On Tuesday, May 23, Dearborn Mayor Abdullah H. Hammoud delivered his State of the City speech at the Ford Community & Performing Arts Center, his first since taking office in January of 2022.
The speech, entitled “Always Bet on Dearborn,” argued that people from around the world have chosen Dearborn to lay down roots, start businesses, and pursue lifelong opportunities because “it’s the safest bet anyone can make,” a refrain echoed several times throughout the speech: “Whether you’re a third generation auto worker who grew up in the Southend and migrated west; whether you can trace your roots to Italy or Yemen, Poland or Iraq, people of all walks of life have bet on Dearborn.”
The livestreamed 40-minute speech was delivered before an audience of over 500 at the Michael A. Guido theater in Dearborn. Hammoud presented an optimistic picture of Michigan’s 7th largest city, unveiling a new vision statement and five strategic priorities to guide the administration’s work.
The new vision states: “Dearborn is where new beginnings meet lifelong opportunities, where City government draws on the passion and creativity of residents to foster healthy neighborhoods, thriving businesses, and excellent public service.”
Hammoud outlined a number of accomplishments from the new administration, including a partnership with Google Cloud to make the City a 24-7, multilingual service provider; a program that provides free books to Dearborn children; and local interventions to address the opioid crisis and hold accountable polluters in the City’s most vulnerable neighborhoods.
Notably, Hammoud unveiled for the first time renderings for three new parks that will be constructed in the City, part of a $30 million investment known as the PEACE Parks Project (PEACE stands for Parks Equity and Access for Citizen Engagement.)
Hammoud said the new parks embody the vision of a green and healthy Dearborn: “There is no problem we face that can’t be helped with more green spaces throughout our City. From flooding to sustainability to public health to economic development, parks are the connective tissue of our public square. They green and beautify our neighborhoods, they improve our mental and physical health… And we have a responsibility to heal the scars of heavy industry so that Dearborn can remain a healthy, beautiful City for generations to come.”
Throughout the speech, Hammoud stressed the importance of investing in people, declaring Dearborn as “the talent hub of the State of Michigan.” Noting Dearborn’s proportion of youth—nearly 40% of the City is under the age of 24— Hammoud said companies within driving distance will want “Dearborn hustle” powering their organizations. He added, “If you asked me to place a bet on where a young person could start with little to nothing, and in one generation build a successful business that breaks the cycle of poverty, I’m betting on Dearborn every single time.”
Hammoud announced that he had submitted a balanced budget for the first time in two decades, which Hammoud said was achieved without cutting services or deferring needed investments: “When I entered office, the City’s future was at risk. We faced a structural deficit of over $20 million dollars at the same time that many of our public spaces and facilities had not been maintained in decades. In that situation, conventional wisdom says that you should cut services and defer investments. But we didn’t come in to recycle conventional wisdom. We came here to change it.”
Other major highlights include a $1 million investment to remove log jams in the Rouge River, a joint initiative with Google Cloud and ACCESS to provide 500 free Google certifications to Dearborn residents, and decreased auto accidents and racial disparities in traffic stops.
A full copy of the speech is available HERE.