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State of the City Speech May 20, 2008

Ladies, Gentlemen, Kiwanians and Friends, GOOD AFTERNOON !

I am grateful to have been invited to address all of you and share the State of the City of Lebanon, IN. I would also like to share with you what I see on the horizon for 2008 and how I anticipate moving this city forward during my first year in office.

But first, I must tell you that as I began to organize my thoughts to present this address to you, I realized how fortunate I am to have the opportunity to serve the citizens of Lebanon. I have met a lot of great people during my first 142 days in office and I truly enjoy each and every day. Everyone has been so helpful in getting me settled into the office.

First, I would like to share with you some of the accomplishments for 2007. The Lebanon Business Park continues to grow each year. Two new companies opened their doors and one began a major expansion.

  • Festool USA opened their 25,600 sq. ft. facility this past fall. They invested $3,020,000 and created 27 new full-time jobs.
  • J.M. McCormick also opened their 100,000 sq. ft. structure this past year with an investment of $4,250,000. They retained 28 jobs and created 14 new positions.
  • Hachette Book Group USA is undergoing a 300,000 sq. ft. expansion to their facility. Their investment of $12,000,000 will bring their total full-time employees to 230. This is the third expansion for Hackette since they have been in the Lebanon Business Park. We have seen approximately 22 new businesses locating in the community.

The approval of the Super-Walmart to be located behind the current Walmart will be a huge improvement to the north corridor of the city. This will also bring new business to this area.

The appearance of the downtown area has also been improved.

  • The Jackson Agency's new building, the improvements to the Heflin building,
  • the face lift to the Morog building on Meridian St.,
  • the new law firm that completely remodeled the old Brunt's building just east of Key Bank,
  • the change to the front of the Royal title building on Lebanon St., improvements to the buildings on the north and east side of the square as well as
  • the building on the West side of the square where Anderson and Associates are now located – shows pride in the downtown

I believe we will continue to make changes that will draw residents and visitors to our downtown.

Lebanon is at the crossroads of growth and economic development and change is necessary if we want to continue to have the community atmosphere that we have all come to enjoy. We must work as a team so that we can achieve the vision and goals that have been discussed during my campaign. Lebanon is a great community and I applaud Mayor Acton for his vision over the past 16 years. The challenge before us now is to;

  1. Promote this community
  2. Plan for the growth that we know is coming to this area
  3. Clean up the city to make an attractive first impression as potential residents enter our community
  4. We must be fiscally responsible so that we can provide the best services possible to the residents of Lebanon

In 2008, we will see continued growth in the commercial arena as well as the beginning of residential development. With the addition of the Anson project to the south and the announcement of Medco and Amazon coming to Anson, we will see change in both retail and commercial growth coming up the I-65 corridor to Lebanon. Rail capacity is becoming more and more important to corporations as they make decisions to relocate. We have that capacity both in our current Lebanon Business Park as well as a 600 acre area to the east of St. Rd. 39 and just south of I-65. We are already having discussions with a developer about expansion to that area. We just announced this month that U.S. Cold Storage will be locating in the Lebanon Business Park. Their decision was based on the availability of rail service to their facility.

I have formed a Citizens Advisory Committee, consisting of 17 citizens that met with me the first time in March. Their mission is to improve the quality of life of the citizens in this community. I have also formed a Gateway Committee consisting of 14 members. Their first monthly meeting was held in March. The goal of this committee will be to establish a theme for the community and improve the Gateways and corridors into this community. They will use the Ball State University study that was completed this past summer as a resource for their work. We are also working on a Lebanon Trail grant that will connect the 4-H grounds to Abner Longley Park by way of Indianapolis Avenue and Hendricks Drive.

We are also giving a total new look and updating the Web-site for the city. I hope to have this project completed within the next 60 to 90 days. This is a tool that I will use to help promote our community. Web-sites have become a huge tool used by corporations and individuals when looking to find a new home. We want the City's web-site to be the best site in the surrounding counties of Indianapolis. I am also in the process of hiring a City Planner. In order to plan for the growth coming to this community in an orderly way, it is important that we have someone that will be able to work with prospects on a daily basis. Annexation of key areas is crucial to the future growth of Lebanon. One of the areas that we feel is important to the economic development of Lebanon is that of the I-65 corridor from Lebanon to the St. Rd. 267 interchange. We have started the process of annexing approximately 3600 acres along that corridor and hope to complete that process by the end of this year.

With the passage of HB 1001 during the past legislative session, the property tax caps will have a direct impact on the revenue sources that cities and towns will receive. With this $524 million expected decrease across Indiana we must find alternative revenue sources if we are to continue to provide the services that our citizens deserve. Our planning department is updating many of our fees to increase this revenue stream through that department. We are also beginning the process of investigating the possibility of Park and Road impact fees. These fees will be paid by developers and will help offset expenses in our Parks and maintenance to our roads.

During my first 4 ½ months as Mayor, I have seen energy in this community, that citizens are sharing with me. They are excited about what can happen to Lebanon.

The vision and goals that I have shared with you are the same kind of vision that this community wants for the future of Lebanon. By working with City and County organizations, Superintendent of Schools and other civic groups like Kiwanis, we will be able to formulate these goals and make Lebanon an even greater place!

One of the questions that has been asked of me recently is that of, Where would you like to be at the end of your first year? I would like to be able to show the residents that we have made some progress on improving the gateways, presenting a cleaner city to prospective businesses and residents and having a better perception of Lebanon. If improvement can be shown in these areas, then I feel we have made progress. This can not happen overnight, but I am encouraged by the support of the community.

I have started the process with the help of my team. We will lead this community to a level that all residents will be proud to say that “I live in Lebanon, IN”. A place where we have great schools, beautiful parks and a variety of churches. And I hope someday soon we will have more choices in shopping and restaurants.

This is the challenge for this new administration and I am confident that with the support of the citizens of this great city, we will achieve these goals. My door is always open, I encourage you to communicate any concerns or ideas that you might have for the betterment of Lebanon.

Again, Thank you for asking me to visit with you today.

Address given by the late Mayor John W. Lasley