Illustrated and Written by Mel Paisley Walton
On Thursday, Feb. 9, Mayor Eddie Deloach gave the State of the City Address at the Savannah Civic Center at 6:30pm. The talk opened with remarks of unity and perseverance by Deloach’s pastor, and then, the Mayor launched into his thirty-minute overview of strides the city has made in local crime rates, education, job creation, and future projects for the benefit of the city.
One of the linchpins of Deloach and the city council’s policy over the last year has been “the best way to stop a bullet is with a job.” Over the past 12 months, violent crime in the city has gone down by 5%, a number which the council applauds, but is still not satisfied with.
To further bring down crime rates this coming year, the board wants to focus on creating incentives for businesses to mentor and intern the youth, do more to renovate recreational centers with better supplies and more extracurricular activities, and work more with District Attorney Meg Heap to set up a Family Justice Center. The planned center would help families escape domestic violence and drug related issues in the home.
This is all part of a two pronged public safety initiative—one part is to curve the underlying socio-economic factors that foster criminal behavior, and the other is to bolster the police department with more intensive training, supplies, and manpower. This year, 18 additional officers were hired into the understaffed department, 390 body cams were brought into the supply ranks, along with license plate readers and a push for more surveillance cameras and better lighting throughout the city.
This year, our local economy was boosted by the issuance of 964 new business licenses, a slew of new construction projects, and over 300 film projects which created roughly 10 million in local revenue. Unemployment for the City of Savannah is currently at 5%. Last year, the administration sponsored high school students into summer internship-to-employment initiatives which resulted in 600 hires.
This year, Deloach wants to invite labor unions, Step Up Savannah, Savannah Technical College, and other parties to the table to help graduates and older Savannahians find gainful employment through learning skilled trades.
Deloach attributed much of the years success to the work of our Aldermen, the appointment of Roberto Hernandez as our new City Manager, and the continued collaboration between the city government and local community advocacy groups.