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April 30th COVID-19 Update

By Todd Thomson | April 30, 2020

Governor Ron DeSantis Releases Phase One of Reopen Florida Plan Governor Ron DeSantis announced Phase One of his Reopen Florida Plan with an executive order.   Phase One goes into effect Monday, May 4th with the following restrictions: Schools will remain closed for the remainder of the school year Restaurants can provide outdoor dining with six…

April 29th COVID-19 Update

By Todd Thomson | April 29, 2020

Escambia County Commission Votes to Open Pensacola Beach on May 1st Escambia County commissioners voted unanimously to reopen the county’s public beaches on Santa Rosa Island and Perdido Key on Friday, with the exception of the area under the Pensacola Beach Pier, pavilions and public restrooms. Beaches will be open from 30 minutes before sunrise…

April 28th COVID-19 Update

By Todd Thomson | April 28, 2020

Pensacola taking phased approach to reopening, beginning with city parks on Friday Pensacola Mayor Grover Robinson announced on Monday the city would take a phased approach to reopen the city safely. During a virtual press conference on Monday, Robinson said he believes phase one of the plan to reopen dubbed “Recover Pensacola” would begin on…

April 27th COVID-19 Update

By Todd Thomson | April 27, 2020

Small Business Administration to Resume Accepting Paycheck Protection Loan Applications Today Friday, President Donald Trump signed into law a $484 billion measure that provides additional money for a coronavirus aid program for small businesses. The law contains about $320 billion for the Paycheck Protection Program, $75 billion to help hospitals, $25 billion for coronavirus testing…

April 23rd COVID-19 Update

By Todd Thomson | April 23, 2020

Collier Merrill Named to Governor’s Reopening Florida Task Force Pensacola’s Collier Merrill was appointed by Governor Ron DeSantis to his Reopen Florida Executive Task Force and the Industry Working Group on Tourism, Construction, Real Estate, Recreation, Retail, and Transportation. Collier Merrill, President of Merrill Land Company and President of Great Southern Restaurants “I applaud Governor…

April 22nd COVID-19 Update

By Todd Thomson | April 22, 2020

Drive-Through Respiratory Clinic for Patients That Previously Tested Positive for COVID-19 Ascension Sacred Heart has opened a drive-through respiratory clinic located at 4521 N. Davis Hwy for patients who have previously tested positive with COVID-19 and would like to return to work. Patients should call the COVID hotline to make an appointment for a follow…

April 21st COVID-19 Update

By Todd Thomson | April 21, 2020

Governor DeSantis Names Reopening Florida Task Force, Report Expected Friday Governor Ron DeSantis named his Reopening Florida Task Force and held an initial teleconference with the group on Monday.  The task force will be meeting numerous times throughout this week with an anticipated report to be completed by the end of the week.  For more…

April 20th COVID-19 Update

By Todd Thomson | April 20, 2020

Applications Being Accepted for Two New Small Business Loan Programs Two recently announced loan programs will begin taking applications today.  The Escambia County Small Business COVID-19 Recovery Grant Program is available to City of Pensacola and Escambia County businesses with 20 or fewer employees. The deadline for applications is Monday, April 27 at 5 p.m.…

April 16th COVID-19 Update

By Todd Thomson | April 16, 2020

US Chamber Foundation Announces Save Small Business Fund To extend a helping hand to small businesses suffering from the impacts of the coronavirus pandemic, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation – in partnership with Vistaprint and a coalition of supporting companies, foundations, and philanthropic donors – is working to provide financial relief through the Save…

April 15th COVID-19 Update

By Todd Thomson | April 15, 2020

  Innisfree Hotels Offer Free Rooms to Health Care Workers Innisfree Hotels, the largest hotel chain on Pensacola Beach, announced Monday that it would provide up to 6,300 nights to doctors, nurses, EMTs and paramedics. Hotel rooms are needed so those staff members can self-isolate to protect their family members at home in case they’ve…

Don Gaetz Believes the Gulf Coast Can Triumph

"But it’s not enough for Triumph and its private and public sector partners to produce thousands of new jobs if there aren’t thousands of Northwest Floridians qualified to fill them. That’s why Triumph is working with school districts and higher education institutions to reshape what is taught and how it’s taught in our schools. Triumph already is funding projects in six of our eight counties that will prepare 9,000 students to earn national industry certifications for the very jobs most needed in our region over the next decade." -Don Gaetz

The Greater Pensacola Chamber of Commerce was honored to support the University of West Florida in their appeal to Triumph to support their efforts to equip over 3,000 students to earn top-level certifications in cyber security and advanced manufacturing and supply chain logistics industry certifications. Through the Center for Cybersecurity, the Sea3D Additive Manufacturing Laboratory and the Hal Marcus College of Science and Engineering UWF proposes to produce a minimum of 3,220 industry certifications that would provide career pathways to high paying jobs across the region.

Read more here...

