Posted by: Tampa Bay Chamber on Sunday, July 5, 2020


Workforce Development

Over 67 members of the business community participated in the 2020 Storytime Online initiative launched in partnership with the Tampa Bay Chamber, the Hillsborough Education Foundation, Hillsborough County Public Schools, and Scholastic. This early childhood literacy initiative provides a sense of normalcy for students who are lacking this reading experience typically provided by their teachers and helps to continue their learning progress while fostering a love of reading.

The Workforce Development Committee hosted two webinars in May: Work Redefined: Closing the Gap and Navigating Reemployment Resources. The Work Redefined event highlighted TECO’s partnership with HCC and USF that provides educational opportunities and economic advancement for their employees. The Navigating Reemployment Resources webinar focused on the employment resources available for those who were economically impacted by COVID-19.

Workforce Housing

The Workforce Housing Subcommittee met with Ernest Coney, Jr. and Sarah Combs to learn more about the strategic attainable housing plans their respective organizations have implemented in the Tampa Bay community.

Legislative Success

Gov. Ron DeSantis vetoed just over $1B from the budget lawmakers passed this spring, bolstering reserves against the economic downturn caused by the coronavirus pandemic. After the vetoes, the state budget that will go into effect July 1 stands at $92.2B. DeSantis said in a news conference that after the vetoes, Florida's reserves will increase to $6.3B, which the state could tap into to offset the effect of a big drop in tax collections that has already started.

The Chamber was successful navigating the 2020 session. Among the Chamber’s successes were: Fully funding the $370M Sadowski Housing trust fund (it is supplemented with $250M in CARES Act dollars to keep it fully funded), $50M funding for Visit Florida, passage of “Postsecondary Education for Certain Military Personnel”, passage of the “Keep Our Graduates Working Act”, passage of “Deregulation of Professions and Occupations”, appropriations for “Pathways to Career Opportunities”, and successful passage of the General Appropriations Act and the Governor’s Tax Package. The lone floor vote that did not go the Chamber’s way was, HB637, “Impact Fees”. All in all, the Chamber saw success in nearly 90% of its positions.

Key Votes 2020

The Tampa Bay Chamber’s Policy Council announced the inaugural release of our bill tracker, Key Votes 2020. The guide tracks legislators’ votes on bills related to our Legislative Agenda’s guiding principles: Workforce Development & Education, Workforce Housing, Transportation, Health Care, Business & Economic Development, and Military & Defense. Ultimately, Key Votes tracks whether our legislative delegation voted for or against the Chamber’s legislative priorities.

The Chamber also provided year-end, legislative summaries to Leadership Tampa Alumni, Women of Influence, and Emerge.

Local Advocacy

The Advocacy led the Chamber’s position on Hillsborough County Public Schools’ impact fees. The increase was unanimously approved by BOCC – yielding nearly $30M more, annually. Additionally, the Chamber successfully advocated for the observance of Hillsborough Aviation Authority vendors’ tax-exempt status before the Value Adjustment Board. On behalf of our community partners, the Chamber authored letters of recommendation in support of:

  • Second Chance Act Community-based Reentry Program
  • Research and Evaluation of Promising Reentry Initiatives Grant

National Advocacy

On behalf of non-profits and not-for-profits, the Chamber continued to advocate for inclusion in subsequent COVID-19 relief packages. The Chamber also advocated for the reauthorization of the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) until at least December 31, 2020. Additionally, the Chamber signed-on to the following letters urging Congress to:

  • Provide recovery relief funds for Cultural Institutions, including the STRAZ
  • Pass the Pandemic Risk Insurance Act of 2020 (H.R. 7011), which would establish a system of shared public and private compensation for business interruption losses and event cancellations resulting from future pandemics or public health emergencies. If enacted, this program would begin January 2021.
  • Pass the Skills Renewal Act (H.R. 7032 / S. 3779), per proposed amendment. The Skills Renewal Act would provide Americans who have been laid-off or furloughed due to COVID-19 a $4,000 tax credit to pursue post-secondary skills training and career development.
  • Address inequality in our society

The Chamber hosted 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 $1.3T and over 80,000 employees across 26 divisions. Deputy Secretary Hargan began his trip with a site visit to 2017 Small Business of the Year (Startup) winner, VetCor. 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.

