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Mayor Brooks delivers State of the City Address

From the Cleveland Daily Banner: Prior to delivering his 2024 State of the City address at the Rotary Club of Cleveland at noon on Tuesday, Clevel

From the Cleveland Daily Banner: Prior to delivering his 2024 State of the City address at the Rotary Club of Cleveland at noon on Tuesday, Cleveland Mayor Kevin Brooks said he had learned Bradley County ranked No. 1 out of 95 counties in job recruitment in Tennessee last year.


“We just found out about it,” he said, adding the information from the Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development was so recent he hadn’t had time to include it on a slide in his PowerPoint presentation.


Brooks said 1,567 jobs were created in Cleveland and Bradley County in 2023.


Several of the new industries planting roots in Cleveland and Bradley County include: SK Food Group, Formulated Solutions, Kroger Central Fill, Wind River Custom Homes and Amaero International Limited.


“I’m incredibly grateful to be a part of the team that is recruiting these new industries,” he said, adding “there has never been a better time” to be mayor of Cleveland.


Brooks, who is also president of the Rotary Club of Cleveland, was first elected city mayor in 2018. He was reelected to a second term in 2022.


He thanked the Cleveland City Council for its contributions to moving the city forward, remarking that much of its work goes unnoticed.


“It really is the hard work and unpopular work of balancing the budget and getting our financial house in order,” he said. “When we took office in 2018, we were very much concerned about what looked like a financial problem with 65% of our debt being at a variable rate.”


Brooks said it is impossible to balance a budget “if you’re not quite sure what your payments are going to be because the rates keep changing.”


However, the mayor said the city council “in its wisdom took it upon themselves to get our financial house in order,” reducing the city’s variable rate debt to 5%.


“Now we know exactly what our debt structure is and what our debt payments are, so that we can begin to invest in the City of Cleveland and do things which I think are going to make Cleveland even greater,” he said.


Brooks said shoring up debt has enabled the city to embark on numerous infrastructure projects, which he said are vital to improving the quality of life for Cleveland residents.


“Part of what we’ve got to get ready with all these new jobs coming is our infrastructure,” he said.


That preparation includes $140 million set aside for better roads and bridges over the next three years, Brooks said.


Investments in improving city residents’ quality of life have included revamping Mosby Park and Civitan Inclusive Park, as well as opening Fletcher Park’s Disc Golf Course.


Brooks said the disc golf course is a popular destination.


“They’re now playing disc golf at night with glow-in-the-dark Frisbees,” he quipped.


Other investments include restoring the former Cherokee Hotel to serve as the new City Hall; the Inman Street Corridor project, which launched on Monday; and the future $27.5 million East/West Crosstown Connector Project.


Also on the horizon in 2024 are additional extensions to the Cleveland/Bradley County Greenway, renovations at Tinsley Park, intersection improvements on Paul Huff Parkway, construction of Jim Sharp Park, the College Hill sidewalk project, widening Michigan Avenue Road, as well as selecting a location for a future aquatic center.


Brooks will deliver a second State of the City Address to members of the Kiwanis Club of Cleveland at noon Thursday, Jan. 18.