If Mentor City Director Kenneth Filipiak had to summarize the city's status in a single word, he'd say "strong."
If he had to describe the city's plan to stay that way in equally brief terms, he'd say "business."
"A strong private sector is the engine of urban progress," Filipiak said. "The ned for a strong private sector transcends all politics and all boundaries."
Consequently, his State of the City address -- which he gave Tuesday at LaMalfa Centre -- focused on how the city is attracting and growing its businesses.
Filipiak began by listing the ways Mentor has attracted businesses.
He said it is important that Mentor maintain its infrastructure, noting the city has spent $7.2 million in grants and local funds to improve its roads. He added that next year's budget will also include money to repave parts of Route 306 and widen Heisley Road.
Filipiak said the city also has worked to keep its taxes on businesses low.
"The most important thing we can do is live within our means so this level of government doesn't become a burden on the private sector," he said.
He added that the city has tightened its belt, increasing the city's reserves by $6 million during the last few years to a total of $12 million. This was done despite recent cuts in the local government fund by state government.
Filipiak also stressed the value in incentive grants for attracting businesses to Mentor. He said for every dollar given in grants, the city see $27 in private investment.
To help local businesses expand, Filipiak announced a new Mentor International initiative. Its goal is twofold.
First, it would try to attract foreign companies that are interested in the midwest United States to consider developing in Mentor.
More importantly, it would help Mentor manufacturers penetrate the international market. (Get more information on the Mentor International initiative.)
Filipiak also took a moment to list some of the city's successes with businesses this last year, including:
- attracting Metal Seal Precision and Climax Metal Products to the city with incentive grants
- STERIS's $8 million expansion
- Classic Auto Group's new Ford Lincoln Dealership
- the multimillion dollar renovation at Great Lakes Mall
Other advancements in the city
Filipiak highlighted some of the ways Mentor's Police and Fire Departments have used technology to upgrade their operations.
He said the Mentor Police Department used GPS trackers to help crack a multi-county auto theft ring.
Meanwhile, Mentor Fire Department has won awards for Arko's Ark, its interactive water-safety boat/movie theater on wheels.
Filipiak said that, while crime is down four percent overall, burglaries are up 28 percent; and many of those burglaries are done by drug addicts who are trying to take the money to feed their addiction.
Consequently, the city is putting more of an emphasis on drug interdiction. It confiscated $32,000 worth of drugs, $13,000 in drug money and 15 vehicles used in drug deals in the last year, he said.
Filipiak also called for the community to do more to help those with mental health issues. He said Mentor has had 129 suicides in the last three years.
Additionally, the city manager discussed the ways in which Mentor is addressing flooding. He said culvert replacements on Garfield and Stoneybrook Lane, as well as modifying a Center Street retention basin to reduce downstream flow, should help alleviate the problem.
He concluded his speech by asking for local businesses help in launching a program called MentorVetsNet. It would offer discounts to vets and people actively serving in the military.
"It's a small gesture. But it's the least we can do," he said.