AMPLIFY Clearwater wants small businesses to get to know Clearwater Business SPARK

AMPLIFY Clearwater and 83 Degrees Media have entered an underwriting agreement to profile local businesses that get involved with the Clearwater Business SPARK network. Our first story looks at events and programs launched since AMPLIFY Clearwater took over the administration of SPARK.

When AMPLIFY Clearwater took over running Clearwater Business SPARK last October, the chamber of commerce organization launched  “Get Connected,” a monthly networking event for local businesses. Over time, the small business event attracted large crowds, outgrowing space in restaurants and moving on to meeting rooms at hotels around Clearwater.

“We move it around intentionally for any local businesses that want to be a part of it but don’t want to travel across Clearwater, because Clearwater is a pretty large city,” says AMPLIFY Clearwater Vice President, Partnerships & Programs Jeni Torello. “We make it local to them.”

The “Get Connected” series, which connects local business owners with one another and the resources available to them through SPARK’s partner organizations, is one of the initiatives AMPLIFY Clearwater, the organizaton formed through the 2019 merger of the Clearwater Regional Chamber and Clearwater Beach Chamber, has introduced since assuming the operation of SPARK through an agreement with the city. SPARK itself is a partnership of public and private groups offering businesses assistance with accessing grants and financing, development of a business plan, marketing, training, networking, educational opportunities and other key areas.

After polling the room at some early “Get Connected” events to get feedback, Torello says the monthly meet-ups have programming from SPARK partner organizations on social media for small businesses, utilizing St. Petersburg College as a talent pipeline, grants available from CareerSource Pinellas and other pertinent topics.

With SPARK moving under the umbrella of AMPLIFY Clearwater, Torello says businesses that reach out to SPARK for assistance also have the chamber’s full roster of member businesses as resources.

Looking to the future, Torello says the City of Clearwater has earmarked money for a business incubator that will be an additional resource for local businesses like those that go to SPARK for guidance and assistance. Right now, they are working on selecting a location for the incubator. In August, AMPLIFY Clearwater will launch a small business tour that will travel to different areas of the city - the beach, north, south, central and downtown- to get input on the needs of small businesses and the resources they want to see at the incubator. 

“We will have at least five stops around the city,” Torello says.

The next Clearwater Business SPARK “Get Connected” is 7:30 a.m. to 9 a.m. on Thursday, May 4th at the Hampton Inn & Suites by Hilton on Clearwater Beach. Registration is $5.

For more information, go to AMPLIFY Clearwater and Clearwater Business Spark
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Read more articles by Christopher Curry.

Chris Curry has been a writer for the 83 Degrees Media team since 2017. Chris also served as the development editor for a time before assuming the role of managing editor in May 2022. Chris lives in Clearwater. His professional career includes more than 15 years as a newspaper reporter, primarily in Ocala and Gainesville, before moving back home to the Tampa Bay Area. He enjoys the local music scene, the warm winters and Tampa Bay's abundance of outdoor festivals and events. When he's not working or spending time with family, he can frequently be found hoofing the trails at one of Pinellas County's nature parks.