Joyce Craig: Collaboration is key to a thriving Queen City
New Hampshire Union Leader
September 28, 2018
SINCE BEING SWORN in as mayor in January, I’ve been encouraged and energized by the outpouring of support from members of our community who are committed to making Manchester a better place. Together, we’re building a more transparent, collaborative, and prosperous city.
Here, you can open or expand a business, raise a family, receive an exceptional higher education, work for a nationally recognized employer, shop at a growing number of storefronts, and dine and unwind in the region’s finest restaurants, bars and breweries.
We are improving educational opportunities, collaboratively confronting the opioid epidemic, finding new ways to support our economy, and making the office of the mayor more accessible than ever before.
Improving Manchester’s public education system motivated me to run for public office, and I’m proud we are making progress on this critical issue. In the last nine months we’ve partnered with a group of local business and education leaders who founded Manchester Proud to raise funds to develop a comprehensive strategic plan to improve our public schools. Additionally, Velcro Companies is working with the city on Velcro University, a project that transformed a classroom at West High School and will provide educational opportunities to help our students are college and career ready. Moreover, Manchester is finally fighting for our fair share in Concord. During the legislative session, the Board of Mayor and Aldermen, the Board of School Committee and I voiced our opposition to legislation that would have taken millions of dollars from Manchester students and our public schools.
The transformation of Manchester’s Millyard continues to garner national attention and drive our downtown’s revival, including the creation of new housing stock, breweries, restaurants and retail. The newly-formed Mayor’s Business Council, a joint initiative with the Greater Manchester Chamber of Commerce, brings together leaders from across the city to create a more business-friendly environment and keep our economy moving forward. In addition, I’ve advocated for tax relief to support businesses that have made substantial investments and have significant positive impacts on our community, pushed for renewable energy opportunities, supported expanded commuter rail from Boston, worked toward a more pedestrian and bike-friendly community, and promoted public art and community events. We’re also attracting new businesses to Manchester, including BAE Systems, which is scheduling to bring hundreds of new jobs to the Queen City.
Collaboration has aided our work in improving our schools and supporting our economy. This approach is also beginning to show results in our fight against the opioid epidemic. For many years, our community had numerous recovery and treatment service providers who weren’t working together. In the last nine months, we have created a program to assess current efforts and capabilities in confronting this challenge.
For the first time, city departments, the Farnum Center, Families in Transition, Manchester Community Health Center, AMR, Granite Pathways, the New Hampshire Charitable Foundation, the Granite United Way, Makin’ It Happen, Elliot Health Systems, Catholic Medical Center, and others are working together to address shared challenges. I’ve been joined by numerous community leaders in Concord to advocate that Manchester get its fair share of funding for this crisis. And this collaborative approach is working. In nine months, we’ve been able to get people into treatment in an average of two days, as opposed to two weeks.
Across our community, we are focused on the shared goal of improving our public health and making smart investments to save lives in our city.
Finally, we continue to make City Hall accessible to all our residents. I’ve held office hours in across the city and will continue to bring City Hall to our neighborhoods. I’ve appointed residents from all 12 wards to city commissions and continue to seek qualified volunteers. I’ve joined our SWAT team on drug raids, our fire fighters at overdoses, our health department while they sprayed for mosquitoes, rode in a plow truck during a blizzard, and visited dozens and dozens of schools and businesses. As your mayor, I will always seek your voice, listen to your concerns and work with you to solve problems.
The work to reach our full potential will be difficult, and there are many tasks before us. However, I passionately believe our city is stronger when we all work together. Manchester’s brightest days are ahead of us, and every day that we work hard to improve our city, we are one step closer to achieving our collective potential.
Thank you for your commitment to keeping our city moving forward.
Joyce Craig is mayor of Manchester.