City Notes: Whitehall celebrating decade of opportunity
It’s strange to think that at this time last year, we were just beginning to feel the impact the COVID-19 coronavirus would have on our lives.
From the city of Whitehall's perspective, around this time last March we had just made the tough but necessary decision to cancel our in-person State of the City address.
We also immediately jumped into action to implement the changes to police, fire, emergency-medical and service operations that would be needed to keep our community and team members safe as the pandemic set in.
Because it feels like nearly everything has changed since last March, I have made a concerted effort to pause and celebrate victories (large and small), both in our organization and community, to keep our team motivated and focused on the future.
In this light, as we planned for a virtual State of the City Address, which I hope you will join us for March 18, we took a step back to reflect on what was accomplished in 2020 and also on the city’s past decade of progress and opportunity. When considering all that has been overcome and the immense growth that our community has seen, it’s hard to not be excited for Whitehall’s future.
In the past decade, city leaders have put their full force and effort behind developing the local business community, with an eye toward attracting employers who could help bolster our local income-tax revenue while also increasing the vibrancy of our business community.
In turn, that growth in income-tax revenue has allowed the city to reinvest into Whitehall in ways previously unseen.
In the past 10 years, we’ve attracted major business headquarters – from Priority Designs, to the Wasserstrom Co., to Heartland Bank.
We’ve seen new production and manufacturing companies join our ranks, from Takeya to Cérélia Bakery, and we’ve seen established service organizations move to Whitehall bringing new resources to our community, from Victory Ministries Center of Hope, to Franklin County Children Services, to the Buckeye Ranch.
Whitehall City Schools has worked with the state of Ohio to construct five new school buildings, and the Columbus Metropolitan Library opened its new Whitehall branch on East Broad Street.
And at the same time, we’ve seen unprecedented investment into our community’s built infrastructure, including more than $9.3 million into park improvements and the new Whitehall Community Park YMCA.
In many ways, the Whitehall of today compared to the Whitehall of a decade ago is nearly unrecognizable.
But with all this progress, there’s still work to do. Something heard loud and clear this year is that the pandemic hit minority populations harder than others and that as central Ohio develops, our community will not tolerate individuals being left behind because of socioeconomic status, race, gender or other social identifiers. There has been a cry for equity, inclusion and an end to systemic racism, which the city has heard loud and clear.
So as we take a moment to step back and celebrate Whitehall’s decade of opportunity, we also look to the future with a clear charge to ensure Whitehall is a community in which there is opportunity for everyone.
To learn more about this charge, and to take a moment to celebrate Whitehall’s progress to date, please join us for the virtual State of the City address taking place at 6:30 p.m. March 18. The event is free and open to everyone, but registration at whitehall-oh.us/SOC is required to watch it live.
I hope to see you on the registration list and that you’ll continue to engage with city leaders as we endeavor on our next decade of opportunity for all.
Kim Maggard is mayor of Whitehall.