Photo by Jon Anderson
Frank Brocato chamber 12-15-16
Hoover Mayor Frank Brocato delivers his first state-of-the-city address to the Hoover Area Chamber of Commerce at the Hyatt Regency Birmingham — The Wynfrey Hotel on Thursday, Dec. 15, 2016.
The city of Hoover is in strong shape but must plan for future growth and diversify its economy to continue its success, Mayor Frank Brocato said in his first state-of-the-city address today.
“We just can’t rest on our laurels,” Brocato told about 200 people at the Hoover Area Chamber of Commerce luncheon at the Hyatt Regency Birmingham — The Wynfrey Hotel.
The mayor, who just took office in November, spent a lot of time thanking city employees, residents and business people who work to make Hoover a great place to live.
“The future of our city is very, very bright,” Brocato said. But “we need to plan for our growth, and we need to have smart growth for our city. We need to diversify our economy.”
The mayor said he plans to work with other leaders and residents to develop a master plan for the city, not to stifle growth but to manage it.
“It gives us an opportunity to revitalize areas and to recruit new businesses or other developments into our area,” he said.
In the past, the philosophy for development in Hoover has tended to be that whoever got somewhere first built there, Brocato said.
“We want to be a little more thoughtful about how we develop our city now as we redevelop it and approach areas that are going to be developed for the first time,” he said.
He hopes to hire a city planner who will help the city create more green spaces and bicycle and pedestrian paths, he said. Communities such as Ross Bridge and The Preserve are successful because people can get out and walk to a park or to a coffee shop nearby, he said.
The new sidewalks in Bluff Park have transformed that community, Brocato said. “We want to do that throughout our city.”
He also wants to hire an economic developer. The city will continue to recruit retail businesses that do a lot for the city, but it needs to lure more professional, white-collar jobs related to science, technology, engineering and math, he said.
“We are a city that is poised for this type of growth,” Brocato said.
Hoover is the sixth largest city in Alabama, in the center of the state, at the intersection of two interstates and just 15 miles away from an international airport, he said. There are opportunities available, he said. “It’s just a matter of us stepping up and taking hold of those.”
Hoover isn’t competing with Vestavia Hills, Homewood and Pelham; it’s competing with Nashville, Atlanta, Huntsville and Montgomery, he said.
Brocato cited a 24/7 Wall Street website that this year ranked Hoover as the 49th most livable city in the United States among cities with at least 65,000 residents. The website considers factors such as crime rates, employment growth, educational attainment, housing affordability, income levels, and access to restaurants and attractions.
The typical household income in Hoover is $77,365, while the median home value is $277,900, the website reported.
There are plenty of venues for culture and leisure in Hoover, and the city has a higher concentration of restaurants, theater companies, recreational centers, movie theaters and libraries than most U.S. cities, the website reported.
Hoover businesses sell $4 billion worth of goods in a year, which generates $80 million to $100 million in tax revenues for the state of Alabama, Brocato said.
“We are a very, very strong community,” he said. “I just think that we are in a position to lead our state.”
Brocato also today introduced his new leadership team, including new City Administrator Allan Rice, Chief Operations Officer Tim Westhoven, new Chief Financial Officer Melinda Lopez and City Treasurer Robert Yeager.
He talked about the importance of public safety and thanked the police and fire departments for the work they do to protect and serve Hoover residents and visitors.
He also stressed the importance of maintaining a great school system. “I firmly believe that’s why people move to our city,” he said. He thanked Superintendent Kathy Murphy for working to get the school district’s budget in order and for her overall leadership.
Brocato introduced several residents who are making a positive impact on the community, including:
- Hoover High football coach Josh Niblett, who not only recently led the Hoover Bucs to a 12th state football title, but also serves as a life coach and role model for thousands of Hoover children, including non-athletes.
- Bluff Park resident Dan Fulton, who regularly attends and records Hoover City Council and Hoover Board of Education meetings and holds city officials accountable for their actions.
- Bluff Park resident Sara Perry, who has served 16 years on the Hoover Beautification Board and volunteered with the Hoover Arts Alliance and Bluff Park United Methodist Church for many years.