Volume 21 l May 2020
 Weekly eConnection
801 West Bay Drive, Suite 602 Largo, FL 33770
Tel: 727-584-2321 Fax: 727-586-3112

Advocacy & Economic Development Edition
As the COVID-19 situation grinds on, your Chamber will continue to keep you in the loop on resources available. Our gatherings may have been curtailed for the time being, but we remain at your service. We’re all in this together!
All together now!
Members of the Chamber’s Economic Development Committee and Government Advocacy Panel (GAP) met again virtually last week. There were 28 representatives on the call. Reports were provided from various community sectors including City of Largo, Pinellas County, PSTA, health care, hospitality, and education. The group agreed to hold a hybrid in person (at the Chamber) and virtual meeting for its next session on June 17. Your Chamber! Working to keep you informed!
Florida Full Phase One Restart
            Full “phase one” measures to reopen Florida’s economy took hold last week, allowing more people to be seated in restaurants and allowing gyms and salons to operate. Restaurants can now operate at 50% capacity, as can retail shops, museums and libraries.
           And last Wednesday, Pinellas County became the first in Tampa Bay allowed to resume short-term vacation rentals. The Department of Business and Professional Regulation signed off on the county’s safety plan.
           Theme parks have also been submitting reopening plans. The plans would need to be approved by local officials before reopening can occur. Bars and movie theaters are still included on the list of those not yet allowed to reopen.
           Read the Governor’s Phase One Executive Order here:   Phase One Executive Order
      The application period for the City of Largo's Business Continuity Program began last Friday. A link to the online application portal is posted on the Business Continuity Program page. Information regarding business eligibility is currently posted.
           The online application portal will require an email address, and applicants will be required to create a username and password. Application status can be checked by signing into the portal. Please note, the application period will close when all the funding for the program has been expended.
           The intent of the program is to assist small businesses that have experienced economic injury resulting from the Florida Governor's Executive Orders and Pinellas County's order mandating that businesses close, or partially close, due to the COVID-19 Pandemic.
           The program provide a $1,000 grant, on a first-come, first-served basis, for eligible businesses with 2 - 50 Full Time Equivalent (FTE) employees (or contracted equivalents) to assist with commercial rent or commercial mortgage assistance to aid in business continuity, community recovery, and to prevent business closures and the loss of jobs.
           In addition to this email newsletter, please check the City's COVID-19 Business Resources page often, and follow the Economic Development Facebook and City LinkedIn pages to be updated as additional resources become available. 
Pinellas County is providing emergency financial support through the Pinellas CARES Small Business Grant for qualified small businesses that are negatively impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic due to orders to close or limit operations. The program will offer one-time $5,000 grants to qualifying small businesses to cover expenses such as employee wages, vendor bills and rent. 

May 4 to June 1, 2020: Application portal open for submissions from eligible Pinellas County small businesses

Pinellas CARES Small businesses in need of emergency funding can now apply online for the Pinellas CARES Small Business Grant . This program provides one-time $5,000 grants to eligible businesses to help offset the significant, temporary loss of revenue to these qualified businesses during this pandemic, and to assist businesses in retaining and paying employees. To determine if your business is eligible, please visit www.pced.org/cares . Here, you’ll find detailed information about the program, including frequently asked questions , and a preview of the application . The deadline to apply is June 1, 2020. Pinellas County expects to have enough funding to provide one-time $5,000 grants to those businesses that qualify.
·         Please watch this short video for tips on submitting a Pinellas CARES Small Business Grant application: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TYWnKygTt9I&feature=youtu.be
·          Tips for applicants
  1.  Don’t rush.
  2.  Check first to ensure your business is eligible for the Pinellas CARES Small Business Grant.
  3.  Before you begin the application, double-check that your current year documents are signed, scanned and ready to upload.
  4.  Accuracy counts. Check that your application and all uploaded documents are accurate and complete.
  5. All of the fields of your W-9 must match the application fields exactly.
  6. If your application needs additional information or corrections, you will be contacted.
  7. Include an email address that you check frequently.
  8. Track your progress within the application system.
This program is intended to help offset the significant, temporary loss of revenue to these qualified businesses during this pandemic, and to assist businesses in retaining and paying employees. For more details, click here: https://www.pced.org/page/covid19loans
How we stand…
Make Pinellas Count! U.S. Census 2020
Here’s a snapshot of 2020 Census numbers among Pinellas County communities dated last Wednesday, May 20. Pinellas County residents are invited to take the 2020 Census online, by mail, or over the phone right now!  The census count will shape our state’s political representation in Congress and determine how hundreds of billions of dollars in program funding are distributed over the next 10 years. An undercount could cost our local community millions of federal dollars each year for health care, education, highways and more. Let’s make sure our community gets its fair share - Help us #MakePinellasCount
Hurricane sales tax holiday could boost coronavirus-stricken businesses
Florida’s hurricane sales tax holiday begins Friday, and it couldn’t come soon enough for businesses desperate to boost revenue. This year’s disaster preparedness tax holiday runs from May 29 through June 4 and exempts sales tax on qualifying hurricane supplies. The sales tax holiday comes as many businesses are just reopening their doors after weeks of closures related to the COVID-19 pandemic that has crippled the economy. More from  Florida Politics   and  WTSP .
Follow Facts,
Not Fear
       Your Chamber and our partners at the Florida Chamber of Commerce urge you to be cautious but not fearful when it comes to the Coronavirus (COVID-19). The Florida Chamber is the official state chapter of the National Safety Council, and we are all committed to helping keep Floridians safe. The safety of our collective employees is paramount, and they deserve the facts.
            A website is available with regularly updated information. It includes important links from Governor DeSantis’ office, the Emergency Operations Center, Centers for Disease Control, Florida Department of Health and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. Please visit and add to your bookmarks:  https://www.flchamber.com/follow-facts-not-fear/
A sign of Recovery?
Gas prices reach highest level in Florida since February
After bottoming out earlier this month, gas prices in Florida have risen to their highest level since February, when the coronavirus pandemic limited demand. According to AAA, the average price of a gallon of gas in Florida is $1.88. That is an increase in 11 cents since last week. AAA spokesman Mark Jenkins attributed the jump to more people being on the road as the state reopens. [Source:  WUSF ]
We need your help! TBARTA's Regional Rapid Transit Development Plan draft (Envision 2030) is open for public comment now through June 1, 2020. Go to https://www.tbarta.com/en/planning-projects/envision-2030/ to see the plan and comment.
Looking for a way to network? Join us on Tuesday morning, June 2nd from 8 to 9am for virtual networking in our "Morning Connections"
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