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2015 State of the City Address

Text from Mayor Richard J. Berry's 2015 State of the City address, delivered Nov. 17, 2015.

Good afternoon.

Thank you all for joining me for the 2015 State of the City Address – and to those of you joining us via webcast and GOV-TV, welcome.

Thank you to Terri Cole and the Greater Albuquerque Chamber of Commerce for hosting today's event, and for your leadership in our City.

I'd like to extend a special welcome to our City Councilors in attendance today – Councilors Benton, Harris, Lewis, Pena, and Winter.

It is a privilege to work with you on making Albuquerque a better place to live, work, and prosper.

During my two terms in office, I have enjoyed a strong partnership with our City Council, and we have accomplished great things on a bipartisan level.

I look forward to spending my last two years as mayor working closely with all of you.

Would all of the City Councilors present here today please stand and be recognized?

To my leadership team, all City staff and my Department Directors in the room – thank you for being here today, and for your tireless commitment to making Albuquerque a better place.

As always, my Mayor's Youth Advisory Council has joined us here today.

This outstanding group of young people have done incredible work and are already strong leaders in our community.

And finally – to Maria and our parents, thank you for your continuous love and support.

You have been my foundation during my time in office, and I am so thankful for your love and support.

Each year, I come before the citizens of Albuquerque to report on the state of our great City.

In order to do that, we evaluate progress in the areas of job creation and prosperity, public safety, the condition of our city, our environment and indicators that speak to this wonderful place we call home.

And today I will do just that.

I will talk about promises made and our progress toward those promises, and I'll speak to our vision and plans for our future.

There is a lot of good news to talk about and there are challenges as always.

But I want to begin today by talking about an intangible – the heart and soul of our city.

There's no question that we have been through a difficult couple of months.

Coming off the five lowest crime rates in the past 25 years, and the lowest murder rate on record last year, this year we lost six youth, including Manzano student Jaydon Chavez-Silver and little 4 year old Lilly Garcia along with Steve Gerecke to senseless homicides.

We just laid to rest one of our heroes, APD officer Daniel Webster, who was killed in the line of duty protecting our community.

Two other APD officers, Lou Golson and Jacob Grant, are thankfully recovering from severe injuries sustained in the line of duty.

Please join me in a moment of silence for Officer Webster and his family, for Officer Benner in Rio Rancho, and the families who have lost loved ones this year.

I want to address the heart and soul of our city is because when tragedy strikes any community – a choice has to be made.

Citizens can choose to watch the news and go about their hectic day-to-day lives, saddened but not really engaged – and no one would blame them for it.

But Albuquerque didn't do that.

In the face of tragedy the good folks of our City came together like this city hasn't seen in a very long time – if ever.

We rallied in support of our families and our police officers.

Rather than letting these tragedies define us or tear us apart, we are stronger than ever, we are resolute, we are supporting each other and we are demanding positive change.

More than anything else I talk about today - it is the people of Albuquerque and their heart, soul, and resilience that lead me to declare without question, that the state of our city is strong ladies and gentlemen.

I have always been proud of my city – but never more proud than I am today.

And because we are speaking with a collective voice, I firmly believe by this time next year when I give the 2016 State of the City Address, New Mexico and Albuquerque will be a better place to be a mom and a dad, and a kid and a business owner, and a worse place to be a repeat violent offender that preys on our community, our police officers and our families.

I will do everything I can to lead the charge for common sense and long overdue changes, including:

A constitutional amendment that would allow judges to keep violent criminal defendants in jail, pending trial.

Promote adjustments to the Supreme Court ten-day CMO deadline in order to reduce dismissals of violent felony cases

A better and more effective Three Strikes law for New Mexico

A law that designates law enforcement officers as a protected class in the New Mexico Hate Crimes Act.

A law allowing municipalities throughout New Mexico to implement and enforce juvenile curfews.

A revision of the law to allow retired police officers to return to work – just like we had in New Mexico from 1987 all the way through 2010. This will go a long way to reduce the officer shortages in Albuquerque and across the state.

And on the City's part, I will continue to fund the Albuquerque Police Department for 1,000 officers, as the City Council and I and have done consistently for the past several years.

