Posted by: Tampa Bay Chamber on Monday, October 7, 2019


Washington D.C. Meetings

On July 15 and 16, 30 Chamber representatives were in Washington DC meeting with our congressional delegation and key agency leadership. Here's a snapshot of the trip:

Housing and Urban Development was joined by senior executives from the National Association of Realtors and the National Association of Home Builders to discuss national trends as it relates to workforce housing. The Chamber left with valuable data to bring back to our Workforce Housing Caucus that is studying this critical issue.

The Director of the Department of Homeland Security's Blue Campaign provided insight on DHS's efforts to combat human trafficking and partnership opportunities for the business community in Tampa Bay. The Blue Campaign is a national public awareness campaign, designed to educate the public, law enforcement and other industry partners to recognize the indicators of human trafficking, and how to appropriately respond to possible cases.

Leadership from the Department of Transportation and the Federal Transit Administration provided an overview of the federal transportation framework and opportunities for Hillsborough County to leverage federal dollars for infrastructure projects. We were also fortunate to meet with Helena Zyblikewycz, Majority Staff Director for the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee. She briefed the Chamber on the committees work and the challenges associated with a national infrastructure package, but also offered insight into how we can best advocate for transportation projects in Hillsborough County.

Chuck Hodges, Executive Director at Hiring Our Heroes, spoke to the group regarding the Corporate Fellowship Program — an innovative program that provides transitioning service members with professional training and hands-on experience in the civilian workforce. The professional development offered through the program prepares candidates for a smooth transition into meaningful civilian careers.

Congressional Meetings

The Chamber had individual meetings with Senator Marco Rubio, Senator Rick Scott, Representative Kathy Castor, Representative Gus Bilirakis, Representative Ross Spano and Representative Greg Stuebe. We were able to hear the priorities of each member of our delegation and share our legislative priorities in Transportation, Military and Defense, Health Care, Workforce Housing and Workforce Development.

White House Pledge Signing: Our group signed workforce pledges at the White House Eisenhower Executive Office Building. 25 members and businesses from Tampa Bay signed the pledges committing to offer training and workforce opportunities to strengthen the economy and ensure one of America's greatest assets – its workforce – is prepared for the jobs of today and tomorrow. Close to 9,000 opportunities were pledged by the 25 companies.

U.S. Chamber of Commerce Meetings

We met with Julia Barfield on Education and Workforce, Ron Eidshaug on Congressional and Public Affairs, and Jon Baselice on Immigration Policy. The speakers provided insight on the political environment in D.C. and the impact gridlock is having on reaching deals for infrastructure, trade and immigration legislation.

The trip concluded with a tour of the Pentagon.

All For Transportation Advocacy

In June, the All For Transportation (AFT) amendment was validated by the 13th Judicial Circuit Court. In his ruling, Judge Barbas explained that the County Commission must enact the priorities that voters agreed upon. After the decision, Chairman Miller proposed a County Ordinance to preserve the exact spending allocations that voters decided on.

Since that decision, over the last quarter, the Chamber has stood with AFT on several occasions in front of the Hillsborough Board of County Commissioners. We expressed our enthusiastic support for County Commission to reinstate the balanced percentages outlined in the amendment that Hillsborough County voters overwhelmingly supported. The good news is that on September 18th County Commission voted 6-1 to reinstate spending allocations for the surtax spending as outlined in the referendum.

The Workforce Housing Caucus met with Hillsborough County Administrator Mike Merrill to discuss workforce housing opportunities.

Education Connection Committee hosted the State of Education event with guest speakers State Representative Chris Latvala, State Representative Ralph Massullo, and Hillsborough County Public Schools Superintendent Jeff Eakins. The panelists spoke about how K-12 education and policy impacts workforce development.

The Leadership Tampa Class of 2020 was announced on August 12, 2019. This will be the 49th class of Leadership Tampa.

Hub For Business

Ambassador connections: 123. Ambassador volunteers assist in membership retention efforts and work to improve member relations by making regular contact with new and existing Chamber members.

The Chamber has conducted 11 ribbon cutting ceremonies supporting new and expanding Bay businesses.

The Greater Tampa Chamber of Commerce welcomed 56 new members this quarter. These businesses represent a diverse segment of industry and leadership.

