Irma Recovery Toolkit

Now that Hurricane Irma is gone, it’s time to assess the damage and start the cleanup. Here are some resources to help you and your business during the recovery process.

Emergency Resource Links
Emergency Phone Numbers
TECO Outage Map
Citizen Information Hotline (844) 852-8889

Hillsborough County
Hillsborough County Emergency Management
Emergency Management
American Red Cross of Tampa Bay
The Salvation Army Tampa/Hillsborough County

Pinellas County
Pinellas County Emergency Management
Citizen Information Center (727) 464-4333

Florida Division of Emergency Management
The Florida Virtual Business Emergency Operations Center (FLVBEOC)
Florida Emergency Bridge Loan Program
Florida Emergency Information Line (800) 342-3557
Text FLRESPONDS to 888777 to receive updates via text.

Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA)
Individual Assistance Program – (800) 621-FEMA
Public Assistance Grant Program
U.S. Small Business Administration – Disaster Loans or call (811) 621-3362
IRS – Tax Relief in Disaster Situations
United States Department of Agriculture Disaster Assistance Program
Red Cross Disaster Relief & Recovery Services
Department of Homeland Security
Other Recovery Help

U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation
Small Business Recovery
Disaster Help Desk 1-888-MY-BIZ-HELP (888-692-4943)

Florida Chamber of Commerce
After the Storm: Resources for Recovery
Post-Hurricane Assistance

Consumer Protection
Consumer Alert – Beware of Insurance Scams
Price Gouging Hotline: (866)-9-NO-SCAM

Tampa Bay Disaster Relief and Recovery Fund
Florida Disaster Fund
American Red Cross

Leaders in Action: Leadership Tampa Alumni Help Feed 5,000 Families


By Melody Marrs, Goodwill Industries – Suncoast, Inc.
Leadership Tampa Class of 2005

Melody Marrs

Melody Marrs

I was one of the lucky ones! Lucky because I was with 25 fellow LTA classmates and members who joined together on Thursday, November 20 at Feeding America Tampa Bay to help stock the shelves and pack food bags for the hungry living in our community. What a difference 25 extra pairs of hands made for 5,000 hungry families! Together we unfolded bags, stocked them with potatoes, stuffing and canned goods and then folded and packed the food bags into huge containers to be delivered to the Salvation Army in Tampa for distribution the next day.

Feeding America Tampa Bay said that we were lifesavers as they had a shortage of volunteers and staff that day to pack the bags! But really, isn’t it true that Feeding America7 Tampa Bay and other nonprofits who serve people in need in our community are the true lifesavers? They are the ones to be thanked! I am proud to say that we had nine class years represented on Volunteer Day –  from 1989, 2005, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2013, 2014 and yes, even a current 2015 class member came to volunteer. It was easy to see that 2014 was strongly represented and many of them shared the memory of their own Community Outreach Day during their LT 2014 class year. These experiences truly bring home just how much one person can help another.

So, to those who volunteered last week with us, thank you so much. And for those of you who volunteer often and for a variety of causes, thank you for giving your time and resources to help make a difference in someone’s life.

I wish each and every one of you a blessed holiday season and I am confident that our fellow LTA classmates will be out working in the community helping others this holiday season. Happy Holidays all!

Diploma-See 2014


By: Stephanie Newton, Community Outreach Committee 

Am I relatable? Will they think I’m a phony? Is the ONE bag of candy enough to appease them? These were just a  few of the questions racing through my mind as our group of Junior Achievement Diploma-See volunteers gathered in a side classroom to polish off the prep on our exercise materials and slam down some coffee to get our energy where it needed to be. These were middle school students we had to teach finance to, after all. It was go-time.

Each year the Greater Tampa Chamber of Commerce activates volunteers to participate in Junior Achievement’s Diploma-See program. Jose Valiente, the founder of the program, came up with the idea while he was Chair of the Chamber. Volunteers visit Hillsborough County Title-1 Public Schools and teach basic financial principals. Volunteers are required to participate in a 2-hour training session and then go into the classrooms for a half day and teach. I along with eight other Emerge Tampa Bay members decided to participate this year together.

