Charleston Mayor Joe Riley focused on job creation in last week’s State of the City address. The city has seen years of declining revenues due to the recession. Sensing a bottoming out, the mayor’s vision for 2011 was focused on a positive future.

The mayor highlighted several local city initiatives and the jobs they’re expected to create, including deepening the Charleston Harbor, surface improvements to address flooding on the Crosstown, City Market renovations, the booming cruise ship industry, and the redevelopment of the Union Pier on the Cooper River and the Horizon District near the Ashley River.

Riley also commented on the contentious debate over extending Interstate 526 to James Island. The mayor again called for the state to use the city’s proposal for a parkway to improve access to the islands while reducing commuter traffic. “The completion of I-526, I believe, is very important for the future livability and transportation safety of our community,” he said.

The mayor also highlighted park and pedestrian improvements, particularly in West Ashley and on Daniel Island, as well as increased police and fire protection, city support for area schools, and green projects like the Arthur Christopher Gym on the West Side and newly built affordable housing on the peninsula.

The city will be moving forward with design plans for the $142 million redevelopment of the Gaillard Center. It’s expected to include an improved performance space, expanded exhibition hall, and new city offices. The mayor called it “a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity where Charleston can create a world-class civic place, add revenues to the city, [and] save taxpayers money.”

He called Charleston “a city hard at work with a proud past and a very bright future.”

Below, you can find our live blog coverage of the State of the City address:

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