Elkhart Mayor Rod Roberson delivers third State of the City address
ELKHART, Ind. -- Mayor Rod Roberson gave his State of the City address on Monday, his third since he was elected back in 2019.
He took the opportunity to reflect in front of the packed house of city officials, business leaders, Rotary Club members and first responders who gathered at the Matterhorn Conference Center.
"Elkhart was coming off a massive flood. The police department was being viewed as an embarrassment. Tolson Youth Center was being closed. And the city's administration and council were at war with each other," Roberson said. "We've come a long way."
Even with the challenges of the pandemic and struggling economy, Elkhart still boasted growth.
"The Elkhart-Goshen MSA labor force increased by 5,000 in 2022 and added 6,000 jobs, and outperformed both state and national numbers for job additions," said Roberson.
But adding more jobs is not enough.
Roberson said, "The toolbox of economic development still includes maintaining, attracting and expanding the presence of businesses and organizations to Elkhart, and now it also includes quality of place and quality of life."
He strived to make those improvements for the people of Elkhart, with huge projects like the new amphitheater project, a $37 million Wastewater Treatment Plant expansion, the recent completion of the River Greenway Trail and, perhaps biggest of all, the new Meijer grocery store.
"For over 20 years we've been trying to get a Meijer and we finally got one!" he said.
Roberson also spoke of improvements of public services, with the hiring of 14 new Elkhart Police officers, an 11% drop in violent crimes, the introduction of a new social work division as well as the expansion of 311 services.
It's all part of something Roberson called "Unparalleled Service," offering the best to the people of Elkhart, which he believed is crucial for the community's future.
"We really want our neighborhoods to engage in all of the aspects of Elkhart, and not just be myopic in their blocks. But we have to make sure that their blocks are affected, so that they can see outside. So our effort is going to make sure that we reach out to those blocks of people, so that they can engage in everything that the city has to offer," he said.
I spoke with Roberson shortly after the address. He said he's not planning on slowing down in those efforts.
"We've done some wonderful things to build a platform to really accelerate into the future," he said. "I'm pretty excited about the platform building we've done -- we've laid the groundwork -- and we've had some wonderful projects that have come to Elkhart. What we wanna do is take advantage of what has been given and put our energy and effort toward what it's going to become. And there's many things we can say we're delivering to the people of Elkhart, and we're going to deliver those."
Roberson told the crowd that he'll work to do even more if he is re-elected for four more years as mayor.