Elected officials, honored guests, citizens of
Nearly six million visitors came to
To remain a leader in economic development, we must invest in attracting, retaining, and growing jobs and businesses. To that end, 2013 was a banner year with 29 companies expanding and 4 new businesses coming to
Ash Brokerage, BAE Systems, Dana, Press-Seal Gasket, and Shambaugh and son are examples of companies that have sent a strong message that
I’m encouraged by the strong gains we’re seeing in our economy, and i continue to be a strong advocate for our downtown and the investment that we’re experiencing. It’s truly remarkable what we're witnessing. We’re a downtown where people are living, working, and playing.
For instance, the apartments at the
This Spring, construction will begin on the downtown development featuring the national headquarters for Ash Brokerage. It also includes a residential component led by Hanning and Bean Enterprises that will bring more housing options to downtown. Retail space and a city-owned parking garage will complete the development. It’s a full square block that will transform our skyline.
Tim Ash and Bill Bean are with us today. Thank you for your commitment and belief in
Even as our city invests in economic development and a vibrant downtown, we must be fiscally responsible. My administration has presented balanced budgets each year I’ve served as your mayor, and we have a healthy savings account.
But, it hasn’t been easy, though. Property tax caps forced us to find other funding sources to meet our essential needs and deliver the services you expect.
It took strong leadership to make meaningful changes. So, in 2013, we did what great cities do when difficulties arise; we came together.
State and local experts, elected officials, business leaders, and neighborhood advocates all contributed to creating a financial plan that provides stability now and in the years ahead. We’re the only city in
Fort Wayne City Council stepped up and provided leadership when it was needed most. Tom Didier served as council president in 2013. I’d like to have the council members here to please stand. Thank you for working with my administration to make a positive difference for our city. Let’s commit to continue to work together to move
In developing our fiscal policy, we listened to you. You told us you would be willing to pay a little more to enhance public safety, improve streets and roads, and maintain our parks. In public safety, we’re adding 22 more police officers to make our streets as safe as possible. And next year, with help from a federal grant, we’ll add 10 more officers to the force. I recognize there are challenges in our city. 2013 was a difficult year for violence in our community.
Now more than ever, we’re focused on reversing that trend. By working together, we can make a difference. Public safety is critical to any thriving community. We must be a city where residents and businesses feel safe. It starts with my recent reinstatement of the director of public safety position.
Rusty York has assumed that role and will do a great job. Rusty oversees the police and fire departments and leads our strategic public safety efforts. I also appointed a new police chief, Garry Hamilton. Garry’s committed to open communication with residents, utilizing new technologies, and continuing to collaborate with fellow law enforcement agencies. Garry is with us today.
Under Chief Hamilton’s direction, I’m honored to announce that later this month, a new gang and violent crime unit will begin operations.
The unit will work to reduce criminal gang activity, investigate crimes, and gather intelligence on known and suspected gang members.
Our commitment to your safety extends to our fire department. This year, we will add 24 firefighters to serve and protect our city. Last year alone, our fire crews responded to 18,000 calls for service.
We can all be proud of the hard work and determination that we see each day from our firefighters. And, 2014 marks the 175th anniversary for the
So, like never before, you’re going to see orange cones everywhere. I know what you’re thinking, but these cones are a good sign for
We’re investing more than 20 million dollars in our neighborhoods. There will be at least 50 miles of paving and 10 miles of concrete reconstruction.
We’ll be creating over 300 construction jobs that will boost
A strong commitment to infrastructure means our city will be more attractive to all of you and to businesses looking to relocate here or expand. Thanks to you, our fiscal plan also means that our parks department will have an additional 3 million dollars a year for needed maintenance.
Planned improvements for this year include a splash pad at
In 2013, city utilities was responsible for 50 million dollars in projects that supported 1,200 jobs. And progress continues on a final agreement to purchase Aqua Indiana’s water utility in southwest
Responding to weather emergencies also makes us a great city. As we all know, we’re experiencing a difficult winter. Repeated heavy snow plus dangerously cold temperatures have produced life-threatening conditions. However, our response to the weather has been magnificent.
multiple city departments and county agencies have partnered to protect our community, and the salvation army and American Red Cross are outstanding volunteers to help those in need. And I want to give a special thank you to the employees at the
As we move forward in 2014, tremendous progress will be made in our legacy initiatives, adding to our quality of life and making us unique. For instance, our first-ever downtown riverfront study is underway. Over the next year, the study will provide a road map for world-class investment. We need to identify opportunities on our riverfronts with the possibilities they provide.
Our rivers must be an asset, and I truly believe the ideas are limitless.
So, how do we take that to the next level, and market our city as a premier sports destination? Well, we’re nearing the completion of a youth sports study. We’ll determine what opportunities are available for future facility needs, and how we can connect our youth to these resources. Investing in our young people will undoubtedly have a meaningful impact on the future of our community. The McMillen community center will open later this year.
It will provide sports and recreation opportunities, as well as educational and social activities. The center will benefit children and adults throughout
So, this spring, construction will begin to make
So, what are we doing to make education a priority? We’re investing in our future through innovative and creative partnerships. Indiana Tech’s 15 million dollar investment in a new academic center will enhance opportunities for students. And the
This would certainly advance educational attainment and continue the positive momentum downtown. Other initiatives in the heart of our city include the wells street bridge which is attracting deserved attention with new lighting.
We really do deserve nice things in
Quality of life extends beyond our legacy projects. We’re a community that cares about one another. We’re there to help in times of need. My staff and I met a lot of great people on our neighborhood walks this past summer. We received a lot of positive feedback but also learned about your concerns, needs, and wants.
That information helps us to enhance how we work with all of our neighbors.
On our business walks, I was encouraged by the passion and commitment shown by small business owners in
In 2013, the citizen services department was ranked number two in the country for call centers. It was one of two national awards that 3-1-1 received last year, and its employees are truly committed to providing the best service possible.
Awards continue to pour in for the Doctor Martin Luther King, junior bridge.
And the city fleet department is ranked in the top 10 in the country.
Our solid waste department created an app to give customers an easy way to know when to set out garbage and recycling bins. And our own Belinda Lewis is a national leader in her field as a certified animal welfare administrator. And a new report lists
Last year, trail work was completed on auburn road; randallia drive;
With over 70 miles of trails, we’re a destination for exercise, recreation, and active transportation. For us to continue
We’re off to a great start, but there’s more to be done. Let’s commit to making Fort