As we wrap up 2006, I want to thank everyone for doing so much for Kent this year.
Maybe you were too busy to notice, but together we sent a message to this community in 2006 — we did things that people said couldn’t be done. We paved Alley 3, we re-opened the Middlebury Road Bridge, we got the old hotel owner to start fixing his building, we got in the Main Street Ohio Program, and we even got direct deposit here in the city. These things matter, not just because they needed to be done, but also because they showed everyone that just because something hadn’t been done, doesn’t mean it can’t be done. That’s a message this community needs to hear, and that’s the point we punctuated with the opening of the bridge last week.
In thousands of ways, big and small, we made an impact on people’s lives here in Kent in 2006. Maybe everything didn’t always go our way, maybe we didn’t have as many people as we should, and maybe we didn’t have all the equipment we needed, but in the end we always found ways to do what needed to get done. To me, that’s the greatest complement anyone can offer us — that when things were on the line, everyone stepped up to finish the job. In a world where talk is cheap and actions speak louder than words, we delivered in 2006.
2007 is going to come at us fast, but I really believe that we’ve got momentum on our side, so I have high expectations for next year. But next year has little to do with me and everything to do with you. I’ll need your help to keep the community focused on all the good things we’re doing in Kent every day. I’ll need to know what you’re thinking, learn what you’re doing, and understand what I can do to make it easier for you to do your job better. I’ll need everything you’ve got, and I promise to offer the same in return.
I’ll tell you straight up that we’ve still got some tough times ahead in 2007. Our financial problems are still here, and more Kent companies will close their doors next year, so we’ve got to go after business development at full speed. Whether you realize it or not, everyone of you is a part of our business development strategy. The services you provide, the contacts you make, and the impressions you leave on people builds our reputation as a city where people want to live and work in. That’s more important than any marketing slogan or tourist brochure can ever be. It’s always about the people and you are the people.
So many times it’s those seemingly insignficant acts that come back to pay dividends down the road where you respected the person and treated them as you’d want to be treated. I can’t tell you how many business awards ceremonies I’ve attended where the business owner refers to some small act of kindness or extra effort that some city employee did that caused them to move or keep their business in town. That’s the kind of reputation we have from people that already know us, now we just need to make sure more people get to know us and move to Kent.
Many of you have received recognitions for your professional accomplishments this year. I wish I had the time to congratulate each of individually but instead let me extend my gratitude to everyone. These are important milestones that should be celebrated with pride.
I’m looking forward to starting 2007 but in the meantime I will be taking vacation Christmas week to be with my family. As the attached Chrismas card says, I want to wish everyone a happy and healthy holiday season. I’ll see you next year.