PLANT CITY — A year ago, we launched the Plant City Times to strengthen our connection to one of the area's unique communities. We added staff and extended our coverage, aiming to meet the promise of our name change to the Tampa Bay Times.
Next week, we take another step.
The Times is teaming up with the Plant City Observer to publish a weekly newspaper — the Plant City Times & Observer.
It will debut Thursday as a freestanding paper and as a section of the Times available in the Plant City area, offering local news and advertising with a circulation of 15,000 copies each week. The paper will be available in racks and through home delivery.
The partnership maximizes each organization's strengths by combining the Observer's hyper-local presence in Plant City with the Times' distribution and advertising services.
"This partnership will allow us to give Plant City residents an even more robust weekly newspaper," said Bruce Faulmann, vice president of sales and marketing at the Times. "And we couldn't be more pleased to team up with the local ownership group in Plant City and the Observer Media Group in Sarasota.
"They have done a great job with the Plant City Observer."
While the Observer will provide the majority of the editorial content in the weekly, the Times will complement the effort with stories and photographs from its award-winning staff.
And the Observer will enhance community coverage of the East Hillsborough area in the SouthShore & Brandon Times, which will continue to be delivered to Times readers every Friday and Sunday.
"This new partnership is going to be great for everyone — our readers, our advertisers, the Plant City community and our two companies," said Matt Walsh, chief executive of Observer Media Group, Inc. "Combining our respective strengths will allow us to produce for Plant City the best daily newspaper in Florida and one of the best community weeklies in Florida."