At his first in-person State of the City address since 2019, Mayor Steve Chirico painted a picture of how Naperville weathered the challenges of 2021.
“Can we start off by appreciating that we’re all together in person again? Let’s have a round of applause for that.”
He shared with the crowd at the Embassy Suites that the city’s economy has bounced back, and in some cases, surpassed expectations.
“Nearly all of our revenue streams have recovered to pre-pandemic levels. And a few – like sales and income tax – grew beyond what was normal before the pandemic. Think about that. During a pandemic, our businesses adapted so well that we actually brought in more dollars to the community,” said Chirico.
Rising To Challenges
He noted the city also rose to unexpected challenges, like the EF3 tornado that struck in June. “We restored services quickly and we improved them at the same time. And our staff is still in touch to this day to help with the long-term recovery,” said Chirico.
He acknowledged the efforts of key leaders in the community for their contributions. He noted former Police Chief Bob Marshall, who retired last year, for his 44 years of city service. He applauded Naperville Fire Chief Mark Puknaitis for leading the department through answering a record 16,000 calls last year. And he welcomed the efforts of new contributors, like Diversity Equity and Inclusion manager Dr. Geneace Williams.
“She started by launching a Youth Inclusion Ambassadors initiative. These are high school and college students who will spread the message about DEI,” said Chirico. “They’ll also model what an inclusive community should look like.”
Chirico set the stage for a new portrait of Naperville, using its strong financial base and more than $13 million in federal American Rescue Plan funding to push forward with new amenities, improved infrastructure and fresh technology.
“Our strength comes from our community’s ability to adapt. Now is the time to be bold,” said Chirico.
For Chirico, the primed canvas of Naperville’s future is ready to fill, from the palette of talent, imagination and enthusiasm from the community.
“I can’t wait to see what we create. Naperville has never settled . . . and neither should we,” he concluded.
Naperville News 17’s Kim Pirc reports.
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