Posted by: Tampa Bay Chamber on Monday, October 5, 2020


Candidate Interviews

The Advocacy team partnered with the Tampa Bay Times, Florida Politics, Bay News 9, and Policy Council volunteers to interview 52 candidates vying for 16 seats in Hillsborough, Pasco, and Pinellas counties. Interviews were extended to all candidates who qualified with the Supervisor of Elections in Hillsborough, Pasco, or Pinellas counties.

Our candidate interview series covered jobs, home rule, transportation, equity, housing, economic development, the budget, healthcare, technology, and other critical issues for each of the specific races.

Local Advocacy

The Chamber successfully advocated for nearly $50M in the Department of Transportation’s Better Utilizing Investment to Leverage Development (BUILD) grants, previously TIGER grants, for the City of Tampa and Hillsborough County.

The Chamber wrote a letter in support of the City of Tampa’s BUILD Grant application for The Tampa Multimodal Network and Safety Improvements project. The $24M City of Tampa BUILD grant will be used to complete approximately 12 miles of contiguous multi-modal path separated from vehicle traffic, with complete streets and traffic calming improvements. The project will connect downtown Tampa, the University of Tampa, West Tampa, Tampa Heights, Bayshore, Hyde Park and Ybor City with multi-modal paths, complete streets and under bridge/over water segments, site work, new pavement, guard rails, lighting, landscaping, and seawall repair.

Additionally, the $25M Hillsborough County BUILD grant will be used to widen and reconstruct the existing interchange at Big Bend Road and I-75, including additional bicycle lanes and multi-use paths and a roundabout at the intersection Old Big Bend Road and Bullfrog Creek Road. The Chamber had advocated for this project via our Legislative Agenda.

Hillsborough County and City of Tampa were the only award recipients in Florida to receive a competitive BUILD grant.

Chamber CEO, Bob Rohrlack, participated in the City of Tampa’s Housing Forum, where he detailed the Chamber’s commitment to workforce housing based on our data-driven approach.

The Chamber wrote a letter in support of the University of South Florida and the Freight Supply Chain and Resilience Study to improve the resilience of Hillsborough County’s freight system.

MOU Advocacy

The Chamber wrote Sen. Rubio a letter in support of direct and flexible COVID-19 fiscal assistance to our nation’s cities and municipalities. The Chamber rallied all of our MOU partners to sign the letter as well.

Advocacy for Safe Elections

The Advocacy team partnered with Partner-level member, the Tampa Bay Rays, and the St. Pete Chamber to align efforts on vote by mail and safe elections advocacy. The results are detailed voter guides and public service announcements produced by the Supervisor of Elections.

Policy Events

The Chamber conducted an innovative Hob Nob event via Lunchpool. The event saw 379 registered attendees, including 54 Candidates from Hillsborough, Pasco, Pinellas (Federal, State, and Local).

Additionally, the Chamber also played host to U.S. Deputy Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS) Eric Hargan. HHS is dedicated to promoting and enhancing the health and well-being of the American people, and as the largest department in the federal government has an annual budget in excess of $1.3 trillion and over 80,000 employees across 26 divisions.

As Deputy Secretary, Eric Hargan, is the Chief Operating Officer and is responsible for overseeing the day-to-day operations and management of the department in addition to leading policy and strategy development.

Deputy Secretary Hargan began his trip with a site visit to 2017 Small Business of the Year (Startup) winner, VetCor. A restoration company that solves water and mold damage problems in commercial and residential properties, VetCor quickly shifted focus to doing deep, disinfectant cleaning for businesses as they reopen. VetCor is staffed by veterans of the U.S. military and those who share similar values.

Chamber leadership and members engaged the Deputy Secretary in a robust roundtable discussion about the country’s COVID-19 recovery efforts and the impact the pandemic has had on commerce in the Tampa Bay region.

Gov. Ron DeSantis visited Tampa in August for a roundtable discussion at Port Tampa Bay. The conversation focused on the reopening process for area businesses.

DeSantis's trip to the Tampa Bay area comes a day after his roundtable with Central Florida theme park leaders at Universal Orlando Resort. At that event, DeSantis talked about how the companies are doing after reopening during the pandemic.

