We recently changed printers again, and since it had been a while since we updated our distribution numbers, I decided to log onto the U.S. Postal Service’s website to see just how many residences and businesses we were now mailed to and how many people that included.
I’ve been saying for years that it was only a matter of time before Wesley Chapel and its planned (and ongoing) explosive growth would one day cause our direct-mail distribution to Wesley Chapel’s three zip codes — 33543, 33544 & 33545 — to surpass the number of homes, apartments and businesses (and the number of people those households include) in New Tampa’s 33647 zip code.
Well, it’s finally happened. As of the mailing of this issue, we are now mailed to 28,900+ residences and businesses in Wesley Chapel and, according to the Post Office’s Every Door Direct Mail (EDDM) website, which give estimates of the number of people per household in every postal carrier route, those households represent nearly 82,500 people. By contrast, our Dec. 7 New Tampa issue was directly mailed to 28,600 residences and businesses and a Post Office-estimated 74,000+ people.
That means that when you combine those numbers, businesses that choose to place ads in both of our markets are now reaching more than 57,500 residences and businesses and more than a whopping 156,500 total people every four weeks!
If New Tampa, which is located in Hillsborough County, and Wesley Chapel, which is in Pasco, could be considered together as one market (as I sort of always have considered them), that would make the Wesley Chapel-New Tampa “metro area” as large as Decatur, AL, which is the 268th largest Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA) in the U.S.
For me, as the owner of the Neighborhood News, that is both good and bad news, but mostly good. That reach is larger by far than any local online community and significantly larger than any other publication distributed to our areas. And, it has helped us increase the total number of advertisers both expressing interest in advertising and actually buying ads with us by more than 40% from our Covid-related drop from March-December 2020.
But of course, it also means that in order to reach that unique audience, I have to be willing to pay to continue to grow with our two communities — as I have for nearly 28 years (my 28th anniversary of owning the Neighborhood News is Feb. 25, 2022; with my first issue as publisher and editor Apr. 1994).
Not Everyone Is Happy…
It’s been an amazing journey for me personally to see this growth, even though, throughout the years, people living and working in both of our communities have complained about all of the new homes, apartments and businesses being built here.
The ironic thing about it is that if the folks who have been unhappy with all of the growth in our two markets, especially here in Wesley Chapel, had been reading our publications from the beginning, they had a pretty good idea that it was all coming. We certainly have been the primary, if not the only, local news medium that has been reporting about all of our growth — nearly all of which has on been on the books and records for as long (or nearly as long) as I’ve owned this publication.
I didn’t go back to our old issues to figure out exactly when we knew about the plans for Wiregrass Ranch, Epperson, Watergrass, Avalon Park Wesley Chapel, the Connected City and not-yet-developed areas like Wyndfields (located east of Wiregrass Ranch), but rest assured, whenever we did know about those plans, we’ve been reporting about them.
And yes, I’ve known for at least 10-15 years that Wesley Chapel’s expansion of master-planned communities would one day see its population surpass New Tampa’s.
But, while I agree with the sentiment that the plans for expanding our roads have not progressed as quickly, or kept up with, the growth of Wesley Chapel, the simple fact is that most of us who live and/or work here (me included) moved here from someplace else, too, and Florida in general and Wesley Chapel in particular are extremely desirable places to live — so that growth is likely to continue.
But, while many applauded the sentiment of the picture shown above (from St. Cloud, where locals are protesting the same kind of development we have here) and the Wesley Chapel Community Facebook page post about it, I say that not only is it a crime to deface a sign that Lennar Homes paid good money to put up on its own private property, anyone who believes that actions like these are a good way to slow down our growth is sadly mistaken.