About Greater Tampa Chamber of Commerce

The Greater Tampa Chamber of Commerce is a not-for-profit business membership organization that helps promote the businesses and business interests of our members. We come from diverse backgrounds: from small businesses, big corporations, government bodies and the military. United, we become a single, unifying force with the power to shape the future of Tampa Bay.

Policy & Transportation Digest

Ridesharing bill passes Senate

The Florida Senate voted this week to pass a bill that will allow a statewide regulation for ridesharing in Florida.

Florida State Senator Artiles resigns

After a long week of controversy over a conversation with another senator, Senator Frank Artiles resigns effective immediately from the Florida Senate.

This week in Tallahassee:


HB 221/SB 340 PASSSED THE SENATE AND HOUSE GOVERNOR HAS 7 days upon receipt to sign.

A Statewide regulation for ridesharing is a top priority for the Greater Tampa Chamber of Commerce.

Workers Compensation

Senate: SB 1582 sponsored by Senator Rob Bradley is waiting to be heard on the floor of the Senate.

House: HB 7085 sponsored by Representative Danny Burgess passed House (82-37) this week and is heading to the Senate.

The Greater Tampa Chamber of Commerce supports changes to the Worker’s Compensation system and is monitoring the Senate and House bills.

Personal Injury Protection Insurance (PIP)

Senate: SB 1766 Sponsored by Senator Tom Lee – two more stops in Senate before Floor vote.

House: HB 1063 Sponsored by Representative Erin Grall passed the full House this week by a vote of 89-29 and is heading to the Senate.

The Greater Tampa Chamber of Commerce supports mandatory personal injury protection for auto insurance and is monitoring the Senate and House bills.

Tampa Bay Area Regional Transportation Authority

Senate: SB 1672 sponsored by Senator Jack Latvala will be heard in the Senate Appropriations Committee on Tuesday, April 25th.

House: HB 1243 sponsored by Representative Dan Raulerson is waiting to be heard on the floor of the Florida House.

The Greater Tampa Chamber of Commerce supports SB 1672/HB 1243.

Upcoming Events

Register for the Legislative Wrap Up on May 19th.   Learn more about what the Hillsborough delegation has to say about the 2017 Legislative Session.

As things are changing in Tallahassee, Washington D.C. and here in Hillsborough County, the Tampa Chamber is watching those issues that are important to the community and your business. Here is some of what we are watching:

  • Possible changes to the Affordable Health Care Act
  • Possible changes with the relations between the U.S. and Cuba
  • Appropriations request rule changes in Tallahassee
  • Medical Marijuana and what that means to Tampa Bay
  • Workers’ Comp. Rate
  • Premium Transit Study
  • Regional MPO


Leadership Tampa Alumni Establishes Thom Stork Memorial Hospitality Scholarship

Today, Leadership Tampa Alumni announced the establishment of the Thom Stork Memorial Hospitality Scholarship.  Stork was President and CEO of the Florida Aquarium until his passing earlier this year.  Prior to his work at the Aquarium, he served in many leadership roles with Busch Gardens and Sea World.  For many years, he served as the Chair of Tourism Day for Leadership Tampa and was an advocate for the participation of tourism leaders in the program.  The scholarship will be open to applicants who work in the tourism industry and have a demonstrated history of volunteerism. 

Members of Leadership Tampa are business/professional people who hold leadership positions within their companies or organizations. Additionally, they have demonstrated a concern for community issues and volunteered their time with service and professional organizations. The selection process is rigorous and competitive for each of the 50 seats available in each class.  

The Leadership Tampa year begins in September and runs through May with members meeting every other week for briefings, seminars and hands-on experiences. Each Leadership Tampa program brings in top-level business, civic and government leaders for panel discussions and question and answer sessions. Topics covered include healthcare, education, law enforcement, the environment, economic development, government and other important community issues.  Applications are currently being accepted for the Class of 2018, the deadline is May 5.

For the specific criteria of the Thom Stork Memorial Hospitality Scholarship or more information about Leadership Tampa, please contact MaryBeth Williams at (813) 276-9445 or at mwilliams@tampachamber.com.