Chief Eden is doing a tremendous job with his revamped recruiting program, and the next cadet class is our largest cadet class since 2009 with 39 cadets!

We anticipate that the next two cadet classes will be our biggest back-to-back classes since 2008 and 2009.

I addition to these policies, there is something that each of us as citizens can do.

Neighborhood by neighborhood, street by street, and house by house, I am asking our citizens to reach out to our APD officers and all of our first responders and let them know that they are in your thoughts and prayers and that they have your support.

I have provided each of you a blue lapel pin at your table.

Wear it, show your support, and stand with the men and women of APD who keep us safe each day.

Support of our officers will be vital as we continue to implement the DOJ settlement agreement that was crafted last year.

APD has made significant progress in areas that lay the foundation for the success of long-term reform.

This early foundational work includes:

Updating APD policies to reflect the goals of the reform effort, especially related to the use of force; and

Creating ways for the Civilian Police Oversight Agency and Police Oversight Board, made up of Albuquerque citizens, to be involved in policy development.

Increasing the number of our officers with behavioral health and crisis intervention training; and

Setting up new processes and hiring new staff to oversee the extensive training programs

The establishment of new investigative teams that specialize in reviewing and evaluating use of force.

Commissioning an in-depth staffing study that will give us a detailed evaluation of APD's staffing needs

Steps to more directly engage the community in policing through Community Police Councils in each of the City's area commands

Remember: Real change doesn't happen overnight.

It takes discipline and sustained effort and support from the community for their officers.

Support from the community is vital for our officers, but it also sends a powerful message to criminals.

In a recent speech by FBI Director James B. Comey – he states that "..something deeply disturbing is happening all across America."

He goes on to say, "We are right to focus on violent encounters between law enforcement and civilians. Those incidents can teach all of us to be better. But something much bigger is happening. Most of America's 50 largest cities have seen an increase in homicides and shootings this year, and many of them have seen a huge increase. These are cities with little in common except being American cities—places like Chicago, Tampa, Minneapolis, Sacramento, Orlando, Cleveland, and Dallas."

Albuquerque is not immune to this increase in 2015.

It is my contention that strong support by citizens for their police officers, and positive police interactions with their community can help to diminish violent crime rates - both nationally and locally.

When violent offenders are put back on the streets time and time again, this also compounds the problem – and it needs to stop now.

So let's wholeheartedly support our officers and demand that New Mexico's laws are changed to make this a tougher place to be a repeat violent offender and an easier place to ramp up the number of officers on our police forces.

From a public safety perspective, our Fire Department and the great men and women who serve also play a vital role.

And great progress is being made by AFD.

We have built two new fire stations and have added critical firefighting equipment including ladder trucks over the past several years.

And for the first time ever, AFD has Advanced Life Support response capability from all 22 fire stations.

This has resulted in a 2:00 minute improvement in ALS response times in three specific areas of the city – the Gibson corridor, Downtown, and the North Valley.

And there's more good news.

Our fire department just earned the City of Albuquerque the number one rating by the Insurance Services Office (ISO).

This means our city is in the top 1% of all cities rated as a "rank 1" agency.

To put this in perspective; there are 49,000 fire departments across the United States that are rated by the ISO each year, and only 100 receive the prestigious ranking of "1".

This means better public safety, but it also contributes to lower insurance rates for commercial property owners, who should see a reduction in their rates, saving our businesses money and making us a more attractive place to do business.

Economic indicators are another way that we can judge the state of our city.

And based on many of our most recent economic findings, there is no question we are on the upswing economically in Albuquerque.

To put our current economic situation in perspective, let's take a look back to the beginning of the recession.

After peaking in 2007, Albuquerque really began to feel the effects of the national recession and we saw four years of job losses.

In fact, Albuquerque lost 23,200 jobs from December of 2007 thru December of 2009 alone, and 29,900 through the entire recession.

Things have been consistently improving, however.

Now we can report 36 consecutive months, or 3 years, of positive job gains in the Albuquerque metro.