Department Of Labor Issues Final Ruling on Overtime

Conversations begin in the Florida House Regarding Teacher pay increases

Effective January 1, 2020, the minimum salary threshold established by the Department of Labor for overtime eligibility will be set at $684 per week / $35, 568 annually.

More information about the final rule is available here..

Florida House’s committee on preK-12 education budgeting has begun conversations around the Governor's proposed salary increase for teachers of $47,500 - a total price tag of $603 million, annually. The committee is moving forward with caution, as raising taxes does not seem to be a viable option, however, they are hopeful they can find the funds in existing budgets.

Read more here...


The Board of Education prioritized its Public Education Capital Outlay plan, unanimously approving seven projects that are now in line to receive a combined $86.4 million in construction funding over the next three years - Pensacola state college made that list.

The Board of Education prioritized its Public Education Capital Outlay plan on Friday, September 20th, unanimously approving seven projects  which are in line to receive a combined $86.4 million in construction funding over the next three years.

Read more here...



Recent Progress in the Economy:

  • There were 2.3 million more workers in 2018 than 2017!
  • Workers are earning higher wages with increases by 3.4% from 2017 to 2018.
  • Poverty has declined by 0.5 percentage points to 11.8% which is 1.4 million fewer people in poverty.
  • Economic growth driven by tax reform and recent efforts of the current administration to reduce regulatory burdens are having a positive effect.

Positive outcomes from these results:

  • Workers are better able to support their families.
  • There are more available jobs; however, there are still more jobs than people, so workforce remains a major concern.

Gaps in The Economy That Must be Addressed

“The first is a skills gap – too many people lack the skills or credentials they need to compete for 21st century jobs. The second is a people gap – too many businesses can’t find the workers they need, when and where they need them. Businesses must be part of the solution. No single entity has a greater stake in the strength of our talent pool than the business community. We have the ideas, the innovations, and the incentive to drive change and create solutions.”, said U.S. Chamber CEO Donohue at the Talent Forward event earlier this year.

The Gaps

  1. Solutions for the Skills Gap
    1. Improving education and mandating increased school accountability, more choices for families, and improved collaboration among key stakeholders.
    2. Ensuring the annual $400 billion dollars of taxpayer money being invested in higher education will result into credentials and a return on investment back into the economy.
    3. The business community must ensure that local education institutions teach in-demand skills by implementing similar programs such as the Foundation Talent Pipeline Management Initiative
    4. Better access to quality childcare, as it is the foundation for basic skills and ability.
  2. Solutions for People Gap
    1. The opioid epidemic is a large contributor to the decline in working-age men in the workforce. We need to support public and private sectors working to address the issue in addition to supporting good public policy.

but fair process for the millions of undocumented people living in the U.S. to have the opportunity to earn a legal status.” This includes the “Dreamers” who came to the U.S. as children and Temporary Protected Status recipients.

  1. We must have good policy to produce good results!

Signs of Policy Uncertainty Is Negatively Affecting the Economy

“Amid all the talk of a possible recession, it’s important for everyone to remember this: Economic expansions do not die of natural causes. They often die because of missteps and policy mistakes. And the biggest mistake our leaders could make right now — putting our economy at greater risk of a downturn — is to stoke further uncertainty We’re calling on our leaders to eliminate the uncertainty, rebuild business confidence and keep this economy working for all Americans.” U.S. Chamber of Commerce CEO Donohue writes.

  1. “When leaders make decisions that foster certainty, businesses invest, hire, grow and better drive the economy in a positive direction.”
  2. Examples of the Effect of Fostering Certainty
    1. Unemployment rate has reached a generational low
    2. Employee compensation has risen 3.4% in the first half of 2019
    3. Inflammation remains near record lows
    4. Consumer spending is strong, and retail sales have beat the calculated expectations for the first half of the year.
  3. Examples of the Negative Effect from Not Fostering Certainty
    1. Increased trade tensions and softening of global economy

“The business community shares the administration’s concern over China’s trade and industrial practices, and the U.S. Chamber strongly supports efforts to secure a deal that addresses forced technology transfer, industrial subsidies, data privacy and intellectual-property protection, and market access. The initial tariffs have brought China to the negotiating table, but the current path of constant escalation doesn’t increase the likelihood of a deal; it risks a recession here at home.” – U.S. Chamber of Commerce

  1. Business investment has experienced its first decline in three years
  2. Manufacturing sector has been in a downturn for nine months
  3. Famers’ income has plummeted
  4. Investors have begun to panic over “inverted yield curves” in the bond market and wild swings in the stock market – typically key indicators a recession is coming.

The Greater Pensacola Chamber of Commerce Commitment

We know that neither growth nor a recession are guaranteed; however, both result from choices we make as a country. The Greater Pensacola Chamber of Commerce will be calling on our leaders to eliminate as much uncertainty in the economy’s future as possible by encouraging the introducing and supporting of logical tax reform and an increase in educational and workforce development resources. Together we can close these gaps and increase the business community’s confidence in the future, both near and long.


Sean Hackbarth, A Strong Economy Improves American’s Lives,” First Things First, (September 2019):