As soon as the door opened and a collection of student ambassadors were waiting to guide us to our classrooms, all of my fears subsided. This was going to be fun. As we chatted on our short journey to our destination, I commented on the school mascot and the upcoming dance. (Getting to tell my Georgia Tech-alum boyfriend later that day that I got to teach a classroom full of “Yellow Jackets” was certainly noteworthy. He did help me prepare the lessons the night before, after all.)

There is something very unique about the adrenaline that rushes through your body at the onset of having to introduce yourself to young people who are a mirror reflection of the person you are not entirely that far removed from – the only difference being that your life has accelerated at an increasing pace. As students came up to the whiteboard and identified with a sticky note on a poster full of the career choices where they believed they saw themselves, I remember standing back and thinking, “How lucky are they?” My favorite part of the entire morning was just watching students rush up to the poster with unfaltering confidence, knowing they had the exact job path in mind and then stop and take a second look at the options before committing. You could see the wheels turning. That’s when I knew this program was truly something special. When asked what a “cosmologist” and a “chemical engineer” did for a living, I felt like I held the greatest amount of power in the world.

Another tremendous takeaway of the day for me was getting to reinforce the notion that education doesn’t end beyond college, graduate school, or even doctorate-level work. The slew of certificate programs, trade classes and seminars one can attend throughout their working life to acquire new skill sets really opened our students’ minds to the flexibility that now surrounded them.

Ownership of what the students really did know regarding finances started to speed up and shine when talk turned to credit and debit cards. And did they waaaant to talk about credit cards, let me tell you. The perspectives in the room were cut across a wide array of economic backgrounds and experiences, which made the discussion rich and eye-opening.

When we debriefed following the three-hour session with our classrooms, my mind was blown to hear about the projects the students were undertaking in aerospace, aviation and engineering. Building components of a fighter jet? O….kay. Can I blame my classroom for not 100% being able to differentiate premiums and co-pays? Absolutely not. The rare opportunity I had to impart what I hope was valuable financial knowledge that perhaps a few months or years from now even one student pulls out of their memory files and goes “a-ha!” with will be a victory for me. That and leaving a middle school classroom with completely flipped perspective of what the students were capable of before entering. For that, I thank Junior Achievement – where to next?

Chamber to Pay Tribute to Veterans on November 10


The Greater Tampa, South Tampa and Brandon Chambers invite the Tampa community to the 2014 Veterans Day Celebration at Joe Chillura Courthouse Square in downtown Tampa at 10 a.m. on Monday, November 10.  Hosted by the Military Council of the Greater Tampa Chamber of Commerce, South Tampa Chamber and the Greater Brandon Chamber of Commerce, the event will feature the always popular parade of flags, a concert by local school children and remarks by Vice Admiral Sean Pybus, Deputy Commander, Naval Special Warfare (NSW) SEAL Officer, United States Special Operations Command.

Invited guests include families of those county residents killed in action, combat-wounded patients being treated at the James A. Haley VA Hospital, elected officials, civic leaders and senior military representatives from MacDill Air Force Base. The Progress Village Middle Magnet School band and Orange Grove Middle Magnet School chorus will perform patriotic musical selections, and there will be a reading of the names of Hillsborough Country veterans who have paid the ultimate sacrifice in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The ceremony is co-presented with Hillsborough County, the City of Tampa and Tampa Downtown Partnership and sponsored by USAA, Bank of America, Saint Leo University, Celestar Corporation, Grow Financial Federal Credit Union, Boeing, The Tampa Tribune, and Sam’s Club.  A light lunch and beverages will be served after the ceremony.

Joe Chillura Courthouse Square is located on Kennedy Boulevard between Pierce and Morgan streets in downtown Tampa.

About the Greater Tampa Chamber of Commerce

The Greater Tampa Chamber of Commerce is committed to serving our members and enhancing our community by building business success.  The Chamber provides a greater return on investment and involvement by providing innovative leadership, inside access, influential advocacy and increased opportunities. 

Leadership Tampa’s Community Outreach Day

By Jessica Muroff, Frameworks of Tampa Bay

lt15 community outreach 57One of the reasons why many of us applied for Leadership Tampa was to learn more about how we could best serve our community. It was very fitting that Community Outreach Day was our first official program day following our kick-off retreat.

