March 16, 2021
Hello!
Thank you to the 20 vacation rental companies that took our accommodations survey to provide critical staffing and supply information to local businesses. Check out the results below.

Based on bookings at the time of the survey, here are the occupancy projections through July:
  • 65% reported 71% or greater occupancy in March
  • 55% reported 71% or greater occupancy in April
  • 45% reported 71% or greater occupancy in May
  • 65% reported 71% or greater occupancy in June with 45% reporting 91% or greater occupancy
  • 75% reported 71% or greater occupancy in July with 50% reporting 91% or greater occupancy

Some companies reported a shorter booking window of 3 - 7 days, and most reported increased bookings over last year, before COVID-19 began affecting vacation plans. Eighty percent of participating companies reported a rate increase in 2021.
Florida SBDC Network, UWF Haas Center, Florida Chamber Foundation & CareerSource Florida Launch Follow-up COVID Survey
The Small Business COVID Impact Survey 2.0 seeks to better understand the continued challenges small businesses face due to the pandemic. As part of the second phase, the survey will also solicit feedback regarding how small businesses have utilized the services of gig workers and subcontractors as they implement strategies to sustain their business.  

“Small businesses are critical to Florida’s economy,” said Dr. Cheryl Kirby, interim CEO of the Florida SBDC Network. “Conditions have improved but small businesses still face challenges. This survey represents an important opportunity for our organizations to build on our previous research and ensure the voices of small businesses do not fade.”

Click here for more information and to complete the survey by April 5. 
New $10M Incentive Fund Now Available For Local Employers
After the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill, the Florida Legislature established the Industry Resilience and Diversification Fund (IRDF). This $10 million economic development incentive program is aimed to strengthen and diversify Northwest Florida’s economy through initiatives in research and development, commercialization of research, economic diversification and job creation.

Companies creating 10 or more jobs in aerospace, life sciences, manufacturing, cybersecurity, information technology, financial services and distribution are eligible to receive grant awards up to $2 million. Employers must be locating or expanding within the eight disproportionally affected counties of Bay, Escambia, Franklin, Gulf, Okaloosa, Santa Rosa, Wakulla and Walton.

Help Resolve Staffing Issues Within Florida's Hospitality Industry
According to the Florida Restaurant & Lodging Association (FRLA), Florida Atlantic University (FAU) is researching COVID-19 and its impacts on the restaurant and lodging industry and employees, and your feedback is needed. From closures and minimum wage increases to staffing issues that threaten the ability to operate, the industry has faced numerous challenges since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. Your participation will contribute to the in-depth and accurate understanding of what a hospitality or tourism organization could do to improve employee satisfaction. The eligible survey participants should be those who were employed by the hospitality or tourism industry for at least a portion of 2020. Take the survey here. It should take 15 minutes to complete.
Gulf Power Announces Rate Changes
As you know, Gulf Power and Florida Power & Light Company (FPL) recently merged into a single company serving more than 5.6 million customer accounts across more than half of Florida – from Pensacola to Miami. On Friday, FPL filed a comprehensive four-year rate plan with the Florida Public Service Commission. FPL’s proposed plan includes unified rates and tariffs with Gulf Power that would be phased in beginning in January 2022. This plan, along with many other major investments, are all part of the strategy to provide cleaner, more reliable and lower-cost energy for customers.

Today, FPL’s overall rates are considerably lower than Gulf Power’s, and the goal is to align them over the next five years. After a slight increase next year, a typical residential bill for customers in Northwest Florida is projected to decrease each year from 2023 to 2025. As a result, a typical residential customer bill in Northwest Florida will be well below the national average in 2025.

For business customers, the alignment of rates with FPL means that some will experience rate class changes. The proposed base rate adjustments vary depending on rate class and usage. While the costs of other essential products and services, including groceries, medical care, health insurance and housing, have increased 25%-75% from 2006 to 2020, typical small business customer bills will decrease and typical medium and large business customer bills will grow at an average annual rate of approximately 2%-2.5% from January 2021 through 2025, roughly in line with inflation. 

For more information about the four-year rate plan, visit GulfPower.com/answers.
Save $ On Office Supplies
Did you know Destin Chamber members save money on office supplies with Office Depot? Click here to print a store purchasing card to use in the Destin location or visit www.mychamberadvantage.com/Chamber_SignUp to sign up online.
























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Florida SBDC Virtual Office Hours at the Destin Chamber
Thursday, March 18 | 10 a.m. - 2 p.m.
Virtual

The Florida SBDC at UWF is hosting virtual consulting hours specifically for business owners in our area. Florida SBDC at UWF Business Consultant Diana Jernigan is available by email for impromptu meetings assisting with business challenges or opportunities.
Multi-Chamber Business After Hours Sponsored Destin - Fort Walton Beach Convention Center
Thursday, March 25 | 5:30 - 7:30 p.m.
Destin - Fort Walton Beach Convention Center

Join us, our friends at the Greater Fort Walton Beach Chamber, and our sponsor Destin - Fort Walton Beach Convention Center to view some beautiful artwork and meet local artists during this evening Wine & Art Walk.
Young Professionals of Destin Lunch: Beach Clean Up & Sunset Social Sponsored by Rhumcay Island Grille
Thursday, April 1 | 4 - 7:30 p.m.
Beach Clean Up: Meet Under the 'Welcome to Destin' Sign
Sunset Social: Rhumcay Island Grille

Help us clean up around the 'Welcome to Destin' Sign and the Destin Bridge, before caravanning over to Rhumcay Island Grille to enjoy appetizers and cocktails, while watching the sun set over the beautiful Destin Harbor and East Pass.
Business Before Hours Sponsored by Holloway Yacht Charters LLC
Friday, April 9 | 7:30 - 9 a.m.
Emerald Grande at HarborWalk Village

Please join us for our April 9 Business Before Hours Sponsored by Holloway Yacht Charters LLC! Destin Mayor Gary Jarvis will share the 'State of the City.'

Thank You To Our Renewing Members
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