The New Normal – Claire Apaliski, representing the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT), explains ways her agency is working to fill much-needed road construction jobs. She made the presentation to members of the Chamber’s Economic Development Committee last week. Called the Workforce Development Pilot, FDOT is pairing with several social agencies to attract and train its new workers. Workforce development is an ongoing challenge facing employers and one that the Chamber continues to address with its local and regional partners.
More Than 27,000 New Jobs Created in Tampa Bay
                On Friday, Governor Ron DeSantis announced that Tampa Bay added 27,300 new private-sector jobs in the last year, creating the third-highest number of jobs among all Florida metro areas. The Tampa area’s unemployment rate was 2.9 percent in September, down 0.3 percentage point from one year ago.
           The industry with the highest growth was professional and business services with 8,100 new jobs. It also remained first among the state metro areas in job demand in September with 56,423 openings. Tampa Bay also continues to rank first in the state in demand for high-skill, high-wage STEM occupations with 18,164 openings in September 2019.
           Statewide, Florida businesses created 8,700 new private-sector jobs in September 2019. Florida’s annual private-sector job growth rate of 2.8 percent continues to exceed the nation’s rate of 1.6 percent. Florida’s unemployment rate of 3.2 percent represents a drop of 0.1 percentage point over the year. This is while 154,000 people entered Florida’s labor force, a growth of 1.5 percent in the past year.
Steve Hayes Named New VSPC President & CEO
Last week, Steve Hayes was officially named the new President & CEO of Visit St. Pete/Clearwater, effective December 16. Hayes' resume highlights more than 30 years of experience in hospitality, travel and tourism industries, with his most recent experience leading Visit Pensacola since 2013. Hayes’ hire completes a nationwide recruitment to fill the vacancy left earlier this year.
Florida citrus growers expected to see rare increased crop
Florida’s struggling citrus industry is projected to see a 3.3 percent increase in production in the newly started growing season. The U.S. Department of Agriculture, in its first citrus forecast for the 2019-2020 season that will run through July, projected Florida growers will produce enough oranges to fill 74 million of the industry-standard 90-pound boxes, which would top the 71.6 million boxes during the 2018-2019 season. [Source:   WUSF ]
Chamber Past Chairman Sean Tobe presents our Silver Hammer Award to Pinellas Technical College Clearwater Campus at its Grand Reopening dedication last week. The Silver Hammer Award was established in 2005 by the Chamber to recognize brick and mortar projects that have a positive impact on our regional economy and our quality of life. The PTC remodel took 18 months to complete at an investment of $18.5 million. Our congratulations to them!
E-Fairness Bill Moves Forward!
Online sellers would have to automatically collect sales tax from Floridians and submit it to the state under a bill moving in the Florida Senate. The Senate Commerce and Tourism Committee unanimously approved the bill Tuesday. Republican Sen. Joe Gruters said Florida consumers are required to pay the sales tax, but rarely do so if online sellers don't collect it. He said the state would collect about $700 million in revenue if the bill becomes law. He added it would make Florida's brick and mortar stores more competitive with online retailers. [Source:  AP ]
If you want to learn more about this issue, watch the following video:
Consumer confidence climbs in Florida
       After plunging in August, consumer confidence rebounded last month in Florida as attitudes improved about future economic conditions. The University of Florida’s Consumer Sentiment Index rose 3.9 points to 93.3 in September from a revised August figure that had marked the largest decline in more than four years.
       However, Floridians’ opinions about current economic conditions were mixed. Perceptions of personal financial situations now compared with a year ago decreased from 87.3 to 86.7. But sentiment as to whether now is a good time to buy a major household item rose from 99.6 to 105.
Florida House could put the scalpel to health care spending
Sending a signal that health care spending could be targeted for reductions next year, a House health panel is going to identify up to $624 million for possible reprioritization. The $624 million reprioritization equals about five percent of the state's general revenue going to health and human services. [Source:   WJXT ]
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