The mayor of South Bend says he expects more business growth this year in the St. Joseph County city. During his State of The City Address Tuesday, Pete Buttigieg said more than 1 million square-feet of new commercial space is slated for construction this year and says the city is experiencing one of its “most pivotal and transformational moments.” He also says with direction from its recently-launched Office of Innovation, South Bend will continue to improve integrated technology functions.

March 11, 2015

Excerpt From South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg's March 10, 2015 State of The City Address

Our challenges our great, but our opportunities are greater. The results we have seen in the last year and the last few years leave no doubt that that sun emerging on our city seal is still a rising sun for South Bend. And the year ahead promises to be another one of good results for our neighborhoods, residents, families and businesses.

More business growth is coming to our city, from repair and renovation underway in buildings like the LaSalle Hotel and Hoffman Hotel downtown, to over a million square feet of new commercial space under construction this year.

We will also be continuing the work of the Smart Streets program, with most of 2015's work concentrated on Western Avenue and Lincoln Way West Corridors as well as preparing roundabouts to better distribute traffic downtown. The effort will continue into 2016, when the bulk of the two-way conversion downtown will take place. This initiative is the result of more than two dozen public meetings and three major public debates and votes with strong supporting majorities on the Common Council. It gives us the chance to make our city streets safer, more attractive, and more economically productive, all by going back to principles that served South Bend well in the past and serve other American cities well today.

Our growth in the use of technology will continue, with our new Office of Innovation, led by our new Chief Innovation Officer Santiago Garces, hard at work improving city processes and management while we bring on a Chief Technology Officer to drive the future IT strategy of the City. In this century, municipal IT can and must go far beyond the traditional “help desk” functions of the early 1990s, and we will continue to expand our vision for how technology can deliver cost savings for taxpayers and better services for residents.

2015 will also see the beginning of a number of upgrades to Parks and Recreation facilities, using a $5 million bond recently authorized by the Council. These funds will allow us to address deferred maintenance while expanding gymnasium space and recreational resources, and also providing a large number of small enhancements to parks throughout the City. Based on what we learn with this effort, we will pursue further investments in the future, with a goal of making sure we offer access to good parks and programs for every resident and child in every neighborhood, while establishing some truly distinctive parks that benefit the whole city. A great parks and recreation system creates memorable places, supports public health, spurs economic development, preserves green space, and helps build community and neighborhood identity. To make our network of parks and recreation programming all that it can be for the next fifty years, we will need to make additions and subtractions, always with input from the community.

And as I never tire of reminding people, this year South Bend is celebrating her 150th anniversary of incorporation. The celebrations are already underway and will last throughout the year, with educational, promotional, and community activities taking place in every part of our City. Countless local leaders and volunteers have been collaborating on planning the events and activities, with a major celebration planned on the weekend of our official May 22nd birthday. The heart of our city will come alive with concerts, fireworks, exhibits, and even zip lines, all to bring South Bend residents of all ages together. During the festivities, we will dedicate a light sculpture on the river that will serve for years as a commemoration of this special year.

FUTURE

The 150th anniversary is about more than just how we celebrate this year. It's about putting this year, and the times we are living in, into context. Every day I work in this job increases my conviction that we are living in one of the most pivotal and transformational moments in our city's history. This is not only the city's 150th year, it is a hinge point in our city's trajectory. And we would do well to think of this year as the first year of the next 50 years. The other day in Selma, President Obama quoted Langston Hughes' moving line: “We build our temples for tomorrow, strong as we know how.”

My hope and expectation is to be on hand for the city's bicentennial – 50 years from now in 2065 – 83 years old and a happily retired former mayor. I often think about how our city will look then. Undoubtedly it will be different in many respects. If demographic trends hold, it will be even more diverse, and so will its leadership. The buildings will look different; the streets and ways of getting around will have shifted with the times. We will, if only from necessity, have developed more sustainable ways of living, just as our patterns of life have now become more sustainable than they were even one or two generations ago. Many here will work in industries that you and I cannot even conceive.

But some things will be the same. Our winters will be cold and our summers hot. Our magnificent river will continue to flow through the heart of our city, a great resource and a natural treasure. Our community will continue to respond to ups and downs by looking out for each other and pulling together in tough times. Our people will still be strong in faith, work ethic, community spirit and generosity. And they will take that spirit into their lives as they pursue the things that matter to them: family and friends, ideas and enterprise, scholarship and music and sports.

And the people of this city, 50 or 150 years from now, will continue to find that their well-being is closely tied to the well-being of their city. Their freedom to pursue the good life will depend in part on how well their city takes care of the basics of support so they don’t have to, and how well the city creates a set of places where their lives can play out better than if they lived somewhere else. Just like today. And all that will depend on the choices we make, for ourselves and for the future. If we can continue to make our city more perfect each passing year, to take risks and even make mistakes but always to take more steps forward than backward, to do what is right for this city even when it is not easy, then we will give them every reason to look at that city seal and continue to agree that what they see is a rising sun.

Our work matters because in a well-run city, people are at greater liberty to live well. And it matters because the choices we make now telescope through time into the future. So we build our city for tomorrow, strong as we know how. And each passing year, our know-how grows greater, so long as we are not afraid to learn. We learn from our past, we learn from each other, we learn from ideas that we seek out, close to home and far away. And we learn from our mistakes. We learn, we grow, we build, we make choice after choice to move ourselves and our community forward, and when the time for speeches is over, the results will speak for themselves.

Source: The City of South Bend

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