Volume 30 l July 2020
 Weekly eConnection
801 West Bay Drive, Suite 602 Largo, FL 33770
Tel: 727-584-2321 Fax: 727-586-3112

Economic Development & Advocacy 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!
U.S. Census 2020 deadline extended… 
Stand up and be counted!
It’s a fact – after the Great Pandemic of 1919 came the Roaring 20s! And Jeff and Ellen Petracco of Wealth Builders/Value Properties know the importance of being counted now for when the nation is fully recovered. The U.S. Census counts every person in the country, and those figures are used to determine a host of benefits, from a state's share of federal dollars to its representation in Congress. As the nation's third-largest state, Florida needs to receive its fair share! Due to COVID-19, the Census deadline has been extended to October 31, which gives everyone plenty of time. So please stand up and be counted! It all starts here: https://my2020census.gov
NIST Survey Request 
The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) has requested the Chamber assist them with a survey its conducting to better understand how the COVID-19 pandemic is disrupting small and medium businesses and how everyone’s adapting. Its primary purpose is to understand what challenges businesses face through complex hazards, what support businesses need, and to communicate this to those who may be able to help. It does not ask for any sensitive information; businesses will not be identified in any data analysis and you can opt to receive the survey results. Here’s the link:
PSTA Plans Driverless Shuttle Pilot for St. Petersburg 
A driverless shuttle might soon be carrying people on St. Petersburg's Bayshore Drive if Pinellas County leaders sign off on it. The three-month, $140,000 pilot program was approved by the Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authority’s finance committee last Wednesday, and the St. Petersburg City Council supported it unanimously on Thursday. PSTA's full board will vote next week. Beep, an autonomous mobility company based in Orlando, would provide two electric, 15-foot shuttles to cruise along the waterfront at a brisk 15 mph. The vehicles can carry 10 passengers but would be limited to six at a time as a coronavirus precaution. If approved, the service would start in mid-November. [Source: Tampa Bay Times ]
Fewer people file for unemployment benefits in Florida, but claims rise in rest of U.S.

While fewer people filed for jobless benefits in Florida last week, unemployment claims unexpectedly rose across the rest of the U.S., signaling the country’s economic picture remains grim amid the COVID-19 epidemic. The Sunshine State saw 105,410 new claims for state and federal jobless benefits for the week ending July 18 — 27,421 fewer than the week before, the U.S. Department of Labor reported Thursday. [Source:  Miami Herald ]

100 Florida breweries could close in two weeks without help, Brewers Guild says
The Florida Brewers Guild says their industry is in serious trouble, and this week shared their plight in an open letter to Gov. Ron DeSantis and the Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation (DPBR). Orlando craft breweries were among those pleading for the opportunity to re-open for on-premises consumption — or receive aid — in the face of executive orders that the Guild says leave many at a disadvantage. [Source:  Orlando Sentinel ]

Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation to discuss how to reopen bars

The secretary of Department of Business and Professional Regulation, Halsey Beshears, said he will be setting up meetings with breweries and bars throughout Florida to discuss how to reopen them. Last month, bars across Florida were no longer allowed to sell alcohol for on-site consumption as COVID-19 case numbers continued to shatter records in the state. On July 1, the department revised its ban and allowed all vendors to sell alcohol for off-site consumption. [ ource: WFTV and Orlando Sentinel ]

U.S. Markets -- Stocks slipped in the final days of trading last week on higher jobless claims and rising tensions in the U.S.-China relationship. The Dow Jones Industrial Average lost 0.76%, while the Standard & Poor’s 500 dipped 0.28%. The Nasdaq Composite Index dropped 1.33% for the week. The MSCI EAFE Index, which tracks developed stock markets overseas, rose 1.24%.

Momentum Lost -- Stocks marched higher to begin the week on progress with a COVID-19 vaccine and a string of upbeat corporate quarterly reports. Firming oil prices and the passage of a fiscal stimulus bill by the European Union also helped buoy investors’ spirits. Market sentiment, however, turned negative after Thursday morning’s report of an uptick in new unemployment claims, which suggested a possible slowdown in hiring. The market was led lower by the technology sector ahead of quarterly reports from some of the sector’s biggest names. 

U.S.-China Tensions Escalate – Tensions escalated last week as the U.S. ordered China to close its consulate in Houston, which the White House claimed was stealing American information. A day earlier, the U.S. had accused China of attempting to steal COVID-19 research data. China responded by ordering the U.S. to close its consulate in the city of Chengdu. 5,6 
The markets appear more focused on the apparent deteriorating relations between the two nations, worried about a repeat of the trade battle in 2018. Whether the rancor is managed is likely to remain a top concern for investors in the weeks ahead. 
Largo Rec Card Holders - Virtual Learning Child Care Op
 As parents consider instructional options for back to school, there may be reservations about the "traditional" school environment and the potential risk to your family's health and safety. Traditional schools often have a large number of students enrolled, which may increase the risk of exposure to COVID-19. Parents also face numerous challenges with home school and virtually based learning, including difficulties monitoring progress with the MyPCS online virtual environment.
Largo's Recreation, Parks, and Arts Department is exploring providing a "Virtual Learners Child Care" at both Highland and Southwest Recreation Centers. This would allow for smaller groups of students of no more than ten students with a dedicated staff member monitoring their engagement with the online curriculum from Pinellas County Schools. This is not a tutoring program but oversight for children working with MyPCS online curriculum. To be able to offer this program, there must be a minimum number of participants. If you are currently considering back to school options for your family, please answer a few quick questions on the survey below.

Basic "School Day" 8am-3pm Monday-Friday $60/week
Early Morning Care 6:30-8am Monday-Friday $15/week
After School Care 3-6pm Monday-Friday $50/week

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
Face Masks Required in Pinellas
The Pinellas order to wear face coverings applies to all persons countywide while in indoor public places ; however, it specified that all persons who own, manage or are employed by any restaurant or bar within the county are required to wear a face covering at all times while on-duty and directly or indirectly preparing food or beverage, or serving food or beverage, or having customer contact, regardless of where the food or beverage is being prepared or whether the customer contact is inside an indoor public place or outdoors, such as on a patio or sidewalk.

Mask Distribution Locations

Cloth face masks are available on a first come, first served basis at the following Central Pinellas locations. You’re encouraged to call before heading out to check mask availability. The county said supplies are limited and will be replenished as often as possible.
Largo Public Library , 120 Central Park Dr., Largo, (727) 587-6715
Highpoint Neighborhood Family Center , 5812 150th Ave. N., Clearwater, (727) 533-0730
Clearwater Main Library , 100 N. Osceola Ave., Clearwater, (727) 562-4970
Barbara S. Ponce Public Library , 7770 52nd St. N., Pinellas Park, (727) 369-0669
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.

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
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!
Reserve your space now!

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Contact Kelvin at the Chamber, 727.584.2321 or events@centralchamber.biz