Mayor Lee Brand addressed a crowd of nearly nine hundred attendees, including elected officials, business and community leaders during Wednesday’s State of the City luncheon held in Downtown Fresno. The annual event, sponsored by the Fresno Chamber of Commerce, was the first State of the City address for Mayor Brand, who officially took office in January, 2017.
California State University, Fresno and Dr. Joseph Castro were honored with the Mayor’s Community Partner Award for their work in the community and their willingness to team up with public and private organizations on projects that have improved the quality of life in Fresno. Former Mayor Ashley Swearengin, now serving as President and CEO of the Central Valley Community Foundation, was awarded the Key to the City in recognition of her vision, service and passion for our city and its residents.
In his keynote speech, Mayor Brand used the theme of collaboration and teamwork as the building blocks to a successful present and a brighter future. He reviewed the unprecedented success of the first six months of his administration, highlighted the local businesses that have chosen to stay and invest in Fresno, and urged the audience to “to join me in the spirit of collaboration so that Fresno becomes a beacon of unity and a trailblazer for teamwork, where common people attain uncommon results.” He also took a moment in the beginning of his speech to thank outgoing City Manager Bruce Rudd for his 41 years of service and to welcome incoming City Manager Wilma Quan-Schecter.
Mayor Brand announced his “10 Year Path to Prosperity,” a plan that will ultimately bring 10,000 new jobs to Fresno by the year 2027. The strategy focuses on developing the approximately 1,000 acres of industrial property in the reverse triangle between Highways 99 and 41, including building out the infrastructure to make the land shovel-ready. His goal is to make Fresno the e-commerce capital of the West Coast.
“This is a game changer and the fulfillment of my vision for Fresno,” said Mayor Brand. “This will change the narrative that has defined Fresno for too many years that includes generational poverty, high unemployment and high crime, to one of community wide prosperity.”
Mayor Brand’s list of City accomplishments over the six months included:
- Passing the Rental Housing Improvement Act, which will improve the living conditions for thousands of families in our community with a sensible and reasonable plan of action.
- Established the Citizens Public Safety Advisory Board, a landmark group representing the full diversity of Fresno that will promote higher standards of service in our Police Department.
- Hiring a new full-time and local Office of Independent Review.
- Brought our credit rating with Standard and Poor to an A+ rating that will save Fresno’s ratepayers and taxpayers over $40 million dollars over 22 years.
- Announced that Ulta Beauty and Amazon will build new e-commerce fulfillment centers and bring up to 3,500 jobs to Fresno.
- Opened local high school pools in Fresno Unified and Central Unified for recreational use, offering more safe and supervised swimming options for our residents by utilizing existing facilities that usually sit idle during the hottest months of the year.
- Raised over $35,000 to provide 700 free swim lessons with the goal that every child in Fresno who wants lessons can learn how to swim.
- Launched our new FAX-15 service on Shaw and Cedar that improved transit opportunities for Fresno State students and staff, and upgraded our evening and weekend bus service to extend hours and shorten stop times.
- Added 21 additional sworn police personnel, increasing staffing levels to 825, the highest since 2010.
- Expanding the City’s ShotSpotter coverage from 6 to 9 square miles.