Weekly Update: A look back at 2018


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As we approach the end of my third year as mayor (has it been that long?), I wanted to pause to just make sure you know about the things we’ve done this year to further our community’s collective quest for a better Memphis.

Such as:

  • Pre-K. Our community has long held a unified desire for universal availability of Pre-Kindergarten, yet a funding solution has long eluded us. In March, though, we worked with the City Council to unveil a creative funding plan that doesn’t increase taxes. The County Commission followed suit, and now we’re on the path for universal, needs-based pre-K in our city.
  • Rebuilding MPD. After dramatically reduced recruiting between 2012 and 2015, coupled with benefit changes, we inherited a big-time hole in police staffing. We modernized our recruiting, and I’m proud to say that this year our police head count is increasing — with more on the way.
  • Doing more for our youth. We again increased youth summer jobs this year, plus we launched a website to connect even more young people to opportunity.
  • Investing in our city. After decades of cuts related to sprawl, we’ve increased programming at parks, libraries and community centers — including making summer camps free for the first time. We’ve doubled street paving and continue to press to improve the condition of our streets for all users.
  • Transforming our city. We worked with the state to get the go-ahead for a youth sports complex at the Fairgrounds and a new, 27-story Loews convention center hotel. We agreed to a construction contract for the transformation of our convention center, and work is already underway. And the best part? We’re doing this without a cent of general fund money, meaning that we can take on transformational projects without compromising core services like police, fire, and street paving.
  • Running a smart, efficient government. Our third budget proposal passed the City Council in June, marking the third straight year we’ve worked together to balance the budget and not raise taxes. We’ve doubled minority business spending. And Memphis 3.0, unveiled in draft form this week, gives us a blueprint for neighborhood-centric growth for the first time since 1981.
  • Helping our economy grow. Businesses want to know they can grow in a city with a reliable, responsible government. We’re doing that. Some $15 billion in development is happening in Greater Memphis, and for the first time in decades, more of that is happening inside our city limits than outside of them. That’s big. We dug in and worked with partners to ensure last week’s announcement of Indigo Ag’s North American operations headquarters right here in Memphis — bringing 700 good jobs. In our first three years, 16,000 more Memphians are working than when I took office. Unemployment is at near-record lows.
  • Commemorating history. The world trained its attention on Memphis this past spring, as we commemorated the 50 years since Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated here. I said it then and I’ll say it now: We’ve improved a lot as a city since 1968, yet we have much, much more work ahead of us to achieve Dr. King’s dream. Next year, we’ll celebrate the 200 years since Memphis was founded and look ahead to our third century of changing the world.

Yes, we have many challenges ahead of us — our unacceptable rate of violent crime and our shameful rate of poverty are chief among them. But I hope you can see in the course of the past three years, and by the items listed above, that we’re tackling them every day, putting in place long-term solutions so that Memphis can continue its momentum and realize its full potential.

It is the honor of my life to be your mayor, and I’m grateful for the opportunity every day.

May you and your family have a wonderful holiday season and a Merry Christmas.

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