Naperville Mayor Steve Chirico focused his 2021 State of the City address on the concept of adaptation and moving forward.
“The last thing you want is your local government to be boring or lazy and rely on our past success,” said Chirico. “As an organization and as a community, we must move ahead in a post-COVID world by recognizing what was successful in the past and what needs to change.”
Supporting Local Businesses
The annual event is organized by the Naperville Area Chamber of Commerce, and Chirico recapped many of the ways the city tried to support local businesses – waiving various license fees, promoting outdoor dining, providing utility relief, and more.
Chirico said he’s proud Naperville was able to pivot to continue providing city services that residents and businesses expect.
“Within a week of the stay-at-home order, we began accepting home building and emergency repair permits electronically, and within six weeks, we were accepting all building permits remotely,” said Chirico.
New Businesses Opening Up
The city’s flexibility is part of why Chirico thinks so many new businesses chose to open up in Naperville during the pandemic. A video montage highlighted many of these newcomers, like three cannabis dispensaries, multiple dessert shops, and several retail stores and restaurants.
“I’m proud that so many businesses chose to invest in Naperville even in the face of uncertainty,” said Chirico.
Virtual State of the City
This year’s event was held virtually, though many people gathered for two watch parties held at the Embassy Suites and Marriot hotels in Naperville.
And people are what Chirico called the “foundation” of all the city’s financial pillars. He concluded his address by looking forward to how the city will shape its future for Naperville residents through its upcoming Strategic Master Plan, the Sustainable Naperville 2036 plan, and Riverwalk 2031 Master Plan.
“We’re Not Going Back”
He said responsibly planning ahead can allow the city to be prepared to pivot in uncertain times and continue to grow.
“A community like Naperville doesn’t just settle for what was,” he said. “It shows the region and the nation what we can become. We’re not going back.”
Naperville News 17’s Casey Krajewski reports.
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