NORFOLK, Va. — Norfolk Mayor Kenny Alexander looked at the bright side in his 2021 State of the City address Thursday afternoon.
Alexander focused the bulk of his speech on the city's recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic. He reviewed how the city worked to get food to families who needed it, reopen businesses that were struggling with new regulations, avoid exacerbating a budget shortfall and organize vaccine clinics for residents.
"If everyone does their part and gets vaccinated, I'm confident next year's State of the City, will make its return to a larger, live audience!" he said.
Alexander also announced a new program that could help people who were unemployed during the pandemic find new, high-paying jobs.
"To support the career journeys of these residents, we are excited to announce a new partnership between Norfolk Works and Tidewater Community College to bring a mobile welding lab to Norfolk by this summer," he said. "This State-Of-The-Art Lab will support our shipbuilding and repair community, and provide instruction for the skilled welding jobs of tomorrow."
In all, Alexander said the city of Norfolk had helped 1,300 businesses make ends meet in the last year.
"Because of our collective work, dedication and sacrifices, I can state with full confidence that the State of our City is strong," Alexander said.
Alexander also touched on education - he said more than half of all public school students were back in-person, and the city was working with EVMS, Norfolk State University and Old Dominion University to create a new school of public health.
Also in the rundown, he praised the adoption of battery-powered buses, the progress on the Norfolk casino, plans to add to the Hampton Roads Bridge Tunnel and expansions at the Port of Virginia.
He said Norfolk was starting a partnership with MetroNet, a high-speed fiber--optic internet company.
"MetroNet, provides high-speed Internet, voice and video services to homes and businesses over a world class 100% fiber infrastructure. They currently offer one of the fastest Internet services available anywhere in the United States," he said. "They are ready to start their construction process this year. Norfolk is on the path to becoming a gigabit city!"
You can read the mayor's full speech below: