Leeser: El Paso’s future has never been brighter

SOURCE: El Paso Times

Mayor Oscar Leeser highlighted job growth, economic development and low unemployment among several accomplishments during the annual State of the City address Wednesday evening.

“The future’s never been brighter in our community,” Leeser said.

The Greater El Paso Chamber of Commerce event, now in its 18th year, was broadcast live for the first time — a change from the traditional luncheon held annually.

“I felt it was important to offer the opportunity for all of our citizens to hear what their city is accomplishing to improve our community,” Leeser said.

“I felt it was important to offer the opportunity for all of our citizens to hear what their city is accomplishing to improve our community.”
Mayor Oscar Leeser
Leeser told the record audience of 800 in attendance at the Judson F. Williams Convention Center how the city used the $9.1 million end-of-year budget savings to build spray parks, replace playground equipment and build American with Disabilities Act compliant ramps, among other projects.

He also made note of the city’s job market.

“There has been a record low unemployment rate of 4.4 percent, and since 2013 we have created more than 4,000 new jobs,” Leeser said.

After a short commercial break, Leeser resumed his speech highlighting economic development.

“Economic development is my favorite topic,” Leeser said.

The mayor said attracting businesses to El Paso and creating higher wage jobs has been a priority. Leeser said he has traveled throughout the country to speak with Fortune 500 companies to tell them why they should do business in the city.

“These trips have opened the door for partnerships with new companies,” he said.

Leeser mentioned new businesses that have opened, such as the Alamo Drafthouse Cinema on the West Side and Hotel Indigo in Downtown, as well as future developments that will bring jobs and millions of dollars to the local economy.

Animal shelter reforms were also a topic of the mayor’s speech.

At the end of January, the council approved approximately $612,000 that Animal Services will need for its year-one plan to hire staff and pay for capital improvements and increased operations and maintenance.

A task force helped establish a three-year reform plan to improve the conditions at the shelter and to boost live release rates.

Leeser said that while the city has accomplished a great deal, including progress with capital projects, budget savings and completing quality of life projects, “there is still a lot of work to do.”

Elida S. Perez may be reached at 546-6137; eperez@elpasotimes.com; @ElidaSPerezEPT on Twitter.