On behalf of our family, Samara and I want to thank you for your support and friendship. We could not have made it through this past year without you. As we turn the page from 2009 to 2010, we wish you and your family health, happiness and prosperity in the coming year.
Since the November 4, 2009 election, things have been moving at a whirlwind pace. After the December 7, 2009 oath of office ceremony, I have been working to move Charlotte forward:
- Jobs Summit. During my Oath of Office, I promised to put together a Jobs Summit to focus discussion among employers about how to improve job growth. As a first step, I met two weeks ago with a number of business leaders, workforce development specialists and nonprofit leaders to begin planning this summit. The summit will occur in the first quarter of 2010.
- Efficient and Effective Government Task Force. We will have to be proactive to avoid property tax increases now and in the future. Next week, I will name a task force of citizens to help review the city budget and recommend budget adjustments that improve efficiency and effectiveness, and I am in final stages of selecting members of this task force. Just as families and businesses are pouring over their budgets to find savings, city government should do the same thing. The new City Council deserves credit for embracing this effort, which has not been undertaken in 20 years.
- Small Business Opportunity Task Force. The City of Charlotte Small Business Opportunity Program has been maligned for several years by concerns about its effectiveness in promoting small business. Because small businesses create an estimated 96% of the jobs within Mecklenburg County, helping small businesses will also help job growth, which is why I am also forming a task force to review this program.
- Small Business Loan Program. On December 14, 2009, the City Council approved taking a look at an extension of the city small business loan program. After many discussions with small business owners, I know that one major barrier to increasing jobs is obtaining credit. For nearly 10 years, the City of Charlotte has supported small businesses through a loan program, which has yielded generally good results. The idea here is to promote new and growing businesses in key growth sectors. For the next 60 days, city staff will be reaching out to lenders and small business owners to identify specific gaps in the credit markets that an expanded loan program could address.
- Criminal Justice Improvements. On December 8, I met with Police Chief Rodney Monroe to begin working on a strategy to push broader criminal justice system reforms through in Raleigh. I strongly believe that court system technology is a key to improved efficiency and effectiveness in the criminal justice system, and I am going to press for innovation here in Mecklenburg County.
- Joint City-State Staff Working Group on Independence Boulevard. I have met with N.C. Secretary of Transportation Gene Conti to discuss Highway 74 (Independence Boulevard). For decades, city planners and state transportation officials have been working in isolation from each other, which has played a significant role in the decline of that corridor. The next mile is slated for construction in 2011. Before that work begins, we are putting together a joint city-state work team to explore ways to construct future portions that take into account transportation, economic development and neighborhood challenges and opportunities. The work team will look at whether a better design can be achieved and is slated complete its work in 90 days or less – not impacting the construction schedule.
- I-485 Completion. I have been in constant contact with state leaders on I-485. You may recall that Governor Beverly Perdue has put together a proposal to complete the remaining loop portion of I-485 by 2014 -- one year before it was slated to start construction. In proposing a novel way to fund this project, it is not surprising that questions have been raised about it. I remain highly confident that, in the end, the accelerated schedule will remain in place.
- U. S. Conference of Mayor's Climate Change Agreement. More than 1000 mayors across the United States have signed the U.S. Conference of Mayor's Climate Change Agreement. With a stroke of a pen, Charlotte has now joined them.
As we close out 2009, things are clearly looking up. Just consider the following encouraging signs surrounding our economy and the spirit of civic activism that has kept Charlotte moving forward:
- The Bank of America Board of Directors has selected Brian Moynihan as the company’s new CEO. While much has been speculated about the future of Bank of America’s headquarters, the new leadership has made clear that Charlotte will remain as the corporate headquarters.
- Electrolux announced that it will relocate its headquarters to Charlotte and grow 700 new jobs here.
- Two weeks later, Zenta announced that it will bring its headquarters to Charlotte and grow 1000 new back office financial services jobs.
- Wells Fargo/Wachovia has donated $6 million to the Charlotte community, making critical investments in education, arts, human services, business corridor improvements and combating homelessness.
- The Spangler Family Foundation donated millions of dollars to public education, including a $2 million scholarship to my alma mater, West Charlotte High School.
I am grateful to serve the City of Charlotte as Mayor, and I thank you for the vital role you have played in making it all happen.
I love hearing from you, so please never hesitate to call or write. The best way to reach me is as follows:
600 East 4th Street
Charlotte, NC 28202
We are already overwhelmed by the number of scheduling requests that have come to our office -- many more requests than I could possibly make. However, if you have such a request, I urge you to contact Pam Young directly. She handles my schedule and reaching her is the most efficient way to get a scheduling request processed. Her contact information is 704-336-2064 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Sara Forman will continue supporting the campaign as our Finance Director. Any campaign-related questions should be directed to her (email@example.com).
Best to you and your family for a Happy New Year.