by Max Brantley
I gather Mayor Mark Stodola thinks our report on his first term as "strong mayor" wasn't sufficiently worshipful. He particularly objects to failure to include favorable mentions of Little Rock in various national ratings (some with tenuous connections at best to city leadership and some, such as cheap prices, that are counter-indicative of growth and prosperity).
So read on for his upbeat assessment of a city battling budget woes with depleted city staff. (He did omit that recent Moody's report that said Little Rock could be cruising for a double-dip recession.)
He also didn't highlight the marvelous job the city has done converting its lost minor league baseball franchise to a sparkling new park oasis.
MAYOR MARK STODOLA'S E-MAIL
The City We Live In
As has been reported in the news, the City of Little Rock’s general fund has had to be constrained this year due to declining sales tax receipts and franchise fees. Like many businesses in our city, we have had to tighten our belt while we push through this economic recession.
However, there are some in the city who take our belt-tightening as a sign that Little Rock is losing ground. I choose a different perspective.
As residents of Little Rock, we’ve all known for long time what a great community Little Rock is to live, work and play. Thanks to our diverse economy that is rich in service, manufacturing and technology sectors, Little Rock has been fortunate to maintain a low unemployment rate throughout the national economic recession. While much of the country is experiencing a serious housing collapse, Little Rock has maintained a relatively stable, affordable housing market. Our cultural institutions like the Clinton Presidential Center and the Central High National Historic Site among others continue to bring visitors to our city and our restaurants continue to thrive.
As evidenced by the recognition we have received over the past year from “outsiders” who don’t live here, it is apparent others are taking positive notice that Little Rock is poised to become not just a “good” city to live in but a great city to live in.
Consider the following:
Little Rock named the fourth-strongest metropolitan economy in the United States
Brookings Institute, October 2009
Little Rock Among America’s 20 Strongest Economies
Brookings Institute MetroMonitor, June 16, 2010
Little Rock, 6th-best market in the U.S. for single family real estate investment
Wall Street Journal, August 21, 2010
23rd Best Performing Metropolitan Economy
Milken Institute, November 20, 2009
Little Rock is “on a roll . . . The city has boomed in the last decade, quietly becoming a cultural destination.”
LA Times, March 18, 2009
Little Rock placed #22 on list of best places for business and careers of the 200 largest metropolitan areas in the U.S.
Forbes Magazine, March 2009
Named #16 on list of Best Places to Raise a Family
Children’s Health Magazine, October 2009
Little Rock is “capturing a slice of the soaring wind energy industry” from a front page article on Little Rock’s stable and diversified economy.
USA Today, February 26, 2009
Sixth Most-Livable Bargain Markets
MSN.com, November 2009
#2 Best Bang for the Buck City of Little Rock
Forbes, December 2009
Named among the 100 Best Communities for Young People for three straight years (2007, 2008, 2009).
America’s Promise Alliance
Little Rock named one of the Dozen Distinctive Destinations by the National Trust for Historic Preservation.
I think you will agree with me, people from around the country are taking notice that Little Rock is moving forward. As the economy continues to slowly improve, I want to engage you in a dialogue about where we are going as a city and what we want our City to be. Please let me know your thoughts as we progress. You can contact me at email@example.com.
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