Can it be Thanksgiving already? It doesn’t seem possible, but it is true: The holiday season is upon us.
- We have a lot to be thankful this year. My non-exhaustive list would include:
- We have a city manager without the word “interim” in her title.
- We have an amazingly strong set of city department heads to back up the city manager.
- We have a “can do” attitude that extends from the city council down.
- We have a resurgence in our downtown.
- We are seeing a change in attitude.
Debbie Manns joined us as city manager earlier this year. With only six months here under her belt, you can already see things changing for the better. It took us far too long to find a new city manager, but I would submit that the wait was worthwhile.
I am reluctant to single out any one department head for special recognition, but it is safe to say that there is a LOT going on in each of the departments: A technology upgrade that includes a much needed new phone system is in progress. The police are stepping up their efforts to crack down on the criminal elements. The finance department is overhauling the billing system. Parks and recreation is working up ideas for upgrading the rec center and improving our parks. The library, public works, and the fire department are all doing their parts to move us forward. Even the development (building) department is seeing changes to improve the way the city serves its residents.
I’m personally thankful for the great folks that serve with me on the city council. We bring a variety of viewpoints to the table and I’m confident that the city is the better for the back and forth exchange of ideas at council meetings and work sessions. The discussions are not so much “can we do this?” as “what will it take for us to do this and when can we get started?” That is a MASSIVE change from the attitude during the Great Recession.
The New Port Richey Business Incubator is perhaps the most obvious part of the downtown resurgence, but it is by no means the only thing happening.
Thanks are certainly due to the Pasco County Economic Development Council, who we hired to help us get our incubator off the ground. The companies that have taken root in the incubator since it opened this summer include SMB Social, the Brilliant Factory, SlideCreation, and Savelator. All four of these companies have plans for innovative products and services. Their excitement is infectious. Spend a little time with them and you will see what I mean. These companies are run by very creative folks who don’t just think outside the box…They refuse to recognize that the box even exists!
Needless to say, this can absolutely drive conventional thinkers (eg bankers and most corporate types) crazy. In my opinion, this is EXACTLY the sort of thinking that we need to revitalize our city. Conventional wisdom and conventional thinking haven’t done the job for us. We’ve spent years doing the same things over and over with the same miserable results. A little “creative insanity” beats the insanity of doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.
The Brilliant Factory deserves special mention. They have come up with several neat concepts for new downtown businesses, including a coffee shop I suspect we will see sooner rather than later. They have also done some very nice video projects, including one for the Hacienda, at no charge to the city.
Three other examples of the downtown resurgence are only now starting to bear fruit:
Jimmy Ferraro’s Studio Theatre was the first out of the box this summer. If you haven’t checked out one of Jimmy’s shows, you need to.
The Dulcet Restaurant is due to open in the next month. An upscale restaurant and jazz club is just what we need to make the downtown more of a destination.
We have a publishing company moving into several long empty suites next to us. I’m somewhat familiar with them, so it doesn’t hurt my feelings to see a quality company move in next door.
There is much more on the horizon, but the biggest thing is the change in attitude. Knowing that a growing number of people in the city are excited about our city’s future is the thing that I am most thankful for as mayor.
This coming Saturday is “Small Business Saturday and both the city and Greater New Port Richey Main Street have gotten into the spirit this year. A number of our downtown businesses, including my own Gulfcoast Networking, will be having special sales on Saturday, November 29th.
On a personal note, I am thankful for my family and I enjoy the opportunity to enjoy Thanksgiving with many of them.
I’m looking forward to spending time with the grandkids this Thanksgiving. We expect to have seven kids six and under in attendance. My five grandchildren will be there plus two more little ones from our extended family. It should be an interesting Thanksgiving at the Marlowe house.
I hope that you are able to spend this Thursday enjoying time with your family. Take a pass on the Black Friday mayhem at the big box stores and the “Maul” (more appropriate spelling this time of year) and start your Christmas shopping with a relaxing trip to downtown New Port Richey on Saturday.
I hope you have a very Happy Thanksgiving.
Rob Marlowe, Mayor