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Eric Bookmeyer presents mayor’s “state of the city” report

This news story was published on January 21, 2016.
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Mayor Eric Bookmeyer provided the following State of the City Report on January 19, 2016:

Eric Bookmeyer, mayor of Mason City, Iowa

Eric Bookmeyer, mayor of Mason City, Iowa

“Well citizens of Mason City, Honorable Council and North Iowa. I’m honored again to come before you this evening to report that this 146-year old rural micropolitan agricultural community and our partners are on the march. Every year over the last 6 years I’ve strategically laid out how we were going to rebuild our policy foundation, right our position and reform the way we do business, and now I can report that we, as a very proud community, are ready to do something we haven’t done in decades, grow. We have traveled from an unemployment rate over the State av- erage of around 8% in 2010 to under the State average of 3.3 % today and according to the Bu- reau of Labor, our average annual wage has increased 4.17% over the last year, adding to house-hold incomes and putting more money in your family’S pockets. The combination is something Mason City has not traditionally been as successful coming out of the recession. We learned from the past. While Mason City wasn’t as aggressive at job creation and followed the shrinkages in population, we learned we need to fight for our families and their jobs. This time we’re leading the recovery, working together and leveraging our resources. This is the result of a united, ag- gressive Council and our tremendous partnership with the North Iowa Corridor EDC, Cerro Gor- do County and the City of Clear Lake. Our budget is in line, our debt is shrinking, we have in- cented over $130 million in capital resulting in the creation of 540 direct new jobs and the retention of 350 jobs that were likely leaving this town and would have cut Mason City’s family in- comes. Our City operations are improving, becoming even more transparent. We have reformed our City Assessor’s office operations and brought it into the 21st Century. We have our own IE-DA certified shovel-ready site, quiet zones are coming to the UP line, Air Choice One is provid- ing great service to Chicago and St. Louis and we continue to implement our award-winning bike and pedestrian master plan, which will include the UP highline. In addition, our privately funded Blue Zones Project has moved our well-being index upwards 1.5 points, leading the State, and reflected a significant 6% increase in pride just in the City. We have development and re- development up and down the Highway 122 corridor. There is significant investments by our partners like REG, Progressive Rail, Golden Grain, Alliant Energy, ITC and the Iowa Depart- ment of Transportation down in our industrial parks. We’re seeing other tremendous capital investments by our largest employers; Mercy North Iowa, Cargill Kitchen Solutions and a land- mark expansion by Good Shepherd. The North Iowa Corridor EDC, Main Street Mason City and the Mason City Chamber of Commerce in its 1OOthyear, of course, happy birthday, have strong leadership and are on a roll and Visit Mason City has been left in an excellent position by Sue Armour, who’s leaving after 20 years. We thank her. We will thank her in just a little bit for her fine work this evening. We also should thank our elected Park Board for making positive strate- gic investments in our parks. Of course, our fine Park Department, 0 & M and for all the volun- teers that are raising money and working on Georgia Hanford Park, to Parker’s Woods, our awe- some dog park, Kiwanis Park, Murphy Park, Meadowbrook with iJAG, and the new disc golf course. The list goes on and on and we thank all of you for improving our City. Community Betterment Mason City is in the process of revitalizing a City block with the Egloff house and three flood homes. Their efforts inspired Good Shepherd to help with the balance of the block across from their project. What a great example of organizational synergy producing positive outcomes for our community. Let’s hope we see that on the North End. In addition, we can’t forget River City Sculptures on Parade. What a great partner with great sponsors, including the City of Mason City. That project had 40 pieces of public art displayed downtown and is growing again this year.

