Ormond Beach remains "a charming oasis by the sea," said Mayor Bill Partington at the 2022 State of the City address on Tuesday, Oct. 11.
"We are vibrant and innovative while maintaining that long-time nostalgic charm of small-town life with great amenities," said Partington to a crowd of about 200 at the Oceanside Country Club. "We are known for being close-knit and caring and always willing to welcome other voices and opinions to the table. Ormond Beach continues to be the kind of place people feel proud to come home to."
Themed, "Ormond Beach Shines," the State of the City event was presented by both the city and the Ormond Beach Chamber of Commerce. In attendance were elected officials, chamber members, community leaders and representatives from local businesses. The mayor's address, like past years, was accompanied by a video on the city's accomplishments and highlights for 2022.
Just week after Hurricane Ian, the mayor highlighted the work done by its staff to return the city back to its normal operations. He said the storm was a reminder that "any problem feels lighter with the help of your friends and neighbors by your side."
"We have weathered so many storms together and after each one, when the sun comes out, we are all stronger for having joined together once again to keep our community going," Partington said.
Path to employment
In the video address, Partington called Ormond Beach "the sparkling city by the sea," and the crown jewel of Volusia County. He spoke about the bright future ahead thanks to community partnerships, job creation and economic development efforts, such as the business expansions within the city's Airport Business Park, which houses 48 businesses that employ over 1,000 people.
The city's unemployment rate fell to 2.6% as of July 2022, down from 3.3% in January, though it was at 2% in April. In July 2021, the city's unemployment rate was at 5%, down from a high of 15% in April 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
More than 710 jobs were added to the local economy since January.
"This economic indicator demonstrates that this year was a time to shine as many companies continued their success and the path to gainful employment in our city was strong," Partington said.
Additionally, the city issued 131 business licenses in 2022 through the month of July.
Infrastructure projects in the works
Some projects currently in Ormond Beach's future include the I-95 and U.S. 1 interchange project, for which the Florida Department of Transportation is currently conducting a planning, design and engineering study. The interchange was constructed in the early 1960s and no longer meets current standards.
"The need for this is evident based on the increased transportation demand of the interchange and the positive economic development growth we are seeing along this corridor," said City Commissioner Rob Littleton in the video address.
The city is also continuing to pursue projects to reduce the discharge of treated effluent into the Halifax River. Ormond Beach recently received $2 million from the state for two water quality projects — a septic to sewer conversion for Magnolia Drive, Oak Drive and Bonita Avenue; and an ultraviolet disinfection conversion system for its water reclamation facility.
"Our continued dedication to improving water quality for our residents and visitors is crucial to Ormond Beach's future," said City Commissioner Dwight Selby in the video address. "The city is always seeking ways to maintain our environmental stewardship and keep our waterways clean for future generations."
Sense of place
In the video address, City Commissioner Troy Kent said the city has made strategic investments into its community centers and parks, and cited the construction of the new gymnasium at the South Ormond Neighborhood Center and the city's partnership with the Garden Club of the Halifax Country for the creation of the all-native Vadner Park as examples.
"Our community offers a little bit of something for everyone," he said. "Whether you're interested in the arts or looking to spend a little time growing a seedling, Ormond Beach continues to be the perfect place to plant your roots."
Looking at the downtown district, City Commissioner Susan Persis said in the address that the city's renaissance of its historic district continues with new events and the addition of restaurants and shops, as well as the renovation and expansion of the Ormond Memorial Art Museum.
"More and more, the downtown is becoming the place to entertain and be entertained," she said.
Partington said this year's address was bittersweet for him and Persis, as three of their fellow commissioners will no longer sit on the dais with them after the general election in November. Selby decided not to run for reelection; Kent and Littleton both opted to run for County Council District 4, with Kent heading to a runoff election on Nov. 8 against Ormond Beach business owner Ken Smith.
"I'm honored to have served beside you and wish you all the very best of luck in your future endeavors, knowing that Ormond Beach is a better place because you served here," Partington said.
Partington presented the commissioners — Selby, Littleton and Kent — with keys to the city at the luncheon event.
"I am so honored to be mayor of this great city," he said. "Ormond Beach is passionate, it's strong and in 2022, it shines."