Duluth mayor optimistic in State of the City speech

Staff Photo: Jason Braverman Giving a speech using the theme of iPhone Apps, Duluth Mayor Nancy Harris gives the annual State of the City address at the Civitan Club luncheon on Tuesday.

Staff Photo: Jason Braverman Giving a speech using the theme of iPhone Apps, Duluth Mayor Nancy Harris gives the annual State of the City address at the Civitan Club luncheon on Tuesday.

DULUTH -- Delivering her State of the City address just hours before Barack Obama's State of the Union, Nancy Harris kidded that the president stole here agenda: jobs.

Of course, the theme is universal in a nation struggling to regain its strength and financial footing after a Recession caused unemployment and foreclosures to skyrocket.

But Duluth, Harris said, has an app for that.

Using a technology theme, Harris walked through the job creation strategy for one of Gwinnett's biggest cities, outlining revitalization and infrastructure projects, budgeting tightening and quality of life initiatives.

Compared to booming years of the past, 2011 posed some difficulty for the City Council, Harris said, talking about the average home price of $174,000, down 30 percent from five years ago.

The city only issued three commercial building permits and a handful of residential ones in 2011, and a service delivery disagreement with Gwinnett left the city with about $1 million less in revenues because police officers could not use radar.

"Your city is much more vulnerable when you don't have a strict traffic program," Harris said, talking about the double negative of missing out on enforcement.

"we are in a great talking mode right now. We are working on a plan that is going to be much better," Harris said of negotiations with the county that began again with the election of Charlotte Nash last year. "We're settling this as a team."

Harris shared a lot of optimism, including expecting keeping the millage rate the same and drawing more businesses to the community.

In fact, the city was able to cut an anticipated use of its rainy day fund form $1 million to less than $100,000 in 2011.

"Yes, financially, we are in good shape," Harris said. "This is a brand new year with new opportunities."

She talked about entrepreneurial programs and other business initiatives, such as the Korean task force, a group that works with the Asian business owners and helps with things like interpreting.

City officials are working to annex down Pleasant Hill Road and bring a hotel to the city, she said. A median project on Buford Highway is also slated to begin.

"We want to make sure Duluth is a very desirable place to build," Harris said. "We have really tried to make Duluth a destination."

Jerry Robb, president of the Duluth Civitan Club, which hosted the event, said he was thrilled with the crowd of more than 200 at the Gwinnett Center. And Harris's speech showed her genuine love for the city, he added.

"I am more hopeful," he said of the still lackluster local economy. "I can't say we're through it, but things are looking up. ... It was fun."


JohnW_UGA 3 years, 6 months ago

I don't understand why the city of Duluth think they will get a hotel on Pleasant Hill Road. I don't know a hotel chain in the world that would want to put a hotel anywhere around Pleasant Hill Road and Gwinnett Place. I would never stay in that area nor would I want to shop at any of the stores and/or malls in that area. And to think Duluth is a destination city is simply ridiculous. No one outside of the residents in Duluth would consider Duluth a destination. There is nothing in Duluth that would draw anyone to the visit the city.


jjbod1 3 years, 6 months ago

But "JohnW_UGA" you are completely wrong. Duluth is a destination city. There are thousands of illegal Koreans moving into that area every year. They come over hear from Korea with short term visa's and then get lost in the system that is called Duluth. Then they call back and let there friends and family members in on the secret.


HonestIngine 3 years, 6 months ago

What about the Marriott on Pleasant Hill Rd. Is that NOT a hotel? Oh, I forgot it's not a Knights Inn or a Maritel Hotel..


Mack711 3 years, 6 months ago

Duluth is trying to keep up with Suwanee. They will never make it. First City Hall is not on a major throughway and is hard to find. City Hall should have been built on Buford Highway where Proctor Square is now. Taylor Park can not accomadate the programs that would draw the crowds, parking in the area is at a preminum. Second the City spends tax dollars like there is no tomorrow. Who would spend the funds,from what we have heard of $510K on a dog park. This park will be used by residents outside of Duluth more than the citizens of Duluth. This park is a lawsuit waiting to happen. Also there is talk of building a skate park, at what cost to the city. There are not enough large corpotate business in Duluth to warrant a Hotel or a Motel. They are building a 'round about' in front of the old Glancy Hospital. This will prove to be a headache later. Most cities that have them are taking them out due to high accident rates. JJbod you are correct about the Korean population taking over. Most of the signage in and around Duluth you can not read. Would like to see English on theses signs so that we will can tell if it is a resturant or a dry cleaners.


JohnW_UGA 3 years, 6 months ago

It's obvious the city of Duluth (Mayberry) think the city is MUCH more than it is. In the 80's and 90's the city was really growing and people wanted to move to Duluth. That isn't true now due to many reasons. With all the Korean and Hispanic businesses along Buford Highway it now looks like Doraville. Also, if the city has a shortage of revenue why in the world are they spending $30,000 on the fire works display every July 4th? That is simply not being responsible! And why is it called "historic Duluth?" There are one or two small buildings downtown that would be considered historic.


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