Since the end of 2012 we have added 13,500 jobs back into our local economy, and our year-over-year job gains are particularly encouraging.

This September, Albuquerque employment data showed a 2.1% increase in jobs compared to this time last year.

That's higher than the US average for the first time in over 5 years and now we are surpassing the growth of each of our key peer cities.

More jobs equates to an improving economy, and our year-to-date GRT numbers show the improvements.

Our gross receipts tax (GRT) revenue is 6% higher so far this fiscal year. (show chart)

This is the best GRT growth in 9 years!

Housing construction permits also rose 41% year over year.

In my discussions with industry professionals, they tell me that while we have a long way to go in the housing industry - for the first time in a long time, investors are planning to develop new residential lots.

That is a good leading indicator for our economy.

Recent home sales data is also encouraging.

Monthly sales of detached, single-family homes surpassed the 1,000 mark for the first time in 8 years this summer.

Median home prices have increased $13,000 from 2011 to 2015.

Back to the jobs front – in addition to the 7,800 jobs added in the metro year-over-year, we have had a great couple of months for jobs announcements.

We just announced last week that Skorpios Technologies will be expanding their operation with an additional 400 jobs with the potential of expanding to 600.

These jobs will pay $60,000 to $150,000.

And this technology is groundbreaking for the chip industry, which is why it is great news that Skorpios decided to stay home.

Last week we also announced that 300 new jobs are coming to Albuquerque thanks to National American University

And in October we announced that Rural Sourcing, Inc. is bringing 125 technology-based jobs to our city.

Our ability to attract jobs is not an accident.

We have taken a very intentional approach to diversify our local economy and it is starting to produce results.

Albuquerque never had a closing fund in the past – but starting with my very first budget as mayor we added $2 million for job creation incentives and we have since added another $10 million for a LEDA closing fund.

If you add this to the closing fund of $50 million from the State of New Mexico, we are in a better position than we have ever been to attract, start, and grow companies right here in Albuquerque.

But beyond just recruitment, we're also cultivating an entrepreneurial ecosystem in our city.

We can't just rely on recruiting companies – we have to grow our own – and we have to help existing businesses prosper and grow.

Over the past several years we have taken unprecedented steps and have made significant investments that will catalyze our entrepreneurial culture and help existing businesses thrive.

We are currently in the middle of "Global Entrepreneurship Week".

There are entrepreneurial events happening across the city all week long – and you can get all the details by following @GEWabq on Twitter.

As part of GEW, tonight I will be announcing the winners of the first "Mayors Prize Program for Entrepreneurship", powered by the Kauffman Foundation and the Albuquerque Community Foundation.

We had 27 incredible entrepreneurial support organizations apply, and I am excited to announce the winners of a combined $200,000 in grants.

Two years ago Albuquerque had no accelerators for start-ups, now we have six.

Our ABQid Accelerator has graduated a total of 18 companies.

The ABQid fund has invested $755,000 in these companies, and the companies have attracted a total of $5.6 million dollars in private investment.

One incredible success story that emerged from the first cohort was that of Sunport Solar and its innovative device, "Plug Solar".

The Plug Solar device allows a person to use solar energy anywhere at any time through a special receptor that plugs into a typical electrical outlet.

Plug Solar recently won the Consumer Electronic Startup Award for 2015.

Paul Droege (Droe-gay), CEO from Plug Solar is here with us today – Paul, would you please stand up and be recognized?

But we want more – we want Albuquerque to be the most entrepreneurial city in America.

And to do that, we have to take the concept of entrepreneurship to whole new levels in Albuquerque and introduce it to traditional and nontraditional job creators.

That's why we opened up Entrepreneurial centers, called TREP Centers at our local libraries.

We partnered with the Kauffman Foundation to bring Village Capital, an international accelerator, to Albuquerque to focused on water and energy companies.

600 companies applied to be a part of this program – and 12 were selected from all across the world to come to Albuquerque.

I'm pleased to report that two companies not originally based in Albuquerque are considering either open a branch or relocate to Albuquerque based on their experience here!

We have Ross Baird, Executive Director of Village Capital, here with us today, along with his team – thanks Ross for choosing Albuquerque.

