Christine Lee, Grand Prairie Reporter
Expansion plans for roadways, shopping locations, and health care facilities are on the road map for Grand Prairie leaders.
Major projects are currently under way in Grand Prairie, from a new outlet opening this summer to a major roadway expansion project being completed this winter.
Mayor Charles England will address a crowd of about 350 next week with his state of the city address and will undoubtedly mention these successes in his address.
This year is England's 20th year on the job and this past year may have been among the most significant for Grand Prairie.
Lake Ridge Parkway will be expanded and extended to connect from Joe Pool Lake to the Bush Tollway at Interstate 20 starting this winter.
"I think there is somewhere around 18,000 to 20,000 cars a day now, and they expect it to increase to about 40,000 real soon when 161 (the Bush Tollway) completes," said England.
Downtown is in the middle of a pricey facelift, with millions of dollars going into fixing up storefronts and revitalizing historic Main Street.
England said the goal was to "not make it look like a 2012, but make it look like they were back in the '50s and the '40s when Grand Prairie was so vibrant downtown."
And the Paragon Outlets, Grand Prairie's first real mall, is set to open this August.
"We think it could be as much as a $4 million a year boost for our sales tax," said England.
The city's economic development plan focuses on a combination of sales tax and property tax. Communications director Amy Sprinkles said that has helped Grand Prairie in recent years.
"The property tax that we get from our business and corporate base is a huge portion of our tax base," said Sprinkles.
Crime has dropped about 6.5 percent since last year. Unemployment sits at around 8 percent and the city hopes to see that percentage drop in 2012.
One place that will be hiring is the Parkland Clinic, which is set to open this July. It will bring about 300 new jobs to the area. It will also bring much needed medical help.
Sprinkles said about 20 percent of the population in Grand Prairie don't have any medical insurance and the majority are medically underserved.
Grand Prairie resident Regina Parkins said she is excited about Parkland coming to her city. She currently has to drive to its clinic in Dallas. She also has been looking for work for the past two years.
"I'm looking for employment, period. But there are lots of people out here that are unemployed. They're looking for an opportunity," she said.
The State of the City address will take place on Tuesday at the Ruthe Jackson Center. The event is hosted by the Grand Prairie Chamber of Commerce and costs $65 per ticket. It starts at 5:30 p.m.