The 3rd Annual Leadership Tampa Alumni Bowling Contest was held on August 26, 2019 at Splitsville. This is a fun networking event allowing classes to get together and participate in some friendly competition.

Hosted the 39th Annual Small Business of the Year Awards.


  • Startup: Newgentek
  • 5-20 Employees: Health Mutt
  • 21-50 Employees: Atlas Professional Services
  • 51-250 Employees: First Citrus Bank
  • Outstanding Leader: Rita Lowman, Pilot Bank

The LTA Chairs Choice luncheon was held on September 10, 2019. The panel was moderated by LTA Membership Chair, Chris Karlo, and included Maryann Ferenc, Owner of Mise en Place, Inc., Jeff Houck, Marketing and Public Relations Manager at the Columbia Restaurant Group and former Food Writer for the Tampa Tribune, and Ferrell Alvarez, Co-owner and Chef of Rooster & the Till.

The Leadership Tampa Class of 2020 Kickoff Reception was held on September 11, 2019 at the University Club of Tampa. This was the first opportunity for the new class to meet one another along with program day sponsors, selection committee members and program day chairs.

The Leadership Tampa Class of 2020 Opening Retreat was held on September 19-20, 2019 at the Sheraton Sand Key Resort. This event served as an opportunity for the class to learn more about the program and build relationships with their classmates.

Hosted attendees at networking and professional development events across Tampa Bay.

  • YTD Jan - September: 12,000+
  • Q3 July - September: 3,000+


Emerging Leaders of Tampa Bay attended and worked with other young professional groups at local area chambers to put on the 2nd Annual YP Summit: Competitiveness of our Tampa Bay Region. Emerging Leaders of Tampa Bay, Clearwater Young Professionals & St Pete Young Professionals groups came together with over 300 in attendance to discuss our Competitiveness of our Tampa Bay Region.

Emerging Leaders of Tampa Bay hosted the Vision Series – Super Bowl 2021 on August 14, 2019 to discuss the promotion of Tampa and preparing for such a large event.

30 Emerging Leader members took part in a 3 part training series for the Nonprofit Board Governance Series.

50 volunteers from the Emerging Leaders of Tampa Bay inclusion committee and the Mentor-Protégé Program volunteered at Feeding Tampa Bay.

The Chamber hosted the annual Senior Enlisted Reception at MacDill Air Force Base, where over 200 members of the military and business community networked.

The Chamber hosted the annual Operation Partnership: Civilian Career Day, where over 40 transitioning military members were partnered with Chamber members to explore career opportunities in the Tampa business community

Both Minority Business Accelerator cohorts were invited to a luncheon hosted by the Columbia Restaurant in July. President of the Columbia Restaurant Group, Richard Gonzmart, gave the participants a personal tour and discussed with the team the struggles that he, and his family, have faced being a minority-owned business owner.

Two of our Minority Business Accelerator 2019 Cohort participants were finalists in the Small Business of the Year Awards that were hosted on September 12th. Danny Persaud, President of MidFlorida Armored & ATM Services, was a finalist in the 21-50 employee category. Derek Mateos, President of Matcon Construction Services, was a finalist in the 51-250 category.

Minority Business Accelerator participant Derek Mateos of Matcon Construction, and the Inaugural Cohort of the program, was accepted into Leadership Tampa Class of 2020.

Minority Business Accelerator Cohort ’20 has been learning how to successfully seek HR, CPA and legal help. They have been developing relationships with their business advisors and working together to prepare for meetings with potential clients. Developing the foundation of their Strategic Action Plans, as well as resolving any immediate business challenges.

Minority Business Accelerator Cohort ’19 has been gathering all the information, advice, and contacts that the program has provided over the past two years and learning how to successfully implement it within their companies. With graduation right around the corner, they are working with the Chamber to identify next steps.

Our Minority Business Accelerator Cohort 2019 Program Chair, Bemetra Simmons has been selected to serve as our first ever Minority Business Accelerator Alumni Chair. This is a voluntary opportunity for graduates of the Minority Business Accelerator to stay engaged and connected within this facet of the Chamber.

Organizational Excellence

  • Current LTA membership is 559
  • Current ELTB membership is 500
  • Current Chamber membership is 1143