Volume 42 l October 2020
Weekly eConnection
801 West Bay Drive, Suite 602 Largo, FL 33770
Tel: 727-584-2321 Fax: 727-586-3112

Membership Edition
Thank you to our Trustees and Newsletter Sponsors
Bay Care/Morton Plant Hospital
Brown Insurance Services
Duke Energy
Encompass Health Rehabilitation Hospital
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
Wealth Builders
We appreciate your continued support and loyalty!
We’re Chamber Strong! And we need you!
-----Your Chamber recently kicked-off a new initiative “We’re Chamber Strong!” to promote the essential role we play in assisting businesses while helping to grow our membership base. It’s in partnership with our friends Rob Howard and Shelly Starks of Sandler Training seen here at our recent Coffee An’Networking.
-----Won’t you help? Join us to learn more at one of two special We’re Chamber Strong! sessions being conducted by the Sandler Training team on Thursday, Oct. 29. The first is from 8:30 to 9:30 at the Chamber and the second on a Zoom call from 10 to 11 a.m.
-----You’ll gain some valuable information that could help with your business while supporting us!
-----It's Great to Belong! Help us spread the word! Here’s how to register:

Thursday, October 29
-----8:30 to 9:30 a.m.
In person session at the Chamber – 801 West Bay Drive, Largo 33770, Suite 602 (6th floor). Send an “I’ll Help!” email directly to Chamber President Tom Morrissette at tom@CentralChamber.biz
-----10 to 11 a.m.
-----Thank you for you continued Chamber loyalty and support!
Saluting Chamber Loyalty!
Our sincere thanks to the following businesses who renewed during the past four weeks. Their continued loyalty is inspiring! To learn more about them, please visit www.CentralChamber.biz
Accent Woodworking, Inc., 3-year member
Corey's Ohio Auto Service/Auto Broker, 48-year Legacy Member
Creative AV Tech, 4-year member
Cross Signs, 7-year member
Great Bay Distributors, Inc., 52-year Legacy Member
Habitat ReStore, 6-year member
Hampton Inn & Suites-Largo, 14-year member
Health Aid Company, Inc., 1-year member
Just Add Power Cardware Company, Inc., 11-year member
MicroType Engineering, 1-year member
National Aviation Academy, 7-year member
Palms of Pinellas Apartments, 2-year member
Platinum Information Services, Inc., 10-year member
Roosterfish Grill, 7-year member
Sonnenberg Insurance Services, Inc., 26-year Legacy Member
Summit Executive, LLC, 2-year member
The Bank of Tampa-Pinellas County, 5-year member

(Legacy Member = 15 years or more)
WELCOME McKim & Creed! David Ardman, a longtime member of our Economic Development Committee, has joined the McKim & Creed team in Clearwater and recruited the business to the Chamber. McKim & Creed provides comprehensive engineering, Geomatics (surveying/mapping), and planning services. Based in Raleigh, NC, the company employs about 400 with a revenue of $75.0M. Learn more about the business here: www.McKimCreed.com
To learn more about them, please visit www.CentralChamber.biz

Athenian Private Client Group
Spiros Vassilakos
1022 Ulmerton Road, Suite B
Largo, FL 33771

Wii Web Design, LLC
Susanna DiGennaro
9385 117th Avenue
Largo, FL 33773

PenFed Credit Union
Maurice Waring

Advanced Video Systems
Stacy Gillis
13799 Park Boulevard, #227
Seminole, FL 33776

McKim & Creed
David Ardman
1365 Hamlet Avenue
Clearwater, FL 33756
WELCOME ADVANCED VIDEO SYSTEMS! The husband and wife team of Larry and Stacy Gillis has taken their successful 37-year business from the Baltimore area to Pinellas County. Their studio specializes in media transfers, video productions, audiovisual installations and AV rentals. Learn more about Larry and Stacy’s business at www.AVsav.com.
 Saluting our Trustees!
We greatly appreciate our Board of Trustees. Their added financial investment supports our diverse program offerings. If you’re interested in joining this celebrated leadership association and take advantage of special benefit offerings, call Tom at tom@CentralChamber.biz or 727-584-2321.

CHAIRMAN -Rob England – England Brothers Construction
PLATINUM - Duke Energy, Piper Fire Protection
GOLD – Encompass Health Rehabilitation Hospital, Home Instead Senior Care/Be a Santa to a Senior, Jackson & Associates CPA, Melody Hunter-Charles Rutenberg Realty, Paradise Air, Platinum Information Services, Regions Bank
SILVER – Bay Care/Morton Plant Hospital, Brown Insurance Services, MID-Florida Credit Union, Nova Southeastern University Tampa Bay Regional Campus, The Palms of Largo, Valley National Bank, Wealth Builders
 Chamber Leadership Recommends NO on Florida Amendment 2
Amendment 2 asks whether to raise Florida’s minimum wage.

