In the coming days, this blog will be posting resolutions, predictions, or observations by Memphians as they look ahead to the new year.
Dorothy Pugh, CEO and Founding Artistic Director, Ballet Memphis:
“After an exciting move into our amazing building, I continued to barrel forward with nary a second to rest. I think this is the way of it for many non-profit leaders. The work never ceases, but good people make all the difference. We have a tremendous staff and wonderful dancers and many fine ways for Memphians to experience the joy and inspiration of our unique art form and singular institution.
“With so many exciting things happening in Memphis, I do hope that more citizens will come together to understand, appreciate, and take on the need for supporting the work that must be done to elevate our community, and not let it rest on the same patrons’ shoulders, over and over. These are very challenging times, and we must all find ways to put others before self. I am so proud of the many big hearts I have come to know here, and I hope they can increase exponentially in the days and years ahead.
“Having said that, I have to say I think the chances might be good that the ‘it’ cities that seem to edge us out for headquarters, to whom the flocking of college-educated workers is directed, will eventually become too expensive and perhaps too crowded for many people, and maybe we can catch a new tide. But we have to be well positioned, and the problems and potential we have must be paid attention to, with a wider swath of diverse minds and genders at the table.
“Equity and acknowledgment still need constant attention and a full throttle commitment. We cannot afford to wait around, pretending we are going to be seen. We have to keep investing in and supporting both creative endeavors and the people who have never had a truly fair shake. Do we really want to be a fair, just, equitable, kind, creative and safe place where opportunity is spread across every zip code?”
Kyle Veazey, Deputy Chief Operating Officer, City of Memphis/Mayor Jim Strickland:
If you’ve heard my boss speak in the past year or so, you’ve heard this phrase: “Memphis has momentum.” Among the items he offers as proof: a City government improving its services and making data-informed decisions, marked job growth, and some $15 billion in recent/current/future development in Greater Memphis.
But it’s the clause that follows the $15 billion line that excites me, both as a once-and-still-occasional speechwriter and as a very proud Memphian: For what may well be the first time in decades, it appears that the vast majority of the development happening in Greater Memphis is taking place *inside* the city limits, rather than outside of them.
That’s right: When momentum is happening in our region now, it’s inside Memphis. Just ask anyone looking at the long list of Downtown jobs open at fast-growing Indigo, or trying to buy a house in Midtown, or clicking on the latest exciting rendering of a new development.
No one’s hanging a mission accomplished banner, of course. No true city-centric development success can be thoroughly celebrated until we see more and more investment happening in historically disinvested places, which is why the the mayor’s Memphis 3.0 comprehensive plan focuses so much on improving neighborhood anchors. And no celebration can take place until our community has drastically reduced poverty and violent crime — period. I’m fortunate to work for a mayor who gets that reality.
Yet the corner that’s being turned in the psyche of our region as it relates to the City of Memphis is what gets me so excited about 2019 and years to come.
Deidre Malone, President, NAACP Memphis Branch, and Founder, President and Chief Executive Officer of The Carter Malone Group:
The last two years have been a reality check for our country with the leadership that we have in Washington, DC, specifically in the White House. I believe it has had a positive effect on who we’ve elected in Shelby County in 2018 to lead in critical roles. My prediction for 2019 is that the same energy and excitement will make voters take a closer look at the local elections this year. The NAACP Memphis Branch continues to be committed to educating voters on candidates and their positions and will monitor the Shelby County Election Commission to make sure that voters are not disenfranchised.
This is Smart City Consulting's blog and its purpose is to connect the dots and provide perspective on events, issues, and policies shaping Memphis and its future. Smart City Memphis was named one of the most intriguing blogs in the U.S. by the Pew Partnership for Civic Change; The (Memphis) Commercial Appeal wrote that "Smart City Memphis provides some of the most well-thought-out thinking about Memphis' past, present, and future you'll find anywhere," and the Memphis Flyer said: "This incredibly well-written blog sets out to solves the city's ills - from the mayor to MATA - with out-of-the-box thinking, fresh approaches to old problems, and new ideas. If you have questions, submissions, or ideas for posts, please email the blog's editor, Tom Jones, at firstname.lastname@example.org.