Get to Greektown Grille for holiday networking
The Largo/Mid-Pinellas Chamber of Commerce will hold its annual holiday Business After Hours networking event from 5:30 to 7 p.m. Thursday at Greektown Grille, 1230 Cleveland St., Clearwater. The event is $5 for chamber members and $10 for non-members. Advance registration is recommended. To register, call (727) 584-2321 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
Opine on unemployment compensation tax
The Largo/Mid-Pinellas Chamber of Commerce wants businesses to know that effective Jan. 1, Florida employers will face significant increases in their unemployment compensation taxes. The rate that an employer pays in state unemployment compensation taxes is specific to the business and is based on a formula that also considers an employer's three-year experience. In 2009, employers at the minimum rate paid $8.40 per employee. This will increase to $100.30 per employee starting Jan. 1.
Driving the increase is Florida's highest level of unemployment in 34 years. The result is a corresponding increase in unemployment compensation benefits paid from the unemployment trust fund, lowering the trust fund balance below 4 percent of the total taxable payroll and triggering an automatic tax increase.
On Aug. 24, the trust fund balance was exhausted and Florida began borrowing from the federal government to pay benefits. It is currently borrowing about $300 million a month from the federal government and has an outstanding advance balance totaling $737.7 million.
The new rate will bring in $2.5 billion in unemployment compensation taxes for fiscal year 2010-11 and represents a $759 million tax increase on Florida employers. For example, a 50-employee business with the minimum experience rating paid $420 in state unemployment compensation taxes in 2009 and will now have to pay $5,015 in 2010, representing a 1,094 percent increase in its unemployment compensation taxes.
The chamber is urging businesses to call their state representatives and senators to tell them how this unemployment compensation tax increase will impact their business and ask to reduce the tax increase and lower the wage base in a special session. Also, e-mail the governor at Charlie.Crist@MyFlorida.com.
For more information about the increase and ways businesses can voice their opposition, visit FloridaChamber.com.
Check out what some say future could hold
Hear what some industry leaders predict next year has in store when the Largo/Mid-Pinellas Chamber of Commerce and the Greater Largo Library Foundation present Focus on 2010: A Tampa Bay Economic Forecast.
This special business-to-business breakfast takes place on Jan. 14 at the Sheraton Sand Key, 1160 Gulf Blvd., Clearwater. Coffee and registration is at 7:30 a.m. with breakfast and program from 8 to 9:30 a.m.
The program features a panel of business experts who will share predictions and provide insight on significant global, national and regional issues destined to impact the Tampa Bay economy. Highlighting the presentations will be a keynote national economic prospective by Susan McManus, professor of public administration and political science at the University of South Florida and political analyst for WFLA-TV Ch. 8.
Providing economic predictions for 2010, the panel of industry leaders and their topics include economics and finance with Steve Raney, president/CEO of Raymond James Bank; a state and regional economic perspective by Stuart L. Rogel, executive director of the Tampa Bay Partnership, and the impact of Amendment 4 (Hometown Democracy) on business by Ryan Houck, executive director of Floridians for Smarter Growth. Stacey Schaible of NewsChannel 8 will serve as program moderator
The cost to attend, which includes breakfast, is $35 a person with reserved tables of eight for $240. Tickets can be purchased at the chamber or Largo Public Library. For more information, call (727) 586-7398.
Business counseling services available
The Largo/Mid-Pinellas Chamber of Commerce is hosting business counseling services provided by SCORE (Service Corps of Retired Executives) at it offices by appointment every first and third Thursday monthly.
SCORE counselors represent working and retired business executives who volunteer to help people looking to start a business and for owners/managers of existing businesses. There is no cost. Counseling appointments can be made only by calling (727) 584-2321.