For the first time, SCORE Chapters within the nonprofit’s District 480 are joining forces to offer small business owners throughout the region the critical guidance needed today to determine whether they should stay in business and the best steps for moving forward. In a special six-part webinar series, presenters from five SCORE Chapters will guide small business owners—the backbone of the local and national economy—through an easy-to-follow, four-step process for meeting today’s small business challenges and creating a path for the future.
Small business owners need to learn how to take action to preserve their livelihoods and those of their employees now more than ever. According to an April survey from Main Street America, 7.5 million small businesses nationwide will shut permanently if business disruption caused by COVID-19 continues unabated. In Southwest Florida, in Lee County alone, a recent survey by Florida Gulf Coast University’s Regional Economic Research Institute shows that 56% surveyed businesses reported a decrease in demand of more than 50% as a result of the pandemic.
In response to the ever-increasing number of Covid-19 cases in the Winter Haven area, the City of Winter Haven is holding a Free Face Mask Giveaway program beginning July 10.
Disposable face masks will be distributed in a drive-through process at the Winter Haven Recreational and Cultural Center parking lot at 801 Martin Luther King, Jr. Boulevard and at the Florida Citrus Building (Nora Mayo Hall) at 500 3rd Street NW. This service is available from 9:30 a.m. – 1 p.m. on Friday, July 10 and from Monday July 13 through Friday, July 17. Area citizens can visit one of these two sites to receive up to three disposable face masks for each person in the car while supplies last.
It is up to each of us to do our park to mitigate the impact of this virus. The use of face masks could reduce the spread of Covid-19 when worn around others and in public spaces. All citizens are urged to wear a face mask when in the company of other people. Face masks or face coverings are required in all City of Winter Haven government facilities.
Please call 291-5600 should you have questions about this face mask distribution program.
As of the publishing of this blog masks are required to be worn in City buildings and in indoor spaces within the City of Lakeland. The County has passed a resolution strongly encouraging masks.
The County Commission decided not to mandate but rather encourage use of masks. See the resolution language below. If you don't want to read the whole thing, here is the gist:
The Board of County Commissioners of Polk County, Florida, strongly encourages the use of cloth face coverings and requests that all people who are able to wear cloth face coverings in public settings when around people outside of their household, especially when other social distancing measures are difficult to maintain.
RESOLUTION NO. 2020- __
A RESOLUTION OF THE BOARD OF COUNTY COMMISSIONERS OF POLK COUNTY, FLORIDA, ENCOURAGING THE USE OF CLOTH FACE COVERINGS AND REQUESTING THAT ALL PEOPLE WHO ARE ABLE TO WEAR CLOTH FACE COVERINGS IN PUBLIC SETTINGS WHEN AROUND PEOPLE OUTSIDE OF THEIR HOUSEHOLD, ESPECIALLY WHEN OTHER SOCIAL DISTANCING MEASURES ARE DIFFICULT TO MAINTAIN; AND PROVIDING FOR AN EFFECTIVE DATE
WHEREAS, according to the CDC, "COVID-19 spreads mainly from person to person through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs, sneezes, talks, or raises their voice (e.g., while shouting, chanting, or singing);" and
WHEREAS, the CDC states "these droplets can land in the mouths or noses of people who are nearby or possibly be inhaled into the lungs;" and
WHEREAS, the CDC also states "recent studies show that a significant portion of individuals with COVID-19 lack symptoms (are “asymptomatic”) and that even those who eventually develop symptoms (are “pre-symptomatic”) can transmit the virus to others before showing symptoms;" and
WHEREAS, to reduce the spread of COVID-19, the CDC recommends that "all people 2 years of age and older wear cloth face coverings in public settings when around people outside of their household, especially when other social distancing measures are difficult to maintain;"
WHEREAS, "widely used cloth face coverings may help prevent people who have COVID-19 from spreading the virus to others (particularly when used along with other preventive measures, including social distancing, frequent handwashing, and cleaning and disinfecting frequently touched surfaces), by protecting the people around you, including those at higher risk of severe illness from COVID-19 and workers who frequently come into close contact with other people (e.g., in stores and restaurants);"
WHEREAS, the cloth face coverings recommended by the CDC "are not surgical masks or respirators…are not personal protective equipment (PPE)… are not appropriate substitutes for PPE such as respirators (like N95 respirators) or medical facemasks (like surgical masks) in workplaces where respirators or facemasks are recommended or required to protect the wearer;" and
WHEREAS, on July 7, 2020, the Board of County Commissioners of Polk County, Florida, authorized the purchase of sufficient numbers of face masks to be used by the citizens of Polk County at no charge.
NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED BY THE BOARD OF COUNTY COMMISSIONERS OF POLK COUNTY, FLORIDA, THAT:
Section 1. The Board of County Commissioners of Polk County, Florida, strongly encourages the use of cloth face coverings and requests that all people who are able to wear cloth face coverings in public settings when around people outside of their household, especially when other social distancing measures are difficult to maintain.
Section 2. This Resolution shall take effect immediately upon its approval.
There were a few important updates today that I wanted to share with you.
- As of July 8 masks will be required to be worn by all employees and customers within a City of Winter Haven government building. You can read more about that here.
- Tonight during the City Commission agenda review meeting they discussed a mask mandate for indoor spaces within the City limits, similar to that implemented in Lakeland last week. Each commissioner expressed support but they will have to vote on this resolution during next Monday's Commission meeting. As soon as I have the specific language of the resolution I will forward it to you. The City attorney indicated that it will likely be very similar to Lakeland's and you can read their ordinance here.
- The County Government decided not to pass a mask mandate at their meeting yesterday and rather issued a proclamation encouraging mask use. You can read that here.
Disposable face masks will be distributed by the City of Winter Haven government in a drive-through process at the Winter Haven Recreational and Cultural Center parking lot at 801 Martin Luther King, Jr. Boulevard and at the Florida Citrus Building (Nora Mayo Hall) at 500 3rd Street NW. This service is available from 9:30 a.m. – 1 p.m. on Friday, July 10 and from Monday July 13 through Friday, July 17. Area citizens can visit one of these two sites to receive up to three disposable face masks for each person in the car while supplies last.
The Chamber still has about 700 washable, non-medical grade Hanes cotton masks and if you are interested in those we are offering up to 12 per Chamber member business. Please email Rachel@winterhavenchamber.com. I am in discussion with the county to procure 3,000-5,000 Level 1 disposable masks to distribute to businesses in east Polk County and as soon as I receive confirmation I will let you know how to get those from us.
Polk Cares Business Assistance Funding Update:
As of this morning, the County had received $18M in applications for the $20M small business assistance CARES act fund. As a goal to pay as many received applications as possible they will be closing applications for businesses at 11:59 p.m. on Friday, July 17. Individual assistance applications will close at 11:59 p.m on Friday, July 10. Only complete applications will be processed. The call center is still available for questions at 863-298-7500. Learn more at https://www.polk-county.net/polk-cares-2020.
- With the number of COVID-19 cases on the rise, Governor DeSantis yesterday issued Executive Order 20-166 Emergency Management – Extension of Executive Order 20-52 which is extending the order originally issued in March and renewed in May for an additional 60 days through September 5, 2020. The move allows the state to continue accessing federal funds to respond to the pandemic. For a full list of COVID-related Executive Orders, please click here
- There has been a lot of media coverage regarding schools reopening. The DOE Commissioner's mandate that schools are open 5-days a week does not prevent our local school district from also coming up with alternative modes of education for those parents not comfortable sending their kids back to the physical location, which they are already working on. Stay up-to-date with the reopening plans here.
All my best -
Katie Worthington Decker
With the ever-increasing number of Covid-19 cases in the Winter Haven area, the City of Winter Haven is implementing a face mask policy for employees and customers in City government facilities beginning Wednesday, July 8, 2020.
To further protect all employees and all customers who use City facilities, face masks will be required inside all City of Winter Haven government facilities. Customers are required to wear a facemask or covering when entering any City of Winter Haven facility and when occupying those interior public spaces. (It is
understood that certain situations and conditions will prohibit mask use such as
intense physical activity or a personal medical issue prohibiting the use of a covering.) Free masks are available at every City facility should a customer not
have one to wear.
