NEW PORT RICHEY - Impressed by what Bradenton promoters had to say during a business summit last week, community leaders are seeking to build more alliances to spread the word about New Port Richey and west Pasco County. "It seemed there was a lot of energy in the room," Pasco Economic Development Council President and CEO John Hagen said of the July 12 summit at Peace Hall. Hagen led a panel discussion. About 60 people attended the summit to hear guest speaker Johnette Isham, the Realize Bradenton chief. Realize Bradenton is a nonprofit organization that coordinates events to promote downtown Bradenton. 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 phone interview. "We need to go to the next step." From ideas generated at the summit, a follow-up meeting should bring together the best concepts from various groups, Hagen said. The date for the next meeting hasn't been set. PEDC officials are planning an early August presentation for the 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. The summit panel threw out ideas for events and promotions. One suggestion was a French wine festival, partly in tribute to New Port Richey's sister city in France. Participants discussed leveraging the city's assets, such as the river, history and arts and culture, Hagen said. A participant mentioned that the city's population, roughly 15,000, is much less than Bradenton's, 49,000. But Hagen added that there are about 185,000 people in the rest of west Pasco. "We shouldn't think of New Port Richey as its own small place," isolated from the rest of the area, Hagen said.