Community Outreach Day was more than just learning about the social services so many incredible nonprofits provide in our community. We were able to experience first-hand how many in our community access and utilize these critical services. This gave us the best perspective possible in understanding the demand, and many times lack of enough resources, to provide services to so many in need in our community.

We spent our morning learning about the number and variety of nonprofits in the Tampa Bay community, the economic impact these organizations contribute, and  how they are evolving to meet the needs of so many. Our class of 60 was grouped into small teams to volunteer at 14 nonprofit organizations. In just one day, our class donated approximately 120 hours to our community.lt15 community outreach 50

The afternoon was spent literally walking in the shoes of those in need in our community. It was a sobering experience for all of us, getting a real glimpse at the lack of resources, waiting lists, and daily struggles that challenge so many people. Even in this stark reality, we saw hope, opportunity, compassion, and support provided by terrific people and organizations in our community. This day made us grateful for the kind-hearted individuals serving in these incredible organizations.

We wrapped up the day by better understanding what we can provide to our community and how we can best serve these nonprofit organizations to generate the resources they need. Every organization we visited was hard at work eliminating poverty, hunger, homelessness, substance abuse, and so many other challenges in our community. We can all still do more to help. It was a tremendous day, and we’d all like to thank the long list of agencies below which participated:

Calling all Entrepreneurs and Small Business Owners

00102Need assistance growing your business? Want to take advantage of available business resources at no cost? Need to take your business to the next level? If you answered yes to any of these questions, then contact the Florida Small Business Development Center (FSBDC) for a confidential one-on-one meeting with one of our expert Certified Business Consultants.

As the only state designated provider of entrepreneurial and business development services, the Florida SBDC Network plays a vital role in Florida’s entrepreneurial ecosystem by assisting entrepreneurs and small to medium sized businesses in every stage of the business cycle. The Florida SBDC Network’s experienced and knowledgeable Certified Business Consultants can help you successfully navigate the obstacles that come with every stage of the business lifecycle.

In partnership with the Greater Tampa Chamber of Commerce the FSBDC has assigned a consultant to hold meetings at the Chamber with member businesses on the 4th Thursday of every month. To schedule a confidential meeting with a certified business consultant, please call 813-914-4028 or click You can register online and schedule a meeting on a date and time that best fits your schedule; best of all these services are provided at no additional cost to you! 

FAMU, FIU, UCF and USF board of trustees application deadline extended to March 4!

BOGpicThe Board of Governors is looking for dynamic and diverse individuals who are interested in higher education, passionate about assisting our institutions and committed to working toward the goals of the State University System. The universities’ 13-member boards of trustees are responsible for implementing and maintaining cost-effective policy and high quality educational programs. They also work to adhere to state policy, budgeting and education standards. Members are appointed by the Board of Governors and by the Governor.

Four of the state’s public universities have a vacant position: Florida A&M University, Florida International University, University of Central Florida and University of South Florida. USF’s vacancy is for a term ending January 6, 2016, and the vacancies at FAMU, FIU and UCF are each for a term ending January 6, 2018.

Those interested in this intensive public service opportunity must complete an application and return it no later than March 4. Applicants do not need to live in Florida to serve on a board of trustees. The application and more information can be found at

Applications should be mailed to the Board of Governors (and not to individual universities):

Florida Board of Governors
325 W. Gaines Street
Tallahassee, FL 32399

For further questions, contact the Board of Governors at 850-245-0466.

Tampa Port Authority a partner in NOAA’s Weather-Ready Nation pilot project

The Tampa Port Authority, in conjunction with NOAA’s National Weather Service and other key partners, celebrated the kick-off today of an initiative called “Weather-Ready Nation”, a highly collaborative project in Tampa Bay to provide enhanced support services and rapid information sharing before, during and after severe weather and other marine weather events.

Of particular importance to the port authority is the maritime aspect, as this new pilot project will go beyond the traditional domain of the National Weather Service and address impacts that cross both ecological and economic boundaries. The waters of Tampa Bay play host to an extremely busy, 42-mile cargo ship channel, and the journey for the vessels can vary, weather-wise, along that path. Therefore, timely and accurate weather information and support can be a critical factor.

