February 10, 2020
PROVIDENCE, RI – Mayor Jorge O. Elorza today delivered his annual State of the City address in the Providence City Council Chambers. Introducing a new era of Providence, Mayor Elorza presented a vision where residents receive best-in-class city services, businesses are flourishing and recent investments in infrastructure have built a strong city from the ground up. The Mayor reaffirmed his commitment to being a city that works for every resident with meaningful investments that will provide future generations with a better connected, innovative and resilient city. Read the 2020 State of the City here.
Honesty & Integrity:
Guided by his firm commitment to bring transparency and professionalism to all city departments, Mayor Elorza has worked to address constituent concerns through an efficient and open process. Five years ago, the Elorza administration began by addressing a backlog of 3,000 resident complaints and the new system, PVD311, has closed over 55,000 cases to date. These values have extended to the way in which the City has addressed its finances. Through realistic budgeting practices, better cash management, and improving revenue, the City is on the strongest financial footing it has been on in over a decade, allowing it to make critical investments in needs such as city infrastructure.
Investing in the New Providence:
The Mayor outlined that in this New Providence, challenges are addressed proactively. Through partnerships with the Providence City Council, the administration has committed to making the largest infrastructure investment in the city’s recent history. Nearly half a billion dollars have been allocated between the recently approved Capital Improvement Plan ($222M over five years) and the state-approved five-year school facilities plan ($278M over five years). These investments have a critical focus on improving our roads, sidewalks, recreation centers, and publicly-owned facilities while building learning spaces of the future, all with a focus on long-term resiliency and connectivity.
Also included in those investments are critical, decades overdue investments in public parks and city connectivity. With the continued support from the administration and robust community engagement, parks and green spaces across Providence are being revitalized, seeing $33 million of investments over the last five years. In addition, the City has outlined a bold vision to connect each of our neighborhoods through the Great Streets plan released last month.
Education & Learning:
In 2018 with overwhelming voter support, Providence approved the largest school infrastructure investment in the state’s history. For the first time in decades, classrooms and school buildings will be redesigned to reflect 21st century learning facilities. With the recent turnaround efforts, transformational changes are happening not just in our school system, but also the education system within the community here in Providence.
Mayor Elorza remains committed to providing expanded access to early learning programs and out-of-classroom learning opportunities that support holistic growth in safe, welcoming environments. With the support of partners, major investments have been made in summer learning programs, summer jobs, $5 a week summer camps, and two new recreation centers have opened offering high quality before and after school programming to support working parents in past years.
The New Economy:
Though the former Providence economy was built on manufacturing, the City’s post-industrial economy is still in the process of transitioning to one based on knowledge and technology. New opportunities aligned with Providence’s natural strengths in innovation, sustainability, and design are taking root locally. Through programs like PVD Self Employment and Design Catalyst, Mayor Elorza has continued to build pipelines between our entrepreneurial local talent and the resources they need to thrive. Large companies continue to move in and, through programs such as the Providence Business Loan Fund, seasoned business owners are expanding their presence here as entrepreneurs with big new ideas have never found it easier to start their businesses.
A Resilient Future:
With a lack of action at the federal executive level, Providence has committed to building a sustainable city. Mayor Elorza believes that climate change is one of the greatest threats facing our community which is why the City has changed the way investments are planned and the approach to how these investments are determined. In addition to a $10M investment in resilient infrastructure over the next two years, the recently released Climate Justice Plan sets ambitious and actionable goals by centering the voices of low-income communities of color who are on the frontlines of climate change.
Mayor Elorza recognizes that the most effective strategy to address violent crime is one that works collaboratively and proactively to prevent it. This people-centered approach is applied to all policy initiatives within the New Providence. As a result of a community-driven approach, Providence is experiencing one of its safest periods in history. Last year, total crime was at an all-time low, and, over the last five years, shootings have been reduced by over 60%, burglaries have declined 55%, and homicide rates have fallen to a 50-year low.
Contrasting darker days in its recent history, Mayor Elorza outlined the ways in which the New Providence meets each challenge with kindness, treating each resident as a customer, improving infrastructure to pave the way for a modern, accessible city, and investing in the local talent found within the community. The city is continuing to make progress upon a solid financial footing and building strong supports for its residents.