Business summit sparks ideas to build alliances
NEW PORT RICHEY - Impressed by what Bradenton promoters had to say during a business summit last week, community leaders here are seeking to build more alliances here to spread the word about New Port Richey and West Pasco. "It seemed there was a lot of energy in the room," Pasco Economic Development Council President and CEO John Hagen said about the July 12 summit at Peace Hall. Hagen led a panel discussion.Some 50 to 60 participants got inspiration from speaker Johnette Isham, the Realize Bradenton chief that sponsors some 75 events the past year. Isham said the diversity of participants at the summit demonstrates New Port Richey is on the right track."It gave us some momentum," Hagen said during a Tuesday phone interview. "We need to go to the next step."From ideas generated at the summit, a followup meeting should weld together the best concepts from various groups, Hagen said. The date for the next meeting hasn't been set.Then in early August, PEDC officials plan a presentation to New Port Richey City Council. The city hired PEDC last year as a business development consultant.PEDC has pursued building coalitions, talking to West Pasco Chamber of Commerce, Greater New Port Richey Main Street, the city cultural affairs committee and others. Perhaps they could coordinate efforts on some projects.The summit panel threw out ideas for events and promotions.The red carpet treatment could serve as one theme for visitors, PEDC leaders suggested as a jumping-off point. Given the city's historic connection to Hollywood movie stars, the city could treat spectators like movie stars. Another suggestion was a French wine festival, partly in tribute to New Port Richey's sister city in France.Discussion also dwelled on leveraging the city's six types of assets, such as the river, history, and arts and culture, Hagen said.The optimism deflated somewhat when someone mentioned the city's population, roughly 15,000, is much smaller than Bradenton's, 49,000. There are, however, about 185,000 people in the rest of West Pasco, Hagen noted."We shouldn't think of New Port Richey as its own small place," isolated from the rest of the area, Hagen summarized. Leaders here simply need to build more alliances the way Isham did during the past three years.