The state of Alexandria remains sound as we move into 2009, but to maintain that stability, particularly during this time of economic uncertainty, we must be efficient and responsive.
The City’s bond rating and the growth and development you see throughout the City are signs of vitality. While the recruitment of new businesses remains a central mission, the expansion and retention of existing businesses is how we survive tough times and proper more in good times. We must keep a laser-like focus on providing infrastructure and a business-friendly environment. In these times, sound infrastructure is necessary for increasing our capacity—or our community’s ability to handle increasing economic activity—from a trained workforce, to drainage, to the ability of public safety to provide adequate protection and services. We must build our capacity as a community, and that starts with building it in the places most in need of help.
In our City, areas have been neglected. Roadways need attention, and severed passages need to be fixed. Forty years of sprawl development in Alexandria have created enormous opportunity for some, though, at the same time, it has drained significant resources and attention away from Alexandria’s historic neighborhoods and inner city.
We are embarking on a reinvestment plan heralding a new day by altering, updating, and lifting our community—S.P.A.R.C. All must contribute to our community to achieve a shared notion of identity and common purpose. S.P.A.R.C. funds are already in the bank and are available even in these tough times, without new taxes or harm to our budget.
The promise of this massive reinvestment plan, based on credit you have already built in the system, will build our tax base. When we use the power of our diverse community to bring new contributors to the table of economic success, the entire community benefits.
SPARC’s no give away; it is reinvestment in business and capital improvements, and, according to experts, infrastructure reinvestment has a huge multiplier effect. Infrastructure reinvestment is nearly always appropriate spending because it invests in your future and the future value of a City in the same way you might invest in your home and education. SPARC is about sustainability over time, not fixes on the cheap.
Once thriving and vibrant commercial areas and neighborhoods suffer the effects of decades of neglect— high crime, blight, disrepair, and a plethora of vacant, abandoned, and adjudicated properties abound. SPARC addresses our problems in three ways: targeting help to identified areas where change has the greatest impact, providing those areas with new or fixed transportation improvements, and offering unique incentives to business entrepreneurs.
As the President has stated, the time for talk is over and the time to act, together, is now.
I want to thank The Light for this opportunity and look forward with all of you to a prosperous year. I am proud to serve you and humbled by the goodness of this community and the encouragement I receive every day.