SAVANNAH, GA (WTOC) - Savannah's new mayor spoke to a very interested crowd on Wednesday about future plans for the city when he addressed the Savannah Downtown Business Association.
From a new internship program aimed at employing 500 of Savannah's youth, to the search for a new city manager, Mayor Eddie DeLoach covered a number of topics at the luncheon that ended with a question and answer period.
Mayor DeLoach led off by talking about the new city council, and over the course of his speech outlined how each city council member will take on certain facets of city government in addition to their overall duties. While a full list is set to be released Thursday of the council assignments, DeLoach says Alderwoman At-Large Carol Bell will be handling a new internship program that will cater to hundreds of Savannah's young people, giving them real-world work experience.
Alderman Bill Durrence's niche will be city ordinances, while Alderman Julian Miller will focus on police issues.
WTOC caught up with one of the hosts of the luncheon and asked what the Savannah Downtown Business Association was looking for in the new city leadership.
"One, of course, is a business-friendly administration. Addressing things like permitting, and customer service. And we're excited about this mayor because he said this is something he's concerned about as well. One other thing that we have talked about is the introduction of fiber optics, broadband, that we so desperately need in this town," said Savannah Downtown Business Association Vice President Roger Moss.
At one point during the Q&A session that followed his speech, one of the audience members asked Mayor DeLoach what Downtown Business Association members could do to help his administration. DeLoach said one thing that citizens of Savannah and Chatham County as a whole can do is find one positive thing about the community, and focus on that each day.
"The hinges are not falling off the front door. We have a great opportunity to turn the crime situation around, we will turn the crime situation around," said Mayor DeLoach.
Following the speech, Mayor DeLoach went further saying crime and its effects on Savannah is the most important issue we have to deal with.
"Not only does it affect the lives of the people who live here, also the people who possibly die here because of the shootings that are taking place, but also the tourists that come here. Everybody, every business is impacted anytime you read in the paper about shots fired into houses, people being shot, people being wounded. It affects, I don't care who you are, where you live. Whether you're in the county here, or you're in another county nearby, it's going to affect your livelihood," said Mayor DeLoach.
DeLoach did address the fiber optics question in the Q&A session, he says the city will seek advice and information from the mayor of Chattanooga, an area that has some of the fastest internet speeds in the nation.
In regards to the police merger, Mayor DeLoach also said he was in favor of continuing to work on the agreement with the county to keep the police department merged. He didn't have a timeline on when he hopes to have a resolution to the negotiation.