70 leaders expected for Xenia’s State of the City address

Merriman said he plans to ask local leaders to serve as ambassadors for the community with businesses, residents and the media.

“Xenia’s moving forward,” he said. “There’s a really positive wind of change in this community. It’s time to do something more formal and invite the leadership of our community together to talk about what’s happened in the past year, where we’re going together and to really collaborate and focus on moving the city forward.”

The State of the City address will come as projects move ahead. Demolition on the former Kmart retail space in Xenia Towne Square has started to make way for a $5 million development project that will include restaurants and retail establishments. Earlier this year, construction started on a new $6 million Hampton Inn & Suites on Progress Drive near Walmart and Lowe’s.

“It’s a good time to be in Xenia,” Merriman said. “There’s a total revival. There’s a renaissance occurring in this community. New facilities. New infrastructure investments. New job opportunities. We’re seeing major major reinvestment in our community.”

Like other local jurisdictions around the state, Xenia has struggled with state cuts to the local government fund, but the city is planning to bring back jobs that were left vacant this year. City staff is planning to recommend to council that they move forward with filling public safety positions by the end of the first quarter next year.

The city is projecting a 24 percent budget increase to $62.4 million next year compared to $50.5 million in 2016. The 2017 budget includes several grants, including one for housing and several for infrastructure projects that inflated the budget total this year, according to Merriman.

Xenia Area Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Alan Liming pointed to commercial projects around the city and said the business community is looking forward to continued growth in Xenia.

“When you take everything as a whole, things are moving in the right direction for Xenia,” Liming said.