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I'm really looking forward to getting some mayors on the programs -- talk about the the state of the states and -- America's dying cities to some degree hopefully.
Rebounding city said mayor mark -- -- -- joins us Kansas City.
And mayor Dennis walker joins us Fargo, North Dakota.
Mayor funk has already -- -- first of all give us an idea how things are gone there.
Well where you in last year's budget we had a huge shortfall in seven million we may go up the shortfall -- Make your 10% cut our workforce which is probably the first.
Actual lay off so people -- -- percent and twenty some years with the with the government here.
We -- deep cuts to police and fire and deferred we've deferred a lot of maintenance projects we've.
Restructured employee benefits and cut benefits in some -- You know we of we're here as as was said by the previous -- we've had to pick up the shortfall in negative right now.
OK she'd done that could get a balance your budget so that's a tough cuts -- had to be made.
You'll never walk out there in Fargo, North Dakota whether he's gonna have you guys on.
Is because North Dakota traditionally has the lowest store one of the -- unemployment rates entire country and and -- kind of is is right along the same line so there's something being done right there or maybe it's just luck of the draw so to speak in terms of geography tell us about.
The we never reach their highs of of the process dealing with -- booms we don't really realize the bottoms of the recessions.
Are people are very conservative.
We did not get involved in the sub prime more mortgages and so forth across the nation.
So we don't.
Have that problem right now basically are tax structure is still saying we did we just finished our our I finished my fourth budget.
And it was probably the most difficult but we do not have to lay anybody off.
There is no -- others -- -- -- living increase in this budget and so forth.
I sympathize with everybody that's got a much worse than we do because.
When you do all of that.
It's hard to come back.
It takes a long time to recover.
And so forth and all things there are pretty good are companies that have international ties.
Like bobcats and that sell overseas.
They are having some real serious problems they've had some cutbacks.
And it is not all roses here but.
We have a big significant process what Microsoft here and there's been some small layoffs -- there so forth.
But we're still -- that roughly 4% as far as our.
Unemployment is concerned.
And this budget should be final in my next couple weeks and then we'll go from there.
Near the Miramar earned her conservative people know -- want to thank.
And analog and let me just interrupt you another thing that just jumped out the page and now what you're doing in your city as well as that we shot north kick in North Dakota as a whole.
As a state had a one billion dollar surplus.
And that is not a word that we hear too often and in this environment talked USA about that and what is it that we can all learn -- -- surplus.
This is surplus a surprise that you guys have then whether it will again sit to -- -- point was it a -- and they drop what.
Things are you doing right.
Well the whole thing is being conservative -- -- being very conservative.
Even what that billion dollar.
Windfall and so forth -- because of some good people doing some good things.
We are an energy state we produce a lot of oil we produce a lot of electricity through coal fired generating plants and so forth -- entire cultural state.
The prices were extremely good a couple years ago.
And that crops this year are are fantastic the prices are down.
But the whole thing is if if I was going to put this in some kind of a nutshell.
We did not get consumed by the them.
That some -- some prime.
Mortgages and so all of our banks stayed very stable.
And -- -- -- those people for that foresight to be very conservative and.
And that is again that is a rarity to lend money to people without any assets that as a rarity that foresight -- an -- -- environments -- -- And -- air -- house I'd like to ask you you know.
Eight in Fargo they have a lot of different industries that are helping -- -- local growth there energy is one of -- not something that you're seeing as well.
What meat industries that you're seeing on the ground that that I'm going to spark.
The growth spark that recovering in your area.
Well one other company is that we're talking a lot about the last several -- Sharma and there are very good medical technology company worldwide.
Homegrown players -- Kansas City.
And there sector of the economy and who's -- and they're gonna have employees and grow dramatically.
Another local company here in my fault -- that has a lot of employers is our garment.
Do -- and that's sort of stuff and then they're gonna do well.
Those horrible hole of institutions.
In Kansas City are couple of -- great they're actually not insured bank.
And commerce bank and they have both been -- -- very sound in all this I talked to one of the bankers from one of those banks.
When things were really going south and I -- -- on -- -- -- doing great we've been preparing for a hundred years for this.
It's felt right so there are -- Well that's a -- I guess a lot of ways let me.
Their focus on ask you one more -- -- -- -- -- Becker at a Salt Lake City to join us in just one minute the mayor -- us that you brought up a good point there right the started it.
About the company you do you cerner is an example OK so we're obviously this fall having this big debate over health care in this country and one of the things people talk about his.
Using more technology going forward from here.
Have you talked to people in your city.
That are completely changing gears in their life in terms of careers and taking advantage of new industries that are coming on board.
And you know -- growth in one industry vs a place they had -- that is kind of getting out of favor to some extent you see a lot of change for individual people.
That they're kind of change that you Syria for individual people here's the growth of entrepreneurship.
