Mayor Kenneth Gulley highlighted economic growth, infrastructure improvements and crime reduction during the 2019 State of the City Address, delivered Monday, January 28, 2019 at the Bessemer Civic Center.
Gulley said the city overall is a strong, positive position moving forward, highlighted by the announcement last year that Amazon plans on building is first-ever distribution center in Alabama in the Marvel City. The $325 million investment by Amazon in Bessemer is expected to create some 3,000 jobs and spur other investments in the city.
“This facility is the largest single investment in the city of Bessemer’s history,” he said. “It puts us on a glorious path and reverses the economic turmoil left in our city by the closing of Pullman Standard in the mid-80s.”
Gulley said the city’s overall business climate is strong. New stores and restaurants are opening in parts of the city. City revenues continue to climb, the Mayor said, noting that the city’s budget has increased by 53 percent since 2010.
“We have managed revenues responsibly and have been good stewards of your taxpayer dollars,” he said. “We are a city that is not in the red, but in the black. Our annual audit has come back strong each year.”
On the housing front, new home construction continues to take place in subdivisions such as Cedar Creek and Lake Cyrus. The Mayor also highlighted the burgeoning partnership with Habitat for Humanity of Greater Birmingham that resulted in the construction of 15 new houses during a Homebuilders Blitz in October.
In terms of infrastructure, the city was able to complete resurfacing projects along Fourth Avenue and Dartmouth Avenue this past year by using a mix of federal, state and local funds. Local gas tax funds were used to do residential paving projects in several areas of the city, including along Alice Street, Hickory Road and Cedar Hill Drive.
“We will continue to aggressively work to secure funds to pave streets in our communities,” the Mayor said.
The city also cut the ribbon on the first phase of the Bessemer Rail-Trail in spring of 2018. Construction on subsequent phases of the trail is expected to start this year. In addition, the city is building its first-ever storm shelter at the Police Department’s Emergency Operations Center on Ninth Avenue. Gulley said he plans to work with the City Councilto identify funding to build additional shelters in the city.
On the public safety front, Gulley said the city’s crime rate dropped for a seventh consecutive year. He said the police department will continue to adopt prevention strategies to steer residents, particularly youth, away from crime.
“Our police department will continue with our city-wide programs aimed at engaging our youth concerning conflict resolution,” he said. “I am appealing to our faith-based community, non-profit organizations, schools and parents to assist me in this battle against violence in our city.”
Gulley concluded by challenging residents to take a more active hand in moving Bessemer forward.
Overall, Gulley said the city’s future is trending brightly.
“As we prepare to celebrate the city of Bessemer’s 132nd birthday, I can say confidently that the state of our city is very positive,” he said. “We know there is still much work to be done in many areas, but the seeds of progress have been sown over the past eight years. And now we are starting to reap the harvest.”