Pasco EDC taking optimistic approach to canceled event

Public events, especially those featuring large crowds, are not a thing of the past. They’re just not realistic in the present and must wait for future dates.

The Pasco Economic Development Council, an organization focused on promoting business growth throughout the county, announced July 14 that one of its most-anticipated annual events will have to take the year off. The 34th annual Awards and Trade Show set for Sept. 3 at Saddlebrook Resort is no more.

But that doesn’t mean that calendar date is wiped clean. Pasco EDC leaders worked to schedule another event in its place, albeit a virtual one.

Pasco 2020: A Story of Strength will take the award and trade show’s place from 5:30-6:30 p.m., Sept. 3, according to a press release issued July 14.

“We will be highlighting the resiliency of the county and our business community, along with first responders and other various county programs and help put together for a response to COVID-19,” Mike Bishop, director of Stakeholder Engagement at Pasco EDC, said while delivering a third-quarter presentation to the Pasco County Commission at the July 14 regular meeting.

The press release included statements from Pasco EDC president/CEO Bill Cronin.

“My team worked firsthand with many businesses that had to drastically change their business models during the ‘safer at home’ orders, and we are still helping them today,” he said. “Many businesses simply did not know where to turn, it was heartbreaking. It has been an extremely difficult time, but we pulled together and helped one another. Through this video series we want to highlight the strength of our essential workers, community members, and business owners and the resiliency they demonstrated during the pandemic.”

The event will feature videos from first responders, community organizations and businesses. “The video series will be a dynamic short film showcasing how the Pasco County community came together during an unprecedented time,” the press release states. Pasco EDC is seeking more footage from the community to include in the video series.

A networking component is also incorporated for businesspeople, owners, entrepreneurs and all who log on to participate.

The virtual event is sponsored by the AdventHealth locations of Dade City, Wesley Chapel and Zephyrhills.

For more information on the Sept. 3 event, becoming a sponsor or submitting footage, go to http://pascoedc.com/events/details/story-of-strength.

During Bishop’s July 14 County Commission meeting presentation, he briefed the board on Pasco EDC’s actions during the pandemic. This included the Pasco Emergency Business Grant program, which involved struggling businesses impacted by COVID-19 applying for funding through Pasco EDC.

Bishop reported 1,250 companies had been awarded grants through the program as of July 14 and that equated to just over $6 million in distributed funds.

Pasco EDC created a webpage, pascoedc.com/COVID-19, to assist businesses throughout the pandemic. A link to the Pasco Emergency Business Grant program can be found there, however new applications are not being accepted at the moment. The page contains additional information about other available programs and resources.