Mayor Gatsas State of the City Speech
I’d like to begin by thanking the event sponsors for this opportunity this morning. My good friends Joe Reiley and his team at Centrix Bank and Gary Long and his team at PSNH. Thank you.
I’d like to thank the Governor for being here this morning.
Also thank you to the staff at the Chamber for their hard work. Robin, last year you were teased for not knowing what Cremeland was – I am just wondering, have you made it to Cremeland yet? (ha ha ha)
I’m here this morning to discuss the state of the city and I am pleased to report that the Queen City is well and we are thriving.
In this address this morning I will briefly highlight Infrastructure, Safety, Education and Economic Development.
Let me begin by highlighting the improvements and investments we are making in our infrastructure.
If you have not had a chance to visit the new municipal complex I would strongly suggest that you do. Three years ago the municipal complex was nothing more than a drawing on a piece of paper. Today it is a state of the art facility that queen city residents can be proud of. That came in on time and under budget. The campus is home to the Public Works Department, the Police Department, the Central Fleet Maintenance Division and vehicle storage.
When I first took office I put together a task force to review and suggest efficiencies that we could make within city government. One main finding of that report was to centralize the city fleet. To have one department that was responsible for purchasing and maintaining our fleet. The city fleet is valued at nearly $30 million and by centralizing the fleet and bringing it online, for the first time in the cities history we will know what we use, how much we use and will be able to only purchase exactly what we need – citywide. This is progress and this will mean savings.
We are also in the final stretch of building a new fire station in Ward 12 on Hackett Hill. The crew at Engine 4, either today or tomorrow are preparing to move from a trailer that was supposed to be a temporary structure 20 years ago. Engine 4 is the Hackett Hill Station and this area of the city has experienced amazing growth in the last 10 years and this station was desperately needed.
I am pleased that we were able to make this vital, long overdue infrastructire and safety improvement.
This station also has access to 93 thanks to the cooperative effort with the State DOT and this will improve response time to highway accidents in the area.
I see Chief Mara here with us today and I know he’s a member of the chamber board and I want everyone here to know that he continues to do an outstanding job keeping this city safe. Our Fire Chief, Chief Burkush is also doing a great job keeping the city safe.
In the past year we have added officers to the city force to keep our streets safe. In the new police station we have added the necessary resources for officer training that a modern police force should have including a firing range, space for tactical training and space for evidence storage We have also purchased tasers for our city officers that are helping to protect our officers and proven to be a deterrent for crime.
The police and fire departments in the past year have worked closely together to cut down on random arson and they are succeeding.
This year we will also upgrade aging equipment for the Manchester Fire Department with the purchase of a new pumper truck.
Certainly there is not a hotter topic in the city right now than this. I am a product of the Manchester public schools and looking at the faces in this audience I know a lot of you are also. And a lot of you also have children in the district.
Manchester is certainly unique when it comes to educating our children and we have our own set of challenges. At Beech Street school alone there are 39 languages spoken at Central High School there are over 80. I believe that it is this very uniqueness that sets us above, and apart from the rest.
Our student body is diverse, they are well-rounded, they are smart and they are resilient. Our principals, our teachers, our administration and everyone else in between go above and beyond for our students everyday and we thank them.
Something amazing happened in a Manchester School this year and I am curious how many people actually caught it, something that is changing the outcomes of students lives. For the first time, this year a group of Manchester students, high-school students, enrolled in a full-time technical education. Raise your hands if you knew that?
In 2016 the Manchester school of technology will hold it’s first official graduation. This class, this group of students will enter the workforce ready. They will leave the Manchester School of Technology with the technical skills and job training skills they need to be successful. That is amazing. In the entire State of New Hampshire we are the only community in the state, the only one, with a full-time technical high school. I am so proud.
And to this audience I ask you to use MST as a resource – let us know what you need and let is know what you are looking for in the workforce. We will partner with you and we will help you train the leaders of tomorrow.
In the last two weeks I have met with two major manufacturing companies here in the Queen City, Velcro and RSCC Aerospace, both of them told me “Mayor we have great paying jobs, jobs that people can make a career out of and we can’t find the trained people to fill them.” In the coming weeks Dr. Brennan, myself, the leadership of the Manchester School of Technology and those companies will sit down to see how we can’t change that and put Manchester kids to work. In Manchester we have the resources to make this happen and that is wonderful and we should be proud.
I see Dr. Brennan here in the audience and he has certainly been involved in this community, and in this Chamber and I’d just like to take a minute and thank him for all he has done for our city – he’s done a great job! Certainly without him MST would not be what it is today. Thank you!
Also, I was asked several times this morning, what about the Superintendent? I’ve made it practice to never dodge a question. My father taught me it’s easier to just face it head on. I have no doubt that we will find a Superintendent and he or she will lead us to great things. But what I will not do, or the members of the School Board are willing to do, is settle. Manchester deserves the best and we will get the best.
I’d like to thank several Chamber Members that helped us fund this endeavor Dianne Mercier with Peoples United Bank and Andy Crews of AutoFair stepped up and said we want to help and that’s a great thing and also to United Way and Patrick Tufts.
As you can see by the dedicated Chamber Membership Manchester is certainly a place where businesses want to come, stay and grow. The Queen City is a wonderful place to call home for your business.
It hasn’t even been a year since Market Basket opened its doors and just a few weeks ago a developer came into my office to show me his plans for a commercial and residential project across the street. This is just another piece of the puzzle that is going to make South Elm Street thrive.
Downtown I cut the ribbon last week at a new café, Café Reine, just across the street from my office. I guess they figured a good location for a food café was across from the Mayor’s Office. (ha ha ha)
And in North Manchester on Valentines Day the workout club opened a new location in the northside plaza. They offered me a place to workout but clearly you can see I haven’t
had time to use it yet.
Also, once again this year, we have put together an outstanding program for Small Business Week that I hope every Chamber member will take advantage of. The topics range from understanding the Affordable Care Act to options for financing. For more information check out the website Manchester small business week dot com or call my office. It takes place May 20th thru the 24th.
On that note, and in the interest of time, I will end and take questions. Thank you everyone for your time this morning.