Mayor Jacob Day: Salisbury is a city on the rise

Along the Wicomico River, workers near a crane discuss moving a pre-cut steel panel to a cruise ship under construction. The American Cruise Lines vessel, shown in background, was built at the shipyard in Salisbury.

Her Arctic white paint practically glowing in the mid-morning sun, a 270-foot cruise ship waits patiently on large, wooden stands next to the Wicomico River.

Today she will take the first, most important test of her life.  Have the hours, days, months of time lovingly devoted to her construction created a vessel which will be borne higher on the rise of the tide?

At the appointed time, somewhere behind her and just out of sight, there is a loud “ping” as a chock is knocked away, or perhaps a large pin released. The vessel begins to glide, almost silently, down the ramps and into the waiting river – her weight displacing just enough water to create a gentle splash and a small wave as she hits the water. The tide rises to meet her.

The scene described above took place on June 20th at Chesapeake Shipbuilding in Salisbury’s Marina District.

Dozens of folks who were lucky enough to learn about the launch in advance had posted up at their chosen vantage points, phones held high, hoping to capture the beauty and excitement of a boat launch in Salisbury.

Some of them may have started their day with breakfast in a formerly-condemned building which is now one of the City’s hottest eateries. Some of them may have been sipping a cup of masterfully brewed coffee from one of our fine, locally owned coffee shops. They may have watched from their living room window in River’s Edge Apartments or River Place condominiums.

Some may see a ship launch, but there’s so much more to the story than just that – it’s a story of manufacturing, construction, small business, jobs, revitalization, community, excitement!

We are a growing, working and building our city.

The 2016 U.S. Census Bureau Population Estimate shows that between 2010 and 2016, we added 3,061 people to the city of Salisbury. That represents 10 percent growth from 2010, while the remainder of Wicomico County and the other seven counties of the Eastern Shore collectively lost 238 people.

Our city is bucking the trend of the state and our region – and for once, in a positive direction.

We remain the economic capital of the Eastern Shore. Still 91.1 percent of all business revenue in Wicomico County is received in the city of Salisbury (Bureau of Economic Analysis, 2017) and 83 percent of all employment in Wicomico County is within the city of Salisbury (Bureau of Labor Statistics, OWIP, 2017).

Our job market continues to shine. In 2015, we were the 42nd-fastest growing job market in America. In 2016, we were the seventh-fastest growing job market in America (U.S. Conference of Mayors Metro Economies Index, 2017).

Median advertised wage for the more than 2,000 jobs we have available in Salisbury has risen to $46,307 in March 2017 – an indicator of good things to come. Our median age continues to decline to 28.2, and educational achievement continues to rise.

Mayor Jake Day.

And to accommodate these jobs and people, the construction industry is heating up. Construction value in the City through March 2017 is $20,106,255 for the calendar year, up 10 percent over 2016 at this time. Wicomico County now has fewer than two months of housing inventory as the housing market heats up once again.

We have three single-family residential developments under way with over 100 units under construction, and we have over 1,800 multifamily units in the construction and permitting pipeline. Assessments of our property continues to climb and the pace of both construction and employment growth gives me hope that we are finding our stride.

Also moving in the right direction are the numbers which we use to measure and track our citizens’ safety and security. Crime rates continue to fall, with FBI Universal Crime Reporting showing Salisbury with fewer part one crimes now than at any time since records have been kept.  Year-to-date we are down 4.5 percent from 2016 to 2017 for total part one crimes.

There are challenges yet to overcome, but I’m confident that we have the mettle and the drive to accomplish the goal we have set for ourselves.

The tide is coming in, and Salisbury is a city on the rise.

Jacob Day is the 28th mayor of Salisbury.

 

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