On March 30, Greensboro leaders hosted their State of the City to look back over the past year and spotlight the city’s progress.
Mayor Nancy Vaughan called the event’s theme “vision, innovation and progress.” The event included appearances from councilmembers via prerecorded videos as well as a conversation with leaders from The Alexander Company, Toyota and Boom Supersonic — a few of the companies bringing major changes to the area. A conversation with the panel of business moguls was moderated by City Manager Taiwo Jaiyeoba.
After giving several examples of businesses such as RPM Wood Finishes Group and Procter and Gamble that are bringing job opportunities and investment to the area, Vaughan said she felt confident saying that the “state of the city” is “very strong.”
Vaughan added that in preparation for the “influx of jobs on the horizon,” the city knows that “housing, transportation and a strong workforce are imperative.”
Preceded by comments from the mayor, each of the videos made by councilmembers highlighted the city’s noteworthy improvements to areas such as affordable housing, public transportation, sustainability and public safety.
District 2 representative Goldie Wells talked about affordable housing while president of Downtown Greensboro Incorporated and District 3 representative Zack Matheny spoke about improvements to the city’s downtown. Matheny lauded the Tanger Center and mentioned the Boro, the social district where residents can stroll with their alcoholic beverages and bring their drinks into participating local businesses.
“We’re striving to make downtown inviting for everyone,” Matheny said.
In January Matheny voted to decline to extend the district to the Tanger Center and Center City Park — an area that is often used by people experiencing homelessness. At-large representative Hugh Holston was the sole councilmember who voted in favor of expansion. In October, council passed amendments that heavily regulate the use of public space and storage of personal belongings, measures that advocates said targeted the homeless community directly.
Vaughan also discussed the city’s efforts to address homelessness, explaining that the city is “laying the foundation” and “thinking outside the box.”
In District 4 councilmember Nancy Hoffmann’s video, the Doorway Project was used as an example. Costing the city more than $700,000, the project provided temporary shelter to approximately 58 unhoused individuals by placing them in 64-square-foot Pallet shelters from the end of December until March 24.
Since October 2022, TCB has reported extensively on the project, to which residents offered mixed reviews, noting that while they were grateful to be protected from the elements, they struggled with access to basic necessities like food — the site was located four miles from downtown. A changing timeline of when the shelters would be taken down was also met with frustration and confusion by past residents.
With the shelters in the background, Hoffmann said that the city “should be proud to pave the way for an innovative approach to temporary housing.”
When Jaiyeoba asked Vaughan what she wants next year’s State of the City to highlight, Vaughan mentioned that she wants to be able to show how the city’s investments are paying off for residents.
“We need to be able to show that we are actually putting people in houses,” she said. “We are working on long-term solutions and that’s really what we need to outline.”
She noted that the city also needs to “stop responding in emergency situations” when it comes to housing investment.
“We’ve been great responding to emergencies — now we have to look at that long-term investment,” she added.
Public safety and continuing the “relationships between communities, the police department, the fire department” over the next year is another priority, Vaughan said.
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