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City notes: State of the city looks good

Businesses give their shareholders an annual report. Students get a grade report at the end of the term. And for cities, it’s customary for the mayor to provide a “state of the city” message. It’s my privilege to perform that duty in Rosemount — and it’s especially enjoyable when we have so much progress to talk about.

I delivered this year’s message at a meeting of Rosemount members of the Dakota County Regional Chamber of Commerce. That’s a good audience because so much of our community’s prospects depend on the health of the local economy. And that is heavily influenced by the decisions and exertions of our business owners and their employees.

The early indications are that we are enjoying a return to the growth that has characterized Rosemount through the last few decades. Employment levels have increased, although more jobs are needed to overcome the effects of the great recession. Home prices have recovered from their low point.

Rose-mount is well positioned to take advantage of a healthier economy. Our population continues to grow. We have one of the highest rates of education and home values in our area. We remain a community with a large proportion of young people, but our senior population is growing, too. And we are becoming more diverse.

These trends promise to make our community richer. But it takes some planning. We are close to city approval of two new senior housing developments downtown, one including an activity center. And we work closely with OneRosemount, the community leaders group, to anticipate the needs of newcomers from various ethnic and financial backgrounds.

In city government, we’re working to meet the community’s needs. We are taking several initiatives to improve Rosemount’s sustainability — from protecting our environment to assuring the financial future for city operations. We focus on public safety as the work of our police and fire department becomes more complex. And we invest in infrastructure, with new streets to support Rosemount’s growth and new recreational features to support our residents’ health.

But for all we do in city government, the key to a successful community is the spirit of our citizens. Our many community volunteer groups were active through the year. And some, like the Rosemount Area Arts Council, plan new community-wide events for 2014.

Thousands of our residents last year came together to support the efforts of OneRosemount Feeding Families to fight hunger both overseas and locally. The work was completed late in the year with incredibly generous contributions by two individuals.

And many of us began the new year by watching with pride the accomplishments of our young people who performed in the Rosemount High School Marching Band at the Tournament of Roses Parade. Their march through Pasadena was the payoff to months of practice and fundraising. They brought our community recognition on a world stage.

We try to teach our young people to do well. In this case, it was our young people who gave all of us a lesson in excellence. They brought to life the parade’s theme in its 125th year: “Dreams Come True.” May that message continue for Rosemount this year.

This column was written by Rosemount Mayor Bill Droste.