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United States Conference of Mayors kicks off

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By Jehadu Abshiro

City of Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings, joined by United States Conference of Mayors’ leadership and Dallas city officials, welcomed mayors for the 82nd annual USCM on the Trinity River Corridor’s Continental Bridge Friday morning with breakfast and exercise.

“I talked to God last night and asked him to give us a good sunrise, so he answered our prayers,” Rawlings said. “A lot of people have been working a long time over the decades to make our city what it is today.”

The press conference, breakfast and group exercise event is the first activity for the four-day conference, which has not been in Dallas since 1966. The USCM is the official non-partisan organization of cities with populations of 30,000 or larger which includes nearly 1,400 members.

“Dallas is known for continuously pushing the limits of innovation and transformation, and we are excited to showcase the magic of our city, including our world-class arts district and entertainment venues,” Rawlings said in a press release.

Dallas corporations and businesses privately funded events that will be held AT&T Stadium, the Perot Museum of Nature and Science, Klyde Warren Park and the Dallas Arboretum and Botanical Gardens.

“We are pleased that the nation’s mayors are convening in Dallas this year” said USCM CEO and Executive Director Tom Cochran said in a press release. “This city is significant in the national political landscape, and all the new and exciting things happening here serve as an example of the economic resurgence occurring in many cities across the country.”

“I think they are going to be pleasantly surprised,” Rawlings said in an interview. “Most of them haven’t been to Dallas in years. They’re coming and they’re seeing and they’re saying ‘Wow, what a great city.’”According to the Dallas Convention and Visitors Bureau, the USCM is expected to have an economic impact of $2.4 million, with a direct impact of $1.3 million.

Registrants will spend four days at the Omni Dallas Hotel discussing topics, including the economic health of the nation cities, transportation, education, housing, help for veterans and minimum wage.  Mayors plan to release new economic data showing economic output and jobs numbers from each of the nations 363 metropolitan areas.

“I want them to have a sense of optimism,” Rawlings said. “That’s what the country needs. We believe that tomorrow is the best day. I think ultimately that’s what we need.”

Rawlings believes the event will give Dallas national publicity as well as boosting the city’s self image.

“We look forward to sharing with other city leaders our modern approach to solving urban issues through successful public- private partnerships,” Rawlings said in a press release.

During the morning event, a $25,000 check was presented to the Mayor and the Mayor’s Youth Fitness Initiative, MyFi. The initiative is a public and private partnership led by Rawlings to make long-term improvements in the way Dallas children eat, play and live.

MyFi participants from Jaycee Zaragoza Recreation Center joined visiting mayors, Rawlings, City Manager A.C. Gonzalez and City Council member Adam Medrano for dancing and exercise after the check presentation.

“It felt great,” MyFi employee Selene Reyes said. “It felt like we were important to the city.”

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