All of this and-we haven’t even mentioned our successful and popular Iowa Reinvestment Act Project. This $36 million dollar Our River City Renaissance Project continues forward. We’re extremely proud to partner with the Iowa Economic Development Authority on this dynamic game changing project for Mason City. All of our partners in the City continue to hit their marks. We will have our full application submitted in less than two months, right on time. In the coming year we will continue to keep our budget and debt levy in line, implement a full fi- nancial transparency online application, continue to conduct more Listening Posts than almost any community around, move forward on our Corridor Revitalization Loan Program and commitment for capital investment for the North and South ends. What we are talking about here to- night is serious momentum. The difference is that we have built a movement together with all of our partners, Board and Commissions and all of our citizens pulling from the same end of the rope. We’ve become and are now widely recognized around the State as a can-do community that has yielded one success after another. Our largest challenge, and therefore our largest opportuni- ty, is to develop our workforce. This subject has been addressed for a number of years in this talk because our trajectory was leading us toward a day where help-wanted signs were going to be up throughout town, with a low unemployment rate and rising wages. It’s a sign of health and opportunity for our families. It shouldn’t be a surprise anymore, our County contains the highest growth potential for high-tech jobs among our peers and we are one of the most affordable com- munities to live in within the most affordable State in the Union, which is why we continue to implore all of our citizens to visit with their family members across the U.S. about moving back home as there are extensive opportunities and terrific amenities. But we can also begin to better retain our own in the first place and grow from within. This is precisely why the Chamber, the EDC, myself, have been encouraging students and parents to take and receive the NCRC. That’s a National Career Readiness Certificate provided by ACT and recognized by employers. Kudos to the Mason City Public Schools for providing this opportunity to all Juniors this year and po- tentially to Juniors and Seniors and potentially even optional for their parents next year. This is an important step in any community interested in retaining workforce and efficiently translating their skills into the work world, but the schools doubled down and in partnership with the EDC, provided a Career Day, not a job fair, but an opportunity for our emerging professionals to get a taste of the functional careers available here in North Iowa. It’s my hope that this will expand and provide access to all schools throughout the North Iowa Corridor because we want to keep eve- ryone here in North Iowa. It’s important to have role models and conversations with future grad- uates and their parents to show them virtually every employer here is hiring. In fact, our high-tech companies can’t hire fast enough. There are hundreds of jobs available right now for the lack of skilled workers and this is because 60% ofIowans continue to pursue a four-year degree when only 20% ofIowa jobs require one. The rub is that 85% ofIowa jobs require some post- secondary education. That’s an enormous gap and we need a paradigm shift. It’s time for parents and grandparents to really sit down and have serious talks with their kids about the investment that they put into their education versus their future return and long-term debt. The conversation should start with the North Iowa Area Community College. NIACC is simply one of the best community colleges in the nation, right here in Mason City. According to CNN Money, your North Iowa Area Community College is ranked number 14 in student success rate out of 786 col- leges, community colleges, throughout the country. That’s number 14 in the United States. That means only 13 other cities in the United States are situated better than Mason City, Iowa. If you are an emerging professional or aren’t precisely career-tracked at a four-year school, it’s a solid investment in your future to explore NIACC first. Let’s close by offering our gratitude to former Chief Mike Lashbrook and our two visionary leaders and colleagues, former Mayor pro tern Scott Tornquist and former Mayor Marinos for serving on your Council. Those are big shoes to fill. Fortunately this evening we’re going to swear in Jeff Brinkley as our new Police Chief, and you elected and we are honored to welcome two new Council Members to the table, Brent Schone- man starting his first term and former Mayor Bill Schickel for being willing to fill out the At- Large term. We are looking forward to serving with both of you and hope you will continue our momentum to help us continue marching forward together to grow for the first time in decades. If you want to learn more or get involved in volunteerism, Board or Commissions, please go to rna- We want new progressive-minded leaders to fill the ranks. It is a great place to start, because we don’t want to be here forever. We want to see you guys up here. You will also find resources and directions to help you with most City issues. It’s a really fun and historic time to be in Mason City, so let’s have a great year, folks. God Bless. Thank you.”

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4 Responses to Eric Bookmeyer presents mayor’s “state of the city” report

  1. Avatar

    Bookie Reply Report comment

    January 24, 2016 at 2:46 pm

    Hes a fat f**king Otis Cambelle look alike. (DRUNK)

  2. Avatar

    rukidding Reply Report comment

    January 22, 2016 at 7:37 pm

    Why doesn’t Mayor Bookmeyer name where these great jobs are that go unfilled because of a lack of skilled labor?. Really when you look back over the last six years what has this mayor and council accomplished. Where are the good jobs? If these good jobs really exist please tell us so we can apply.

  3. Avatar

    Rahmbo Reply Report comment

    January 22, 2016 at 10:22 am

    We have a downtown mall–now on its last legs of course. What new business exists downtown are a few upscale eateries and bars which the city continues to pour “economic development” money into–all in a town that has a declining population of 27,000 and little consumer dollars to support any sort of gentrification—“But, hey, that works in Seattle, why not here? And we need tax dollars for a new downtown hotel for all the tourists!”

    For us plebes, KMart has closed, Sears is closing, Penny’s is gone, pawn shops and used car lots R Us. And we lead the state in per capita hard liquor sales. Wonder how we would rate in that study that showed declining longevity for middle aged white males?

  4. Avatar

    LVS Reply Report comment

    January 22, 2016 at 9:26 am

    He sure likes to take credit for something he had nothing to do with.