RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — Members of the Richmond City Council attended Mayor Levar Stoney’s State of the City Address on Tuesday night, highlighting improvements in economic opportunity, quality of life and more.

The address — entitled “A city thriving. A city filled with promise and hope – a city filled with maturity and purpose…” — began shortly after 7 p.m. and was held at Main Street Station in downtown Richmond.

Stoney began by touting the city’s social progress — with a third consecutive perfect score in the Human Rights Campaign’s Municipal Equality Index and a public space free of Confederate monuments.

“Our past is no longer leading our present. Now we are leading our future.” Stoney said. “Business is booming. Our financial house is in order. Our streets are cleaner and our communities safer and healthier. In our quest to be the best city we can be, Richmond is winning.”

The mayor called 2022 Richmond’s most successful year for economic development and shared excitement for future projects like the upcoming Diamond District project.

“The City, last year, gained 2,237 new jobs, issued 536 new business licenses, 670 commercial business permits and saw $550 million in capital investment,” Stoney said.

In order for Richmond neighborhoods to thrive, Stoney says they must first be safe. After implementing a Civilian Review Board, reinforcing efforts to remove illegal guns from the streets and allocating $22 million in pay increases for first responders, Stoney announced plans for a Real Time Crime Center. The mayor said the project will use a $750,000 grant from the Commonwealth.

“Think of this as an ‘Air Traffic Control’ for officers in the field,” he said. “Using cameras and other modern technology, Real Time Crime Centers have the ability to maximize the efficiency and speed of investigations.

During the address, Stoney announced some of his other goals for the future, including:

  • Partnering with the Richmond Redevelopment and Housing Authority to create 2,000 new homeownership opportunities for low-income residents by 2030
  • Investing $1.5 million to go towards a pilot program helping Richmond Public Schools graduates with community college, beginning in Fall 2023
  • Using a $250,000 allocation from the City’s Children’s Fund to open a new “Sprout” school in the neighborhood of Oregon Hill. Sprout Schools will provide fully-day education for children aged between two months and five years — regardless of income
  • A $250,000 expansion of the Richmond Resilience Initiative — a program that provides $500 a month to families in need of help but don’t qualify for federal benefits — for returning citizens

“Today we work together. Today we thrive together. Today we rise together. Our great city has come a long way these past six years,” Stoney said in his address. “The state of our city is better than it’s ever been before. And I say our best is yet to come.”