Mayor Tommy Battle’s annual “State of the City” address will look at Huntsville from three different perspectives, from the bold innovations that led us to this point all the way to a roadmap of the future.
“It is past, present, future,” Battle said on the eve of his speech. “The past is the people who were visionary, to get us to where are today. The present is us putting in the foundation blocks – roads, schools, infrastructure – all those things that lead to the future.”
The State of the City luncheon will be at noon on Thursday, Nov. 9 in the North Hall of the Von Braun Center. The event, hosted by the Huntsville-Madison County Chamber of Commerce, is already sold out.
We’ve got to have vision. We have to build for future growth, future quality of life.”
There is an eagerness on Battle’s part to share the good news going on all across the city, as well as inside the City of Huntsville’s work on behalf of residents.
“In times of uncertainty, and a lack of confidence in government, we are proof that small, transparent government can work,” he will remind the audience. “Government that is collaborative. Government that listens.”
And government that sees, as well.
“The important thing is that we’ve got to have vision. We have to build for future growth, future quality of life,” Battle said.
However, he recognizes that sometimes “vision comes with controversy. But we can’t give up the idea that we have to have vision.”
Building on work of visionaries
In his speech, Battle will recognize the key role of visionaries in Huntsville’s past, those who saw the need for Cummings Research Park, for an engineering-focused university that has evolved into the robust, 10,000-student UAH, for even something as simple as the I-565 spur that was subject of much-heated debate decades ago.
“There are controversial stands that have to be taken to make sure you have the right building blocks in place,” he said.
Those would include initiatives of the past decade of his leadership such as the Restoring Our Roads initiative, increased annexation, a $10 million sewer system in Limestone County that has attracted new industry and the myriad other projects that have led to 20,000 new jobs and $2.2 billion in capital investment.
They would include current initiatives downtown, including a new City Hall and more multi-use development built around the centerpiece of Big Spring Park.
‘A dynamic community’
As Battle will note in the speech, the City of Huntsville business development team, working in conjunction with the Chamber, is involved in some 55 different projects that could bring in hundreds of jobs.
“Together,” Battle will tell the audience, “we’ve created a dynamic community that does it right.”
Huntsville is the fastest growing city in Alabama with 1.2 million people within a 40-mile radius. But it can’t grow successfully without a blueprint.
“Looking ahead to the future, what do we have in 10, 20, 50 years?” Battle said. “What can we do in the cyber and geospatial industries? What can we do in the biotech fields? How do we set these foundation blocks in the present to make sure these industries grow in the future?
“The things we do right now will make those visions become a reality,” he said.