Weekly Update


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I hope you’ve had a productive first full week back from the holidays. Knowing that it’s probably been busy for many of you -- it certainly has been for me -- I wanted to highlight a few things that went on this week to make sure you didn’t miss them.

My Wednesday speech to the Kiwanis Club: Ryan Poe at The Commercial Appeal did a nice job of summarizing it; I encourage you to read his story.

I particularly want to highlight a core tenet, and that’s how our strategy to recommit to core city services is paying off. ServiceMaster’s retention and relocation Downtown came in part because its leadership bought in. St. Jude’s expansion is being enabled by an infrastructure investment from us. And the potential of a new hotel on Front Street came about after I reaffirmed that city government itself would not build it. That’s when the private sector stepped up.

In the speech, as I often do, I reminded the audience of our actions against crime. I summed up the highlights of our anti-crime plan as such:

    1. Restoring our police staffing levels and using data to deploy officers
    2. Seeking tougher sentences for violent crimes
    3. Offering more robust programming for young people
    4. Recruiting more and better jobs, and connecting Memphians with the skills to get those jobs
    5. Lowering recidivism through expungements, workforce training, and re-entry programs

You can read the full plan, with items implemented in our first year, here.

Speaking of ServiceMaster: Meagan Nichols of the Memphis Business Journal reports that the first wave of employees will move into the renovated Peabody Place building this spring. The bulk will come at year’s end.

Saving Clayborn Temple: The City of Memphis applied for and was awarded this week a grant of $400,000 from the National Park Service to assist in the revitalization of a revered place in our city -- Clayborn Temple.

It’s important that we preserve this space so that future generations can learn of its importance not only to Memphis, but to the entire Civil Rights Movement. We’re grateful that the National Park Service approved the city’s grant request, and we appreciate Congressman Steve Cohen’s partnership in seeking the grant. I thank Paul Young and Felicia Harris of our Division of Housing and Community Development for their hard work in making this happen.

Learn more about Memphis 3.0: Toby Sells of the Memphis Flyer has a good Q&A with John Zeanah and Ashley Cash, the leaders of our Memphis 3.0 comprehensive plan. If you’re wondering what’s next with Memphis 3.0, it’s an essential piece to read.

Making our neighborhoods safer: We spend a lot of time in this space telling you what we’re doing to fight crime from the big-picture level. But I wanted to share a bit about how we’re helping neighborhoods, too.

This week, we announced $55,037 in Neighborhood Crime Prevention Grant awards to 23 community organizations all across Memphis. This is the largest sum we've awarded in one grant cycle. Funds for the grants come from revenues generated by the our red light camera system.

Since 2014, $239,694 has been awarded to 100 community groups as part of this program. Learn more about how your neighborhood can be considered for a grant by calling 636-6628.

Call to Action: Last week, I shared with your our Call to Action. But you should know that this won’t be something we’ll mention for a week and then forget. Each week in this space, I will highlight a program that is doing good work in Memphis -- and can use your help.

We’ll start with one of the three pillars of our Call to Action -- Shelby County Schools’ Team Read. By reading with a second-grader one hour per week, you can make them better prepared for third grade, where reading skill -- or lack thereof -- starts to dictate outcomes later in life. Here's a stat you should know: Children who can read at the third grade level in third grade, including those who are growing up in poverty, have a 90 percent graduation rate from high school.

Are you ready to answer our call to action by reading with a kid? If so, visit memphistn.gov/calltoaction to learn how to sign up.

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