There are many exciting things happening in Memphis right now as a result of my administrations focus on 4 strategic priorities: Safe, vibrant neighborhoods, prosperity andeconomic opportunity for all, investing in our youth, and excellence in government. I’ll share with you some of the many transformative things happening in Memphis.
First, the creation of the Mayor’s Innovation Delivery Team in 2011, made possible by a $4.8 million Bloomberg Philanthropies. This is one of the largest private sector commitments to social innovation, and Memphis is just one of five American cities chosen for this unique opportunity. I chose two specific areas for the Innovation Delivery Team to focus on: reducing gun violence among young people and fostering neighborhood economic vitality. They have partnered with divisions across City government and with public and private supporters to implement a Clean it. Activate it. And Sustain it strategy that is currently focused on three areas of the City. This team is developing and implement programs to Clean these neighborhoods of blight and other environmental barriers that detract from the neighborhood, Activate it by staging activity to generate interest and ideas and demonstrate what is possible. And Sustaining these efforts by aligning resources, policies, attitudes and actions to with a defined vision for the neighborhood.
This team’s efforts to clean up targeted neighborhoods is supported by our 25 Square blight eradication program which involved reorganizing and realigning city agencies charged with housing code enforcement and blight mitigation. The results are creation of the Public Works Neighborhood Improvement Department and adoption of the 25 square pilot program as the principle strategy for the enforcement and mitigation of violations of City anti-blight ordinances.The 25 Square program is transforming neighborhoods across the city 25 square blocks at a time:Since 2011 there’s been a: 156% increase in number of code violations issued;166% increase in the number of residential demolitions;240% increase in the number of Court citations for code violations; and,An almost 500% in mitigation of over grown grass and weeds.
Over the past decade the City has systematically replaced all but one of its large public housing projects with modern, mixed-income communities such as College Park, Legends Park, and Uptown.
As neighborhoods are cleaned up redevelopment activities are activated. The transformation of the Broad Ave area is one of our best examples. Since November 2010, the area has boasted more than 19 new business commitments or openings and more than 30 properties have been renovated.
We are implementing neighborhood revitalization strategies such as economic gardening, neighborhood retail strategies and initiatives such as MEMFix, MEMShop and MEMMoble in similarly situation communities across the city. Here you see a poster for the next MEMFIx event to take place in South Memphis in the area where the famous Stax Museum is located.
At the same time we are revitalizing neighborhoods we are creating places and spaces like Tiger Lane where people from everyone can come an experience sport, entertainment and other things that make Memphis unique.
Also, we have a vision for creating an iconic riverfront anchored by the world’s large Bass Pro shop, which will be far more than just a hunting and fishing retail store. The estimated economic impact produced by the Pyramid Redevelopment Project are:Annual Wages, Hotel‐Motel Taxes, and Local Sales Taxes (20 yrs) $ 395,161,780New sales and hotel/motel taxes $ 36,000,000Minimum New Visitors to Memphis from beyond 50 miles -- 800,000New Jobs 1,665 – Short‐term Construction Jobs576 permanent jobs
Once complete, the Bass Pro destination development and the new Beale St. landing project, seen here, will make our riverfront an even more special place to be for locals and the many visitors who come to Memphis from all over world.
After being named one of the worst cities for cycling by Bicycling Magazine in 2008 and 2010, we made a commitment to building 100 miles of new cycling infrastructure and hired our first bike-ped coordinator. In 2012, we were named most improved city for cycling, which was much appreciated recognition of a very intentional cultural shift in our infrastructure priorities. Making Memphis a bike friendly city is a key strategy to building a vibrant urban core and creating inviting, walkable public spaces where people want to gather and enjoy our city. By creating spaces where all persons, from 8 years old to 80, can safely and efficiently get to their destinations without total reliance on automobiles, we can positively impact the public health, economic well-being, and attractiveness of this great city. Since this policy shift, Memphis has been invited to join national efforts to promote and educate cities about best cycling practices. Thanks to a great partnership between government, business leaders, and advocates Memphis is now part of the conversation about development of innovative bicycle infrastructure as cities across the U.S. discover that quality cycling brings good jobs and top talent.