MOU Advocacy

In the second quarter, the Chamber added the Indo-US Chamber of Commerce memorandum of understanding (MOU). Together, with the other eleven MOUs previously executed, the Chamber is proud to advocate on behalf of over 10,000 collective members throughout Tampa Bay.

The Chamber partnered with the South Tampa Chamber of Commerce and the LGBT Chamber to urge Governor DeSantis to reconsider the requests of the 67 county supervisors of elections, with the aim of conducting Florida elections as smoothly and as safely as possible.

Additionally, the Chamber organized an introductory meeting between the Chamber and the Bay Area Manufacturers Association (BAMA) and FloridaMakes.

Legislative Events

The Chamber held a successful Legislative Wrap-Up broadcasted virtually to 145 registered attendees and featuring nine legislators, representing the Tampa Bay Delegation. The event produced 94% of the target goal for attendees and it outperformed net income goal. The legislative delegation shared reflections on the 2020 session, including analyzing Florida’s response to the current pandemic, and a preview of 2021.

Legislators included:

  • Sen. Darryl Rouson (Dist. 19)
  • Rep. James Grant (Dist. 64)
  • Rep. Dianne Hart (Dist. 61)
  • Rep. Adam Hattersley (Dist. 59)
  • Rep. Lawrence McClure (Dist. 58)
  • Rep. Wengay “Newt” Newton (Dist. 70)
  • Rep. Jackie Toledo (Dist. 60)
  • Rep. Susan Valdes (Dist. 62)
  • Rep. Jennifer Webb (Dist. 69)

Continuing to focus on House and Senate leadership, the Chamber hosted well-attended webinars with both Senate President-Designate Wilton Simpson and House Speaker-Designate Chris Sprowls.

Hosted the annual Face the Chamber event featuring Mayor Jane Castor, which was broadcasted virtually to 500+ registered attendees. After Mayor Castor shared remarks, a Q&A session was held with questions submitted in advance and live by the audience.

The Chamber’s Policy Council held a solutions-focused “Conversation on Race & Equity” with business leaders:

  • Ashley Butler, President of Ice Cold Air
  • Avril Stinson, Director of Minority Business Accelerator & Economic Inclusion
  • Chris Chambers, Principal of Pivotal Control
  • Ben Walker, Founder & CEO of Buyer’s Point

Chief Financial Officer (CFO) Jimmy Patronis held a video conference with the Tampa Bay Chamber to give insight on issues including COVID-19 response and recovery, business liability protections, and the State of Florida’s fiscal health and economy. This was a unique opportunity, given that CFO Patronis served on the Executive Committee of Governor Ron DeSantis’s Re-Open Florida Task Force.

Inclusive Organization


The Military Advisory Committee met to discuss mental health services access for military members and their families. The discussion centered on existing resources in Tampa Bay, barriers to access, and legislative initiatives to expand access.

The Chamber submitted a letter of support for the City of Tampa’s Florida Defense Infrastructure Grant application. This multimodal connection project will provide enhanced access to MacDill Air Force Base.

Partnered with Quiet Professionals to host a webinar focused on job seeker resources for transitioning service members.

60 transitioning service members attended our Operation Partnership: Transition Tampa Bay webinar series which covered topics relevant to the transition from active duty to veteran status as they enter the Tampa Bay business community.

Partnered with Cherry Bekaert to host a GovCon Executive Roundtable to discuss employee benefits trends in managing costs, risks, and potential savings.

Minority Business Accelerator

2nd Quarter Metrics

Note: The impact numbers shown are reported on an aggregate basis for Cohort ‘21 and are self-reported. The metrics are reflective of the 2nd quarter of 2020.

  • Gross Sales: $1.4M+
  • # of New Jobs: 1 full time and 2 part time
  • # of vacancies filled: 1
  • # of New Corporate Contracts: 17
  • # of Company Secured Capital: $600,000+
  • # of Strategic Introductions: 3

Cohort Member Highlights:

Ice Cold Air

Customer engagement is strong. Incoming phone calls are ramping up due to the heat. Ice Cold Air is currently hiring for 3 positions.

Buyer’s Point

Awarded contract with Collier County School District on Apr. 1. PPE Sales made up 60% of our sales this qtr.