And we are bringing world-class programs to town to instill an entrepreneurial mindset – including at City Hall.

Please take a look at this video featuring the Entrepreneurial Mindset Program with our partners at CNM:

2015 is also shaping up to be a great year for the film industry in Albuquerque, with the direct spend from film projects approaching $150 million dollars.

And the Innovate ABQ project also continues to move forward, with a development group recently selected for the project.

You have read about UNM's Innovation Academy that will be one of the anchor tenants on the site.

Thanks President Frank and your team at UNM for bringing our flagship University to the core of our city.

Innovate ABQ is also the home to our City's first ever community center for entrepreneurship – the Epicenter.

The Epicenter is now home to a wide range of community and training events, hosted by a number of partners including the Albuquerque Community Foundation.

Beyond our work to create a thriving entrepreneurial ecosystem, we also have another big vision for our economic future.

We are looking forward to a time when Albuquerque will be a leading distribution hub, something we should have done decades ago.

We know that in 2014 our exports grew the most out of any state and the Albuquerque Metro represents almost half of our state's exports.

International trade is an increasingly valuable economic proposition, so my Administration is taking steps to increase Albuquerque's viability as a center for distribution and trade.

In in partnership with the State of New Mexico and the University of New Mexico, we opened a trade office in Mexico City to encourage better trade relations with our neighbors to the South.

We've already seen tremendous success out of the office - in fact, just this September, local manufacturer Kinesio signed an agreement with a retail distributor in Mexico after a trade visit to Mexico City!

I believe that this is only the beginning of the many successes we will see as a result of this partnership.

Albuquerque also has many existing assets that can be better leveraged, including:

  • Two of the nation's longest interstates intersecting in the heart of Albuquerque
  • Cross rails between the East/West BNSF line (LA to Chicago) and the North/South BNSF line (Albuquerque to Mexico City)
  • Location equidistant from the ports of Long Beach and Houston
  • Existing Foreign Trade Zone designation
  • Major rail parks in development including NM Transload along with 4 others
  • Access to New Mexico's growing port of entry at Santa Teresa

The fact is - no city in the world could afford to build the infrastructure that we take for granted!

So to build upon our existing strengths, we are commissioning a study in partnership with MRCOG on Cargo-Oriented Development to help us identify opportunities to make Albuquerque the center of a new regional transportation hub.

Every day we are looking for more opportunities to diversify and grow our economy.

Thanks to all the business leaders in the room today who are making investments to insure our City prospers.

To be an attractive place for business and to raise a family we also have to invest in our great city.

And we're doing just that.

Since I took office, the City has completed 291 infrastructure improvement projects that amount to an investment exceeding $387 million dollars.

And as you can see from the map on the screen– the investments have been made city-wide.

And we are being smart about making these investments.

We want public sector investments that drive private sector investments, and improve our quality of life.

The next potential investment that could be a real catalyst for growth is our proposed bus rapid transit line – which we call ART (Albuquerque Rapid Transit)

This would be an almost $100 million dollar investment, that could produce an estimated $2-3 billion dollar economic impact from transit oriented development, based on projections from a $50,000 privately funded study by the Center for Neighborhood Technology.

We have lined up our local match dollars, have done extensive community outreach and engagement, and have sent our official application for federal funding into the FTA.

I feel optimistic that our project will be included in the federal budget.

If we do receive federal funding, construction will begin in late spring/summer of 2016.

It is important to point out that we have been working diligently to revitalize Downtown Albuquerque and continue to make it an attractive place to live, work, and play.

Construction on the Downtown Grocery Store (the Imperial Building) is scheduled to be completed at the end of March 2016, and the grand opening is set for the end of April.

Just last week I also announced a proposal to invest $23 million from Lodger's Tax bonds to complete three Downtown projects.

With no new fees or tax increases we can:

Create a convertible event center in the East Convention space that could seat up to 10,000 spectators for cultural, convention, educational and sports events,

Build a parking structure with over 400 new parking spaces for Downtown at the new entertainment hub being proposed at 1st and Central, and

Create a new water feature on Civic Plaza along with artistic shade structures.

