Mayor Tom Barrett presents 2014 State of the City Address

MILWAUKEE (WITI) -- Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett issued his State of the City Address on Monday morning, February 24th at Journey House. The address highlighted projects underway -- and laid out challenges for the city's residents.

The morning began with a brief performance by Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra (MSO) concertmaster Frank Almond. Mayor Barrett used the moment to thank the Milwaukee Police Department for solving the theft of the multi-million dollar instrument -- and salute the MSO for its successful fundraising effort.

The mayor talked about his Strong Neighborhoods Plan. Barrett says the plan addresses the impact foreclosures have on Milwaukee neighborhoods -- and recognizes that even in the hardest hit neighborhoods, there is strength in people and organizations.

Barrett raised the issue of Boston Store anchoring the Shops of Grand Avenue. He's proposed a Tax Incremental Financing plan which would lock in the Boston Store lease through early 2018. He urged the full Common Council to approve the proposal.

Mayor Barrett says Milwaukee is "breaking new ground in entrepreneurship and setting the stage for growth." In particular, he mentioned an entrepreneur ecosystem called Scale Up Milwaukee. Barrett says Milwaukee is the first U.S. city to launch of project of this kind -- and partner American Express is again committing to expand the work of Scale Up.

Barrett also touched upon the issue of jobs. He says through the Earn & Learn summer jobs program, he hopes to offer 3,000 teens jobs this summer. He also encouraged residents and businesses to make a donation to the program.

Two years ago, the mayor set a goal to reduce the number of infants who die before their first birthday by ten percent. Barrett says the city has already seen a 14.3 percent drop in that number -- but there is plenty of work to be done.

On the issue of education, Mayor Barrett indicated he was going to be engaged in the selection of the next Milwaukee Public Schools Superintendent. He said, "It’s critically important that the Mayor and the School Superintendent have a strong working relationship and a level of trust to move issues forward."

In the end, Barrett said he needed Milwaukeeans to get involved in their neighborhoods, in the arts or in a business. He said, "Milwaukee needs you and we all need each other."

CLICK HERE to read the entire State of the City Address