Should a customer not wish to enter a facility, but need to conduct business with the City of Winter Haven, electronic services are available on the City website at www.mywinterhaven.com . Services and guidance is also available by calling the department of interest and asking for virtual assistance. For more information on the City of Winter Havens response to COVID-19 please visit https://www.mywinterhaven.com/government/covid-19-impacts-and-updates/ .
As we head into the weekend to celebrate Independence Day, I have to be honest, it makes me a bit nervous. Polk County's COVID-19 cases and the percent positives in testing continue to increase. While I know our members are taking this very seriously, I worry that the public-at-large, fatigued of being cooped up and missing each other, has begun to get together in larger groups throwing health experts' recommendations to the wind. Please go into this weekend remembering we are still in the middle of this, and personal accountability and cautionary measures, however inconvenient in the short term, can help keep our economy moving and our businesses open! What happened last week to our bars and breweries is devastating to those small business owners we call our neighbors and friends.
A few updates to share:
Wishing you a safe, healthy, and happy 4th of July holiday!
All my best -
Katie Worthington Decker
The Mahalak Auto Group promotes Clint Turnbull to General Manager of DodgeChrysler Jeep RAM of Winter Haven
Executive order regarding the suspension of the on-site consumption of alcohol at 'bars'. If 50% of your sales are from alcohol you are included in the order. Restaurants are still permitted to serve.
DAVENPORT, Fla., June 22, 2020 — With heart disease being the leading cause of death in the U.S. and in Florida, cardiac care is a priority at AdventHealth Heart of Florida and a guiding force behind the new Heart Success Center.
In Polk County, the death rate from heart disease is higher than the rest of Florida. AdventHealth leaders see this not only as a cause for concern but as a cause for action.
RUBIO, CRUZ, SCOTT INTRODUCE BILL TO EXPAND PPP ELIGIBILITY TO CHAMBERS OF COMMERCE AND DESTINATION MARKETING ORGANIZATIONS
Washington, D.C. — U.S. Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL), Chairman of the Senate Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship, joined U.S. Senators Ted Cruz (R-TX) and Tim Scott (R-SC) to introduce a bill to expand Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) eligibility to local chambers of commerce, which provide valuable resources to small businesses across the country, and Destination Marketing Organizations (DMOs), which play an important role in creating a vibrant tourism industry. Read the full text of the bill here.
“The Paycheck Protection Program has helped millions of small businesses and nonprofits across a wide range of industries endure the coronavirus pandemic,” Chairman Rubio said. “It is critical that nonprofits designed to support the economic success of local communities survive, including chambers of commerce and destination-based organizations that promote tourism. I am proud to work with my colleagues to address this eligibility issue and help these organizations whose mission is to help our small businesses and the travel industry.”
“In Texas alone, roughly half of all small businesses belong to their local chamber of commerce, and the members of more than 6,500 chambers across the country are in urgent need of the services these organizations provide,” Senator Cruz said. “Hundreds of small businesses and communities also rely on tourism – which has been decimated during this pandemic. The Paycheck Protection Program has been an enormous success, and I’m hopeful the Senate will move swiftly to pass this bill to equip even more job creators with the resources they need to grow their way out of this economic crisis and get the American people back to work.”
“Small businesses are the backbone of our country and today, more than ever, they need our help to survive this pandemic and put Americans back on the pathway to jobs and economic wellness,” Senator Scott said. “As a former small business owner, I know how vital small businesses are for our local economies. This legislation would expand this critical program to our non-profits and Chambers of Commerce that offer the important infrastructure in our communities by providing valuable resources to local businesses. As a tourism destination state, South Carolina would not only benefit from the expansion of these loans, but the state would also continue to provide employment for hardworking families during this time. I want to thank my Senate colleagues for understanding the importance of this program and working to ensure that the folks back home are not left behind.”
Greater Winter Haven Chamber of Commerce Joins National Initiative to Address Inequality of Opportunity
Lakeland FL – SPCA Florida is committed to enriching the lives of people and pets in our community through a Network of Hope. SPCA Florida has been helping animals and their families for over 40 years and are committed to serving the community through education, outreach, and support services.
