Weekly Update: Memphis, a city of opportunity


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As I walked Thursday through the floor of the Memphis Cook Convention Center, where we had more than 1,000 of our young people participating in the My Brother’s Keeper Pathways to Success Opportunity Summit, it occurred to me: Memphis really is a city of opportunity.

Think about it. Our MBK Opportunity Summit had more than 500 jobs up for grabs. That's a record for this event, which has also been held in Detroit and Oakland. Our great corporate citizens such as FedEx were there in droves, and everyone from the national MBK organization was in awe of Memphis.

But the opportunity doesn’t stop there, no matter how great Thursday’s event was. (And it was.) In Memphis today, you can:

-- Get a free community college education through Tennessee Promise. We’re the first state in the nation to do that. And, it goes for adults who want to go back to school, too. Learn more at tnpromise.gov.

-- Get a free education at Tennessee College of Applied Technology. Learn more at tcatmemphis.edu.

-- Apply to one of more than 15,000 open jobs at any one time in the Memphis area via jobs4tn.gov. (That’s right: Fifteen thousand jobs!)

-- Receive free training and application assistance through our Workforce Investment Network. Learn more at workforceinvestmentnetwork.com.

-- Start a rewarding career with the Memphis Police Department at joinmpd.com. And through the Blue Path program, you can start that career as a Police Service Technician while you study for free at Southwest right out of high school.

Beyond our duties to improve core city services such as infrastructure and public safety, I find more and more that our job at city government is to connect citizens -- particularly our young people -- to these opportunities. So you’ll hear this from me more often in the coming weeks and months.

We’re an opportunity city. And we’re here to make sure you know how to reach that opportunity.

Getting results: The MBK event produced nearly 500 job offers or connections to second interviews for our youth. And the City of Memphis did its part, conducting 41 interviews that produced 10 contingent offers. In addition, MPD tested 10 applicants on the physical abilities test and 18 on the written exam.

Check it out: I’ll be on the WKNO-TV program “Behind the Headlines” with the respected Bill Dries of The Daily News tonight at 7 o’clock. We covered a wide variety of city topics, many of which are summarized here.

Progress on the Greensward: This week, the City Council accepted the initial funding for the design phase of the plan that we reached last summer to address the parking situation at Overton Park. This was prompted by $1 million in donations in just two months to the Overton Park Conservancy, which is an amazing feat we should all celebrate.

This week’s news brings us closer to the realization of a solution I proposed last year, which accomplishes three things:

  • Permanently ends Greensward parking;
  • Allows our great Zoo to continue to thrive; and
  • Uses no city tax dollars, leaving them to be dedicated to core services.

It’s a win-win-win, proving the worth of compromise to permanently settle an issue that has dragged on for some three decades.

Making national waves: Our efforts to improve performance with minority and women-owned businesses are drawing national attention. This week, we joined Charlotte, Chicago, Los Angeles and Milwaukee in the City Accelerator, which will improve our procurement processes as we participate in it over the next year. This proves to me that what we’re doing, led by Director Joann Massey, is earning Memphis some big-time national pub.

The Governing magazine article linked above said that we’re one of five cities “buying into equity,” and I couldn’t agree more.

Don’t forget: Memphis 3.0 held its first Show and Tell meeting last night at the Stax Museum, but there are two more to go: Tuesday at 5:30 p.m. at Ballet Memphis, 7950 Trinity Road; and Thursday at 5:30 p.m. at the Memphis Brooks Museum of Art in Overton Park.

Chris Herrington’s excellent Q&A with Memphis 3.0 leaders Ashley Cash and John Zeanah is required reading to see what they’ve discovered thus far.

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