The Entertainment Hub I referred to above is currently in negotiations with a local developer.

This catalytic project would turn an existing surface parking lot into a buzzing activity center, including a $38.5 million dollar mixed-use project with commercial space, apartments, and a unique entertainment complex – right next door to Innovate ABQ.

With the investments we are making it is no wonder that hundreds of jobs are moving downtown, including Molina and National American University.

I know the best is yet to come for our urban core.

And thriving cities have thriving city centers.

We are also investing in environmental stewardship.

Last month Albuquerque was ranked as one of the "Greenest Cities in America".

This ranking was based on a variety of factors, with Environmental Quality as the most significant – and in that category, Albuquerque ranked 3rd nationally!

We have made this a priority during my administration - a fact evidenced by the 98 energy projects we have completed to date.

That's five times more projects than any previous administration.

We estimate that these projects have a total avoided energy cost-savings of more than $2.6 Million dollars.

These projects have also reduced the city's carbon footprint by more than 11,567 metric tons – the equivalent of planting nearly 300,000 trees!

We have also ramped up our recycling efforts with our new facility and your blue bins and have seen the greatest-ever increase in residential recycling – with residents recycling over 33,000 tons.

The next logical step is our plan to build a new transfer station at Comanche and Edith.

When built, this facility will reduce carbon dioxide emissions by the equivalent of 114,000 trees planted, while saving taxpayers $75 million over the next 20 years.

When it comes to our environment we have been blessed with, it is our responsibility to be good stewards, and the City is leading by example in this area.

No State of the City would be complete without talking about investments that we are making in our most valuable treasure – our people.

You've heard about our homelessness initiative, Albuquerque Heading Home.

During my time in office we've housed 450 individuals and their family members.

A UNM study shows that it's 31% less expensive for us to house our chronically holemess, our most vulnerable than it is to leave them to struggle for survival on the streets.

And last year at my State of the City address, I announced our ambitious plan to end veteran's homelessness by the end of 2015.

We use the HUD definition of homelessness to gauge our process, as other cities around the country are doing.

We knew it would be a heavy lift – but we also know it's the right thing to do.

So I'm proud to report to you today that the experts at the New Mexico Coalition to End Homelessness are telling me that we are on track to meet that goal!!

To date, we've housed 404 homeless veterans, and that number will increase by the end of December.

We know that realistically, there will be more homeless vets in the future – but we now have a framework in place to get them housed within 30 days.

This could not be accomplished without the collective work of our amazing partners such as Goodwill Industries, the Veterans Integration Center, the New Mexico VA, and Albuquerque Heading Home.

And this year, we have created yet another innovative approach to addressing an age-old challenge that every city faces – that is panhandling.

We call this initiative "There's a Better Way".

Take a look at this short video that gives a brief overview:

Video: 'There's a Better Way'

View "There's a Better Way - Albuquerque, N.M.

Each day that the van has gone out to offer jobs, it's been filled to capacity – we just started and have already provided over 200 jobs.

Joining us today are several people who make this program happen.

Please join me with a big round of applause for Father Rusty and Vicky Palmer from St. Martin's.

This program is now gaining interest from cities all over the world – and we started it right here in Albuquerque.

If you would like to help change lives while making our city even more beautiful – please go to Donate and donate.

More details appear on the info sheets at your table.

Thanks to the United Way of Central New Mexico for hosting "There's a Better Way", and especially for doing it without taking any administrative costs – every dollar goes straight to the cause.

We recognize that behavioral health issues often contribute to homelessness in cities across the United States.

I want to thank Teri Cole, Dr. Paul Hopkins and everyone at the Chamber for your leadership on this important and complex issue.

As a result of extensive community engagement, we have identified several priorities that I believe will bring us to a much better place concerning mental health of our community.

These include:

  • Passage of an Assisted Outpatient Treatment bill at the New Mexico State Legislature,
  • Developing a robust system for those in crisis – creating mobile crisis teams to help those most at risk,
  • Better coordination of care in connecting those dealing with mental illness to treatment options,
  • Closing the gaps in the continuum of care, including outpatient treatment, residential treatment, and respite programs,
  • And administrative changes in the New Mexico Mental Health Code to allow for better treatment coordination among the legal system, health care providers, law enforcement, and first responders.