This strategic priority focuses on creating an ongoing process of purposeful economic transformation through a regional economic development plan, understanding the success of Memphis is tied to the success of our neighbors in the region. Our goals are to be the preeminent region for the multimodal movement of goods and to be the hub for innovation, production and global export of goods and services including:Medical devices, instruments and implantsMedical diagnostic servicesMetal fabrication and equipment assemblyBio-agricultural products and technologiesTradable commodities and materials processingCritical to our success is developing a well educated and trained workforce.
By 2020, 59 percent of jobs will require postsecondary education and training. We are partner with with various public, private and community stakeholders to increase the number of Memphians with a college degree. Our goals are to have children enter kindergarten ready to learn; have our youth graduate high school college-ready and to help adults earn certifications and degrees that prepare them for local careers.
We have been fortunate recently to land some major manufacturing plants like the Electrolux plant which will employ 1,200 people over the course of the next five years as it reaches full production. An estimated 3,600 more jobs will also be created by suppliers who will support the plant.
And this $200 million Mitsubishi plant which brought 275 new jobs to this 350,000-sq-ft facility that produces large power transformers mainly for power plants and substations.
The future of our City, depends on how well we invest in our greatest resource our young people. I created the Office of Talent & Human Capital in 2011 to ensure that we are making sound investments in our youth though programs like the Urban Fellows, Youth Ambassadors and Pre-K.
The Office of Talent and Human Capital is responsible for assessing, developing and implementing all quality improvement and training initiatives for the City.
The Office of Talent Development administers The Urban Fellows program. This is a year-round initiative that offers local college students internships with various divisions of City government. Students complete a major project proposed by Division Directors. The program serves primarily to enhance the interaction of area college students with the City, advancing the purpose of getting students to consider employment with the City after graduation - ultimately making Memphis their permanent home.Urban Fellows has had over 87 students since inception from over 26 different colleges/universities. More than 47 projects have been submitted ranging from employee appeals and arbitration to blight and beautification and minority business development.
The Youth Ambassadors Program is a year-round enrichment program that targets area youth in grades 10, 11 and 12. These student ambassadors are paid a stipend based on their participation and attendance. The program focuses on education, healthy living, civic and social responsibility and employability. It operates in nine community centers around the city. Each site is supported by a cluster of community partners including: Faith-based institutions, businesses, schools, neighborhood organizations, non-profits, government agencies, parents and volunteers.
The Colleges of Memphis Night is a great way to bring students, faculty and staff together and welcome them back to our 14 institutions of high learning. Held just last week, the evening began with a team scavenger hunt, followed by an information fair to promote civic engagement and volunteer opportunities to students. Local organizations provided information to students and other attendees.
It’s no secret that the rate of gun violence in Memphis is higher than the national average. One of my top priorities is ending the cycle of death and violence on the streets of Memphis. In response to my challenge to reduce gun violence among young people, the Innovation Delivery Team has implemented the Memphis GUN DOWN plan which includes six key initiatives:1. SUPPRESSION - A laser focus on law enforcement efforts on the small percentage of young men who are committing gun violence. 2. INTERVENTION: A coordinated approach to intervening at the first sign of potential violence in the streets, schools, and hospitals.3. COMMUNITY MOBILIZATION - Pulling together young people, neighborhood residents, community organizations, and law enforcement to address the underlying causes of gun violence.4. YOUTH OPPORTUNITIES - Promoting jobs and opportunities, as well as building the educational and technical skills of young people.5. ORGANIZATIONAL CHANGE AND DEVELOPMENT- Transforming policies, practices and systems in our city to reduce youth gun violence.6. Retaliatory Violence Insight Project: George Mason University, through a grant from the Department of Justice and the Bureau of Justice Assistance, will develop Insight-based interventions with police departments to help tackle the deep rooted problem of retaliatory violence in three cities across the country beginning this winter. The objective is to develop tools and techniques that will increase officers’ ability to understand, predict and prevent retaliatory violence.
As you can see, a lot of great things are happening in Memphis as a result of our collaboration with many pyublic, private and community partners and our strategic focus on creating safe and vibrant neighborhoods, economic prosperity for all, investing in our youth and excellence in government. Thank you.
City Changemaker - Mayor AC Wharton
A C Wharton, Jr., Mayor
4 Strategic Priorities
Safe, vibrant neighborhoods
Prosperity, economic opportunity for all
Investing in our youth
Excellence in government
Safe, vibrant neighborhoods