Weekly Update


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I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: Memphis is at the start of a renaissance -- and it isn’t just for Downtown and Midtown. Though we still have much work to do, we’re seeing some signs of that in our neighborhoods.

Gov. Bill Haslam and I saw it up close and personal yesterday in Whitehaven, when we toured Elvis Presley’s Memphis -- a 200,000-square foot center that's the newest part of the entire Graceland development. Elvis Presley Enterprises invested $45 million in the new complex, which is right on the heels of the $92 million invested across the street at the beautiful Guest House at Graceland. It’s Graceland’s most significant expansion since it opened in 1982, and all of Memphis should be grateful to Elvis Presley Enterprises for its investment in our city.

The cool part is this: As Wayne Risher noted in his story in Thursday’s Commercial Appeal, this momentum is positively affecting the entire neighborhood. We’re seeing more commercial development up and down Elvis Presley Boulevard. And I think we’ll see more of that once we finish our big street improvement project in a few years. Work is scheduled to begin on the next segment of that by the end of this year.

This program fits our philosophy: We’ll take care of the core services and help provide top-notch infrastructure, which enables the private sector to take care of the rest. We saw it with St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, as our $25 million infrastructure investment -- from Tourism Development Zone dollars, not general fund money -- is being leveraged to enable a $1 billion expansion that should create 1,800 new jobs.

This isn’t all, of course. Our down payment assistance programs have helped some 65 families buy homes in the core city. We broke ground last week on a grocery store and retail center in Binghampton. Crosstown Concourse is already lighting up the Crosstown neighborhood. The recently-acquired SPARCC grant will help North Memphis. And the list goes on and on.

This is what momentum looks like, and it’s especially great to see it throughout our city.

Another step for our officers: I was so thrilled Monday to finally announce something we’ve been working on for months: the $6.1 million grant from the Memphis Shelby Crime Commission that’s enabling us to provide a healthy retention and recruitment bonus plan for our police officers.

I described it in detail on Facebook here.

It’s worth examining in the bigger picture. Since we took office 14 months ago, we’ve listened to officers and have made numerous moves to better compensate them for what they do. The pay increase proposal I made Monday will be the third in 18 months for MPD. We restored the city’s health insurance subsidy for pre-65 employees. And we even created a new rank, Police Officer III, to better compensate and reward veteran officers.

These efforts are paying dividends. Attrition has slowed, we have some 3,000 applications to become an officer, we graduated a new class of officers last month, and we’re heading toward two large classes to start this year. MPD’s future is bright.

Join us on June 22: You’ll hear much more in the way of specifics on this in the coming weeks and months, but we’re so glad to host the national My Brother’s Keeper initiative’s Pathways to Success program in Memphis on June 22. (That’s a date change from our previous announcement.)

This event has been held in Oakland and Detroit and has led to young men receiving jobs on the spot and career guidance that directly benefits their future. You can learn more about it here.

I was so glad to formally welcome My Brother’s Keeper to Memphis Thursday and to have a nice meeting with Blair Taylor, the MBK Alliance CEO. I’m looking forward to continuing our relationship so that all of our young people in Memphis get the opportunity they deserve.


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