I am committed to advocating for these priorities – including working with the legislature and looking at solutions within the city's internal organization.

And we also need to invest in our youth – the next generation of leaders in our City and State.

According to a study released this August by the UNM Center for Educational Policy Research, in Albuquerque across all industry sectors, three skills were perceived as the most deficient:

  • Professionalism
  • Initiative
  • Leadership

That's why programs like our Running Start for Careers are so important.

Students in the Running Start for Careers Program can explore pathways in careers such as:

  • Construction
  • Finance
  • Film
  • Medical laboratory services
  • Healthcare
  • Hospitality
  • Surveying

This year, Running Start for Careers was named as one of the Harvard Ash Center's Top 25 "Innovations in Government".

This public/private partnership has given over 600 students an opportunity for a hands-on skills training that not only introduces them to a career, but also helps them to earn dual credit at their high school and at CNM.

70% of students served through this program are Hispanic, and 13% are Native American.

86% of all Running Start for Careers students have chosen to continue their education by pursuing a college degree.

And we have a 98% on-time graduation rate for our students who participate!

Imagine the success we could have by expanding this opportunity for students throughout our school system!

We can with your help.

So today, I'm calling on you – whatever industry sector you may represent – join us in this important work.

We need paid internship opportunities for these students, as well as industry leaders willing to step up and provide additional courses for students to learn your business.

We have a couple success stories with us today – Lauren Lovato, a student who was recently hired by Presbyterian and Stephanie Cardoza-Villegas who was hired by Nusenda Credit Union.

Would you both please stand and be recognized?

If you are interested in partnering with us, please pick up the info card on your table today.

We all have heard about the dreaded "Summer Slide" – those summer months when our students lose about two months of grade level equivalency in mathematical computation skills.

Low-income students also lose more than two months in reading achievement over the summer months.

So this summer, we decided to tackle summer slide with a new initiative I announced in last year's State of the City address.

We piloted a summer learning program that we called "Launch 2 Learn".

We created a program to incentive children to participate in learning opportunities over the summer, as well as get needed healthcare such as immunizations and checkups.

The results were amazing.

In conjunction with 40+ partners we engaged over 20,000 students during the summer of 2015, and distributed 5,000 city bus passes that could be utilized for free to transport students to partner activities.

This program was such a huge success that we are hoping to reach 30,000 students next summer, and engage more partners to continue this successful model.

And there is more we can all do to help students succeed.

Let's take it upon ourselves to mentor someone in our city.

Find ways to invest in the next generation– coaching them, holding them accountable, and pushing them to achieve more.

There is nothing more important than investing in future generations, and you can make a huge difference in the lives of our youth.

We also want Albuquerque to be an equitable place as well – a place where hard work and performance are fairly rewarded.

That's why we have taken a groundbreaking approach to the difficult issue of gender pay equity.

For over 40 years the federal government has mandated that women make the same as men for performing the same work; yet women in America still make 23% less than men for doing the same job.

The fact is, overregulation has not worked to achieve gender pay equity in America.

So through our gender pay equity initiative we are actually incentivizing pay parity, and I'm proud to say that we are starting to see this incentive take effect.

Here's how it works.

We offer companies who want to do business with the City of Albuquerque an opportunity to receive a 5% preference on their bids if they are able to prove that their pay equity threshold is below 10% today and moving towards zero

Just yesterday, I announced that so far, 19 companies have been certified through our procurement division for the preference, and one company recently won a bid using the preference.

I am working with the City Council to introduce legislation in the next few months that will take the threshold even lower, with the goal of reaching a zero gender pay gap as we move forward.

And we want to continue to be good stewards of your tax dollars.

In 2010, I started the Efficiency, Stewardship, and Accountability program to incentivize city employees with a cash reward to find ways to reduce wasteful spending of taxpayer dollars.

We've seen overwhelming success with this program – in just FY15 alone, we identified savings of $4.1 million dollars.