This to people who -- you know do that got laid off -- bought out from a big corporation.
And very good to go a little a couple of your friends and -- launch -- business.
I'm told that that sort of that sort of thing happens often and processions and and we see it happening here.
And we're trying to structure the way that we do economic development incentives and so what we've got a program that we're gonna launch -- new tools.
Which are specifically designed.
This further kind of homegrown -- to worship -- access is going out there and smoke structures are you trying to recruit company we're trying to sort of grow our own.
Right from in there that makes a lot of sense there in Kansas City let's bring in Ralph Becker mayor Ralph Becker of Salt Lake City he would -- being you've had a chance hopefully -- -- to listen to a least a few minutes mark conversation -- the mayors in Kansas City and Fargo.
About this the state of our our our cities what would you add to it from your perspective out there in Salt Lake.
Well first off I think we've been very fortunate here in Salt Lake that we've had some development that started before.
This crisis hit and has continued really unabated.
So that certainly has made a difference I think in the whole psyche of the city.
Certainly we've had individuals who have been harmed and we're doing everything we can to help those folks.
-- -- as was mentioned by mayor Tom Hauser we're seeing a lot more entrepreneurship we've had 23 new businesses open up in downtown Salt Lake just in the last.
-- the last 23 months.
And we're seeing I think is well.
I think the benefits of a very diversified economy.
Great research university here.
And I think the attitude here is one of real optimism and that has.
Persisted I think except for a fairly short period of time when everyone was just reeling from what's happening nationally.
May have somehow there was talking about to the some of the creative things that they are doing to spark -- -- the new ownership.
-- mayor Becker you talked about the new companies that are coming into downtown Salt Lake what are some of the other things that thinking outside the box.
-- -- they you guys had installed and that we can we can all take home Canadian -- in our own cities.
Now that I mean one of things is we've had a focus on local businesses and we are.
We've been adjusting our local business assistance revolving loan funds advise.
And and rattles and those sorts of things for downtown -- I think the other thing now is not to lose sight of the positive things that are going on we've got a superb quality of life here.
And people appreciate that I think more and more every day in terms of what we -- for both our residence -- for people are looking for where locate businesses.
And then we've we've been very target is I think we've heard the other mayors say -- -- you know we we've we've really have work to look at businesses.
That we we can fit well whether -- because of university researcher -- -- much more closely with our university in recent months and years.
So it's a whole combination of things it's it really is I think.
Trying to maintain.
What we've seen happening here -- our unemployment rates about half of what we see and other western city which is good news in a lot of ways are we have three mayors with us Ralph Becker of Salt Lake City mark -- -- -- Kansas City, Missouri.
And Dennis while under Fargo, North Dakota and all three are gonna stay with the -- we're gonna take a quick break continue with that.
And this special coverage -- states.
Of our State's America's dying and hopefully recovering cities to stay with us.
We are back with our mayors roundtable with us today we have Kansas City mayor mayor mark -- -- mayor.
Dennis locker at Fargo.
North Dakota and Salt Lake City mayor Ralph -- -- -- for joining us again.
This is a really riveting conversation we're talking about gauging the temperature of what's happening in cities all across the nation and frankly how they're being creative about challenging taking on the challenges that lie ahead.
-- wallet I -- -- again come back to you you have a number of industries he would call them.
High growth of high importance to the government the government is putting money into things like wind power energy source says.
How how is you are -- local area been able to benefit from some of the national government interest.
In these areas.
Do you know we'll talk about two things number one is the Renaissance zone which is -- doubt renovation of our downtown.
That's going fantastically it -- and lost one mile.
One minute of opportunity continue to improve our downtown what used to be when I was a child.
A number -- the stimulus package.
Create an awful lot of employment on -- we're completing projects that we're going to be free for years.
Into the future.
Improving our infrastructure and so forth all of those are very important but like one of the mayors said it.
The whole process is not a simple one bullet.
It's a process of trying to assist people that want to invest in your community.
And then the same way with the university -- -- fortunate we have for universities here.
In this general area and all of those are -- doing research and trying to provide jobs.
So forth a very personal aspect is very simple fifteen years ago.
You most of our people were educated here left.
And that's not the case anymore we're providing opportunities or asking many of these employees come back.
So as far as our unemployment rate right now it's pretty good.
Is there not any problems out there yes there's problems out there but right now we are not.
The negative things that are happening in some of these other communities you know Merrill if we had to cut our public safety are our staff and it would be very difficult -- the comeback.
Over a short period of time.
That makes sense there walker mentioned there at the outset of his remarks.
Gentlemen the -- the idea of the stimulus package and I wanted to talk to.
Yet you mayor verify Casimir Becker go to you first clear -- -- -- from Kansas City, Missouri about the idea of the relationship between the states and the cities.
