A capacity crowd gathered at the Von Braun Center in Huntsville on Tuesday to hear Mayor Tommy Battle give his State of the City address for 2022, in which he highlighted the Rocket City's rapid growth and "quality of life investments" in infrastructure.
Battle began by mentioning how, in May, Huntsville was named the country's top best place to live in the nation by U.S. News & World Report.
"That was a very exciting announcement because it came about and told us we were doing the right kind of things," Battle said. "That honor came only one year after we became the largest city in the state, and we're still growing."
Battle also noted that the city had been featured twice in Rolling Stone Magazine and was ranked sixth for best job market by Wallet Hub, second for career opportunities by Smart Asset, third most affordable place to live by U.S. News and third for quality of life by Commercial Cafe.
"I'll say it before, and I'll say it again: Our secret is out," he said. "... My stance on success really hadn't changed. We don't strive to be the biggest; we simply want to be the best city we can be for our citizens."
The mayor said an average of 460 new residents have been moving to the Rocket City each month, with 10,000 people visiting each day, bringing in a $1.7 billion boost to the local economy.
Battle also touted the recent successful launch of Artemis I as well as the completion and start of new projects throughout the city, such as The Alabama School of Cyber Technology and Engineering, Marriott's Autograph, Front Row Huntsville, CityCenter at Big Spring, Vista at Council Square, a $100,000,000 federal courthouse and the new City Hall building.
"So much of what's been built and what's to come creates an excitement. I think that you can feel the excitement that we all have right now of seeing everything that's starting to come up out of the ground and seeing transformation," Battle said. "We've seen MidCity's transformation. We've seen downtown revitalization. We're experiencing growth and development like we've never seen before."
Part of that growth, Battle said, comes with challenges, such as keeping traffic moving smoothly through the city. This year, Huntsville spent $19 million on road resurfacing, and it plans to spend $70 million in 2023 on new road projects, he said. That's in addition to the mayor's Restore Our Roads initiative, which includes projects to ease traffic flow around the city and Redstone Arsenal, all for an estimated cost of $800 million.
"I'm proud to say that the state of our city is strong. And we're not going to rest on our laurels. We know that we still have more to do, but look how far we've come. The national and international accolades are shining a bright light on Huntsville… We're not just building for our children, but we're building for generations to come. Knowing who we are and what we want and how we get there and doing so together — together is a big, big word — that's the secret to our success, the secret to being the star of Alabama."
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