PHOENIX — Phoenix Mayor Kate Gallego's State of the City address focused on economic development, medical research, and support for public safety, including a promise to never defund the police.
Speaking to the Phoenix Chamber of Commerce, Mayor Gallego offered an optimistic economic forecast, boosted by the growing biomedical and chip manufacturing industries.
"Phoenix is now among the top five of the nation's emerging life sciences markets and number one for job growth in life sciences in emerging markets," Mayor Gallego said. Adding to those numbers was the announcement by the mayor that Sendoso, a computer software company, is bringing its headquarters to Phoenix.
"With its move to Phoenix, Sendoso will bring 700 good jobs," Gallego said.
The mayor said the city government learned to adapt and innovate during two years of COVID. Working with the Arizona Department of Education it distributed approximately 10,000 laptops and wi-fi hotspots to students. Using vans, the city went mobile to distribute 300,000 COVID tests and vaccines to underserved neighborhoods.
The mayor praised police and firefighters for their efforts in keeping the city safe. This past year the Phoenix CIty Council approved a 9% pay raise for police officers and offered a $7,500 bonus for new hires and officers who stay on the job.
"Today I say publicly and without reservation, I have never, and will never defund the police department. And I suspect you agree with me," the mayor said. "I've had it with violent attacks on police officers. We must keep them safe."
As the city grows, there are challenges that won't go away, like homelessness. The price of buying a home or renting have both skyrocketed to the point where many people are literally being shown the door. Gallego said the city is trying to help.
"As of March 30, we have provided $78 million in rental and utility relief to thousands, as well as eviction prevention assistance," the mayor said.
But relief in the form of new affordable housing, renovating public housing, and converting old hotels takes time. Maricopa County's Point in Time Count found a 30% increase in unsheltered people in Phoenix in the last two years. Mayor Gallego says homelessness will take a regional response.