Participants present at the roundtable included Tampa Bay Chamber President & CEO Bob Rohrlack, Port Tampa Bay Executive Vice President & Chief Commercial Officer Raul Alfonso, Buyer's Point President & CEO Ben Walker, SPP Executive Vice President of Corporate Leasing & Strategy David Bevrit, Black Pearl Owner Zach Feinstein, and HCP Associates Managing Partner Sean Coniglio.

Finally, the Chamber held a successful Public Policy Roundtable titled, Building an Equity and Inclusion Culture. The event included 172 registrants, representing multiple industries and locations throughout Tampa Bay. The event was moderated by Ernest Hooper, Regional Communications Director for the American Cancer Society and featured the following panelists:

  • Lori Y. Baggett, Carlton Fields
  • B. Lee Green, Moffitt Cancer Center
  • Dr. Michelle Madden, USF
  • Machelle Maner, Wells Fargo
  • Angeles Valenciano, National Diversity Council
  • Monica Verra-Tirado, Ed.D, Hillsborough County Public Schools

Workforce Development Committee

80 members attended the Workforce Development Committee’s State of Workforce Development webinar where they heard from State Senator Janet Cruz, Chancellor Henry Mack, and Hillsborough County Public Schools Superintendent Addison Davis.

Workforce Housing Subcommittee

The Workforce Housing Subcommittee met with Alberto Vargas, Planning Manager at Orange County to discuss the Orange County Housing for All Task Force and their workforce housing initiatives.

Presented the Chamber’s Workforce Housing initiative to over 100 community stakeholders and developers at the Building Tampa’s Equitable Tomorrow info session.

Inclusive Organization


The Military Advisory Committee heard from Hillsborough County Public Schools on how they support military connected students in the district.

Minority Business Accelerator

Q3 Metrics Summary

  • # of New Jobs Created: 9
  • # of Vacancies Filled: 4
  • # of New Corporate Contracts: 20
  • # of Company Secured Capital: $54,000+
  • # of New Assets Acquired: 6
  • # of Strategic Introductions made: 4
  • Gross Sales Combined for Cohort ’21: $2 million+

Note: The impact numbers shown are reported on an aggregate basis for Cohort ‘21 and are self-reported. The metrics are reflective of the 3rd quarter of 2020.

Cohort Member Highlights

Ice Cold Air

  • On-boarded a recent USF Graduate into an administrative assistant role to assist efficiency goals
  • Ashley is the current Chair of the USF Foundation's Black Leadership Network and one of the newest additions to the USF Foundation Board members
  • Currently hiring technicians

Buyer's Point

  • Secured a yearlong PPE contract with a major retailer to supply their internal team members, with the possibility of expanding to sell in their store locations
  • Secured several large one-time PPE purchases from school districts across the state

Jerel McCants Architecture

  • Jerel McCants is running as a candidate for the position of President-Elect for the 2021 AIA Tampa Bay Board of Directors
  • McCants Architecture is expanding outreach to federal markets and forming new relationships for the next year

Versa Tile & Marble

  • New connection with Waterstone City Homes through Tampa Bay Chamber member, and Minority Business Accelerator graduate, and Mentor Matcon Construction President, Derek Mateos
  • Participated in NASA Virtual Outreach, and working on completing the application for the GSA schedule

Collegiate Leadership

Collegiate Leadership Tampa Bay Class of 2021 Chair, Kari Goetz (LT’18) and Vice Chair, Wyatt Krapf (Emerging Leaders)

The program kicks off on October 2 with Opening Session for 23 students accepted into the program.

Emerging Leaders

Emerging Leaders hosted their Vision Series event The Evolution of Tampa Bay which focused on how healthcare, technology and urban planning are laying the foundation for the future of Tampa Bay.

Hosted 6 Committee Meetings

Current Emerging Leaders membership is 450 members

Hub For Business


The Tampa Bay Chamber is always advocating for the region's businesses, and the coronavirus pandemic has been no different. We continue to help businesses navigate regulations, revenue decline, and workforce changes to collectively focus on maintaining business operations.

