During his annual city address, Columbia Mayor Steve Benjamin said the state of the city is strong. Using technology acquired from the Defense Department's Surplus program, Mayor Benjamin highlighted the city's 3.8% unemployment, the creation of nearly 10,000 jobs within the past year and progress in continuing recovery efforts following the 2015 flood.
"As we begin 2017, we are making excellent progress continuing flood recovery efforts. Engineering and design are underway for Canal repairs, and we have recently seen definitive reports on the full extent of flood-related damages to that important asset."
Benjamin said, in the coming weeks and months, the City, in conjunction with FEMA and the State, will develop repair solutions that will protect the city’s critical drinking water supply, and also reflect the City’s vision and resolve to emerge from the October 2015 flood disaster stronger and more resilient than before.
"This year we will begin implementation of a $20 million grant from HUD to assist property owners in the repair of homes and businesses," he added.
Highlights from Mayor Benjamin's Address
- Columbia was awarded more than $13 million in federal, state and private grants
- Keep the Midlands Beautiful, City of Columbia Parks and Recreation and Forestry and Beautification planted more 626 trees in the city, which includes 30 different species
- Unemployment in Metro Columbia is currently at 3.8%
- China Jushi investing $300 million and creating 400 new jobs
- TCube Solutions investing $1.7 million and creating 100 new jobs at their new Bull Street facility
- Columbia partnered with Walmart, during the holidays, to provide more than 1,700 seniors in our city with full dinners
- Columbia was awarded a $120,000 grant from the United States Conference of Mayors and American Beverage Foundation to teach children how to grow healthy foods and the importance of diet and exercise
- 394 citizens have signed up for the program and the City plans to give away 1,000 rain barrels, which keeps approximately 50,000 gallons of rainwater from otherwise flooding into our streets
- We’ve converted 95% our traffic lights to energy efficient LED technology
Towards the end of his speech, Mayor Benjamin also took a stand against hatred and bigotry.
"I refuse to let this city – our city – be torn apart by purveyors of blind bigotry and hate. We will continue to stand as a beacon of America’s founding principles. All equal. We are one body, one nation, under God, with liberty and justice for all."