Mayor Ray O’Connell called Allentown “dynamic” during his 2020 State of the City address this afternoon before a sold-out crowd of some 150 members and guests of the Allentown Chamber of Commerce and Greater Lehigh Valley Chamber of Commerce at East Side Youth Center.
“We have a compelling story to tell,” O’Connell said. “Earlier this month, the New York Times wrote a story featuring the economic renaissance of the Lehigh Valley. More businesses are opening, more jobs are coming into the city. We are beginning to implement the Vision 2030 Plan which charts our course for the next ten years. We look forward to the Census which we expect will show that Allentown is growing when many cities are showing population declines.”
The mayor told the crowd that public safety remains his top priority. “The numbers don’t lie. The city has become a much safer place over the past decade and a half. Rest assured that Chief Glenn Granitz and the Allentown Police Department are working hard to prevent crime and to solve those crimes that do occur and bring the perpetrators to justice. The city’s number of Part I crimes fell again in 2019.”
APD is taking the K9 Unit from two active dogs to a full complement of five active dogs. Two of these new dogs are patrol/narcotics dogs and they have been purchased with the help of donations. These dogs will arrive in April and are enrolled in training in Ohio and they will return for active duty in June 2020.
The third dog will be the city’s full-time explosives K9. His extensive training to be completed by June.
The city’s look into the future begins with Allentown Vision 2030; the city’s 250-page Comprehensive & Economic Development Plan.
The Plan provides a coordinated and collaborative approach for City Departments and Bureaus, our public, private, nonprofit, and institutional partners to work together on Plan implementation.
The vision of an Allentown for All focuses in four areas: economic inclusivity, the city as a steward, diversity and inclusion and community empowerment and collaboration.
O’Connell also touched on the importance of city residents participating in the 2020 Census.
“More than 170 federal programs incorporate census population data into formulas that determine the range and level of funding available for cities. Allentown had an estimated 30% undercount during the 2010 census; this population is referred to as the hard to count population. At the very least, we want to reduce that number significantly. At best, however, we want everyone counted. The city receives nearly 21-hundred-dollars for every resident counted.”
O’Connell also cited statistics from several city departments and bureaus.
“According to Revenue & Audit, 486 new businesses opened in the city in 2019, an increase of 18-and-a-half-percent over 2018. Our Streets Bureau removed nearly 16,0000 cubic yards of leaves and filled more than 9500 potholes. The Health Bureau served 34,000 summer meals to city children at different locations.”
The Chamber event is the first in what is usually a series of invitations for a mayoral address from service clubs in the city. The state of the city report is a requirement of the city charter.