Volume 34 l August 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!
Thank you to our Trustees and Newsletter Sponsors
Bay Care/Morton Plant Hospital
Brown Insurance Services
Duke Energy
Encompass Health Rehabilitation Hospital
Hampton Inn & Suites Largo
Home Instead/Be a Santa
Jackson & Associates CPA
Melody Hunter, Charles Rutenberg Realty
MidFlorida Credit Union
Nova Southeastern University - Tampa Bay
Paradise Air
Piper Fire Protection
Platinum Information Services
Regions Bank
Spectrum Reach
The Palms of Largo
Valley National Bank
Village Inn
Wealth Builders
We appreciate your continued support and loyalty!
A “VISIT” UPDATE: Steve Hayes, President/CEO of Visit St. Pete-Clearwater, reported on COVID-19 tourism trends and survey findings at a joint hybrid meeting of the Chamber’s Economic Development and Government Advocacy committee last week. By all indicators, it will be some time before we get back to pre-pandemic bookings. Steve also talked about Visit’s new Rise to Shine campaign and the “Spread Out. Mask Up” initiative that promotes visiting here safely and responsibly. To learn more, the agency has a Rise to Shine webinar planned this Wednesday, August 26 at 1 p.m. Register here:
Tampa Bay Partnership presents a regional “Equity Report “
While Tampa Bay enjoyed a period of relative economic prosperity prior to COVID-19, the global pandemic exposed the underlying vulnerabilities of our population and our economy.
The new 2020 Regional Equity Report reveals dramatic inequities for the region's Black residents, both within Tampa Bay and compared to a set of 19 benchmark communities across the country.
An analysis of 21 indicators related to economic vitality, talent, infrastructure, civic quality, poverty and employment shows that Tampa Bay’s Black residents are far more likely to be paid less, living in poverty and achieving less in school when compared to the region’s White residents. Without intervention, these disparities – and others – are likely to become more pronounced because of the COVID-19 crisis.
Read the full report here: Tampa Bay Equity Report
Clearwater, Largo rank high to retire (and work)
For many people, the ideal place to retire encompasses a balanced mix of safety, affordability and healthcare access. While some retirees plan to spend their non-working days relaxing, others plan to keep working…at least part time. A 2019 AARP study found that more than 20% of people 65 and older are working or looking for work, compared to just 10% in 1985. 
In a new study, SmartAsset crunched the numbers to find the best places for retirees to live and work. It compared 525 U.S. cities across eight metrics, including unemployment rate for seniors, estimated tax burden for seniors, crime rates and access to important amenities like medical centers and retirement communities.
Clearwater cracks the top 10 and Largo the top 25 places for retirees to live and work. To see exactly where the city ranks and the other top-ranking locales, check out the table below
The full report, including the methodology and rankings, can be found here: https://smartasset.com/retirement/best-places-to-retire-in-the-us
 THE WEEK ON WALL STREET
Stocks powered to another week of gains as the S&P 500 and Nasdaq Composite set multiple new record highs along the way. The Dow Jones Industrial Average was essentially unchanged while the Standard & Poor’s 500 rose by 0.72%. The Nasdaq Composite index added 2.65% for the week. The MSCI EAFE index, which tracks developed overseas stock markets, slipped 0.71%.

The S&P 500 Sets Record High 
The S&P 500 closed at a record high on Tuesday, erasing the steep losses suffered in February and March. The recovery has been powered by unprecedented monetary accommodation, fiscal stimulus, and investor willingness to look ahead with confidence that global economies will get past the pandemic challenge. Technology stocks continued to lead the market and helped push the NASDAQ Composite to new highs. Stocks were mixed as the week progressed amid some weak economic news, a message of economic caution from the Fed, and continuing uncertainty over a new fiscal stimulus plan. Technology momentum provided support for the broader market, with a late Friday afternoon rally pushing the S&P 500 and Nasdaq Composite to close out the week at fresh record highs.

Not All Sectors Are Participating 
Behind last Tuesday’s headline that the S&P 500 had set a new record high lies a story of a deeply bifurcated market. Despite a new high, more than half the companies in the index were still trading below where they began the year. When dissected on an industry sector basis, the year-to-date performance dispersion was quite wide, with sectors like Technology (+25.53%), Consumer Discretionary (+16.68%), and Communication Services (+12.70%) posting strong performance, while Energy (-37.56%) and Financials (-20.08%) remained sharply down. In fact, nearly half (5 out of 11) of S&P 500 sectors were still in negative territory year-to-date. 
Your invitation!
Join Visit St. Pete/Clearwater and our agency partners as we present research findings that are specific to Pinellas County, share the media strategy to increase the reach of the campaign, and showcase the creative assets that are being produced for you to amplify the reach of the campaign onsite. Can’t make the webinar? Sign up to receive collateral for you to display onsite to show your support. 
 Report predicts swift Florida recovery
The full economic toll from coronavirus is starting to come into view — but so is the recovery, assuming the pandemic abates. According to a new report from the University of Central Florida’s Institute for Economic Forecasting, Florida’s economy is expected to contract by 6 percent year-on-year in 2020 — but will bounce back with growth of 7.6 percent in 2021.
By comparison, the Conference Board, the nonprofit group of economists that calls U.S. recessions, predicts 4.9 percent contraction for the American economy in 2020 and a 2 percent growth recovery in 2021.
“If the Sunshine State can avoid more shutdowns, it will be on track to a fast recovery while outpacing much of the nation in job growth and income growth,” the Institute said in the report. [Source: Miami Herald]

Largo reduces construction permit fees
The Largo City Commission has approved a new temporary reduced fee schedule for construction permits. Starting September 1, 2020, the permit fees for projects with construction values exceeding $12,000 will be reduced by 50% (fifty percent), through March 31, 2021. Afterwards, the fees will be reduced by 25% (twenty-five percent) through August 31, 2021. The reductions do not apply to any work begun without obtaining necessary permits. Business permits are critical for construction or remodeling projects, to ensure the safety of the work and its compliance with building, construction, and development codes. City staff are available to answer questions and assistance with the business permit process. For more information visit Largo.com/Building, email permits@largo.com or call, 727-586-7488.

Florida’s COVID-19 infection rate dips to low level not seen since mid-June
For the first time in over two months, the daily rate of positive COVID-19 test results for new cases in Florida dipped below 5% on Saturday — a sign of reduced spread of the coronavirus. The state Department of Health reported a 4.89% positivity rate for results processed in the past day, which is for new infections only and doesn’t count people who previously tested positive. More from the South Florida Sun-Sentinel and WTSP.
Share info about your business…
Central Pinellas BizReach Connection
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.biz
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
Schedule a “We’re Back”, Grand Opening, etc. Ribbon-Cutting
Celebrate your return to business, company achievement 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! We recently commemorated the grand opening of Tommy’s Express Car Wash at 5315 East Bay Drive, Largo. It's great to belong!
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 6th 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!
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Contact Kelvin at the Chamber, 727.584.2321 or events@centralchamber.biz