Tampa Chamber statement on the passage of ridesharing legislation

Today, the Florida Senate passed legislation that will allow for statewide regulation of ridesharing.  The same bill passed the Florida House earlier this legislative session.  Statewide regulation has been a top priority for the Greater Tampa Chamber of Commerce for the past several years and the Chamber applauds the Senate and House for passing the legislation.

“The Tampa Chamber thanks the Florida Legislature for recognizing the importance of statewide regulation of ridesharing in Florida.  Our state must have a uniform standard for both our residents and visitors to travel from one location to another.  Now we have that standard and look forward to Governor Rick Scott signing this great bill into law,” said Mike Griffin, Chair of the Greater Tampa Chamber of Commerce. 

The bill also requires ridesharing companies like Uber to carry $100,000 of insurance for bodily injury or death and $25,000 for property damage while a driver is logged into their app without a secured passenger.  If there is a passenger in the car, the driver will be required to have $1 million in coverage.  The legislation also requires that companies contract with third parties to perform criminal background checks on drivers.

The Chamber thanks Representative Chris Sprowls, Representative Jamie Grant and Senator Jeff Brandes for their leadership in sponsoring the bills in the House and Senate.

Member News 4/13/17 – 4/20/17

Member News

Member Events

Member Job Openings

If you would like to submit news, events, job postings, new hires/promotions, or accolades  for the Member News section of eView, please go to  http://www.tampachamber.com/Your-Chamber/Newsroom/MemberNews.aspx.

Data-Driven Healthcare Education Roundtable Invitation

Data-Driven Healthcare Education Roundtable Discussion, May 18, 12:30p to 1:30p (lunch provided)

Dear Chamber Member,

The climate of healthcare is continually changing and having an impact right here in Tampa Bay.  Trends for 2017 include keeping an eye out on topics such as our nation’s healthcare delivery systems, insurance policy changes, data-driven healthcare education programs and healthcare industry needs. In a recent article, Liz Alton states employment opportunities in the health care industry are on the rise and estimated to grow over the next several years (Alton, 2017). The ADP Workforce Vitality Report Q4 2016 shows “healthcare industries exhibited a strong reading on the Workforce Vitality Index, a composite reading that takes into account wage growth, employment growth and other factors, increasing 5.6 percent year over year. This is ahead of a 4 percent growth trend of all industries combined.” (Alton, 2017).

Based on these findings, how do we fill the gaps and gain a better understanding of all of the changes that are affecting us locally and on a national level? Do local employers offer positions that are attractive and competitive compared to other cities within Florida? What trends do local employers, educators and healthcare experts see and estimate over the next several years? The need for these groups to collaborate is vital for our community. The question we need to address is, are our local graduates and those relocating to the Greater Tampa Bay area acquiring the skill-set to meet the demands in direct patient care, insurance and policy, and healthcare trends for 2017?

Please join the Greater Tampa Chamber’s Education Connection interactive and informal Healthcare Education discussion between healthcare and academic professionals.

The discussions will focus on:

  • Exploring workforce skill gaps health employers are facing
  • Expected changes and updates in healthcare delivery systems
  • Creating partnerships between educational institutions and healthcare providers to provide job-ready candidates
  • Changes in healthcare policy and how this impacts our community
  • Ensuring healthcare providers have skilled employees to meet their needs
  • Student opportunities available in Tampa Bay
  • Resources available to businesses from the academic community

Seats are limited to 10 Chamber member business participants and 10 academic participants, so reservations are on a first come basis.

To reserve your seat, please email cgeeabate@tampachamber.com.


Roundtable details: Wednesday, May 18, 12:30pm to 1:30pm (lunch provided, including vegan)

Location: Greater Tampa Chamber office, 201 N. Franklin Street, Suite 201

Parking: Short-term parking available on the 3rd floor of the Fort Brook parking garage.

From the parking garage, take the 3rd floor crosswalk to the Tampa City Center Building. The Chamber office is the first door on the right after the crosswalk.

