Volume 25 l June 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!
The Chamber’s Economic Development and Gov't Advocacy committees held a live and virtual hybrid session last week. It included a jobs report from CareerSource Pinellas and updates by representatives of several industry sectors and local/county governments. If you’re interested in being part of these committees or others, please call the Chamber at 727-584-2321 or email Tom@CentralChamber.biz  It’s great to belong!
Pinellas County races are set as candidate qualifying ends

            The ballot is set in Pinellas County after Friday, June 12’s noon qualifying deadline passed.
           The biggest nail biter was whether former Rep. Larry Ahern would qualify in the Pinellas County Commission District 1 race against incumbent Janet Long . Ahern qualified in the nick of time just before the noon deadline.
           In District 3, incumbent Democrat Charlie Justice will face Bark Life owner Tammy Sue Vasquez , a Republican, in November after Republican Steven Mitchell Homol failed to qualify for the race.
            Karen Seel was elected unopposed in District 5.
           The qualifying deadline sealed a five-way race in District 7 between Rep. Wengay Newton , School Board member Rene Flowers , former Rep. Frank Peterman Jr ., NAACP St. Petersburg President Maria Scruggs and write-in candidate Anthony Hart. Newton, Flowers and Peterman are all Democrats, Scruggs has no party affiliation.
Gov. DeSantis issues emergency elections order ahead of Florida primary
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis last Wednesday granted limited flexibility under state law to elections supervisors who for months have warned that the coronavirus pandemic will complicate their ability to hold elections in August and November. In an emergency order that fell well short of granting supervisors the leeway they’d requested months ago, DeSantis gave the state’s 67 local elections officials the ability to begin processing mail ballots earlier than otherwise allowed under Florida law. [Source:  Tampa Bay Times ]
Late-April surge in pending Florida home sales buoys hope for real estate rebound
In May, Florida Realtors reported April sales of single-family homes statewide dropped 20.7 percent year-over-year, and condo-townhouse sales declined by 36.5 percent compared with April 2019. New pending sales for April statewide were down 35.1 percent in the single-family category year-over-year and were down 56.6 percent in the condo and townhouse category, according to Florida Realtors. New pending sales are a key indicator of how sales figures will look in ensuing months, with many sales taking up to 90 days to complete. The trend in stable real estate values, however, was evident statewide as the April median sales prices for single-family homes and condo-townhouse properties rose year-over-year for the 100th consecutive month. [Source:  The Center Square ]
COVID-19 affected travel plans for 76% of Floridians
New research from AAA shows the coronavirus has impacted 2020 travel plans for 76 percent of Floridians. This is according to the  results of the AAA Consumer Pulse survey on travel , conducted in late May. While about 40 percent of Florida travelers had to reschedule at least one trip this year, 39 percent say they cancelled a trip with no plans to reschedule.[Source: Tampa Bay Times ]
Share info about your business…
Central Pinellas BizReach Connection
      Several weeks ago, we launched a second weekly newsletter BizReach to share member-to-member news during the COVID-19 outbreak. We’re continuing it as the reopening phases move forward.
           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.bi z
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
New summer hours
Chamber Office Open (but wear a mask)
The Chamber’s 801 West Bay Drive, Largo office is now open for regular business. However, we require that you wear a mask to enter for your safety and ours. This is a public building, and visitors need to take an elevator to get to our 6 th floor headquarters.

To help offset a decrease in the organization’s revenues, please note our hours of operation effective June 29 until further notice.

Chamber Summer Office Hours
Monday – Thursday, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Closed Friday
* We will be closed Thursday July 2 and Friday July 3 for the Independence Day holiday
Schedule a “We’re Back” or Grand Opening Ribbon-Cutting
Celebrate your return to business or your grand opening with a Chamber Ribbon-Cutting Ceremony. Cost is $150. Includes photo/video placement on Chamber social media platforms and a copy for your business to share. Call us to book a date/time today! Last week, we commemorated the grand-opening of Tommy's Express Car Wash – Largo, photo above. They’re now open for business at 5315 East Bay Drive, Largo. It's great to belong!
EXTENDED THROUGH JUNE 30!
PINELLAS CARES SMALL BUSINESS GRANT
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.    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 30, 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
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
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/
CITY OF LARGO BUSINESS CONTINUITY GRANT PROGRAM
            The application period for the City of Largo's Business Continuity Program continues. 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 pag e often, and follow the Economic Development Facebook and City LinkedIn pages to be updated as additional resources become available. 
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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