Duluth mayor delivers the state of the city

Mayor Nancy Harris speaks during Duluth’s State of the City address on Monday night. (Photo: Chris Stephens)

Mayor Nancy Harris speaks during Duluth’s State of the City address on Monday night. (Photo: Chris Stephens)

DULUTH — Although delayed for a month due to the winter storm, Duluth mayor Nancy Harris showed her excitement in delivering the state of the city Monday after the monthly city council meeting.

Harris captured the audiences attention at the beginning of her speech as she tweeted a selfie of her and the crowd (a la Ellen Degeneres at the Oscars) during her speech.

“We’re using social media now more than ever, especially in our public safety department and our marketing department,” Harris said.

But it wasn’t the selfie that had everyone excited. It was the news that Harris brought about what Duluth has accomplished in the last year and where it is headed.

She highlighted four trends for a successful city, including vitality, lifestyle, earnings and social capital. It was the social capital category that had the mayor taking the selfie.

“Vitality is a city that embraces wellness,” she said. “Just in the last 18 months, we’ve completed the canoe launch at Rogers Bridge Park, updated many of our playgrounds and we’re adding a third K-9 unit to our police force. We also spent $119,000 on paving in the last year.”

Harris highlighted the lifestyle aspect of the city as well, saying that the downtown master plan includes a library, while also saying multiple events will continue.

“The food trucks on Food Truck Fridays were so popular and we’re going to do that again beginning in June,” she said. “Eddie Owen Presents brought in an additional 30,000 people into downtown and on May 9, we’ll be unveiling the public art in the round-a-bout we’ve been talking about for a while. There’s a lot to be excited about.”

Harris’ talk about earnings also drew the ears of those in attendance as she revealed that Gwinnett Medical Center purchased the Ingles shopping center and will turn it into more space for their use, while Proctor Square and the highrise on North Berkeley Lake Road has been sold.

“There was a buyer for Proctor Square and they’re working with a firm to find somebody to come in and buy it to make it over,” Harris said.

Harris also encouraged those in attendance to be local.

“We figured you need to do three out of these six things to be a local,” Harris said. “Use purple trash bags, shop local, be an active voter, volunteer, bleed purple or use city amenities.”

Harris highlighted the “shop local” portion, adding, “We have to support our local communities. It’s the local businesses that will get us out of this recession.”

Ultimately, Harris wants residents to get involved and help make the city the best in Gwinnett County and the state of Georgia.

“I’m optimistic about the future,” she said. “We’re in good shape and we have a great vision ahead.”