Fort Worth is strong today, Mayor Betsy Price says, but the city needs to be stronger heading into the future.
Eight years into the future, specifically.
Price shared her vision for Fort Worth into 2025 on Wednesday at her annual State of the City Address. Her priorities for the future? Improving struggling neighborhoods, creating new jobs and focusing on education.
"What's Fort Worth going to look like in the year 2025 and beyond? Eight years away. It's only a heartbeat in the life of a city," she said. "But in those eight years, major changes will happen that will impact our future, and it's up to us to have a vision for how those changes will happen."
For Price, one of the first steps to improving neighborhoods is investing in the Stop Six neighborhood in southeast Fort Worth, where 78 percent of residents have moderate-low incomes, and the unemployment rate is 21 percent (the citywide rate is 4 percent). She said the city plans to invest $2.56 million in the area, improving streets, installing new streetlights and establishing community policing among other initiatives.
"It's my expectation that the focus on Stop Six is just the beginning of a renewed focus in all of east Fort Worth," Price said.
To create jobs, the city's economic development team is putting together a strategic plan that will focus on bringing higher-paying jobs to the city, workforce development and education, and other goals. The plan should be ready by the summer, Price said.
Another priority is improving education, and Price is optimistic about the Fort Worth Literacy Partnership, formed last year to help increase literacy in the city. The initiative's goal is to have 100 percent of third-graders reading at grade level by 2025. Price encourages businesses to take part. Sewell Lexus, for example, sends employees to schools to volunteer once a week, she said.
While there's a lot of work to be done before 2025, Price said she believes Fort Worth has the capacity to meet its goals.
"Making that vision a reality won't happen by accident, but it will happen by design, hard work, unity and determination," Price said. "Does that sound like Fort Worth to you?"
The event also honored the Fort Worth Chamber of Commerce's Small Businesses of the Year. Winners were Alpha Industries, LLC; Z's Cafe; The Fulcrum Group, Inc.; and Southwest Office Systems, Inc.