How it all began....
Back in 2018, there was a local commissioner seat race for district 5 in North Port. Two local residents, both well known, well respected, with business experience, ran for office.
After the election, there were about 20 to 30 citizens who would meet once a month and continue the conversation of what was possible for our city.
The group continued to gather monthly into the 2019 at the (then new) Shannon Staub library and break into small groups and brainstorm topics such as:
• create social amenities for the city (hotel, event center, quality restaurants)
• how to attract clean industry with high paying jobs (robotics, 3d printing/manufacturing, medical research, pharmaceuticals)
• what it would take to build infrastructure (such as 5G internet, alternative energy sources, and water and sewer to attract businesses)
Every meetup would include pizza and soft drinks and lively debate. It was during this time, we decided to give our group an official name. After several rounds of voting, ‘North Port Forward’ (NPF) was deemed the winner.
NPF continued to meet on a monthly basis and would have guest speakers, such as the City Manager, the Neighborhood Development Dept. Mgr, the Economic Development Mgr, and several commissioners discussing the role of the departments, budget considerations, surtax dollars and how they are used. The meetings were held at the Shannon Staub Library and the Olde World restaurant, and these meetings were always open to the public.
In June of 2019, Nancy Johnson was invited to speak about a local organization ‘Team Punta Gorda", how it assisted via projects for the city of Punta Gorda, and how they also work with local government. Nancy’s presentation provided insight how NPF might do the same. NPF’s mission became ‘Shaping the Future of North Port’ – to inform, educate, and inspire residents on topics that are important to all.
As NPF held meetings, created an executive board, developed bylaws for the organization, and started paperwork to incorporate and obtain a 501(c)3 status, COVID-19 became a pandemic and the country was asked to stay home. NPF continued to meet via ZOOM sessions.
Over the course of the next 18+ months, some of the members moved out of state, sadly some original members passed away, while other members answered the call and ran for elected office, leaving a small group to rebuild and continue to move forward. North Port Forward has always known that North Port is an exceptional city and our residents, whether residing here 30 years or 3 months, are committed to helping one another because we are a strong community. In 2022, NPF began holding local ‘Meet & Mingle’ events with the new City Manager, city staff, and the community this past February. The idea, similar to a Town Hall, is to create a dialogue between the residents and the city to work together.