Community Update – 2015 State of the City Recap and Mayor’s Council on Sustainability Kickoff

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2015 State of the City Recap

Healthier WREarlier this month, I delivered my 3rd-Annual State of the City Address.  I am pleased by the excellent turnout, both in person and among viewers watching from home. I wish to thank residents for attending as well as City Staff and Alderpersons who were present to meet with the public at the reception prior. Your attendance at events such as this, and participation in civic engagement initiatives such as Mayor’s Councils, helps solidify a willingness to work together to improve our City’s quality of life. I am grateful for the opportunity to inform our citizens about our progress during 2014, and to reveal a vision for 2015. In case you missed it: watch it here.

This year’s State of the City address focused on the concept of a Healthy Community, comprising three elements:

1) Economic Health – fostering and nurturing an environment for business development and job growth;
2) Governmental/Organizational Health – making City services more accessible and responsive to our citizens; and
3) Civic Health – participation by our residents in helping to shape the culture and the future of our community.

In the area of Economic Health, I recounted projects from 2014 that hold great promise to infuse economic activity into our business districts. These initiatives include the resident-led planning and redesign of the Tribune Building as a space for entrepreneurs to start and grow; the YMCA/Aspirus partnership in a state-of-the art aquatics facility that connects directly to our area’s assets along the Wisconsin River; and building upon past investments in planning to make our city more liveable and vibrant. I specifically pinpointed housing as a cornerstone to any city development, particularly in creating demand for surrounding economic growth; as well as its connection to attracting and retaining talent, critical to the success of current and future business enterprises. We also are supporting business growth through the use of technology – like the newly launched GrowRapids.com, which offers a one-stop city hub for Business Development resources.

In addressing Organizational Health, I highlighted advancements introduced in 2014 to provide GIS Example2residents and businesspeople with enhanced access to information and services. These innovations included GIS City Viewer, which provides at-your-fingertips information about services, properties and recreational destinations (much to be added throughout 2015); Get Your Business Online, our City’s online partnership with Google to build online awareness for local businesses; and an award receiving broadband network. I also announced a few of the many new developments to come for 2015.  One, Put Your Business on the Map, is an extension of the Get Your Business Online initiative with Google. SCF Another, the recently launched SeeClickFix, is an exciting app that allows residents to report and track non-emergency neighborhood issues on the web or via an app on their smartphone.  We have already experienced wide use of the application and encourage all to download the app on their smartphone or check it out on the web. In addition, a growing number of City employees have participated in Rapid Improvement training, supporting our efforts to streamline and continuously improve how government works for our citizens.

Lastly, I spoke to Civic Health, focusing on the progress we made in 2014 as a result of active resident involvement- notably, through the launch of the first “Mayor’s Council” the Mayor’s Beautification Council.  From cleaning up neighborhoods, to planting trees and hanging flower baskets that add a breadth of color in the summer months, residents have stepped forward to really take ownership in making a wonderful impression on anyone living here or visiting our City. In line with this success, I mentioned the newly formed Mayor’s Youth Council, along with the upcoming introduction of the Mayor’s Council on Sustainability, which I describe in more detail next in this update. If you are passionate about a subject the city could be concerned about through the connection of fellow residents on a Mayor’s Council, contact me!

In short, the key to a Healthy Community is to take a holistic approach – to be invested in Economic Health, Organizational Health and Civic Health.  This same sense of connectedness is needed among us as citizens, as we work together as one to improve our community’s well-being.

For anyone who missed the State of the City Address, you can view the entire event online by visiting this link.

Launching of the Mayor’s Council on Sustainability

Tomorrow marks the formal kick-off of the Mayor’s Council on Sustainability.  This launch marksEco Tree with environment symbols another step in our journey toward helping Wisconsin Rapids become more sustainable- for the benefit of residents and visitors today, and for generations to come.  The Kick-off Meeting will take place Tuesday, February 24, at 5:00 p.m., at McMillan Memorial Library in the 2nd Floor Conference Room.  At that time, the vision and scope of the Sustainability Council will formally be introduced.  Additionally, participants will learn about current sustainability efforts in our City, and how the Council can support those efforts in moving Wisconsin Rapids forward as a model for progress in achieving sustainable growth.  To view the kickoff video announcement, please visit this link.  If you have passion on this subject, I hope to see you there!

Thank you for reading,

Mayor Zach Vruwink

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