(Memphis) In front of a standing room only crowd at the Pink Palace Museum, Memphis Mayor A C Wharton unveils his state of the city address.
“I am proud to say that the state of our city is sound and continues to improve,” Wharton said.
In keeping with tradition, the mayor used this yearly gathering to formally outline his initiatives and budget priorities for the coming year.
Wharton said there will be a continued emphasis to target blight in neighborhoods.
“These are neighborhoods we’ve gone in, demolished vacant structures, cut the weeds, picked up litter, boarded buildings, removed graffiti and filled potholes,” Wharton said.
The mayor also touted the city’s economic growth with new jobs coming here with the arrival of Electrolux and Mitsubishi.
Diedre Malone is a Shelby County Commissioner. She wanted to hear what the mayor had to say about jobs and new businesses.
“He talked about how at the drop of a dime he will fly anywhere to bring business to Memphis and Shelby County and he and the county mayor have synergy in that regards,” Malone said.
But Wharton expressed concern to reporters about Pinnacle Airlines pulling its headquarters out of downtown Memphis and taking 500 jobs.
“Frankly, I’m concerned about their(employees) well-being than I am about city government. We’re going to bounce back,” Wharton said.
But the mayor says there’s been a 74 percent increase for minority and women owned businesses. He also said redevelopment plans continue to take shape with Bass Pro Shops at the Pyramid and improvements at the Fairgrounds .
Wharton also pointed to success of the Memphis Police Department’s Community Oriented Policing Program and a drop in criminal activity in targeted areas, but he said more work is needed.
“We won’t rest until gunfire is no longer the accepted soundtrack for too many of our neighborhoods,” Wharton said.
Stevie Moore heads the Stop The Killing Program in Memphis. He likes what the mayor is saying about reducing violence.
“Our children are afraid to go to school. We’re afraid to sit on our porch. So, we’ve got to stop the violence and I was elated to hear him bring that out,” Moore said.