And in total, taxpayers have realized a total of $25.5 Million in savings - $23 million of which is recurring each year!

These savings are one reason we have been able increase our General Fund Reserves for the fifth consecutive year, and to keep our AAA bond rating while cities across the country have seen their bond ratings drop.

In FY16, for the fifth consecutive year, we passed a budget that grew local government by less than the rate of inflation, while still providing world class services to our citizens.

I talked a lot today about what we're doing to invest in our city, but we also want to know how our city is being perceived as for investments are paying dividends.

There's good news to talk about here as well.

The city recently commissioned a perception study that surveyed business leaders across America to see how they perceived Albuquerque.

The key findings were interesting and encouraging.

Here are a few data points from that survey;

Respondents were asked a series of paired word statements as to what best describe their impressions and perceptions of Albuquerque.

  • 63% describe Albuquerque as safe
  • only 8% describe Albuquerque as dangerous

This actually tracks accurately with the FBI statistic that shows us as the 414th ranked US city for violent crime, according to 2014 Uniform Crime Report data.

In fact, despite being the biggest city in the state, Albuquerque is ranked 10th in the state for violent crime.

I know this seems to buck the perceptions of some in our community, and that's why it is really important that we talk about factual data when we promote our city.

So if people nationally see us as safe – how does that relate as a place to raise a family?

  • 56% say Albuquerque is a good place to raise a family
  • only 11% thought we are not a good place

When asked whether Albuquerque is "Up and Coming" or "Down and Out",

  • 55% said Albuquerque is Up & Coming and
  • only 14% said Albuquerque is Down & Out

Are we seen as a dynamic and interesting place?

  • 48% of respondents felt that Albuquerque has "Lots to Do" vs.
  • 25% who said we have "Little to Do".

What about value?

  • 58% of respondents felt that Albuquerque is "Affordable" vs.
  • only 11% who think we are "Expensive"

Do you notice a trend?

People around the country, especially business leaders, see us as a good place to invest and to live.

That's why this coming year we will award a competitive contract in the amount of $1 million to add towards efforts promoting our great city from a business standpoint.

We can all do our part as well, telling folks who don't live here or who haven't invested here how great an opportunity Albuquerque presents.

And we can also show them a great list of rankings for our city, including what you see up here on the screen behind me and on your tables.

  • WalletHub: Albuquerque one of the "20 Greenest Cities in America"
  • Time: Albuquerque one of "America's Top 20 Most Charming Cities"
  • Huffington Post: Albuquerque one of "5 Secretly Cool Cities Where You Can Still Get in on the Ground Floor"
  • Moviemaker Magazine: Albuquerque one of "Top 10 Cities to Live and Work as a Moviemaker in 2015"
  • CBS News: Albuquerque on of "The 9 Best Up and Coming Towns for College Grads"
  • Military Times: Albuquerque ranked as one of the "Best for Vets: Places to Live 2015"
  • AARP: Albuquerque one of "30 Best Cities for Staying Healthy"
  • Groupon: Albuquerque one of the "Fittest Cities in America"
  • Travel+Leisure: Albuquerque one of the "Friendliest Cities in America"
  • Travel+Leisure: Albuquerque one of "America's 20 Most Charming Cities"

I believe, and I know that you all believe, that Albuquerque is a wonderful place with a bright future.

I hope that you will leave this afternoon with a better idea of what is happening in your city.

And it is my hope that you leave here feeling optimistic about our beautiful city.

We are a city full of wonderful people, doing wonderful things.

We are diverse, cultured, artistic, intellectual and distinctive.

I won't shy away from saying that we still have work to do.

But I know we can get it done – and I know that Albuquerque's best days are ahead.

I hope you'll join me in lifting our city up.

Using the hashtag #WeAreABQ, let's share on social media the things that we love about our city.

Please feel free to take one of our #WeAreABQ stickers with you today and display it proudly on the rear window of your vehicle or your place of business.

Thank you for the privilege of serving you as Mayor.

This is truly the best job in America, and I could not be more thankful for the opportunity you have given me to lead this great city.

Thank you and have a wonderful day!