At SPCA Florida, our strength is our staff. And, caring for animals is more than just a job, it’s our passion.
SPCA Florida is looking to add to their team of dedicated, innovative, and compassionate people who work tirelessly to care for every animal. Our Campus of Kindness is growing to meet the demands of the community and the animals we serve. Employment opportunities include Veterinarians, Veterinary Technicians, Adoption and Animal Care personnel and Canine team members. SPCA Florida offers nationally competitive wages, benefits, a 403(b) plan, paid time off, and six (6) paid holidays. Starting pay is based on experience and education. If you are looking for a rewarding career in animal welfare, we want you!
SPCA Florida is an Equal Opportunity Employer and Drug-Free Work Place.
Positions available at www.spcaflorida/employment
We work together to make a difference in the lives of animals.
May 26, 2020, Winter Haven – Eye Specialists of Mid-Florida now has lighted flagpoles installed at all of its 8 locations. We firmly believe during this time of uncertainty during the COVID-19 crisis that showing our unity within our communities is a top priority. Flying our American flag honors our military veterans, those still actively serving, and celebrates our wonderful country all at the same time.
Wednesday, June 3, 2020 — Polk State College has prepared a three-phased Return to Campus plan that supports the return of administrators and select personnel to the College’s campuses and centers beginning on Monday, July 20, 2020.
Students should note that most courses will remain online through the Fall 2020 Semester. Students enrolled in select workforce education and training programs will receive specialized information from their program directors and instructors. All students are encouraged to monitor their Polk State accounts for important communication and the College’s COVID-19 webpage for updates.
“President’s Staff and the COVID-19 Leadership Team have worked diligently on the Return to Campus plan with the health and safety of faculty, staff, students, and the greater community remaining at the forefront,” President Angela Garcia Falconetti said. “Guiding principles of the plan include protecting our constituents and preserving academic and business continuity.”
Phase 1: "Safe, Smart, Step-by-Step" plan for Florida's Recovery:
Expanding Phase 1: Safe, Smart, Step-by-Step Plan for Florida's Recovery:
"Full Phase 1": Safe, Smart, Step-by-Step Plan for Florida's Recovery:
Phase 2: "Safe, Smart, Step-by-Step plan for Florida's Recovery:
Winter Haven City Manager Mike Herr recently announced the search for a new Director of Diversity and Inclusivity has resulted in the appointment of Christine Samuel to fill this new position. Committed to increasing diversity and inclusivity, the Director of Diversity position is newly created. Responsibilities include developing, managing, and advancing the City’s commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion within the organization and among the community served.
Under the guidance of the City Manager, the Director of Diversity will work in concert with City employees, leadership, and community stakeholders to establish equity as a shared value and operating principle; promote diversity; foster an inclusive environment where employees and citizens feel a sense of belonging; cultivate a culture that encourages collaboration, flexibility, and fairness; and proactively seek to connect diverse ideas in different ways to achieve common goals resulting in a healthy and strong Winter Haven community.
The AT&T Foundation is contributing $25,000 to Lakeland Regional Health for the hospital's ongoing COVID-19 efforts. The grant will help provide personal protective equipment and supplies for those battling the pandemic on the frontline. More details are provided in the news release below.
In addition to the contribution to Lakeland Regional Health, AT&T is providing 1,000 meals to healthcare workers in Hillsborough and Polk counties through a $10,000 contribution to Project FRONTLINE, a program focused on feeding healthcare workers risking their lives in the fight against COVID-19.
So far, 800 of those meals have been delivered to St. Joseph's Hospital in Tampa, AdventHealth in Carrollwood and AdventHealth Heart of Florida in Davenport. Two-hundred more meals will be delivered to St. Joseph's tomorrow (May 27). In support of local small businesses, the meals were prepared by Eddie V's Prime Seafood in Tampa and Nineteen61 in Lakeland.
AT&T is also supporting physicians and nurses nationwide with 3 months of free wireless service on the FirstNet network. FirstNet is a VIP lane for public safety communications. Regardless of how heavy network use is, first responder calls and data are prioritized on FirstNet, keeping those on the frontlines connected when they need it most.
