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Saffo: "The state of the city is strong"

READ MORE: Saffo: "The state of the city is strong"

Growth, development and jobs. Wilmington Mayor Bill Saffo says the state of the city is strong. The mayor gave his annual State of the City address Monday night at City Council Chambers. He says with a tough year behind, there's a lot to look forward to.

"Over the last two years, we have cut more than $8 million and dozens of vacant job positions from the city with no layoffs and no tax increases," Saffo said.

With a rocky finanical road behind us, Saffo looked ahead to smoother sailing.

"Upbeat," Wilmington resident Max Allen said. "I think that was the best word I can use on it. I think people are generally in a positive mood and think people are optimistic about moving forward in 2010."

The State of the City address focused less on the struggles of last year and more on the future projects that will bring visitors, jobs and money to our area, like the Front Street Streetscape project and the Convention Center set to open this fall.

"I was encouraged by the things he said about our future especially," small business owner Kenneth Weeden said. "The fact that there's investments that are being made, infrastructure, environment, the Convention Center, things that solidify tourism. All those things are important to me as a small business person."

Mayor Saffo announced his plan to develop a small business incentive. But improvements ahead reach beyond economic development to the arts and quality of life.

"This City Council will look to implement an historic preservation ordinance with input from share holders as well as city staff this coming year," he said.

The mayor said this dedication to preservation, along with projects like the renovation of Thalian Hall and the completion of a cross city bike and walking path will ensure Wilmington's spot as a tourist destination.

"Wilmington just has so much to offer," resident Beth Pancoe said, "and it's just great that they're taking it and working with it and taking it to the next level. I think its wonderful."

On the transportation front, the city is eight months ahead of schedule on the traffic signal program to help time the lights and alleviate congestion. The mayor said that project is also under budget.

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