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|Mayo says city poised to land new employers|
In spite of an economic downturn, Monroe remains in sound financial shape and the city hopes to bring three new businesses to the community in the near future, according to Mayor Jamie Mayo.
Mayo made that comment Wednesday during his annual "state of the city" speech, which was held at the Monroe Civic Center.
The city has already inked the deal for one undisclosed business to locate here, which Mayo said will open shop in Monroe, creating new jobs for Monroe's citizens. The city expects to make an announcement regarding the new business soon.
Another company also wants to move into Monroe and establish a business that would create jobs averaging $30,000 annually, Mayo said.
"All we have to do is close the deal, and we're going to do everything we can to close this deal," Mayo said. "That's another reason to be 'Monroe Proud' and we're going to get it done."
Mayo told dozens of local business leaders and residents attending Wednesday's event that he did not have a "doom and gloom" report.
"I am not here today to paint that kind of picture," he said. "I am here today to say the state of the city of Monroe is still very strong. We are still performing at a higher rate than cities throughout the region, throughout the state and throughout the country."
He said the city has an overall fund balance of $11.8 million, and it has enjoyed a budget surplus for the past six years.
Mayo has challenged the city's department heads and employees to keep that surplus streak going.
"This is a very significant accomplishment, especially during these very difficult times," Mayo said.
Monroe taxpayers also can expect a decrease in property taxes for the second consecutive year, according to a $54.4 million, 2009-10 fiscal year budget, which recently was submitted to the city council, Mayo said. The city council is expected to begin budget hearings on the 2009-10 budget soon. The city's new fiscal year begins May 1.
"I think that speaks volumes of what your government is doing," Mayo said. "I want to thank our city council members for supporting those decreases."
The city also saw 145 new businesses open doors during 2008, Mayo said. He also is excited that millions of dollars were invested to expand downtown Monroe and other businesses throughout the city.
"Business people are investing in downtown Monroe because they know it's the next great place to develop," Mayo said.
For the second consecutive year, Monroe was awarded first place in economic development by the Louisiana Municipal Association. The city each year competes with New Orleans, Baton Rouge, Lake Charles, Shreveport and Lafayette for the honor.
Mayo expects another great year in spite of a poor economy. He said as long as the people in northeast Louisiana "step up, grab hands and continue to work together," great things will happen for the city, parish and region.
"We need to continue to work together each day to make sure we move our city, parish, region and state forward. It's a strange thing … we were having so many financial difficulties prior to Katrina, but once Katrina occurred, and Guide and State Farm left, after all that occurred, we still experienced our best financial situation probably in the history of the city of Monroe," Mayo said. "So don't tell me God won't do great things."
Regardless of who people voted for president, Mayo said it is important that people support President Barack Obama's message of hope.
"Our future is literally in our hands," Mayo continued. "We must do away with the rivalries. We must end the pettiness. We must unite and build … build to improve our homes, our neighborhoods, our schools, our workforce. Change has come to America like never before. Change has come to Monroe like never before. Yes we can make a difference by working together. We can only be successful if we do this together."