When the citizens of Atlanta re-elected me as Mayor, I promised a robust second term. I didn’t want to be one of those elected officials who sits back and relaxes after winning re-election. I vowed to continue working hard every single day to make Atlanta better.
With the first quarter of 2014 behind us, we’re clearly on a roll.
Crime is down 13% this quarter. My top priority has always been to make Atlanta safer. I’ll continue to do everything I can to create an environment where residents and business owners can feel secure. Challenges remain, but we’re making progress. We have a serious problem with repeat offenders in our city, and I’m urging the judicial system to deal with it. I am confident we’ll have further reductions in crime if we can lock these repeat offenders – some of them with 60 and 70 arrests – away.
We’re working hard to restore communities. In March, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) announced that they had selected Atlanta as a finalist for a $30 million Choice Neighborhoods Implementation Grant. We’re one of six finalists for the grant, and if selected, the city will work with the Atlanta Housing Authority to revitalize the west Atlanta neighborhood where University Homes once stood.
Atlanta continues to a premier business destination. Prince Global Sports, a leading manufacturer of tennis and racquet sports equipment, recently announced they were relocating into the city. Other companies are looking to move within the City, and I’ll do everything I can to encourage them to do business in the City of Atlanta.
We’re seeing signs everywhere that the Atlanta economy is getting on its feet. In January, I attended the topping out ceremony at Buckhead Atlanta. Like a rising Phoenix, the long-awaited project will emerge from two holes in the ground to become 1.5 million square feet of retail, office, and residential development covering eight city blocks.
. I’m taking action to make Atlanta’s finances more secure so we can invest in our future. Working with the City Council, I authorized the purchase of Underground Atlanta, a move that will take $9 million off our balance sheet annually. The next step is to sell the property to a private partner who can reinvent the area and bring energy back to the heart of Downtown Atlanta.
I pledged during my inauguration to address Atlanta’s infrastructure challenges in a meaningful way. The City faces a $1 billion infrastructure backlog, and I plan to seek a $150-$250 million bond referendum, possibly as soon as next year, to finance long overdue street improvements, bridge repairs, and other projects. In preparation, I’ve appointed a Commission on Waste & Efficiency in Government to find potential cost savings within the City of Atlanta government. The 16-member Commission, which consists of both public and private sector leaders, held their first meeting in March.
Finally, I’m constantly looking for innovations outside of our state to bring back home to Atlanta. I traveled to Newark to learn more about their efforts to reduce criminal recidivism with a prisoner reentry program. I traveled to Silicon Valley to meet with technology companies and venture capital firms to put Atlanta’s startup scene on the radar of big investors. And I had the honor of going to the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, where I met with global thought leaders to share with them my belief that mayors are the true agents of change in government today.
The next few months will be critical for the City of Atlanta. Congress is close to passing a Water Resources bill to fully fund the deepening of Savannah Harbor. The project will expand cargo traffic into the Port of Savannah, bringing with it more jobs to metro Atlanta. Downtown Atlanta is thriving, with the Atlanta Streetcar set to start running this summer. The National Civil and Human Rights Museum, located conveniently off the Streetcar line, will open in May. We’re also preparing to launch a food trucks pilot program to bring more dining options to south Downtown for office workers, tourists, and government employees.
I want the citizens of Atlanta to know I’ll never stop working on your behalf. We’ve had a great first quarter of the year, but the best is yet to come.
Last updated: 4/2/2014 10:49:54 AM