Greenville Mayor P.J. Connelly's State of the City Address highlights the city's efforts to attract new businesses.
“When we took office in December, this new city council and I stated that Greenville means business," Connelly said. "We want to focus on growing the tax base, maintaining and improving our infrastructure and enhancing public safety to make ourselves available to both businesses and families.”
Connelly, who was elected in November, delivered Greenville's first State of the City Address on Monday night immediately ahead of the city council's last meeting until August. In his address, Connelly listed several indicators of recent economic growth, including more than $600 million in public and private investment in the city's Uptown district since 2010.
"The growth that we’ve experienced in recent years has resulted in more than 600 new jobs in theUptown area alone since 2014," Connelly said. "And we’ve seen real estate transactions sky rocket from 3.7 million dollars in 2015 to more than 25 million dollars last year. Additionally, the city’s unemployment rate has been steadily declining in the past year."
The State of the City Address comes soon after city council members passed a two-year spending plan, which will take effect at the start of the new fiscal year on July 1. Connelly spoke about ways the city plans to invest in attracting new businesses, including allocating $1 million over the next two years to develop commerical and industrial sites for potential new employers.
"This is important because research shows 82 percent of companies pursuing locations throughout the state RFI [Request For Information] process are looking for existing sites," Connelly said.
The city's budget also allocates $200,000 in grants to incentivize new businesses to locate in Greenville. It also creates a business concierege city staff position to "assist with connecting current and aspiring business owners with the resources they need to be successful," Connelly said.
In his address, Connelly also outlined the city's priorities, which council members adopted during their two-day annual planning session in January. The priorities include economic development, infrastructure, public safety, arts and entertainment and beautification. Connelly says these all function to help attract new businesses and residents to Greenville.
"I see a city that is attractive for those wanting to live, work or play here. And one that is not only the cultural and economic hub of the east, but also a head-turner throughout the state," Connelly said. "I'm thrilled to say that we're well on our way to making that vision a reality."