“The state of our city is strong and getting stronger,” said Mayor Ed Pawlowski as he delivered his 2015 State of the City address today to members and guests of the Allentown Rotary Club at the brand new Renaissance Allentown Hotel.
Pawlowski told a crowd of some 200 persons during a 32 minute address that projects like the PPL Center, office buildings, apartments, new restaurants, retail and the new luxury hotel have become the catalysts of a new era, a new beginning, a new heart for Allentown.
According to Pawlowski, “They are providing economic development opportunities and jobs (150 in this hotel alone...250 construction jobs 125,000 man hours) and 80% of those employed in this hotel are from Allentown. It is making Allentown a model for redevelopment for cities across the Commonwealth and even across the country to emulate.”
Pawlowski also proposed working with city council to adopt policies similar to Philadelphia which will require service contractors who work with the city to have a base wage of more than $10 an hour, thus providing a living wage for their employees.
Pawlowski said Allentown continues to become a much safer city. Allentown has experienced eight straight years of consistent crime reduction. Part I crimes have been reduced by 17% and homicide is at its lowest level in more than a decade.
Pawlowski touched on highlights from city departments, like public works, finance, parks and the controller’s office. He touted downtown traffic signal improvements, nearly 4.5 miles of street and alley repaving, purchasing process updates and plans to complete three major playground projects. He praised City Controller Mary Ellen Koval for completion during 2014 of 11 Process Flow Narratives and Flowcharts which streamlined operations and implemented new procedures.
Pawlowski announced that under the leadership of Lehigh County Office of Veterans Affairs Director Tom Applebach, a task force will be formed to bring various service providers together with the mission of eliminating veterans’ homelessness in Allentown and Lehigh County. Pawlowski said, “We need to welcome home our veterans with much more than a smile and a hug, but with a new life.”
The mayor also announced the formation of a My Brother’s Keeper initiative to ensure that all youth, including boys and young men of color, have opportunities to improve their life outcomes and overcome barriers to success. The task force will be headed by Lehigh County Commissioner David Jones. It will pull together community and business leaders to focus on unlocking the full potential of boys and young men of color – something that will not only benefit them, but our entire community. Pawlowski said the initiative will respond to data showing that boys and young men of color, regardless of socio-economic background, are disproportionately at risk.
The Allentown Rotary Club is usually the first in a series of invitations for a mayoral address from service clubs in the city. The state of the city report is a requirement of the city charter.