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Mayor Price calls on residents, businesses to get involved to help city succeed

Posted Feb. 23, 2012

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Mayor Betsy Price taking questions from Ben Loughry, managing partner at Integra Realty Resources DFW, as part of the Fort Worth Chamber of Commerce's State of the City luncheon.

Mayor Betsy Price called on all residents to ask themselves what they’re doing to make Fort Worth a better place to live and work during her first State of the City Address Thursday afternoon.

“We have a saying — ‘It’s your Fort Worth’ — and we want everyone here today to ask themselves what they are going to do for the city this year,” Price said. “After all, it’s the citizens and the businesses that will shape our community, not the government.”

Almost 1,400 people attended the Fort Worth Chamber of Commerce luncheon at the Fort Worth Convention Center, presented by Southwest Bank. In a question-and-answer format moderated by Ben Loughry, managing partner at Integra Realty Resources DFW, Price sketched out her priorities and initiatives for Fort Worth. Here are highlights:

Mobility

“This is one of the top priorities for this council,” Price said. “We’re working regionally to look at high-speed rail, light rail and commuter rail. If we are to be a sustainable city, we need good, safe and convenient roads and other transportation options.”

The City Council has asked the Transportation and Public Works Department to spend 18 months getting caught up on neighborhood and arterial street projects financed by previous bond programs. The Council is receiving quarterly updates on the progress.

Mobility priorities for the Council include I-35W expansion, commuter rail, the Bike Fort Worth plan and the Walk Fort Worth plan.

Education

“Education is economic development, plain and simple,” Price said. “As a community, we must keep the pressure on educators to improve our schools.”

She encouraged residents to get involved by volunteering at their neighborhood schools. Employers should encourage employees to connect with school children, she said.

Public-private partnerships

The city has benefited from outstanding public-private partnerships recently, Price said. Some of these include PetSmart’s sponsorship of two animal adoption centers, Oncor’s newly announced $250,000 commitment to the Healthy City Initiative, Comerica Bank’s donation of $10,000 for school supplies, Community Trust Bank’s $5,000 to the Big Idea Challenge for city employees, and funding from the Chamber and Chesapeake Energy to kick-start the SteerFW initiative for young leaders.

Customer service

“Fort Worth has no widgets to sell,” Price said. “The city provides service, and that’s it.”

She said City Hall must get better at delivering the level of service that residents and business owners expect. One of her priorities for the 2013 budget is to improve options for making electronic payments, credit card payments and online payments.

“In this day and age, we’re online, not in line” Price said.

Healthy city

Price announced a new initiative that will include fitness and nutrition programs for adults and children. District 7 Councilmember Dennis Shingleton will lead the effort. More details will be announced in coming months.

Job growth

“The City Council and all of our local chambers of commerce are aggressively chasing every lead we can to get more businesses to locate in Fort Worth,” the mayor said. “Our Economic Development staff works very hard and looks at every tool in the kit to help us retain good businesses and bring in new ones.”

Price said the city and business interests are actively working to prepare a retraining effort for any employees who might be laid off if American Airlines closes its maintenance base at Alliance in far north Fort Worth. Potential new uses for the AA facility are being examined, too.

The full State of the City presentation can be seen online at FWTV’s website.

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