The city of Denver is focused on economic recovery, with a hope to not only recover but come back stronger.
- City of Denver is now focused on the recovery phase of the pandemic.
- Yeah, Mayor Hancock aims to create 40,000 jobs by the end of next year. It's an important step for Colorado's comeback. Shawn Chitnis joins us live tonight in Denver to talk more on this, and Shawn, the city certainly has some big plans.
SHAWN CHITNIS: Well, Jim and Karen, Mayor Michael Hancock said, today, that he is looking forward to the American Rescue Plan and says it will play a big role in getting Denver back to the economic success we saw before the pandemic. And he also says it's going to address the issues of inequity that have only been magnified by COVID-19. But as they wait to find out just how much money could be coming from the federal level, they say, they don't want to wait in those coming weeks and get going now on their own local plan.
Denver's economic recovery builds on funding from the federal government. City leaders estimate they could get $140 to more than $300 million, but they say, they can't wait to start their own aggressive local plan.
- We know all too well that this pandemic has hit certain industries and their workers the hardest.
- So Mayor Hancock wants voters to ultimately approve of $400 million bond package this November. They'll sort through 5,000 project ideas, choosing a number of them to complete in six years.
- We can recover, and come back stronger than before, and help our local businesses regain the ground they lost in COVID-19.
- A key focus will be creating jobs. The current unemployment rate is just over 7%, but before the pandemic, it was closer to 2%. So the city wants 40,000 jobs added by the end of next year. That's to make up for the 25,000 jobs currently gone from COVID and add another 15,000. To get a sense of the impact of just on downtown alone, city leaders say almost a quarter of first-floor retail space is vacant right now, and it gets closer to 30% when you look at just the 16th Street mall.
- Every level of government is moving swiftly and boldly to get this country, our state, and our city back to work. We have faced these challenges before and come back stronger, and you know what? We're going to do it again.
- So the mayor is going to send this proposal for a $400 million bond package to city council later in the year. They have to approve it before it can go to voters, and today, we only heard part one of this recovery plan. That was focused on the economy. In the weeks ahead, we expect to hear more about how to address the housing crisis, as well as what the city wants to do about public safety. Live tonight in downtown Denver, Shawn Chitnis, covering Colorado first.