Recently there has been an attempt to cut all City of Plant City funding for the Greater Plant City Chamber of Commerce using the argument that there is no tangible evidence that the Chamber is doing anything for the money it is receiving. The funding is provided for the Chamber to use in its economic development activity.
Economic development is one of those things that you don’t see unless you look. It pertains to the quality of life in its many facets – transportation, schools, medical facilities, safety, zoning, business regulation, planning, construction, and more.
But these things are there. Just look. It was the Chamber that worked to end long distance calling to Tampa. That affected economic development directly. It was the Chamber that worked for years to have SR39 realigned so as to keep truck traffic from going through downtown. And it was the Chamber that pressed to have an on-ramp added for westbound traffic from Alexander Street onto I-4.
It was the Chamber that also worked with the Aviation Authority to have the new terminal constructed at the airport, and the runway extended, and hangars built. And the Chamber demonstrates its concern for education by always welcoming new teachers to the area and working with the schools.
The Chamber worked with the CRA to improve, beautify, and revitalize the beautiful historic downtown, and the Chamber partnered with the City and the Photo Archives to bring the internationally acclaimed sculptures for exhibit in McCall Park – the Park which was rebuilt, extended and improved after Chamber promotion.
It was the Chamber that took over the shuttered Union Station and, with a partnership with the City, renovated it and managed it over the years as it became the most important hub of activities in the City of Plant City. Add to that the Car Shows and Bike Fests, and the many other activities in town produced by Chamber member organizations with Chamber support.
I could go on for some time on this because I have been involved in economic development for over 24 years, in Seminole, Clearwater, and Plant City. And the effectiveness of the Greater Plant City Chamber of Commerce is unquestionably the best I have seen in Pinellas or Hillsborough Counties. Fund the Chamber and give them direction and watch the results. It’ll be impressive.
– Gil Got, Plant City Photo Archives & History Center executive director