NEWPORT NEWS, Va. - When the mayor of the Peninsula's largest city took the stage Tuesday for his State of the City address, he said he's hoping those who work and live in Newport News will buy in on the positive changes he's seeing.
The theme for Mayor McKinley Price's address was "Our Story Continues...Believe With Us."
Mayor Price spoke with News 3 ahead of the speech, saying he plans to highlight local companies that have chosen to stay in Newport News and grow with the city.
"All the amenities that we can offer the businesses are increasing," he said.
An ongoing issue Newport News faces is crime, and it's an issue the mayor says he'll tackle.
He tells News 3 there's been a drop this year in every category except for domestic violence, all while the number of solved crimes is on the rise.
Mayor Price attributes that to ongoing efforts by Police Chief Steve Drew and his officers to be visible in the community.
“There’s just a new vibe in the city, and people understand. They want to take back their neighborhoods. They know the only way they can do that is to report what they see, so we’re seeing a higher rate of that," the mayor said.
But he doesn't believe crime is the biggest challenge Newport News is facing right now. He says it's a lack of service in and out of the Newport News/Williamsburg International Airport.
"I think the biggest challenge for us to go to that next level economically is going to be our airport. We need to be able to get to major cities with direct flights so people can come and leave here [without] having to drive to Richmond, without having to go to Norfolk," he said. "The legacy carriers that are there, we need more flights out of them or we have to get somebody new in here that can get there."
The mayor also commended businesses, both small and large, for doing business in the city. He said it's the businesses' beliefs and faith in the city's direction that are helping to promote progress.
"They’re not just growing in the city; they’re growing with the city, and that’s a whole thing that we want to amplify and trying to portray that our city is growing and we’re doing well," he said.
During the address, Price said the city manager is working with other city managers in the region to provide viable options for public transportation - not only in Newport News, but in all of Hampton Roads.
"Because we don’t have the critical mass that’s needed for rapid mass transit or schedules that are more frequent, we have to come up with unique ideas to make it available for our citizens rely on public transportation, and we are working towards that effort," Price said.
It's all on the table as Mayor Price looks to the next year in Newport News and beyond.