Chester Mayor John Linder delivered his first state of the city address at Widener University’s Lathem Hall last week.
Linder, who was inaugurated in January, became the city’s first Democratic mayor since Barbara Bohanan-Sheppard served in the mid-1990s.
The Delaware County Chamber of Commerce and Widener University sponsored the event for the audience of several businesses including PPL Park, Peco Energy, Comcast, Crozer/Keystone Health System and Exelon.
In his speech, Linder discussed his economic vision for Chester including transforming Chester into an entrepreneurial community. He also wants to make Chester a downtown destination that is easily accessible to the waterfront developments like PPL Park and Harrah’s Chester Racetrack and Casino.
“We have a lot of history here in the city,” he said. “We’re talking with the historical society to see what we can do to help them. There are some buildings down there and streets we need to mark off and start making Chester’s downtown section a destination place.
“Everybody uses Penn’s Landing except us, and they’re making a lot of money off of that. We have a riverfront down here,” Linder added. “I know it might not be as attractive as Penn’s Landing, but it’s ours. We’ve got the stadium down there, and we’ve got Harrah’s down there. There are lots of people that come to Harrah’s to spend money in our city. All we have to do is connect the dots.”
Linder also talked about revenue resources, an employee recovery plan, re-disbursement and restrictions on overtime and insurance funds.
“We are not seeking to punish businesses or frustrate our workforce, rather enhance the quality of service through code and ordinance reviews,” he said.
Linder talked about Chester’s role in Strong Cities Strong Communities (SC2), a federal initiative the Obama Administration debuted last summer. Chester is one of six cities across the country to receive a team of federal officials designed to help the city channel federal resources and bring economic development. Calvin Hodnet and John Fleming will be assisting Linder with SC2.
Linder stated he will try to enhance SC2 by a new community system called “The Possibilities Community.” The system relies on a collaboration of Business and Industry, Government and Services, Colleges and Technology, Schools and Training, and Homes and Neighborhoods.
“We must build and support our human capital,” he said. “The creation of 2,000 new livable wage jobs to start, a vibrant city center and regional transportation hub, will all aid in Chester becoming a viable 21st-century economy.”