Columbia Mayor Steve Benjamin made it official Thursday, filing for a third term as leader of the capital city.
“I am thankful for the last seven years of serving Columbia,” Benjamin said. “In that time, we have been able to build a strong, smart, safe and prosperous city.”
Flanked by his wife and two daughters in front of the City Hall building on Main Street, Benjamin recounted a few of the positives from his tenure as mayor.
“We have seen budget surplus in five of the last seven years, we have been able to invest, and re-invest, in our water and sewer infrastructure, and unemployment has been reduced by 60%,” Benjamin said.
Benjamin urged the people of Columbia to think big about what kinds of changes they wanted to see in the city. He said the greatest challenges he’s faced have been man-made challenges, but by working together with those in the community, citizens in Columbia have seen changes they never thought would happen.
“We have been able to bring back Main Street, and people seem to be excited about Spirit Communications Park,” Benjamin said.
Spirit Communications Park is the centerpiece to BullStreet, a 20-year development that is expected to bring in $1.2 billion annually in economic impact. Late last week, Hughes Development Corp. announced a shift in its retail strategy at BullStreet.
Rather than wait for a critical mass of retailers to be secured before beginning construction, the new plan will allow for a buildout in smaller sections, allowing tenants the opportunity to begin as soon as they're ready to move forward.
“We will continue to watch the retail and commercial strategy roll out but have full confidence in the ability of Hughes Development Group to make that happen,” Benjamin said.