Jerel McCants Architecture

Shortlist for new High School project along with Minority Business Accelerator Mentor's Architectural Firm

Versa Tile & Marble

New project contract with Barr & Barr


Corporations unveil initiatives in support of racial equality

Buyer’s Point starts subsidiary company Tampa Bay Masks; donates over 7,000 masks to non-profits in our community.

Getting the EDGE with Kelly Wilson, Season 6, Episode 6 with Debbie Lundberg, Author, MBA & Principal, Presenting Powerfully & Ashley Butler, Owner, Ice Cold Air Discount Auto Repair. In the second half of the episode Kelly talks with Ashley Butler, Owner, Ice Cold Air Discount Auto Repair regarding pursuing and living up to your fullest potential, overcoming challenges, recognizing the fact that we individually do not have all of the answers and the importance of mentors, constant learning and personal growth.

Collegiate Leadership

Tampa Bay Business Journal spotlighted our inaugural class of the Collegiate Leadership Tampa Bay program!

Chair Kari Goetz and presenting sponsor Scott Riley, Riley Education Foundation, spoke to WFLA about Collegiate Leadership Tampa Bay and the exciting future this program has.

Emerging Leaders

Emerging Leaders provided an opportunity for 30 young professionals to be trained and certified in “Excellence in Nonprofit Board Governance” by Nonprofit Leadership Center and sponsored by Community Foundation of Tampa Bay.

Emerging Leaders hosted a webinar on Pushing Past Pandemic.

Emerging Leaders has converted their programing to virtual so young professionals can still grow personally and professionally.

  • Hosted 12 Committee Meetings.
  • Current ELTB membership is 405.

Hub for Business


The Chamber provides many valuable resources to help your business grow while supporting strong commerce in the Tampa market. Now more than ever, we are working to leverage and support our business community. 32 new members have joined since Apr. 1. There is a strong desire to connect with other professionals and engage in meaningful conversation to find solutions to current challenges and better our community. Living out our mission to serve our members and enhance our community by building business success!

As of today, there are 1,188 active business members. EVERY member has been called at least twice since the pandemic began. Staff simply checking on members to see if there is anything the Chamber can do to help support their changing business in this unprecedented time. Chamber Ambassadors have also stepped up and continued member outreach, reporting 96 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 Chamber members. Together we are stronger, and we are seeing businesses looking out for one another and utilizing the Chamber as their platform to connect.


Hosted May Competitive Edge Series virtually: Hear It From The Experts: What You Need To Know About Recruiting Top Talent featured Andrea Cichon, Director, Human Resources, Tampa General Hospital and Dr. Danielle Clark, College Business Educator.

Hosted June Competitive Edge Series virtually: Growing Your Business Through Effective Marketing and Brand Management featured Bruce Faulmann, Vice President of Advertising Sales and Marketing, Tampa Bay Times.

In April and May the Chamber organized and hosted weekly webinar series with over 1,500 registrations and gaining over 800 subsequent views on YouTube. The videos were open to the public and gained about 40% participation from Memorandum of Understanding partners.

Upcoming: Small Business of the Year Awards

Sep. 10, 2020 at Armature Works

Presented by Adcock Financial and Warren Averett

Semifinalists were announced Jun. 12.

Attendees at events across Tampa Bay:

  • Q2 Apr. - June 23 : 2,200+ (including Leadership Programs)
  • YTD Jan. - June 23: 6,000+ (including Leadership Programs)

Leadership Tampa

Leadership Tampa Class of 2021

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

LT’21 applications for the Leadership Tampa Class of 2021 will open soon, If you know someone that may be interested have them complete the interest form to stay up to date on upcoming information sessions and important application dates.

Leadership Tampa Alumni

Leadership Tampa Alumni raised and contributed $625 to the 8th Grade Clap-out graduation for Memorial Middle School.

Apr. 16 - Leadership Tampa Alumni hosted a webinar on COVID-19 From Surviving to Thriving.

Jun. 10 – Leadership Tampa Alumni had an exclusive conversation with Brian Ford, COO of our Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

Jun. 23 - Leadership Tampa Alumni held a virtual tour of Midtown Tampa

  • Hosted 18 Committee Meetings
  • Current LTA membership is 481