City Manager Mark Freitag speaks at the 2019 State of the City address at City Hall in Janesville.


When recapping 2020, City Manager Mark Freitag kept coming back to one of the city’s core values: adaptability.

Freitag delivered the seventh annual State of the City address through a prerecorded video posted to JATV’s YouTube page Thursday night.

The city manager echoed his familiar sentiment, that the state of the city is strong, but also “truly resilient” after a year that introduced the coronavirus pandemic, hosted a historic election, and forced the nation to pay attention to myriad social and racial issues.

He applauded city leaders for adapting to new work environments and helping the community adapt to changes in services and programming.

Freitag highlighted these accomplishments and milestones from 2020:

  • Some 3,766 building permits were issued, including 107 for single- and two-family homes. It was the first time in more than a decade that the city issued more than 100 new permits for homes in one year.
  • The city added 284,000 square feet in new multifamily housing through the opening of the Diamond Ridge and The Glade apartment complexes and Seneca’s migrant worker housing.
  • More than 260,000 square feet of industrial space was developed.
  • Grants and donations totaling $17.2 million were awarded to the city, including $5.5 million in federal CARES Act funding.
  • The Hedberg Public Library renovation was completed.
  • Public transit tracking software, a ridership app and on-board enunciation technology were implemented.
  • The Janesville Fire Department responded to 10,252 calls for service.
  • More than 100,000 people attended recreation programs, many of which had to be changed dramatically to accommodate the pandemic.

The city must confront several challenges in 2021, including the ongoing pandemic, a recovering economy, an aging city workforce and an erosion of local fiscal control.

Community partnerships and public resident involvement will be keys in overcoming those challenges, Freitag said.

The city will pursue these initiatives in 2021:

  • Marketing of the Centennial Industrial Park, the new name for the former General Motors plant site.
  • Exploration of a transportation utility.
  • Citywide resident satisfaction survey.
  • Reconstruction of West Milwaukee Street.
  • A new program at Hedberg Public Library to reach and engage budding entrepreneurs.
  • A new vision and leadership plan for the Janesville Police Department’s African American Liaison Advisory Committee.

Freitag’s call to action called on residents to communicate with city officials about what they want to see in 2021, lobby legislators for fair municipal funding, attend events, offer feedback and volunteer.

He ended with his familiar mantra: “We are Janesville strong.”