I followed up on my “Quiet Time” post last week by reserving some quality time for myself on this Labor Day weekend. That including reading a book cover to cover…something I haven’t done in ages during such a short time frame. By tomorrow morning, I’ll be ready to face the week ahead.
Today is a national holiday celebrating those who work for a living. Our country used to be notable for having a vast middle class that supported the economy through their purchasing power. Alas, the “Cleaver Family” version of middle America has changed dramatically over the years. In many cases today, both mom and dad have to work simply to keep the family’s collective head above water.
Some of the problem we can blame on the oligarchs who manipulated the financial system and sent the economy into the ditch eight years ago. I’m quite disappointed that so few of them found themselves in jail. Instead, their friends in Washington bailed their companies out with billions of taxpayer dollars while the rest of us simply struggled to survive the Great Recession.
Part of the problem can be blamed on the person we see in the mirror every morning. To what extent do each of us try to support our local businesses? When you shop at Walmart or Amazon, your purchase is such a small matter that it simply doesn’t register. When you shop at a local store, it makes a HUGE difference, both to the store owner and those working there. Interestingly enough, the price you pay to shop local may not be all that different, especially when you consider the better service and support you get from the local store.
We’ve had some successes: I’ll put several of our local restaurants up against the best of the national chains.
We need to cultivate our local retail and service establishments as well.
Pasco Camera is a survivor that provides sales and service you simply can’t find elsewhere. Unfortunately, they are sitting in a shopping center just off US 19 that is largely empty. They need company. As the historic downtown has filled up, attention is shifting finding quality businesses to move into the section of Main between 19 and the bridge, as well as the adjoining “Acorn District”.
We don’t need to settle for “bottom feeder” businesses that prey on the poor and the minimum wage jobs that come with those businesses. We need to set our business recruitment sights higher.
A hidden part of New Port Richey’s economy is the growing group of local businesses that have clientele all over the country. Examples include:
One of the largest employers in New Port Richey is a company called “Applicant Insight”. Most folks in New Port Richey don’t even know that they exist. They employ more than 100 people.
My own company, Gulfcoast Networking, has clients across Florida and in several other states. Perhaps known best locally as a place to get a computer fixed or viruses removed, our bread and butter has always been our corporate clients.
We provide complete network management services. This includes real time monitoring that proactively identify issues before they become problems. We offer 24/7 support for our clients that require it. We offer web design/hosting, email, and backup solutions to our clients.
Our investment in remote support technology allowed me to help clients in both Spring Hill and Ruskin on Friday without leaving my desk. It is also allowing me to check on a data recovery project (a client’s dead hard drive) from home without driving to the office on Labor Day. Naturally, we also fix things when they break and you bring them in to us.
We aren’t alone. Savealator, SMB Social, and Brilliant Factory are graduates from New Port Richey’s Business Incubator. These three companies are working hard to grow client bases that extend far beyond the city limits.
I predict that you will see more businesses deciding to call New Port Richey home, bringing good paying jobs with them. I rode over to the Pasco County Economic Development Council banquet last Thursday with Mario Iezzoni, New Port Richey’s Director of Economic Development. As we crossed I-75 on SR 56, and looked at the snarled traffic below, his comment was: “Urban sprawl – Everything we aren’t.” He was dead on target.
Pasco County has worked far too long to fashion itself as a bedroom community for Hillsborough County and Pinellas County. The new outlet malls at the corner of I-75 and SR 56 and nearby subdivisions are simply more of the same.
It is beyond me why ANYBODY would give up an hour or more each morning and again each afternoon to drive to Tampa if they could walk or bike to work right here in New Port Richey. We have the office space available, we have affordable homes, and we have a rapidly growing downtown dining and entertainment district. We simply haven’t done a good job of promoting ourselves to quality businesses that aren’t necessarily tied to a geographic location. That needs to change. It has already started changing. It is going to change more.
Perhaps one local solution to America’s disappearing middle class is for us to create good paying jobs right here. What do you think?
Rob Marlowe, Mayor
We’ve got several events coming up this week that you might want to attend:
- 4:00pm Wednesday – Ribbon Cutting for the Friends of the Hacienda and Historic New Port Richey – Hacienda Hotel
- 6:30pm Wednesday – Community Redevelopment Agency Budget Meeting (council chambers)
- 7:00pm Wednesday – City Budget Hearing (council chambers)
- 11:30am Thursday – Ribbon Cutting for Johnny Grits and Cornerstone Pizza.
- 7:00pm Friday – 9/11 Memorial Service at Orange Lake.