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State of the City: New Bedford has taken responsibility for its own competitiveness, Mitchell says

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New Bedford Cable Network
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New Bedford Mayor Jon Mitchell delivered the State of the City address on Wednesday.

New Bedford has capitalized on its strengths and will pursue more opportunities for economic growth, Mayor Jon Mitchell said Wednesday in his annual State of the City address.

Speaking to community leaders, city department heads and others gathered at New Bedford High School, he said that over the last decade, the city has changed how it views itself.

“What’s different in New Bedford today is that we reject the idea we once tacitly accepted, that nice things are for others,” he said. “Our residents want and deserve a city they can be proud to live in. And that's what we are committed to doing.”

As the center of a distinct metropolitan area with nearly a quarter of a million people, New Bedford doesn’t rise or fall with the economy of Greater Boston, he said. “You don't get to ride the coattails of another city or the state.”

Mitchell said New Bedford is the chief driver of the regional economy and should be treated accordingly in public policy. He said the city has succeeded by capitalizing on its strengths and taking responsibility for its own competitiveness.

Mitchell acknowledged that the city’s costs to provide services are rising faster than its ability to pay. Expanding the tax base with new commercial development will help alleviate that burden, he said.

The mayor also took the opportunity to announce new appropriations from the city’s share of federal COVID-19 stimulus funding under the American Rescue Plan Act.

In addition to previous commitments, $5 million will go toward the renovation and expansion of the Zeiterion Performing Arts Center, and the city will use another $5 million to accelerate redevelopment of vacant commercial properties, he said.