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Tampa Bay Beaches CEO talks coming economic peak of Covid-19

Megan Holmes

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The St. Petersburg Chamber of Commerce presents: Coronavirus Impact Insights

On this episode of Chamber Coronavirus Impact Insights, Robin Miller, CEO of the Tampa Bay Beaches Chamber joins Chris Steinocher, CEO of the St. Petersburg Chamber and Joe Hamilton, publisher of St. Pete Catalyst to talk about the impact of Covid-19 on our beloved Tampa Bay beach businesses.

Miller joins the from the Tampa Bay Beaches office, where she’s spent most days checking on local businesses throughout the many separate municipalities that comprise the beaches.

Steinocher and Hamilton discuss the St. Petersburg Foundation’s Jobs Catalyst program, which recently placed a part-time worker with the St. Petersburg Chamber. They remind nonprofits to be thinking of labor they need and to post their jobs on the Jobs Catalyst board.

Miller talks through the major economic impact that the virus is having on the hospitality and travel industry. Florida is projected to reach its peak of Covid-19 cases April 21, but Miller reminds listeners that the economic peak of the crisis may not follow until later. Miller says the travel industry does not plan to see bookings return until late July or early August, and does not expect economic rebound until late September or early Q4.

Miller says that some in the hospitality industry are still receiving a paycheck this week, based on their hourly wage, even as they are moved to furlough or laid off. She predicts a 4-6 week period of lag time between paychecks, and the dispersement of unemployment, government stimulus funds and the Paycheck Protection Program. She emphasizes how difficult this time will be for many employers and employees.

But there are some bright spots through the darkness. In partnership with Feeding Tampa Bay, the Tampa Bay Beaches Chamber has set up a mobile food pantry at Tradewinds on St. Pete Beach. Every Thursday between 3:00-4:30pm, the Chamber and Feeding Tampa Bay provide meals for families in need. Last week, they served 350 families and distributed nearly 600 twenty-five dollar produce gift cards.

While businesses are slow or closed, Miller suggests that they focus on making changes to boost their revenue once they do re-open. Many of these changes are sector specific – for example, she says, restaurants can take a closer look at their menus and reevaluate the items they’re selling. Miller suggests asking which items are underselling, which items are particularly expensive to produce, and iterating based on those findings.

Resources:

Tampa Bay Beaches Chamber Coronavirus Information: https://www.tampabaybeaches.com/coronavirus/

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