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On Tuesday night, Mayor Steve Benjamin gave the State of the City address, highlighting some of the city’s new plans, ideas for some of the public’s concerns, and a recap of the awards Columbia has won throughout 2017.

Benjamin recalled several awards earned by the city of Columbia this year, including:

  • National Geographic’s Travel magazine named Columbia one of the top 30 Best Small Cities.
  • Thumbtack gave the city a B-plus rating in small-business friendliness.
  • The Richland Library was awarded one of ten National Medals for Museum and Library Service.

Many of the mayor’s proposals focused on transforming the city into a more inclusive place for all people. There are plans to put in more bike lanes and “connecting thirty additional miles for cyclists,” stated Benjamin. Benjamin also discussed plans to end homelessness and create affordable more housing options in the city.

The room filled with applause as Mayor Benjamin briefly spoke on plans to help Columbia public high school students with the “staggering cost” of higher education. “They’ve done it in Kalamazoo, Seattle, Tennessee, and we can do it in Columbia,” Benjamin said about the new plane, which is modeled after the famous Kalamazoo Promise that saved students great amounts of money when attending college.

One of the biggest issues in the current political climate is inclusiveness and unity. Many of the plans are pertaining to becoming a “smart city.”

“Smart cities in 2020 will see the introduction of small cell networks, delivering wireless 5G technology,” Benjamin said. “This is the beginning of a technological revolution and, here in Columbia, we’re going to lead the way.”

At the end of Mayor Benjamin’s speech there was a call of unity and togetherness for the people of Columbia and a call to action for everyone to continue to love and care for each other and the city.

Read the full address here.

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