WIMAUMA, Fla. — Wimauma is a more rural community with a lot of farmland and is also one of the last remaining places to develop in Hillsborough County.
"It's really, really important to make sure that the history, that the culture, that has been here all this time, that that gets supported, and that that gets promoted for the betterment of the community itself so that it can use the assets that it already has so that it can grow," said Elizabeth Gutierrez, Founder of Enterprising Latinas.
One of the biggest concerns from people who live in this area is development.
Keeping the small-town feel is important to those who live here, while also adding the infrastructure to handle the future development.
"Agriculture is a huge economic engine for our county and it’s important we keep a diversified economy with agriculture and well as our other industries so as market fluctuations occur, we’re still rolling," said Hillsborough County Commissioner Mariella Smith.
Enterprising Latinas, the Wimauma Community Development Corporation and others are on board, trying to make sure future development is "smart."
"We were concerned that the economic opportunities that were going to be gained by those that are moving in, we're going to be at to a detriment to those that were here. So we got on the bandwagon together and started advocating for a new neighborhood plan to make sure that the type of development that happens in the community serves everybody," said Gutierrez.
Next, comes infrastructure, something as simple as a sewer.
If you take a look at Highway 674 and U.S. 301, you'll really notice that one side of the road is developed and the other is not.
"One of the main issues is lack of infrastructure. So we're very excited that an investment has been made by Hillsborough County County Commissioners, they have decided that they're going to put a ton of money in Wimauma to try to solve that problem because, without infrastructure, that is water and sewer lines and connections, the businesses that are located here, can't access those," said Gutierrez. "If you don't have that, you can't create types of, you know, multi-housing, multifamily housing, you can't create mixed-use types of developments, you can't even grow the business, because you are limited to a very contained infrastructure. And so that's going to be a huge catalyst for change."
We're told Hillsborough County is taking federal dollars to help make the change from septic to sewer.
"Then housing is an issue. Commercial development is also an issue. Transportation, for sure, we know is a major concern," explained Gutierrez. "But we are making progress in some other ways. For example, across the street from us, the new Suncoast Health Clinic is coming in. We're all very excited about that. So change is occurring, change is happening."
You can read more about the Wimauma Community Development Plan by clicking here.