Mayor Taveras Delivers 2014 State of the City Address

PROVIDENCE, RI – Delivering his 2014 State of the City address this evening at
Providence City Hall, Mayor Angel Taveras spoke of a city that has weathered hard
times and is improving with hard work and new investments in city services, public
education, public safety and quality of life.
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«We’ve been through the hard times of the Great Recession. But we never lost hope.
And we never stopped believing that better days were ahead,» Mayor Taveras said. «We
are working hard and making investments that will propel Providence into a future of
greater economic strength and prosperity.»

During the 30-minute speech, which was delivered to the Providence City Council and
other elected officials, dignitaries and stakeholders from across Providence and the
state of Rhode Island, Mayor Taveras discussed his administration’s successful
effort to address a ‘Category 5 fiscal hurricane’ that he faced when taking office
in January, 2011.

«It’s difficult to believe that just three years ago Providence stood at the abyss,
as we worked to address a $110 million structural deficit and keep our Capital City
out of bankruptcy,» Mayor Taveras said. «But we pulled together – all of us here,
and many others throughout our state – to save Providence. We rolled up our sleeves
and we got to work. From our labor unions to our tax-exempt institutions and our
taxpayers – everyone pulled together. We turned a $110 million structural deficit
into a $1.6 million budget surplus.»

Mayor Taveras also provided an update on his economic development action plan,
Putting Providence Back to Work.

Action steps taken since the plan was introduced in March 2013 include:

* Freezing the city’s commercial tax rates;

* Moving the city’s plan-review and permit-application processes online
through a new system, «ProvSmart»;

* Removing barriers to redevelopment for the city’s significant buildings,
including the Providence Gas Building and the Arcade;

* Taking steps to reinvent Kennedy Plaza, the gateway to Providence;

* Actively marketing and promoting vacant and available properties;

* Undertaking a comprehensive update of the city’s existing zoning ordinance;

* Working to raise student achievement and put children on a path to
success, supported by the launch of Providence Talks and Providence Reads;

* Investing in the city’s infrastructure, including vacant and abandoned
properties, as well as the city’s roads through the Providence Road Improvement
Project; and

* Launching a regional marketing and advertising campaign that encouraged
visitors to «Come to Providence»

Mayor Taveras announced the launch of a new website that will allow the public to
track the city’s progress toward completing the goals of the economic development
action plan. The website is available at providenceri.com/
putting-providence-back-to-work.

Mayor Taveras also detailed the outcomes of investments his administration has made
in public education, public safety and quality of life for Providence residents.

In the coming months, Mayor Taveras plans to continue taking action to spur economic
development and improve the quality of life for Providence resident, including:

* Launch a new grant program for small businesses to invest in storefront
improvements;

* Continue a comprehensive update of Providence’s decades-old zoning
ordinance that will guide future development and support smart growth,
sustainability and public transit;

* Propose another $1 million investment in the Innovation Investment Program
(IIP) to fund a second round of startup companies;

* Complete the job of fixing 62 miles of road in Providence by the end of
this year;

* Begin training 60 recruits this spring in a new Police Academy class. It
will be the most diverse class in the history of the Providence Police Department
and the new officers are expected to be on the streets of Providence before the end
of the year;

* Implement a program this spring to target criminals who use guns by
deploying the Neighborhood Response Team – a program established nearly a decade ago
to leverage state resources in partnership with our Police Department;

* Receive national accreditation for the Providence Police Department by the
end of this year;

* Work with the City Council to pass legislation that addresses abuses in
the adult entertainment industry, including «one strike» legislation that would
revoke the license of an adult entertainment club for any finding of prostitution or
employing a minor. The legislation also bans private booths in strip clubs, where
prostitution flourishes.

«Not all moments in history are created equal,» said Mayor Taveras. «Some moments
are momentous – shaping the course of future events for years to come. These past
three years have been a momentous time for our city. Providence was at a crossroads.
We chose the path toward a brighter future. It was up to us, and we did what we
needed to do to move our city forward. And today I can say that because of us,
Providence is better off than we were not long ago. We are restoring hope in our
beloved city.»