MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Memphis mayor Jim Strickland released his annual State of the City address Wednesday. In it, he proclaimed Memphis as a "city on the rise," pointing to the city's wealth of new economic opportunities and job creation since the pandemic started.
According to Strickland, Memphis has almost fully recovered from pandemic-induced job losses, citing the latest numbers from the Bureau of Labor Statistics that shows almost 284,000 Memphians employed. In the comparable month before the pandemic (November 2019), the number was slightly higher at roughly 285,000.
In his address, Strickland talked about the gun violence intervention program (GVIP), funded by the city this year, to reduce the amount of violent crime in Memphis. stated the initiative will pour significant resources to tackle the issue of violent crime in the city.
In addition to the GVIP, Strickland also wants to continue to build up the Memphis police department, citing the current $15,000 sign-on bonus for new officers.
He also said one of his top priorities is addressing state laws governing violent crime and aggravated assaults, referencing Justin Johnson's 2017 incident in which he only served six months in jail for a major gun crime.
Addressing the economy, Strickland called the opportunities that exist in the city "incredible," talking about 33 new project announcements in the area, including Ford's Blue Oval City, the largest development in the company's history.
Strickland talked on the revenue shortage issue created by Tennessee's elimination of the Hall income tax, creating a shortage of $16 million in the city's operating budget. However, he presented a solution, proposing bills that would reallocate state funding and recoup $12 million.
Strickland stated the top budget priorities for the city are to develop the Waterfront District downtown, build the Leftwich Tennis Center, develop the Wolf River Greenway and construct the Brooks Museum downtown.