Yes, it’s been five years. In some ways, time has flown. And in other ways, we have to say: It’s only been five years?!

Before you go any further, save this date: Tuesday, May 7, is the big fifth birthday bash for NEXTpittsburgh, sponsored by Comcast Business , UPMC Health Plan and Dollar Bank. It will be held at Kingfly Spirits in the Strip. More details coming soon but we will say this: We. Can’t. Wait.

Five years ago, we launched NEXTpittsburgh with a vision: to make it the go-to publication for the people advancing Pittsburgh and the innovative and cool things happening here.

Five years later, we have more than 5,000 stories in the archive and more than 5 million unique visitors on our site (5,346,913 to be exact) in that time.

While we have worked hard to be read widely in Pittsburgh, our stories have been read in just about every country in the world and, as we often hear, many expats read us to keep up on what’s going on here.

We have made it through five years with a great staff who keeps a sharp focus on our mission, driven by an unrelenting passion and countless hours of reporting, editing, photographing, proofing and pushing out stories.

We also had widespread community support which made a big difference.

And along the way, we’ve made quite a few changes. We started much smaller with just one e-blast a week. We now publish four.

In our first month, we had 29,411 unique visitors.

In this last month, we had 172,000.

We’re grateful for the growth, especially in these very turbulent times for journalism. Over the years we’ve not only worked harder but we’ve also learned to work smarter keeping up with the ever-changing digital and social media worlds — and we’re still at it. No one ever rests on their laurels in this business.

And while some things remain – we’re still doing NEXT Up after all these years — we’re always about what’s next. And right now that means reviving our popular “5 people making Pittsburgh a (check one: smarter, greener, healthier, happier and more livable) city for all” series.

This time around, because there’s more happening than ever, we will feature 15 or more people each round. And then you’ll have the chance to meet them all at an event that follows.

We’ve always been about the people making Pittsburgh a better place for all of us. So to the many thousands of influencers we’ve covered over the past five years, in every sector imaginable, we thank you. You have made us look consistently good. You have given us rich material for compelling stories. And you have inspired and motivated others to do even more for this city.

And to our many loyal readers and sponsors, without whom none of this would have been possible, we cannot thank you enough.

We hope you continue to be a part of the NEXTpittsburgh family and join us in a virtual toast to the next five years. See you at the party May 7th!