The Chamber provides many valuable resources to help your business grow while supporting strong commerce in the Tampa market. In a time of working remotely and social distancing, we have all learned the power of Chamber Connections. 35 new members have joined since July 1st. There is a strong desire to connect with other professionals and engage in meaningful conversation to find solutions to current challenges and to further better our community.

The Community Outreach Committee continued to contact the Chamber’s non-profit members and offer assistance. In June, we concluded a virtual project with Junior Achievement for a Virtual Career Day. 40 members contributed to the effort that will be used to supplement teacher assignments. The 15-minute videos were individually recorded and told stories of how our business professionals have navigated their careers, overcome obstacles, and found success in their professional lives.

Keeping with the education theme, volunteers from the Chamber and Emerging Leaders worked on an “Out of this World” Back to School Bash for the Sylvia Thomas Center for Adoptive and Foster Families. Due to social distancing, the event pivoted to a drive-thru event gathering where 70 children were provided with school supplies and a gift card to buy a new bookbag of their choice.

Membership Committee introduced a new program last fall, Business Around the Bay, originally intended to be a small group luncheon has seamlessly shifted from in person to virtual with solid success connecting with over 50 new members this quarter. Chamber Ambassadors continue their member outreach efforts, reporting 88 member connections this quarter. Ambassador volunteers assist in membership retention efforts and work to improve member relations by making regular contact with new and existing members. One thing is for sure, we have proven time and time again, we are stronger together!


Hosted August Competitive Edge Series virtually: From Zero to 30 Billion featured Scott Riley, Riley Education Foundation. Attendees heard about how Scott went from processing zero to 30 billion dollars in 18 years with his payment processing company, Fintech. Scott also shared his thoughts on the ‘golden rule’ in business and life, how to hire and keep the right employees, getting involved with the University system, and his philanthropic endeavors. A very engaging Q&A session followed his remarks.

Hosted September Competitive Edge Series virtually: Negotiating from the Inside Out featured Clint Babcock of Sandler Training and author of the book “Negotiating from the Inside Out.” In an interactive session, Clint shared tactics and strategies to become a strategic negotiator by viewing negotiations differently, understanding how to create leverage, identifying your counterpart's negotiation strategies, and utilizing the Negotiations Playbook to win.

Upcoming Events

Women of Influence Luncheon

October 26, 2020 at the Hilton Tampa Downtown

Limited in-person attendance, also streamed live to a digital audience

Presented by PNC Bank

The Color of Law

October 27, 2020 via Zoom webinar

Featured Speaker: Richard Rothstein, author of The Color of Law

Presented by Saint Leo University

Small Business of the Year Awards

November 12, 2020 at Armature Works

Presented by Adcock Financial and Warren Averett

Finalists are listed on the website

Annual Meeting

December 10, 2020 at the Tampa Convention Center

In-person attendance is exclusive to event sponsors

Virtual registration is available

Event Attendance

Hosted attendees at events across Tampa Bay:

Q3 July - September 23: 1,450+

YTD Jan. - September 23: 7,700+

Leadership Tampa

Leadership Tampa Class of 2021

Chair, Jill Manthey(LT’10) and Vice Chair, Amanda Uliano (LT’13)

LT’21 candidates attended our info session and submitted an application to be considered

The selection committee made up of LT grads will now score applications and conduct interviews

Leadership Tampa Alumni

Leadership Tampa Alumni Outreach Committee donations have fulfilled Memorial Middle School’s basic supplies list for this year with over $4,300 worth of school supplies donated to students in need.

In July Leadership Tampa Alumni hosted a book club discussion on the book The Ride of a Lifetime: Lessons Learned from 15 Years as CEO of the Walt Disney Company.

Leadership Tampa Alumni held their annual Chair’s Choice event virtual sponsored by Uliano Law, on the topic Reflecting on the Centennial of the 19th Amendment – A discussion with Tampa Bay’s Women in Politics.

Leadership Tampa Alumni held their annual Reunion event sponsored by Phelps Dunbar, virtually on Remo platform. The networking event provided an opportunity for class members to reconnect as well as the opportunity to meet new members of the LTA family.

Committee Meetings – 12

Current Leadership Tampa Alumni membership is 485 members