Tampa Bay is one of six Weather-Ready Nation areas, along with Washington D.C.; New Orleans; Fort Worth, Texas; Charleston, WV; and Silver Spring, MD. The project will engage multiple agencies, emergency management and the media to provide the best possible weather and environmental service. Other partnering agencies are the National Marine Fisheries Service, the National Ocean Service, the Office of Response and Restoration, and Mote Marine Laboratory, in Sarasota. Some of the benefits of this joint partnership will be the mitigation of future risk and impact from hurricane storm surge and the provision of safety and high-impact marine weather information for the safety of marine navigation through the port.

Handling a diverse cargo base, the Port of Tampa is also a ship building and repair hub and one of the nation’s major cruise home ports. For more information about the Port of Tampa, the largest port in Florida and the largest economic engine in West/Central Florida, visit

Member Spotlight: Hampton Inn Westshore & Hyatt Place Westshore

Sister Properties Working as One

The Hampton Inn Tampa Westshore and the Hyatt Place Tampa Westshore, both managed by Pillar Hotels and Resorts are hotels working together to bring an unforgettable experience for their guests. Located in the thriving Westshore District, the Hampton Inn offers 133 renovated rooms and the Hyatt Place offers 124 contemporary, spacious suites.
The newly renovated Hampton Inn Tampa Westshore offers all of the conveniences of the Hampton brand including  complimentary On The House hot breakfast each morning, Cloud Nine bedding experience, and the new Perfect Mix Lobby. The Hampton Inn also offers complimentary 24 hour shuttle within 3 miles of the hotel which includes Tampa International Airport, outdoor swimming pool, 24 hour fitness center and complimentary wireless internet throughout the hotel. For a comfortable guest room at a superior value, please visit to make your reservation today.
The Hyatt Place Tampa Westshore is a new kind of Hyatt designed for you. Each spacious suite includes 42” flat panel HDTV with the Hyatt Plug Panel for connecting your laptop or personal media devices, Hyatt Grand Bed, Cozy Corner Sectional sofa-sleeper and complimentary wireless internet. Enjoy a complimentary continental breakfast each morning , 24/7 dining options, and wine or beer in the Galley. The Hyatt  Place Westshore also offers flexible meeting space for your company or social event with unique food and beverage options. Visit the Hyatt Place at  to find out more details about this unique and exciting hotel.
Both hotels are located conveniently in the Westshore Business District only minutes from two shopping plazas, numerous dining options, the Tampa International Airport, and Raymond James Stadium. An easy drive will also take you to the Port of Tampa, Busch Gardens, Florida Aquarium and the beautiful Gulf of Mexico Beaches. For any of your hotel needs, please contact the sales staff for more information.

Rep. Bilirakis to Host Employment Fair December 6

On Tuesday, December 6, from 11 a.m. – 3 p.m., Rep. Gus Bilirakis (FL-09) will again be hosting a FREE Employment Fair, which will provide job-seekers with an opportunity to meet with potential employers in the Tampa Bay area. The fair will be held at Spartan Manor at 6121 Massachusetts Avenue in New Port Richey.

“At a time when so many people in our community are in need of employment, it’s imperative that they are put in touch with those businesses and employers that are hiring, and these fairs provide that opportunity,” Bilirakis said.

Nearly two dozen local businesses and employers will be on hand to meet with those seeking careers. Attendees are encouraged to dress professionally, bring resumes and be prepared for potential interviews.

For more information, call 727.773.2871. Visit for a confirmed list of participating employers.

WHEN: Tuesday, December 6, 2011, 11 a.m. – 3 p.m.
WHERE: Spartan Manor, 6121 Massachusetts Avenue, New Port Richey, FL 34653
MEDIA: Reporters, Cameras permitted. Media RSVP to Creighton Welch at 202.225.5755

NOTE: On Friday, December 10, from 9 a.m. – 1 p.m., Bilirakis will also be hosting a free Foreclosure Assistance Workshop. Given the current downturn in the housing market, many families are insecure about their most important investment and this workshop will bring together leaders in home finance to aid families and individuals in navigating these uncertain times. It will be held at Mitchell High School, 2323 Little Road, New Port Richey.