The Greater Pensacola Chamber hosted Mayor Grover Robinson for a State of the City luncheon Tuesday, Aug. 20 at the Pensacola Yacht Club, where Mayor Robinson addressed the local business community about the City of Pensacola's economy, development and plans for the city's future as it continues to grow.
The event was the first in a series of "state of" addresses presented by the Greater Pensacola Chamber, which will include updates on the state of the city, state of the military and state of education.
Mayor Robinson highlighted several areas of growth in the city, including residential and commercial permits, ad valorem and sales tax revenue increases each year, along with success at the Port of Pensacola, Pensacola International Airport and Pensacola Energy.
"What it is showing is that this is a community that people want to come to," Mayor Robinson said. "It speaks to the quality of place. But the only problem with that is every time we keep having growth, we've got to reinvest in ourselves."
Part of that reinvestment includes new city staff members such as Complete Streets Planner Mike Ziarnek, Neighborhoods Administrator Lawrence Powell and Assistant City Administrator Kerrith Fiddler, who Mayor Robinson said are all looking into ways to better serve citizens of Pensacola.
"That's why we've hired the complete streets person," Mayor Robinson said. "That's why we're looking into how can we make Pensacola the place that you want to live, that your children want to come back and live...that's the kind of community we're trying to create here in Pensacola, Florida. And it takes reinvestment over and over in what we're doing, so I think that's what your team that serves you every day is trying to do as we're moving forward."
Assistant City Administrator Fiddler also spoke at the event, sharing about how his 15 years of experience in local government led him back to Pensacola. Fiddler joined the City of Pensacola on July 1 and is responsible for oversight of the city's community development departments, including Public Works & Facilities, Community Redevelopment Agency and Economic Development.
Fiddler spoke about being tasked with $20 million in Community Redevelopment Agency projects to move forward while working as the Assistant Public Works Director at the City of North Miami, giving him valuable experience that will help him work with staff to complete projects in Pensacola.
"I know the importance of making sure projects are moving, you're spending money and you're making the community better," Fiddler said.
Some highlights Mayor Robinson shared during the address include:
- Number of residential permits in the city increasing every year
- 2017: 190
- 2018: 290
- 2019 (incomplete): 194
- Ad valorem taxable value increasing every year
- 2017: 5.79 percent increase
- 2018: 7.51 percent increase
- 2019: 8.2 percent increase
- Number of Pensacola Energy customers increasing every year
- Pensacola International Airport continuing to break passenger records, with an all-time record high month in May 2019 (207,635 passengers). Fiscal year to date passenger traffic is up 17.34 percent.
- Half-cent sales tax revenue up 7.39 percent for 2018; on-track for 2019
Mayor Robinson concluded his address by emphasizing the importance of collaboration as a community and a region. He also highlighted the city’s “Florida’s First and Future” tagline, which puts value in Pensacola’s rich history while also looking toward the city’s future and limitless potential.
"We want all of your companies that you're working in to be working at that lead edge of what we're doing, so that we are not just simply limited by our past, but we also are looking at an unlimited future and working together,” Mayor Robinson said.To learn more about the Greater Pensacola Chamber, visit pensacolachamber.com.To view a highlight video featuring city staff sharing about the work they do for residents, visit the city’s YouTube channel.