In my opinion, there are two
essential enablers for a successful Haverhill:
(1.) The first is to solve
budget problems in a professional manner
The new Mayor and City Council
must restore the confidence and trust that Haverhill citizens
have in their local government.
In the past two years, we
began the process of solving budget problems professionally.
We did this by factoring multi-year budgetary projections into
our decision making process. We also evaluated an extensive list
of potential sources of new revenues, and took action on many
proposals. Further, despite our current financial challenges,
we purchased a new electronic financial management system by
leveraging a Comcast payment to the City. These actions promise
to project City Hall operations into the 21st century.
Those were big leaps.
Our top priority this year
is to prudently formulate and evaluate solutions to meet our
financial challenges. This should not be rocket science. We already
have most of the basic information. We need to address some new
ideas. We need to acquire meaningful performance and resource
benchmarks from other comparable communities. The Mayors
and City Councils primary challenge is to create a collaborative
environment between citizens, elected officials and city workers
so that they all contribute to the ultimate goal of enacting
the best solutions.
(2.) The second enabler is
to attract, cultivate and retain innovation a bridge to
The best solution for securing
financial stability for Haverhill in the long run is to attract
viable businesses to our industrial parks and downtown. Our strategy
must be to develop a unique identity that we can call our own
while building on the strengths of our sister communities in
the Merrimack Valley, as we did in the Industrial Revolution.
Further, we need to understand and respond to fundamental changes
taking place in Boston, which is the economic, political and
cultural engine for New England.
The biggest risk to Boston
and the Region, according to the Boston Foundations 2002
Indicators Report, is to continue to lose young adults (in their
twenties) with the creative and innovative skills needed to drive
the regions current and future economy. Many young knowledge
workers cannot afford to live in Boston and the Metro Region.
They are moving to places
like Raleigh-Durham, North Carolina and Austin, Texas, where
they can find similar jobs, with a substantially lower cost of
living. While many factors contribute to this trend, it is clear
that the Northeast is pricing itself out of the market.
2000 census data shows that
while Haverhill had overall population growth of 14% between
1990-2000, we actually had a decrease in young adults. In fact,
the number of young adults, ages 20 to 24, in Haverhill dropped
by 25% during the 1990s. This shows that the problem extends
beyond Boston and the Metro region, even though our cost for
housing is less. While much of Bostons innovation takes
place in Research & Development, it is reasonable to assume
that innovation from young adult workers are critical to manufacturing
companies and the overall quality of life in Haverhill.
So at the least we need to
understand the impact that this trend is having on the regions
economic engine. We know that young people are vital to our economy.
Consequently, we need to develop and execute a strategy to attract
and retain skilled and creative workers. Some efforts are underway.
The Haverhill Initiative markets our strengths outside of Haverhill.
The Northern Essex Community College Technology Center offers
the potential to readily bring graduate-level education to Haverhill
citizens and businesses. The Arts and Restaurant Districts are
These are only a few examples
of the critical strategic efforts that the Mayor, City Council,
School Committee and community must engage in order to assure
a bright future for our City.
Finally, I cannot leave the
podium without reminding people that 40 Haverhill kids sit on
a waiting list for mentors. If you can spare 1-2 hours per week,
please contact Julie Herget, program director of Dannys
Mentoring Program at Childrens Friend and Family Services,
at 978-372-8516, ext. 634.
Thank you again for your support.
Lets have a productive session.
City Council President John
City of Haverhill, Massachusetts
*Source: City of Haverhill,
Massachusetts Web Site: www.ci.haverhill.ma.us 1-5-04