1) What do you feel are the best strategies for addressing the homelessness/unsheltered population issue in Charleston?
In our first year we created the Mayor’s CARE Office to coordinate, enhance, and expand efforts to address the impact of substance use disorder (SUD) on individuals, families and our community. In the early months of its development, using data and input from first responders and the City Administration, the CARE Office expanded to include addressing the issues of homelessness and mental health to better serve our Charleston community. The CARE Office now houses our new Quick Response Team (QRT) Coordinator, the first ever Homeless Outreach Coordinator and first ever Mental Health Coordinator
2) The pandemic has had far-reaching effects including an explosion of remote work causing a severe reduction of occupied office space. How will you work with City Council and economic/community development partners to ensure that downtown does not end up with streets of empty buildings?
The issue of empty storefronts in cities across the Country did not come about solely because of the pandemic. However, this administration has taken proactive steps, even before the pandemic, to help revitalize downtown business. In 2019, I made the redevelopment of Slack Plaza one of my top priorities. My goal was then, and continues to be, to create a true “City Center.” To have a vibrant City you must also have welcoming greenspaces and public parks–the same holds true for a downtown business district. Since breaking ground on the new City Center at Slack Plaza, over $10M in local investment
3) What is your position on economic development incentives and how can the City work with economic development partners to incentivize business relocation and expansion?
I am proud of our administration’s record on not only creating new and innovative programs, but our historic record in securing tens of millions in federal funding to enhance economic development. Our goals and our achievements align seamlessly with those of the Charleston Chamber of Commerce and the Charleston Area Alliance. We were recently awarded the third largest U.S. EDA “Build Back Better” grant in our partnership with the Appalachian Climate Technology (ACT) Now Coalition, receiving grant awards totaling $62.8M, leveraged with another $26M in match, for economic development projects