New campaign hopes to bring pride back to New Port Richey

Officials say city is experiencing a 'renaissance'

Donna Mathews grew up in New Port Richey and is still waiting for the city to grow.
 
"I haven't seen it get better," she said.
 
Antique Center, her Main Street shop, is just one of a few new businesses to open in downtown in recent months.
 
And she says so far, so good.
 
"It would be nice to get more businesses down here, so we can get the people down here," Mathews said.
 
City officials say there are many reasons to be optimistic about New Port Richey's future. That includes downtown development, a master plan for Simms Park and the eventual rebirth of the once vibrant Hacienda Hotel.
 
"With all that coupled together, I thought why not come up with a way to share that with the people and work here," said New Port Richey Development Director Lisa Fierce.
 
Fierce came up with “I am New Port Richey,” a positive campaign about the city. The slogan is emblazoned on t-shirts.
 
"The people who have lived here a long time are always excited about when we can talk about how great the community is. They've known it for a long time," Fierce said.
 
Like many cities, New Port Richey was hit hard by the housing bust and thousands of foreclosures. But officials have stepped up code enforcement to clean up blight. New residential construction is in the planning stages. And the city's general fund now has a more than a million dollar surplus.
 
"It's unfortunate that we had the downturn, but we are coming back," Fierce said.
 
The t-shirts are available for purchase at city hall. More merchandise could follow.
 
Officials hope a little city pride will go a long way.
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