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Jackson Mayor Derek Dobies talks 'ambitious agenda' in virtual State of the City address

Posted at 6:01 PM, Mar 17, 2021
and last updated 2021-03-17 18:01:31-04

JACKSON, Mich — Jackson Mayor Derek Dobies kicked off his fourth annual state of the city address highlighting important accomplishments over a year unlike any other and touting lower crime rates, "fair-chance" housing and new businesses coming to Jackson.

“Think about this, even during an international pandemic our city welcomed in 11 more new businesses. Sister Sister, Apricot Lane, Doll ‘n Burgers, FarmSudz, Metropolitan and so many more," Dobies said.

Apricot Lane opened in 2020

Dobies said that, in 2020, the city pulled more than $21 million in construction work permits.

“I think that really speaks to the strength of Jackson and our local economy and our investments people are putting into our city," Public Information Officer Aaron Dimick said. "And we saw the city be able to accomplish huge milestones like the renovation at the King Center, continuing to do road projects and other infrastructure improvement projects. So, there’s a lot that Jackson can celebrate in 2020 despite the impacts of the pandemic.”

Crime rates in Jackson have been the lowest in 30 years, according to city officials, including a 14 percent decrease in calls for service and 4 percent reduction in overall crime.

“The Jackson Police Department increased transparency in the community and bolstered efforts in use of force training for officers," Dobies said. "As the focus shifted to in-service training the department reviewed and amended its use of force policy, along with studying defense tactics and de-escalation and further role playing scenarios.”

City officials also developed the COVID-19 action network so residents would have accurate information, resources, food and other goods.

"By the end of the year more than 1 million pounds of food had been distributed to the community with the help of the city," Dobies said.

Other COVID-19 programs that the city implemented to help its residents included halting water shutoffs and preventing foreclosures.

"We...put more than $945,000 into direct support for our residents in responding to COVID in the forms of water utility bill assistance, foreclosure prevention and rental assistance all to keep people in their homes," Dobies said.

Dobies ended his speech by looking forward to 2021. He plans to work with the City Council on several ideas that would encourage different types of housing.

"Relaxing policies to encourage urban farming, urban apiaries and even chicken coops," Dobies said. "Codifiying a neighborhood association ordinance to strengthen our neighborhoods, addressing our lead service line replacement for drinking water."

Dobies plans to bring forth more legislation to combat poverty and promote equity, including introducing a living wage ordinance later this year.

"We take this work incredibly seriously. As serious as we take the public health and the health of this city. With your strength and resolve we will get through this pandemic together," Dobies said.

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