And the federal government there's been some criticism of the federal stimulus package saying the money's not getting out there as quickly as it needs to have you seen an impact to your local community.
From federal money coming in helping out.
Yes for me I would say we definitely should remember character.
We -- song.
All of the -- cuts that we had to make or lose department with federal stimulus money and we were successful in securing.
Competitive grant that allowed us to -- about 23 officers we otherwise would have to lay off.
So we've been and we've been unsuccessful in getting us in this moment for housing we -- about seventeen million dollars thousand.
-- -- -- point seven million dollars for general infrastructure.
We definitely -- agreement impacts -- which is -- a 150 blocks.
Of Kansas City.
Are just -- -- -- -- -- -- 55% unemployment but congressman Emanuel Cleaver was able to capture the Obama administration's.
Imagination with this idea of an environmental.
Impact and we're being able to funnel additional dollars and of that zone so.
All overall strategy and this is to spend the money in such a word.
As to get more density.
To get people living in the urban core one of those.
Cities that has emptied out and -- vs urban core group of companies don't.
Right and you have to be efficient and effective -- police services and infrastructure we need to be more -- And are sort of overall strategist increased on street.
OK and you're using some the federal money to do that I -- dishing to find out we we do the stories and and we wonder mayor Becker where the money goes after that do we report on the federal stimulus to know if it's working or not have -- out there in Salt Lake you see any impact from.
Yet has been very positive impact in fact it's been very positive impact on the stage and part of the reason I think it's been beneficial in some cities because our goals and objectives have met very well -- what we've seen in the stimulus package and the emphasis on renewal energy energy efficiency.
Transportation improvements as the other mayors commented it to living well in an urban environment.
And so we've been able to match up in the whole variety of areas -- that have been mentioned.
With the stimulus package where transportation.
We're building seventy miles of route right now and we've been able to.
Keep that pace going in terms of improvements that help not only today and create some jobs are -- of construction where they're needed.
But it really we believe it's gonna sustain us and move us -- longer term.
You know gentlemen before you came on we had a guest Christopher Haney he's with the National League cities director is giving us sort of -- setting up the stage.
Four -- what the nation is feeling really on city by city basis.
-- -- -- interesting comments saying that leadership really matters and then in this environment communication.
What do you all doing as he spokes people the leaders of your towns.
And how do you changing your leadership's style and struck sure maybe even.
-- deal with what's happening right now are you on the phone with different groups of people are you managing your teens differently when I start with you and your -- out there.
Well one of the things that we have paid a lot of attention to resort citizen servers -- our citizens -- virtually scores and that sort of thing.
And in November of oh wait those scores took a big guard down there have been going down steadily and they went down a lot I was completely disappointed.
And people said how in the world can you improve -- those citizens have rational when you're cutting services and we.
Changed our focus were created in January of -- focus on a city that works and started paying attention where we could spend a small amount of money.
And get a significant impact and in the most recent survey to come -- we had increases in 47 different areas.
And it actually really came out of that looking pretty good one of the things like you're telling people it's it's not that we don't have any money.
We're going to spend one point two billion dollars but spend -- Smart.
-- library he's looking at the -- in different ways focusing on race he can make a difference what about you.
Well one example is we had a significant event here in in March a big flood.
And shortly thereafter.
We half the community.
To participate -- -- half -- Sales tax increase for -- -- years.
It passed by 90%.
The thing that people demand today as they want to know where the money's going what's it going to be used for.
And they need to have some transparency in government we have always maintain trying to be as open as we possibly -- which is possibly as -- -- With the general population we just have to be that way we have to be very honest.
We televise everything you know -- just a small thing.
And so forth but we were successful.
In march of 2009.
So that was that was a huge success I was concerned about the election.
It passed by 90% who.
I mean that's -- that big margin and we continued that whole process as far as their Renaissance saw.
And so forth so.
Things are are good for the most part here we have not had to cut any services.
And we hope to continue that I see some improvements in the economy right as -- drive to Minneapolis there's more trucks on the highway there's.
Process will I see I'm optimistic about the future right and ultimately we don't have to continue this cutting process.
For a long period of time fair enough let's get mayor Becker to weigh in on this real quick before we wrap it up -- you guys and how your leadership style or.
For -- change that you made because of this this downturn.
Well I'm not sure there's been a change certainly has been a change in us focusing on how we tighten our belts in a way where we share as a whole community but it is still the same thing it is is having a vision.
It's being pretty specific and being open and transparent with our community.
It's and -- by building partnerships with -- chamber of commerce with our nonprofits.
We can't do things in city government and you know what we -- to do in our city means everybody working together and that's been a focus I think from the beginning.
I think because everyone's feeling a bit of -- -- Thank you very much -- is that Becker fund Hauser and locker wishing you continued success and certainly role models sent many city -- out there will be following thanks guys.
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