Weekly Update

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This past Monday, I, along with other local leadership, was invited to visit the Amazon distribution facility in North Memphis located off New Allen Road. To say the least, it was a very impressive campus.




First, the sheer size of the building was massive—3.4 million square feet with around 3,000 employees coming in and out of the facility each day. Secondly, the starting pay is $15 per hour with full benefits starting on day one of employment. Thirdly, the level of technology and efficiently at which products move through the process was an eye-opening experience.


Thanks to the Amazon team for the invite!


Making moves: Since coming into the Mayor’s Office, our administration has been laser-focused on cultivating and growing our minority and women-owned businesses. ABES Engineering is just one of the success stories from our focused efforts.


When Emmanuel Tuombe started ABES, it was a one-man firm. Fast-forward to where they are today, they have twelve employees and are well on their way to expanding the business into Nashville and Louisville. To quote Mr. Toumbe from a speech at one of our symposiums this past July, “I learned how to fish from the City of Memphis and hope to teach other entrepreneurs in Memphis how to fish.”


While we still have work to do, Mr. Tuombe’s story and many others like it are exactly the reason why we created the Office of Business Diversity and Compliance. In the future, I look forward many more stories just like this one.


I AM INCLUDED: I’ve written to you about this program in the past, but as a refresher, the I AM INCLUDED program is for youth between the ages of 14-18; grades 9-12 with disabilities administered through our Office of Youth Services.


This past Saturday, the I AM INCLUDED program, in partnership with Memphis City Beautiful, participated in a community service park clean-up event.




This event included around 40 Ambassadors along with their supportive parents at the Hickory Hill Community Park. The day included collecting 60 bags of trash, safety awareness, and orientation mobility when in new environments with the students.


Thanks to Ike Griffith and his team in the Office of Youth Services and Memphis City Beautiful for a great event!


Mid-South Safety Action Plan: The Memphis Urban Area Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO) is creating its first ever Safety Action Plan to address roadway fatalities in the Mid-South region. They are currently seeking feedback and invite residents and stakeholders to participate in a public survey.


To participate, go here (or the backup SurveyMonkey link here) to share your ideas on what locations need safety improvements and how we can best improve roadway safety for everyone. The survey will be open through Friday, November 4th. You can also learn more about the Mid-South Safety Action Plan on the project’s webpage.




Stepping up: Earlier this week, I announced that the city’s current chief operating officer, Doug McGowen, is my appointment to replace the outgoing president and CEO of MLGW, J.T. Young. I also announced that Doug’s deputy, Chandell Ryan, is my appointment to fill the city’s role of chief operating officer.


Before I go further, I want to acknowledge and again express my sincere thanks to J.T. Young for his leadership of the organization over the last four plus years and wish him well as he starts this next chapter of his career. J.T. is a man of great integrity, intelligence and leadership. While I will miss working with him, I am happy for him with this wonderful opportunity back home.


As you can imagine, owning and operating a three-sector public utility is a tremendous responsibility for any city. Since MLGW is the largest three–sector public utility in the country, it is even more important in the daily lives our citizens, to the success of our businesses and to the future economic growth of our community.


In addition, this is a critical time for MLGW as it is faced with an enormously important decision regarding the source of its power supply. We will soon need to engage in important decision-making discussions with the MLGW board and Memphis City Council regarding the RFP power supply responses. Furthermore, the outage improvement committee has made its recommendations which need to be implemented soon so as to minimize the mass outages our community has suffered for decades due to winter or windstorms.


To add further, I also want expeditious implementation of the LED street lighting project, broadband internet, 5G infrastructure, and the new paving requirements for street cuts. And immediate attention to continued customer service improvements must not be delayed.


For all of the reasons listed above, I am pleased to recommend Doug McGowen for appointment as the new president and CEO of MLGW. 


For the last nearly seven years, Doug McGowen has been someone I have relied on countless times to help deliver our vision for the direction of the city.


Doug gets things done.


Whether it was improving all city services, such as 911 answer times, paving city streets, and an overhaul on our sewer system (the city’s other utility system); finding innovative ways to fund universal needs-based Pre-K and Transit Vision; and helping to lead the Memphis/Shelby County COVID-19 Task Force through the pandemic, he has always gotten it done.


We all want our utility to be there for us every day, and to reliably deliver the services we all count on. When crisis happens, we want to trust that our utility is prepared – to prevent any interruption, but if disruption does occur, to communicate clearly with us and to quickly restore service.


I can think of no one I trust more than Doug McGowen to lead the organization. No one who is more capable, reliable, forthright, or forward thinking. Whether through day-to-day operations or in hours of crisis, Doug has delivered for our community, over and over again. I have full confidence he will do the same in this new role at MLGW.


With Doug leaving, I could not be happier to announce my appointment for his replacement—his deputy, Chandell Ryan. As a long-time city employee, Chandell brings with her an intimate knowledge of all city government, and I’m excited she has accepted this new challenge.


I have been impressed with Chandell since my time on council. She has worked in three divisions of city government and has led as the deputy COO. She has also righted the ship of a department of solid waste which struggled, especially during the pandemic.

With Chandell’s appointment, she will be the first woman and woman of color to lead our day-to-day operations as our chief operating officer.


I’m proud to say this administration has more women in leadership roles than any other in our city’s history. As we close out the last 15 months of my term, we still have much to accomplish, and I know Chandell will help us deliver.


Congratulations to both Doug and Chandell!


Rebirth of Historic Melrose: Closed since 1979, I am pleased to say that today we broke ground on the renovation on this jewel of the Orange Mound Community.


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Last year as a part of Accelerate Memphis, we announced that $10 million had been earmarked for revitalizing the former school, and in 2022 an appropriation obtained by U.S. Rep. Steve Cohen added an additional $3 million to this fund.


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Our plan is to establish a library, an African American-focused genealogy center and a café on the first floor, while the upper two floors will be converted into senior living apartments.


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This project will be transformational to the Orange Mound Community, and I’m excited to get to work on this exciting development.


Enjoy your weekend!




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