A New Day Dawns in Wimauma

Under rich blue skies, they gathered at Taqueria El Sol in Wimauma last month to tout the promise of a new day and celebrate those who answered a clarion call.

Led by Enterprising Latinas founder and CEO Elizabeth Gutierrez and buoyed by the presence of County Commissioner Mariella Smith and Hillsborough County schools superintendent Addison Davis, more than 100 people peppered speeches with applause. Nonprofit executives, community entrepreneurs and civic leaders all gathered to marvel over a new neighborhood plan for this South Hillsborough city.

It all started in 2019 when Enterprising Latinas launched the Wimauma NOW! campaign with the goal of revisiting the Neighborhood Plan Hillsborough County adopted in 2007. In partnership with the Wimauma Community Development Corporation (WCDC), the organization repeatedly convened residents and stakeholders to discuss the city’s future.

It was a needed dialogue when you consider how dozens of new housing developments continue to transform the long-time farming region into another bedroom community for Tampa.

Among the groups to step up: Allegheny Franciscan Ministries, Beth-El Farmworkers Ministry and – United Way Suncoast. UWS has worked closely with Allegheny to support the creation of a new plan. It provided funding to the Wimauma Collaborative during COVID and steered dollars through our community investment funding and a TECO partnership to Enterprising Latinas.

UWS played a role in the campaign that sought to carve out greater opportunities for every community member, including businesses, farmers, and private developers. Now the new plan totals $213 million in funded improvements, including a new high school, water transmission and infrastructure improvements. The list also includes unfunded projects like a library, greenway trail and road resurfacing. Smith said the county hopes to use dollars from the federal infrastructure bill to fill those gaps and continue enhancing Wimauma.

“We are grateful to everyone who took this journey with us, and especially to the Allegany Franciscan Ministry for their belief and trust in us when all of this was just an idea of what was possible,” Gutierrez said. “Wimauma: The best is yet to come.”

Of course, all involved realize this is just the beginning. The implementation of the plan will require more work. United Way Suncoast will continue to support community initiatives in Wimauma because we realize that it’s important today more than ever to create communities where children and families can live and thrive.

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