AT&T Foundation Donates $25,000 to Lakeland Regional Health for COVID-19 Care
Lakeland, FL - Lakeland Regional Health Foundation is pleased to announce receipt of a generous $25,000 grant from the AT&T Foundation to be used toward the not-for-profit health system's ongoing COVID-19 campaign.
As Lakeland Regional Health's pressing needs for personal protective equipment and medicine became evident during the COVID-19 pandemic, the AT&T Foundation identified the hospital as a qualified recipient for a grant. The donation will go toward projects that create opportunities and address community needs.
"We have been committed to Florida for 140 years, and when the communities we live and work in need us most, we are honored to give back and support Florida's families and small businesses as they work to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic," said Matt Mucci, regional director - External & Legislative Affairs, AT&T Florida.
"The AT&T Foundation recognizes through this thoughtful grant the exceptional work we provide at Lakeland Regional Health, particularly during this COVID-19 pandemic," said Timothy J. Boynton, MBA, Lakeland Regional Health Vice President of Development and Chief Public Relations and Communications Officer. "These much-needed funds will be directly applied to our ongoing COVID-19 efforts. As a not-for-profit organization, we are grateful to be part of a community of such giving and supportive individuals and businesses."
During this time of uncertainty, now more than ever, Lakeland Regional Health needs the support of the community. To donate and assist with necessary equipment and supplies, visit https://mylrh.org/covid-19fund/.
Lake Wales, FL: To provide the community with a beautiful destination for healthy walks and mental well-being, Bok Tower Gardens is reopening to the public on Monday, June 1, with timed entry. A soft opening for members is planned for May 26 through May 31.
Until further notice, all visitors/members planning to visit the Gardens must reserve/purchase a ticket at boktowergardens.org before arriving at the entrance gate. Visitors must select their entry time from the following periods: 10 am, 12 pm, 2 pm, and 4 pm. Visitors may enter at any time during their two-hour entry window and are welcome to stay until 6 pm.
During this first phase of reopening, Hammock Hollow Children’s Garden, Pinewood Estate, and the Visitor Center will not be open. Visitors must adhere to strict physical distancing guidelines and remain at least six feet apart from other parties. As the CDC recommends wearing cloth face coverings in public settings where other social distancing measures are difficult to maintain, visitors must have masks when they come to the Gardens for safety and courtesy to others. Staff members will be wearing masks when in contact with visitors. The Gardens will utilize enhanced cleaning procedures with EPA registered disinfectants and hand sanitizer will be available.
Governor DeSantis just announced that he is rolling out a “Full Phase 1” of the “Safe, Smart, Step-by-Step” plan for Florida’s Recovery, which will come into effect from Monday, May 18th.
While we were all hoping that Phase 2 would be announced today, he did not give a date as to when this will happen, but as always, we will keep you informed as the news breaks.
Here are the main changes to what was already in place:
Governor DeSantis explained that he is working daily with specific industries to address their needs to open safely, and we saw this in action this past week with our Cosmetology/Beauty industries opening, the Tattoo industry being given soft-opening guidelines from the Department of Health, and just yesterday a briefing to the long-term senior care facilities.
During this unusual time brought on by COVID-19, the City of Winter Haven has been working with local company CNP Marketing Agency to develop a Digital
Marketing Communication Plan to better serve Winter Haven customers. The public is invited to take the survey to help identify the City’s digital communication strengths and the potential for improved communications through technology. All Winter Haven residents and customers are invited to take this short survey, but it is asked that you share your opinions only once. This survey will remain available until June 5, 2020.
The link to the survey is: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/PQM2L2Y
4G LTE Expansion Will Help Give AT&T Customers and FirstNet Subscribers Better Access to Mobile Internet
WINTER HAVEN, Fla., May 11, 2020 - AT&T customers and FirstNet subscribers in Winter Haven, Haines City and Center Hill got a big boost in wireless connectivity. We've added three new cell sites in these cities to enhance the area's 4G LTE coverage and help give residents and first responders faster, more reliable wireless service. Our investment will help customers get the most out of their mobile devices.
The new Winter Haven cell is expanding coverage along Recker Highway and the surrounding areas.