Suwanee mayor talks about good and bad

SUWANEE -- Mayor Dave Williams delivered his State of the City address Wednesday night before a packed house filled mainly with city business owners and professionals.

Williams said that despite the economic challenges of 2009, last year was still a great one for the city of Suwanee. The mayor listed several examples of the highlights of 2009, noting that progress continued in the Town Center project with all of the park-front buildings now completed. The new city hall building was finished, and Suwanee staff members moved in to the new building almost a year ago.

The long-awaited pedestrian underpass linking Town Center and Old Town Suwanee was also finished in 2009. There were several other major accomplishments in the city, all resulting in Suwanee being named one of Money magazine's best places to live for the second year in a row.

Even with all the highlights of 2009, Williams urged residents and business owners not to be satisfied with the status quo.

"We have the potential to be a truly world-class community," Williams said.

Another point that Williams made Wednesday was the fact that Suwanee has maintained solid financial footing in the midst of economic uncertainty, and without raising taxes.

The mayor could not realistically present a true picture of the state of the city without addressing the effects of the recession.

"We are experiencing an increase in foreclosures, high retail and office vacancy rates and businesses closing their doors," Williams said.

Unfunded mandates placed on small businesses, according to the mayor, have been the straw that broke the camel's back in many instances. Banks' lending practices have tightened considerably, and credit card companies have slashed credit limits, both resulting in the drying up of sources of capital.

Williams maintains that small businesses will lead the city out of the recession, even with the difficulties they face today. In an effort to help establish more small businesses, Suwanee amended its home occupation ordinance last year, making it easier for smaller businesses to get a healthy start.

Williams encouraged residents Wednesday to remember that Suwanee is poised to weather the recession and move ahead as the economy rebounds.