-----The Chamber’s Government Advocacy Panel (GAP) and Economic Development Committee have recommended a NO vote on Amendment 2. While the question is straightforward, the decision on whether to support or oppose it involves unintended consequences. Mainly, having wages tied to the State Constitution rather than the economy and annual inflation.
-----Florida’s minimum wage is currently $8.56 per hour. Amendment 2 proposes to raise it to $10 per hour, effective Sept. 30, 2021, then an additional $1 per hour each year for five years, until September 30, 2026, when it would become $15 per hour. Only after that, minimum wage increases would be tied to annual inflation adjustments, as it is currently.
-----While an increase in minimum wages would give workers in Florida who earn the least more money, those same workers might face the toughest consequences. Businesses across the state, especially those hit hard by pandemic loss, have indicated that paying higher minimum wages will result in cutting work hours — or even cutting jobs.
-----Keep wages out of the State Constitution. Vote NO on 2!
 See the attached link to view!
Chamber hosts Largo City Commission Candidates Forum
The Chamber’s Government Advocacy Panel (GAP) recently held a forum for candidates in the one contested Largo City Commisioners race. For Seat 3, its three-term incumbent Curtis Holmes being challenged by Eric Gerard seen in photo with Chamber Chairman Rob England of England Brothers Construction. The candidates responded to a series of questions provided by Largo citizens and GAP. Special thanks to Piper Fire Protection for hosting and recording the program. The forum is available to view here: 2020 Largo City Commission Candidates Forum

If you have a problem with audio, please copy this link and place directly to your internet browser: https://youtu.be/LQosL4n9Vvw
 State DEO recent employment figures
-----TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — Last week, the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity announced Florida businesses gained 36,100 private sector jobs over the month and Florida’s unemployment rate for September 2020 is at 7.6 percent. Additionally, Florida’s labor force decreased by 2,000 (-less than 0.1 percent) over the month.
-----“Our mission is clear. The Department will continue focusing on providing opportunities for Florida businesses to create jobs for families through strategic investments in communities and workforce development,” said Dane Eagle, Executive Director of the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity. “Under Governor DeSantis’ leadership and with the support of local governments and our economic development partners, we look forward to the road ahead and rebuilding Florida’s economy.”

Florida Economic Indicators for September 2020 include:
  • Unemployment rate was 7.6 percent.
  • Labor force was down 2,000 over the month.
  • Florida businesses gained 36,100 private-sector jobs over the month.
  • Florida’s private-sector job creation over-the-year rate of decline of 5.3 percent was less than the national over-the-year decline of 6.8 percent.
  • Florida private-sector jobs were down 419,900 over the year.
  • Private-sector industries gaining the most jobs over-the-month were: 
  • Trade, transportation and utilities with 12,900 
  • Education and health services with 6,900 new jobs
  • Professional and business services with 6,300 new jobs
  • Leisure and hospitality with 4,100 new jobs
  • Manufacturing with 3,700 new jobs
  • Financial activities with 3,300 new jobs.
  • Consumer Sentiment Index is 85.1 in September 2020, 6.3 points higher than the August revised figure of 78.8.
Florida now in “Phase 3” reopen mode
How to solve Florida's large-scale affordable housing crisis 
Neither Florida nor the nation has figured out affordable housing. More than 40 federal, state and private funding sources for affordable housing target homeowners, renters and developers in Florida, according to the Florida Housing Coalition’s affordable housing resource guide. Florida also is home to 18 existing and proposed community land trusts, ranging from Franklin County in the Panhandle to Key West, aimed at making homes affordable. [Source: Florida Trend]

‘Hottest real estate market in the world’ may be Palm Beach, Florida, brokers say 
Home sales in Palm Beach, the exclusive island retreat of the president and countless billionaires, tripled in the third quarter as the wealthy fled the cities and higher-tax states of the Northeast, according to a new report. “It may be the hottest real estate market in the world right now,” said Jay Phillip Parker, CEO of Douglas Elliman’s Florida brokerage. “You just can’t find homes to buy there now.” [Source: CNBC]

Florida officials investigate ‘malicious activity’ in state business regulation system 
Florida law enforcement officials on Friday said they are investigating “malicious activity” that affected the state’s top regulatory agency, causing days of computer system outages and disruptions to online services. Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation Secretary Halsey Beshears said the activity was detected in the agency’s system on Oct. 7, leading to online service outages through Monday. [Source: Miami Herald]

Here we go, Florida: Voters start casting ballots in person on Monday 
The 2020 general election season hits a new phase Monday as Floridians in most counties start casting ballots in person. While much ado has been made about vote-by-mail ballots this year, some elections officials say they are also bracing for high interest in early in-person voting, anticipating that more Floridians may opt for this option if they want to avoid potential crowds on Nov. 3 or are leery of voting by mail. Early voting has long been a staple of Florida’s elections. [Source: Tampa Bay Times]
 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 
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!

Run your Ad or Logo in the Central Pinellas Chamber of Commerce's eConnection Newsletter that publishes weekly. Be seen by over 2,000 members and friends. Take advantage of an open/read rate that exceeds 25%.
Contact Kelvin at the Chamber, 727.584.2321 or events@centralchamber.biz