Rolling Meadows Mayor Len Prejna said he's learned two things in life: You can be part of the problem or part of the solution, and if you keep doing things the same way, you'll get the same old results.
He says it's those two lessons that have governed what he's done in life, including the last 10 months since being sworn in as mayor of the city he's made home for the last 33 years.
"We're always looking for ways how can we do it better," Prejna said Thursday afternoon at his first State of the City address during a Chamber of Commerce luncheon. "How can we make Rolling Meadows better?"
Over the last year, that's included a renewed focus on strengthening the city's economic development efforts: launching a survey and conducting focus groups with business owners to see what the city is doing right and wrong; restructuring the city's community development department; hiring a "business advocate" to work on business retention and attraction efforts; and publishing a quarterly Business Messenger newsletter.
Prejna touted the launch of the city's Business and Community Showcase from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday, April 28, at Rolling Meadows High School. The event will feature informational booths of local businesses and networking opportunities for business employees and residents.
Within the next two years, the city will roll out a new computer system that should make it more efficient to process business applications, Prejna said.
During his presentation, the mayor also showed a short "welcome" video that will be posted to the city's website. Featuring local landmarks, businesses and community events, the video is meant to show businesses looking to relocate "what Meadows is all about," Prejna said.
He also highlighted things to come:
• The city council will consider allowing video gambling, which would bring a new revenue stream and encourage local business growth, he said.
• The council also will vote on a plan to replace vehicles stickers with a natural gas tax by 2019.
• Ryan Homes will come back to the council for final approvals for 113 rowhomes on most of the former downtown Dominick's site.
• The city continues negotiations to purchase land at 2320 and 2350 Hicks Road, where it plans to build a new Fire Station 16. It's already closed on the purchase of land at 3201 Algonquin Road for a new Station 15.
The last two items have been especially controversial, and Prejna himself hasn't agreed with the majority of council. But ultimately, he hasn't had the votes.
Prejna said after the speech he wanted the address to reflect the overall direction of the city, even though he may have been on the opposite side of some council decisions.