LT 2017: Tallahassee Retreat

Walden, Scott.jpg

By: Scott Walden

I think it is safe to assume each attending member of our LT 2017 class would agree, the highly anticipated two-day visit of our State Capitol did not disappoint. The session was intended to provide our class with a broad overview of our state’s political structure and processes supplemented with select panel discussions aimed at providing greater insight into certain aspects of Florida politics.

Day One of the retreat started early with a scheduled bus departure of 0700 on 4 April, 2017. Aside from a couple near death experiences caused by inclement weather, the bus ride to our hotel in Tallahassee was mostly uneventful. The sentiment on the bus was one of excitement and anticipation and, as usual, the conversation was lively.

Shortly after our arrival, the class gathered in the hotel’s conference room for a joint lunch / panel discussion moderated by former Speaker of the House, H. Lee Moffitt. Mr. Moffitt’s opening comments included a brief history on the establishment of the Moffitt Cancer Center, as well as a bit of insight regarding the unique political power held by the Speaker of the House. Panel members for this discussion included Jan Gorrie, Managing Partner, Ballard Partners, “Mac” Stipanovich, of Council, Buchanan, Ingersoll & Rooney, PC, and Mark Walsh, USF System Assistant Vice President for Government Relations.

The panel primarily addressed those political issues relating to the Greater Tampa Chamber’s agenda: USF funding, additional cigarette tax revenue for Moffitt Cancer Center, statewide transportation network regulations and K-12 funding. Equally important and interesting during this discussion was our ability to hear from those who participate in the political process as a lobbyist. Also noteworthy were the numerous “tongue-in-cheek” comments regarding Florida’s current Speaker of the House, Richard Corcoran, and his stance on several contentious issues. This behavior did not go unnoticed by our class and highlighted how personality and party differences remain an enormous obstacle in the political process.

Following our initial panel discussion, the class walked to the old State Capitol. After an informative briefing on the building’s history, we were turned loose to explore. As one would expect, the old Capitol is a fascinating facility, steeped in history with a collection of very well-preserved artifacts and, of course, provided a great group photo opportunity.

Blog 1Figure 1 LT-17 on the reconstructed staircase in the Old Capitol

Next on the agenda was a short walk to the new Capitol and the opportunity to view the political process in action. The group split between the House and Senate, and each were allotted 30-minutes to witness our lawmakers at work. The formality of the process was particularly interesting, but the process generally seemed confusing and a bit inefficient, and lawmaker attendance and attention seemed low. Many of these concerns were addressed during the following day’s panel discussion.

Before departing the Capitol for the day, LT’17 was treated to an informative briefing and Q&A with our Attorney General, Pamela Jo “Pam” Bondi in the Cabinet Room. Serving in this capacity since 2010, Mrs. Bondi has remained focused on solving issues that most impact Florida citizens. During our time with her she emphasized her current focus on combating drug and human trafficking-related problems.

Blog 2Figure 2 Florida Attorney General Bondi

Having the Cabinet Room all to ourselves presented some unique photo opportunities…

Blog 3Figure 3 Ryan Garlow for Governor?

The final item on the agenda for Day One was a formal Legislative Reception held at the Governor’s Club. The legislative session ran long on this day, so our ability to visit and interact with members of the Bay Area Legislative Delegation was very limited. In their absence, our classmates took the opportunity to visit socially and recap observations from the day’s events.

Once formal activities concluded for the day, the LT’17 GOATs took advantage of the first real opportunity to gather as a group and socialize. Class members utilized skills learned from previous sessions in navigating various means of public transportation as they made their way to Township, a local bar / restaurant, where Erica Shea secured a private room for dinner. It was evident everyone had a great time, and who would have guessed so many GOATs had such great JENGA skills!


Figure 4 GOATs on the loose in Tallahassee!

 After a long day of political education and socializing, some class members began retreating to the hotel in preparation for the next day – but not all class members. Others decided to extend the socializing to other local establishments. I don’t know what has taken place the evening of Day One with other classes, but there are two specific things I do know which clearly set the GOATs apart from all others: 1) There is significant doubt previous classes found the gem of an establishment many of our classmates found for after-dinner socializing, and 2) There is NO possibility their evening could have been nearly as epic!

