Wilmington mayor talks business and state of the city

Wilmington Mayor Dennis Williams is now past the halfway mark during his first year in office. The Mayor who ran on the idea of change says there are still more changes to come.  He also laughs about the way he handled his May blow-up with Wilmington City Council over the city budget.


Mayor Williams was in the WHYY studio’s for a wide ranging interview to air this week on First.

He talked about the real estate market.  We asked him about the multiple office spaces for rent around town including a “for rent sign in the window of the I-N-G building near the train station and whether there was any sign of renting more office space was in the works.  He also highlighted a few accomplishments he calls major business deals.

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“If you look at the business community Chase has just purchased two buildings, $87-million dollars and bringing more employees in, also Capital One has an additional 500 employees and they’re looking at trying to expand more in Wilmington.” said Mayor Williams.

According to Mayor Williams, a deal could even be in the making with CitiBank although nothing is set in stone. However, while attracting those huge corporations are important to boost the local economy; Mayor Williams says it’s important not to forget about businesses already established in the city. Therefore he says he’s just as focused on business retention and has even hosted a series of round-tables to address concerns of businesses owners.

Additionally, the mayor is looking forward to boosting business thanks to the 2014 opening of the Westin hotel adjacent to the Chase convention center on the riverfront.  Mayor Williams says his administration has already been in contact with organizations such as the NACCP, the National Conference of State Legislatures as well as a top selling gospel group which could all bring thousands of consumers to the city.

“These are the things that we are working on, now the convention bureau itself, I’m sure is working on some things but this is what the mayor’s office is working on,” said Williams.  He even predicted that if some of the bigger deals the city hopes to make come true that there could be a second hotel built along the riverfront in the next two years.

In May, the mayor’s relationship with city council didn’t appear to be going well when budget talks became heated. Mayor Williams vetoed City Council’s budget when members tried to pass a budget of their own, that eventually went into effect since Council voted the veto down. During disagreements, the mayor even sought help from the courts to have council members escorted by police to budget mediation which Williams acknowledges wasn’t really going to happen.

“I think I was letting off steam really,” said Mayor Williams with laughter.

In the end, the mayor says he will continue to implement change and have a transparent administration that will not include any fighting with City Council.

“I think we established the point, there’s only one C.E.O of the city and that’s me. I’m going to work with council. I don’t plan to get into no more tug-a-wars with them or pit matches. We’ve got to run a government and run a city here and people didn’t elect me to fight with city council,” said Mayor Williams.

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