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story.lead_photo.caption NWA Democrat-Gazette/STACY RYBURN Mayor Lioneld Jordan (center) gives his annual state of the city address at Fayetteville City Hall on Tuesday. Jordan touted the economic accomplishments of the city and previewed initiatives to come in the new year.

FAYETTEVILLE -- Mayor Lioneld Jordan said Tuesday the future is on his mind with a bond vote coming up this spring and economic initiatives underway.

Jordan described the state of the city as sound in his annual address. His speech highlighted accomplishments of the previous year and outlined goals for the year to come.

Other items

The City Council also approved the following items Tuesday:

• Appointing Ezra Brashers as the public-housing resident representative on the Housing Authority board.

• An additional $80,100 in the contract with Garver Engineering for work on the Meadow Street parking deck.

• Extending the existing contract with PayByPhone, the city’s mobile app service for parking, through 2022.

Source: Staff report

The bond referendum set for April 9 took front and center when Jordan spoke of the future. Voters will be asked to renew the city's 1 percent sales tax in order to pay for capital projects. Each category of projects will appear as its own ballot measure, spanning everything from roads and trails to public safety and building an arts corridor downtown.

The entire package is expected to generate about $226 million and could be paid off in 12 to 15 years, city officials have said.

"This bond package includes investments in every major infrastructure area we need," Jordan said. "It is a result of years of master planning and hard work, with a keen eye to future economic vitality interests."

Jordan spoke highly of the economic progress the city made last year and the initiatives on the horizon this year. For instance, the HBO series True Detective debuted its third season Sunday, much of it filmed in the city. Jordan said the film project was the largest in the state's history, with hundreds of people hired, expanding the city's creative economy.

Devin Howland, economic vitality director for the city, said 2018 was a good year. Major projects, such as True Detective, acquiring land north of Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard to build Centennial Park, expansions in manufacturing and development of the arts corridor exemplified that, he said.

"There's no question the economy is not only strong, it's continuing to grow," Howland said.

Workforce development will serve as a major initiative this year, Jordan said. Arkansas Code Academy, which offers a three-month program for people seeking a new career in Information Technology, is set to come to the city.

Jordan said 370 new businesses set up shop in the city last year, creating about 1,000 new full-time jobs. Once the books close, the city will likely hit $100 million in taxable sales growth for the year, he said.

"So I have a question to ask you, City Council, and residents who are listening to this, and elected officials," Jordan said. "With all of those facts and figures I presented to you -- doesn't it seem like business is not only doing well in this city, but is booming?"

NW News on 01/16/2019

Print Headline: Mayor touts economy, pushes for bond support in address

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