The region's newest hospital isn't in Tampa or St. Petersburg, it's in Wesley Chapel in Pasco County. Hundreds of workers were hired to build Florida Hospital Wesley Chapel, and a new round of hiring is underway for the hospital's grand opening this fall.
"We'll employ more than 400 people here. So we're excited not only to bring healthcare to Pasco County, but also jobs," says CEO Brian Adams.
The new hospital is being built to grow with Wesley Chapel. The largest land owner here says the area has fared better than most in the recession, and will become an economic engine for the entire Tampa Bay area.
"I'm thinking within the next three to four years, we'll add somewhere between 2,500 to 3,000 jobs," says J.D. Porter, whose family owns Wiregrass Ranch, where much of the new development is planned.
HIGHER LEARNING AND BUSINESS
The Porters donated land for a new campus of Pasco Hernando Community College, and a new Raymond James Financial complex is planned nearby. Porter says his family will only develop projects here that enhance quality of life and the economy.
He says they've turned down big offers from developers whose plans they didn't like.
"You can't put a pricetag on blood, sweat and tears," says Porter. "I know what my grandparents did, my dad, my uncles."
STEWARDS OF THE LAND
For decades, the Porters worked the 15,000 acre ranch raising cattle and crops. They acquired the land in a trade with the government. In the early days of World War II, the Army Air Corps wanted land for what is now the Zephyrhills Airport.
In the trade, the Porters got the land around Wesley Chapel, which was then a backwoods outpost with dirt roads.
Most of the development here has happened within the last two decades. And, if J.D. Porter is right, the next several years will put Wesley Chapel squarely on the map as one of the Tampa Bay area's most vital economic centers.
FOX 13 / WTVT-TV
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