PROVIDENCE, RI – Mayor Jorge O. Elorza today delivered his
annual State of the City Address in the Council Chambers of Providence City
Hall. Attendees included local elected and appointed officials, as well as
business, community, and faith leaders. The Mayor emphasized that unity is at
the core of the capital city’s strength while making note of the national
political landscape and recent controversial and divisive events.
“You voted for a city that listened and a city that worked. You
voted for a better tomorrow and a safer today. But most of all, you voted for
the promise of One Providence, a city with 25 distinct and different
neighborhoods that come together as one community,” said Mayor Elorza.
“And so it is in that spirit – of coming together – that I
deliver today’s state of the city. Over the past three years, we have been
continually reminded of the power of ‘We the people’ and what we can accomplish
when we are united,” the Mayor added.
Emphasizing the need of community participation in the planning
of future investments focused on improving education in Providence, Mayor
Elorza spoke of what has been accomplished since the City held the All In:
Providence Education Summit in April 2017. Over 400 attendees participated and
their input prioritized improved facilities; culturally responsive curriculum;
equity and increased access to multilingual learning; and increased
partnerships with community organizations.
The City hired school culture coordinators for all middle
schools who will serve as role models and provide support to students. To
answer calls for better facilities, the Administration also announced a plan to
invest up to $400 Million in school infrastructure throughout the next 10
years. A yearlong public visioning process for school repairs, in which
hundreds have already participated, was launched for a five year plan that will
later be submitted to the State.
Providing students with tools and resources needed to succeed in
century is also among the highest priories. To meet a commitment to increase
student’s access-to-technology, the Mayor announced that every Providence
student will have access to a tablet, laptop or computer in the classroom by
the end of this summer. To close the digital divide, the City launched a
partnership with Sprint, which has committed to providing 600 kids from all ten
high schools with free 24/7 access to high speed internet throughout their high
Considerable progress has been made to address summer learning
loss with support from community partners such as Breakthrough Providence,
BELL, PASA, Generation Teach, Providence Community Libraries, the Boys and
Girls Club and the Providence Recreation Department. Participants of BELL’s
summer program and their families were recognized in the address. Through BELL,
480 elementary students gained two months in literacy skills and three months
in math skills over summer 2017. BELL CEO Dr. Lauren Sanchez Gilbert and two
BELL scholars were in attendance. In addition to summer programs, the amount of
youth summer jobs was doubled in 2017 with support from the City Council.
With the launch of the Office of Economic Opportunity in July
2017, the City undertook critical work to provide training, support and
resources to residents, particularly those unemployed or underemployed, to
connect them to employment or prepare them to launch their own business. The
City also supported Amos House’s A Hand Up program, which has offered over 350
people experiencing homelessnes daily work opportunities.
With regards to public safety, the Mayor highlighted the recent
launch of Providence Safe Stations, a partnership aimed to address the opioid
crisis that was inspired by a program launched in Nashua, NH. Through the
program, anyone can walk into any fire station in the city at any time and be
connected to recovery support. Other highlights included the graduation of the
City’s largest and most diverse police class, the deployment of body worn
cameras and the purchasing of 71 new vehicles for the department.
In addition to touting the more than 60 projects in construction
or in the pipeline, the Mayor pointed to numerous businesses that have decided
to make the capital city home to make the case that Providence is a place where
people want to be. He recognized Carlos de Moya, a fashion designer from Mao in
the Dominican Republic, who has been featured in New York Fashion Week and who
decided to move to Providence after attending PVDFest, the City’s signature
Direct investment in neighborhoods was a main theme in the
address. The Mayor spoke of support for local businesses from the Providence
Business Loan Fund (PBLF), which has provided funds for Raymond Brothers Tailor
Shop, Geoff’s Sandwich Shop, and Los Andes Restaurant in the past year. The
first five year, comprehensive capital improvement plan was also adopted with
$45 Million in infrastructure repairs set to begin this spring. Through the
PVD311 system, the City has also improved the way in which it services
residents. The innovative system has helped the Mayor’s Center for City
Services to close more than 25,000 constituent cases and downloads for the
mobile application increased by 153% just this year.
The Mayor closed his address by thanking all partners for their
support and work to place Providence and its residents on a path to success. He
expressed incredible enthusiasm, to continuing to work collaboratively on some
of the biggest priorities for the capital city.
“We have done so much together as a community, accomplished so
much together as neighbors. But we have so much left to do. Over the next five
years, I look forward to rebuilding our schools so they inspire our kids to
learn. To resetting our relationships with our universities to invest in our
city of the future. To rethinking transportation to better connect people to
opportunities. To re-envisioning Kennedy Plaza to be our central meeting space.
To redeveloping vacant properties to build strong and vibrant neighborhoods. To
recommitting ourselves to our artists so they can unlock our creative
potential,” stated the Mayor.