EVANSVILLE, Ind. (WFIE) - The Southwest Indiana Chamber hosted the 2021 Lunch with Mayor Lloyd Winnecke on Wednesday.
Lunch with the Mayor is a forum for members of the business community to learn about the progress made during the previous year and receive updates on major projects that impact commerce in the Evansville area.
Mayor Winnecke began his address with what has dominated headlines for months - COVID-19.
“We’ve had dozens and dozens of employees test positive for the virus,” the Mayor said.
Lost revenue in 2020 resulted in tough decisions for city government officials to make and forced them to delay purchases, reprioritize spending and cut workforce. This impacted 16 city employees, including one from the Evansville Mayor’s Office.
Closings and restrictions affected several city departments. Attendance at Mesker Park Zoo fell from 180,000 in 2019 to just 80,000 people in 2020. Ridership with the Metropolitan Evansville Transit System (METS) decreased by 53%.
“But we have not been singularly focused on COVID-19. We have also maintained a purposeful effort in maintaining our city’s growth and momentum,” Mayor Winnecke said.
City Engineer Brent Schmidt talked about how lots of progress has been made on the Walnut Street Connector Project.
“Tremendous improvements made not only to pedestrian safety, but to vehicular safety and the utilities in the area,” Schmitt said.
Ascension St. Vincent Evansville President Dan Parod discussed their efforts with the COVID-19 vaccine. They are currently vaccinating 400 to 500 people per day.
With the state’s expansion of eligibility now for those 70 and older, Parod says they are ready.
“We believe we’ve got a lot of capacity to provide the vaccine,” Parod said. “The limiting factor really had been the supply of vaccine, so as we have the vaccine, we are going to be sharing it with the community and we’re excited to do that.”