Volume 33 l August 2020
Weekly eConnection
801 West Bay Drive, Suite 602 Largo, FL 33770
Tel: 727-584-2321 Fax: 727-586-3112

Membership 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!
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

BayCare/Morton Plant Hospital, SILVER TRUSTEE, 50-year Legacy Member
 Business & Family Insurors, Inc., 35-year Legacy Member
Clearwater Yacht Club, 2-year member
Compass Self Storage, 2-year member
Electric Motors Lift Station Service, Inc., 7-year member
Jackson & Associates. CPA, PA., GOLD TRUSTEE, 11-year member
Melitta USA, Inc., 15-year Legacy Member
MIDFLORIDA Credit Union, 5-year member
Midori Salon & Spa, 5-year member
Oak Manor Senior Living Community, 18-year Legacy Member
The Palms of Largo, SILVER TRUSTEE, 27-year Legacy Member
Peter Wittwer NA, Inc., 13-year member
Pinellas County Economic Development, 22-year Legacy Member
Pinellas County Schools, 2-year member
Tampa Bay Newspapers, Inc., 16-year Legacy Member
Valley National Bank, SILVER TRUSTEE, 5-year member
WELCOME KOTLER LAW! Membership Mentor Melody Hunter of Charles Rutenberg Realty presents a “new member” plaque to Yuli Kotler of Kotler Law, PLLC. Yuli has also joined one of the Chamber’s Leads Teams. Learn more about Yuli and his firm at www.YuliKotlerEsq.com
To learn more about them, please visit www.CentralChamber.biz

Bay Paws Pet Resort
Christine Holtz, Info@BayPaws.com
13662 Automobile Blvd, Clearwater, FL 33762

Big T Printing
Carly Beaulieu, Largo@BigTPrinting.com
10225 Ulmerton Road, Suite 8-A, Largo, FL 33771

HelpMeDonate, Inc.
David Weiss, david.weiss@helpmedonate.org
709 Missouri Avenue, Clearwater, FL 33756

Kakusha MHC, LLC
Wanda Duvall, wduvall@summit-communities.com
1654 Clearwater-Largo Road, Clearwater, FL 33756

Kotler Law, PLLC
Yuli Kotler, yulikotler@gmail.com
9800 4th Street N, Suite 200, St. Petersburg, FL 33702

Largo Christian School
Josh Heer, LargoChristian19@gmail.com
11633 137th Street, Largo, FL 33774

MackWP Marketing
Kelvin Mack, Kmack@MackWP.com
960 Sewickley Road, North Sewickley, PA 15010

Pinellas Iron & Metal LLC
Karen Treadway
13770 50th Way North, Largo, FL 33760

Sandstone Insurance Partners
Connor Flaharty, service@SandstoneIns.com
311 Park Place Blvd., Suite 620, Clearwater, FL 33759

The Fran Haasch Law Group
Aaron Melling, Aaron@LawFran.com
1275 Nebraska Avenue, Palm Harbor, FL 34683

Tommy's Express Car Wash
Jeremy Eickman, fl21@teamtommys.com
5315 East Bay Drive, Largo, FL 33764
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, Hampton Inn & Suites-Largo, MID-Florida Credit Union, Nova Southeastern University Tampa Bay Regional Campus, The Palms of Largo, Village Inn, Wealth Builders
WECOLME HelpMeDonate.org! David Weiss receives his new member plaque from Chamber President Tom Morrissette and Membership Mentor Wendy Swertfeger of Legal Shield. David founded HelpMeDonate.org in the wake of 9/11. Since then, the non-profit has raised millions of dollars for disaster relief efforts from Hurricane's Katrina, Sandy, Irma, Harvey, Maria, Michael and Dorian, to earthquakes in Chile, Japan and Puerto Rico. Learn more at www.HelpMeDonate.org
Florida agencies told to figure out how to cut budgets by 8.5%
Getting ready for the possibility of a special legislative session to balance Florida’s budget, Gov. Ron DeSantis’ administration and top House and Senate appropriations staff have called on state agencies to draw up ways to slice 8.5 percent from their current budgets to address “the expected shortfall” as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. The direction to look for reductions does not mean such cuts will be made in the fiscal year 2020-2021 budget, which took effect July 1. [Source: Orlando Sentinel]

Super Bowl 55 proceeding as planned with 2.7-mile outdoor fan experience
The NFL and members of the Tampa Bay Super Bowl LV Host Committee unveiled their vision for an all outdoor and free fan experience for the upcoming Super Bowl next February in Tampa. The event will be produced by both the NFL and Tampa Bay host committee and will span 2.7 miles along the Tampa Riverwalk, including both Julien B Lane Park and Curtis Hixon Park. The NFL says the event, for the first time, will be completely free to the public and also entirely outdoors. More from WTSP and the Tampa Bay Times.

