Rather than do all this work themselves, the city is harnessing Plant City's spirit to organize and unite around common goals.
The gardeners of Plant City are enjoying their plants, as the fruits of their labors over the past few months blossom into spring flowers. The rest of us are enjoying watching the flowers blossom.
So it is now with the organizations of our community. Plant City, and our nation, emerged a couple of years ago from our longest recession since the Great Depression and at that point citizens of many American towns observed another American phenomenon. Since our nation’s founding in an environment of freedom 200 years ago, European visitor Alexis de Toqueville identified a major American exceptionalism: we are a nation of creators, creators of voluntary organizations. As de Toqueville wrote, “Americans…constantly unite. Not only do they have commercial and industrial associations in which they all take part, but they also have a thousand other kinds…They seek each other out; and when they have found each other, they unite.”
As we emerged from that long recession, this generation of Plant Citians and Americans inhaled the air of freedom and returned to that drive to unite and create organizations.
Perhaps the first new local organization to be created was the Plant City Economic Development Corporation. Spurred by the city’s desire to stimulate economic development, the recruitment of new job-providing businesses and the growth of existing ones, the city and our private sector created a new economic development engine. Started with initial funding from the city and a plan to reduce that funding over time, a growing number of private businesses ponied up to provide most of the funding for an organization that has grown to over 60 dues-paying members. The Greater Plant City Chamber of Commerce supported the new EDC by closing down its long-operating Economic Development Committee and gave the new organization its blessing by becoming a supporter instead of a leader in economic development.
Soon other non-profit community development organizations bloomed. Main Street, which started in the 1980s as a component of the State’s drive to build and rebuild the downtowns of Florida’s cities and towns, achieved some early success when Plant City’s downtown was named an historic district. A year or two ago, the city decided to resurrect Main Street and partnered with a number of young, emerging leaders to rebuild it. To encourage the same type of public-private partnership upon which the EDC was founded, the city offered matching funding to Main Street this year. Once Main Street raises $10,000 the city will match the sum, adding $10,000 of its own. Up to $50,000 is being matched by the city and Main Street’s leaders have morphed most of their activities into fundraisers. The evening this edition of the Observer hits the streets, Main Street is sponsoring a major fundraiser at Topgolf in Brandon.
Yet another new community development group is in its second year of blooming. With the slogan “inspire, collaborate, create,” Make Plant City is encouraging and supporting creators of all types, artists, woodworkers, musicians, brewers and authors. Robots are even included in the list of things Make Plant City is supporting
In an atmosphere of freedom, these organizations, and others, are being given the opportunity to succeed. Rather than do all this work themselves, the city is harnessing Plant City’s spirit to organize and unite around common goals.
All of Plant City is benefitting.