Day Two of the retreat began with a panel discussion and breakfast focused on the Present & Future Political Landscape. Conducted in the hotel conference room and moderated by Clint Shouppe, State Government Relations Manager, St. Joseph’s Hospital, this was perhaps the most informative and insightful panel discussion of the retreat. Sarah Bascom, President, Bascom Communications & Consulting, LLC., and Steve Schale, Political Strategist, Florida, shared their vast experience in Florida politics through an extremely interactive questions and answer session. Classmate Michael Ferrone addressed some of the shared concerns our classmates had while observing the House and Senate sessions. There is little doubt this was the correct panel to address those concerns, and their feedback shed significant light on what occurs on the floor of each house, why/how things occur, and why we should (or shouldn’t) be concerned with the process.

Another short walk to the new Capitol for a briefing in Senate Chambers with Senator Dana Young was next on the agenda. A former State Representative, Young gained the Senate seat representing western Hillsborough County in 2016. It was a privilege to listen to her speak to our class regarding those issues affecting the Tampa Bay community. As you can see in the photo, she had our undivided attention.

Blog 6Figure 5 Future State Senators?

Our final scheduled event of the retreat was a tour of the Governor’s mansion. The mansion, which was designed to resemble Andrew Jackson’s Hermitage, was designed by Marion Sims Wyeth who also designed numerous Palm Beach mansions including Mar-a-Lago. The building has 30 rooms and 15,000 square feet of living space on 1.5 acres of land. Our half-hour guided tour of the mansion was a nice way to wrap up our visit. No visit to the Governor’s mansion would be complete without an LT-17 group photo…

Blog 7Figure 6 GOATs at Governor’s Mansion

It remains a bit of a mystery, but the bus ride back to Tampa may have been the quietest 5-hr bus ride in the history of bus rides. Was it simply exhaustion from the fast and furious pace at which information was imparted on us during our visit – or could it be something else? In any case, I believe I can speak for my classmates in saying this was certainly one of the more informative, insightful, enjoyable experiences we have had during our time in Leadership Tampa. Thank you to the sponsors, and to those charged with putting all of this together for us.


Chamber Presents Dottie Berger MacKinnon Woman of Influence Award to Robin DeLaVergne

DeLaVergne, Robin color 2009Tampa, Fla. – Robin DeLaVergne, Executive Director of the Tampa General Hospital Foundation and Senior Vice President of Tampa General Hospital was selected as the recipient of the 2017 Dottie Berger MacKinnon Woman of Influence Award, presented by the Greater Tampa Chamber of Commerce.

Robin is a member of USF Women in Leadership and Philanthropy, Tampa General Hospital Foundation Women’s Leadership Council, The Bank of Tampa Women Connected Advisory Board, Leadership Tampa Alumni and the Philanthropy Leadership Council of the Advisory Board. She has served as an Honorary Commander for the 6th Air Mobility Group at MacDill Air Force Base and is a member of the MacDill/Tampa Leadership Committee for the Air Force Community Partnership Initiative. She is a past Chair of the Greater Tampa Chamber of Commerce, past President of the Junior League of Tampa, past Chair of the Tampa Bay Partnership’s CEO Direct Program and member of the Board of Directors, and a past member of the Board of Directors for Metropolitan Ministries and the United Way. She received the 2012 Women of Distinction Award from the Girl Scouts of West Central Florida.

The Woman of Influence Award recognizes a woman whose leadership has made a positive impact in Hillsborough County.  It pays tribute to an individual who exemplifies outstanding professional values; demonstrates the ability to go above and beyond the normal expectations of a leader; and serves as an inspiration to the community. Robin DeLaVergne was presented the award at the Chamber’s annual Women of Influence Luncheon featuring Debbie Sterling, Founder and CEO of GoldieBlox, an award-winning company on a mission to “disrupt the pink aisle” with toys, games and media for girls.