Florida costs for contact tracing services skyrocket
Florida’s ongoing struggle to slow the spread of the COVID-19 virus through contact tracing is getting far more costly to taxpayers. In less than three months, Florida’s $6 million contract with Virginia-based government contractor, Maximus Inc., has ballooned to $50 million and could reach up to $75 million according to a Maximus spokesperson. [Source: WFLX]

Negative review didn’t doom unemployment website vendor’s bid for a new $110 million Florida contract
Florida’s health care agency forged ahead with a deal to give a consultant a nine-figure deal to revamp its Medicaid system despite warnings from another agency that the company had bungled the state’s unemployment website. The Florida Agency for Health Care Administration announced last week it intends to hire Deloitte Consulting for a multiyear project worth at least $110 million. That decision outraged laid-off workers who had spent weeks trying to get their benefits through the dysfunctional CONNECT website Deloitte designed. [Source: Orlando Sentinel]

Florida businesses hoping bipartisan bill will give $25 billion in stimulus to Postal Service
The slowdown of mail service across the country is causing a ripple effect that is placing a strain on small businesses that depend on timely delivery. While some cite political pressures for the slow down, the wide-ranging impact of the coronavirus pandemic has taken a toll on the U.S. Postal Service, now reporting a $2.2 billion loss in the three months that ended in June. [Source: Orlando Weekly]

Florida economists slash $5.4 billion from expected Florida revenue because of coronavirus
Florida economists slashed a stunning $5.4 billion from expected state revenue over the next two years, with tax collections cratering as the coronavirus froze tourism and forced consumers to sharply reduce spending. The plunge in dollars threatens state financing for schools, health care, roads and a host of other needs — possibly for years to come. With $3.4 billion of the reduction coming this year, it’s also heightened odds that Gov. Ron DeSantis and Florida lawmakers will have to dramatically retool this year’s $92.2 billion state spending plan. [Source: Sarasota Herald-Tribune]

Jobs are returning little by little. Here’s a look at who’s hiring ... and who’s not.
Ever so slowly, Floridians are going back to work. The number of employed rose to nearly 8.75 million in June from more than 8.3 million in May, according to the state Department of Economic Opportunity. But it’s still a far cry from the 9.9 million employed during the same period of 2019. [Source: South Florida Sun-Sentinel]

Florida lobbyists busier than ever, even amid a pandemic
Florida lobbyists pulled in an estimated quarter of a billion dollars in 2019, a record amount that marks a 22% increase over the past decade. They took in another $50 million to $80 million during the first quarter of 2020, according to public records — and insiders say the influence industry shows few signs of slowing down, even amid the COVID-19 pandemic. [Source: Florida Trend]
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
Stock prices drifted higher in an otherwise quiet news week, as a slowdown in new COVID-19 cases outweighed a Congressional impasse on a new fiscal spending measure. The Dow Jones Industrial Average gained 1.81%, while the Standard & Poor’s 500 rose by 0.64%. The Nasdaq Composite Index inched 0.08% higher for the week. The MSCI EAFE Index, which tracks developed stock markets overseas, advanced 3.11%. 

Stocks prices were supported by a falling rate of COVID-19 cases nationwide and optimism that – despite a lack of progress on a fiscal aid bill – Congress would eventually come to a spending agreement.The industrial and financial sectors saw solid gains, while technology stocks, after slipping earlier in the week, found some footing as the week came to a close. The S&P 500 Index flirted all week with setting a new record high. At one point on Thursday, it traded above its February 2020 record close before closing slightly lower. Stocks treaded water into Friday, as Congress recessed for the summer. 

On Wednesday, the Labor Department said that the Consumer Price Index rose 0.6% in July, matching the 0.6% increase in June. The increase was double the consensus estimate of 0.3%. The general view is that the acceleration in consumer prices is more indicative of a healing economy than the beginning of a cycle of higher inflation. The Fed does not appear concerned about these recent monthly price jumps. It remains more worried about disinflation. However, if inflation continues to pick up, the Fed may be forced to reconsider its COVID-19 monetary policy.
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