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|Mayo outlines plans for city in 2008|
Monroe Mayor Jamie Mayo said 2007 was a banner year for the city, and he expects the new year to be just as good.
The city recorded a record $5.89-million surplus during its past fiscal year and it had an overall fund balance of $11.6 million.
"That's the highest in the city's history," Mayo said. "In addition, we had a number of jobs that came to the area. That included Accent, which will eventually have 550 jobs, and Chase, which transferred 250 jobs here."
Also, several retailers opened for business in Monroe in 2007, including Kohl's and Burlington Coat Factory, while Best Buy should open up its facility later in 2008.
"Those were huge employers to come to the city and the number of jobs they brought in was phenomenal," Mayo said. "I called this our comeback year considering what we lost."
"Now, I don't see this as replacing those jobs, but it certainly put us in a really good position for future opportunities," he said.
Also, Mayo said there are three other prospective companies that are considering a move to Monroe. He expects Monroe will land at least two of those businesses.
"These are three very good prospects that will have good paying jobs," he said. "I think we'll have the opportunity to close on all of them, but I do believe we will get two of them in 2008."
During 2008, Monroe also will see work begin on the proposed $20-million terminal at Monroe Regional Airport.
Several Monroe leaders have said that updating the Monroe airport is one of the keys to promote more economic growth in northeast Louisiana.
Earlier in 2007, the city council selected a South Carolina transportation consulting firm to design the new terminal, which will replace the current, 40-year-old terminal. The project is expected to be completed sometime in 2010.
"Of course, funding is the biggest issue here, but the timetable has already been set," Mayo said.
Also during 2008, the city's comprehensive plan will be completed.
The New York consulting firm of Peter J. Smith and Co. was hired to devise a comprehensive plan, which local officials say will be the city's vision for the future.
"So we will have an updated roadmap for the city for present and future development," Mayo said.
During a one-year period, Peter J. Smith and Co. has interviewed city officials, business leaders and the public on how they think Monroe should progress. The firm also has studied the current conditions in Monroe and what needs to be done to accommodate future growth.
Other positive activities include a proposed retail marketing plan, which the city council will officially vote on at its next regular meeting.
Mayo's administration has asked the city council to spend $70,000 to hire Buxton Inc. of Fort Worth to pinpoint the best retail and restaurant prospects for Monroe.
The Downtown Economic Development Board is currently involved, too, in its 'Streetscape Project" to enhance the beauty and appearance of downtown while preserving the cultural and historical significance of that area of town. The project also has a goal of increasing economic development in downtown.