Weekly Update: The State of our City


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The state of our city is strong -- and only getting stronger.

That’s what I told the Frayser Exchange Club when I delivered my State of the City speech at its regular weekly meeting Thursday. It was a great event; thanks to the good folks at the Frayser Exchange and Impact Baptist Church for hosting us. We had a standing room only crowd, and I could hear its appreciation for some of our early accomplishments every time I mentioned one. (In fact, one lady said “thank you" after we mentioned our 911 answer time improvements.)

I described a Memphis with more momentum than at any time in recent history -- and a Memphis with acute challenges that we’re working to address every single day at City Hall. I spent plenty of time on public safety, as it is our No. 1 job in city government. Here are a few updates:

  • I committed to doubling city support for the street-level gang intervention program 901 BLOC Squad, which has delivered results in initial launch areas. 
  • I also welcomed the arrival of some 31 graduates of the police academy this week and outlined the creation of a new Violent Crimes Bureau at the Memphis Police Department.
  • I told the club that the next police recruit class, which begins in March and benefited from the large applicant pool from last year, should have at least 100 officers. 
  • Another recruit class is planned for later this year.

But our actions go well beyond police staffing. (Here’s a tip: If anyone tells you that my crime plan is only about policing, then you'll know that person hasn't been listening.) I told the audience that public libraries will be open longer hours this summer, community centers will hold spring break camps for the first time, and the national My Brother’s Keeper Alliance will hold a job fair here.

A few other notes we were proud to share:

  • The city’s new down payment assistance program through the Division of Housing & Community Development has assisted 65 families in buying homes in targeted areas. 
  • The Work Local program, a partnership with the Hospitality HUB to offer work to homeless individuals, has assisted some 70 people since launching in November -- including three who received permanent job placements. 
  • Answer times for 911 calls have improved to an average of under 14 seconds, down from about one minute a year ago. 
  • City contracting with minority and women-owned businesses has improved by 30 percent in a year.

Want to read the speech in its entirety? Click here.

Want to watch the video from the event? Click here.

See you at the Memphis Open: For more than 40 years now, the Memphis Open has brought the world’s best tennis players to the Racquet Club. It’s an asset for our city; we’re one of just 11 cities in the United States with an ATP Tour event.

This year’s event begins with qualifying tomorrow and the first round Monday. I hope you’ll check it out, and I want to thank Jerry Solomon, Erin Mazurek and the Memphis Open crew for donating free tickets for our police, fire and all city employees.

Call to Action: Before I ask you to do something, let me tell you what we’re doing in our community centers. Lexia Reading Core5, a computer-based program for children ages 5-8, launched this week and will last for two and a half months. It’s intended to support and build on what children are being taught in schools, and it’s focused on developing reading skills.

This pilot program is starting out in seven community centers, one for each council district: Ed Rice, Hickory Hill, Lester, Orange Mound, Pine Hill, Raleigh, and Whitehaven. If you’re a parent and are interested in signing your child up, click here for the application.

Thank you, Councilwoman Patrice Robinson, for championing this program.

This program is a perfect dovetail to one of the three things we’re asking you to do in our 2017 Call to Action: read to a kid. Shelby County Schools’ Team Read program focuses on second-graders so that they’re equipped by the third grade, which is often a make-or-break year. Studies show that children who can read at a third grade level in third grade have a 90 percent chance of finishing high school.

Don’t you want to help make that kind of impact on our city? Visit memphistn.gov/calltoaction.

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