Development happening throughout the area figured heavily in Memphis Mayor Jim Strickland’s first State of the City address last week at the weekly meeting of the Frayser Exchange Club.
Strickland touted many of the city’s recent development accomplishments along with steps that are underway to strengthen public safety.
“Today in Memphis, I am proud to report: There is some $7 billion in recently completed, under construction, or on-the-drawing board development, much of which is going toward re-imagining historic assets,” said Strickland, who also cited the fact that the former Sears, Roebuck & Co. regional distribution building is occupied for the first time in a quarter century.
He recognized ServiceMaster’s decision to keep its 1,200 jobs in Memphis and move into the former Peabody Place mall Downtown
this spring as well as St. Jude Children’s Hospital bringing more than 1,800 jobs and billions in development to the city.
He said that in the past year minority and women-owned businesses have made up a larger portion of city contract spending and are up 30 percent compared to the previous year.
Strickland also announced the national My Brother’s Keeper Alliance will hold a “Pathways to Success: Boys and Young Men of Color Opportunity Summit” job fair in Memphis on April 20.
The national initiative from President Obama is geared to individuals between the ages of 16 and 29 and similar events have been very successful in places like Detroit and Oakland.
Other major achievements of the past year include Memphis’ new down payment assistance program
through the Division of Housing & Community Development, which has helped 65 families purchase homes in targeted areas, and the Work Local program, a partnership with the Hospitality HUB to offer work to homeless individuals which has helped 70 people since launching in November.
Creating a new Violent Crimes Bureau at the Memphis Police Department and doubling city support for the street-level gang intervention program 901 BLOC Squad are on the immediate public safety agenda along with the plan for more graduates to come out of the police academy.
“No question about it, the most important role for city government is providing for public safety,” Strickland said. “The steps that we’re describing today will further strengthen the city’s commitment.”
Public libraries will be open longer hours this summer, and community centers will hold spring break camps next month, he added.