Mayor Strickland's Weekly Update


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In what has almost been six months now as your mayor, my team has relentlessly worked on our goal of being brilliant at the basics of city government. We built an administration aligned with that goal, we set in motion initiatives to get there, and -- thanks to a collaborative spirit with the City Council -- we now have a budget geared toward those core service priorities.

The foundation is set. But as we continue to build on that goal, it’s time to take another step.

So today, I wanted to peel back the layers on a few things we’ve been working on that speak to that logical next step: building our future.

I have authorized a process to envision the best and most responsible outcome in a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to remake a large part of our Downtown, all without using a single cent of your property tax dollars. Centered in the Pinch District and in lock-step with the exciting planned expansion of St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, our thought process will take in our riverfront, Mud Island, and the Convention Center.

You may have thought of all of those components independently. We haven’t. We view them as part of a major opportunity for a conceptual approach that could dramatically reshape a major gateway to our city.

And by utilizing the Downtown Tourism Development Zone (TDZ) status authorized by the state, we could pay for it all by diverting sales tax dollars that would have otherwise gone to the state -- thus not taking a penny from our core service priorities such as public safety. I have charged my administration with assembling a team to examine the financial capacity of the TDZ to determine what's possible.

But that’s not all. In the coming weeks and months, you’ll also hear more about another major initiative that will shape how our entire city builds its future. It’s a two-year process that will lead to a comprehensive plan for the future of Memphis -- our first since 1981. (Yes, 1981.)

The comprehensive planning process will draw in deep input from all corners of our city to envision plans for every community. By weaving together many of the existing initiatives underway in our city with a bold, common vision for growth and prosperity, neighborhood improvement, connectivity, quality of life and opportunity, this comprehensive plan has the potential to transform our entire city for generations to come. And once we get started, your involvement is absolutely essential.

Make no mistake: It’s not as though we’re about to stop our focus on core city services. Far from it, actually. Our focus will form the essential building blocks for our planning for the future. We’ll continue to prioritize public safety and crime reduction. Our fight against blight continues. We’re continually working to improve trash pickup and street paving, and we’re investing in our young people and our neighborhoods. None of that changes.

Memphis has momentum. Ask St. Jude, which is investing all of that money and energy. Ask ServiceMaster, which is already at work transforming Peabody Place into its new headquarters. It’s an exciting time in our history -- and as we commit both to being brilliant at the basics of government and building our future, the momentum of Memphis can only grow more and more.

Job growth: I was excited to see data released by the state Thursday that said our unemployment rate inside the city limits fell to 4.8 percent in May. That’s huge, because just one year ago our unemployment rate was 7.4 percent.

And there’s more: Our Office of Performance Management tracks the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics’ seasonally adjusted numbers, and April’s number of 4.9 percent is actually our lowest in the city since April 2007.

Those numbers are continued evidence that our economy is building real momentum.

About the cameras: Last week’s email contained a link to a one-page guide concerning how neighborhoods can go about funding their own security cameras. The link, however, didn’t work for all users, so I wanted to link it again HERE today for those who missed it.

Also, be aware that with Councilman Philip Spinosa’s leadership and collaboration, we funded another $400,000 worth of cameras in the upcoming budget that will be placed throughout the city where the Memphis Police Department deems necessary.


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