Mayor Rob Duncan delivered a spirited state of the city address at Tuesday night’s council meeting
Duncan began by saying “Norwalk has retained its stability in difficult times.”
The mayor added 2013 was a year of opportunities, but also a year of challenges.
The focus on jobs will continue in 2014.
The mayor said the extraordinary effort of the Norwalk Economic Development Corp. and its director, Ellen Heinz, has paid off, as evidenced by the city approving a job creation grant agreement with the Dan-Mar Company on Tuesday night.
More than 20 new businesses opened within the past two years in Norwalk, the mayor said, and a number of blighted buildings were taken off the market.
The mayor singled out ACE Hardware, which is 30 percent ahead of its sales projections.
Duncan also touted Patina46, a recent recipient of a Heritage Ohio Business Award.
The 2013 zoning report indicated $31 million in new construction and alterations.
“That’s the third highest since 1985,” the mayor said, adding a lot of that credit goes to Fisher-Titus and its expansions. The mayor also noted the opening of Rural King, a $4 million investment at Shaker Village, nine start-ups in new housing and one new duplex.
“There are a lot of good things happening,” Duncan said.
The mayor thanked Mark Schloemer for his time as safety-service director and commended the addition of Bob Patusky, who replaced Schloemer.
“We have two quality schools systems,” the mayor said about Norwalk City Schools and Norwalk Catholic School.
“We also have a very vibrant uptown,” he said, thanking Kristie Wert, Main Street Norwalk program manager, for all her hard work.
The city entered 2014 with a $2.5 million general fund carryover, Duncan said, much to the credit of finance director Diane Eschen.
Looking ahead to this year, Duncan promised more tools will be added to the city’s economic development toolbox.
The mayor said the city should seriously consider adding an Internet and information technology person to the staff.
“We also need to plan for a new fire department,” he said.
“There are bright days ahead,” the mayor added.