Memphis Commercial Appeal, citizens of Shelby County from numerous walks of life requested County Mayor Lee Harris to be “aggressive” in his final few years in the role, presenting a sequence of recommendations Thursday.
The suggestions, developed over the past three months, ask for a “Next Era” in which Harris drives the minimum wage discussion throughout the county, develops education opportunities, establishes a $2 million fund for reasonable housing needs, grows healthcare access, and aims conversation and feedback from the area residents.
Numerous of the recommendations mirrored and expanded upon initiatives Harris conducted during his first four years as mayor.
“It’s apparent that you have poured your time, talent and expertise in this set of suggestions and given it life,” Harris conveyed to the group gathered at the Central Station Hotel. “Now it’s the work of all of residents in Shelby County Government to maintain it alive, to take it properly, and to get to result.”
The “Our Next Era” growth team — composed of nonprofit and business executives, high school students, government workers, and more — echoed one completed by Harris in 2018, the time he was first selected.
Harris spoke Thursday that he spent much time on the 2018 team’s suggestions.
“We attempted to make it happen concerning each of the items in the report,” he declared. “We took it very seriously and we are going to take this very extremely.”
The committee was split into five teams: student achievement, inclusive economic expansion, neighborhood development, community charge, and healthcare access.
Suggestions from the education team ranged from collaborating high schoolers to more possibilities, such as internships, to distributing an age-appropriate book created by Shelby County to help improve early literacy accelerations.
The economic development team concentrated on “supporting economic and social mobility for all Shelby County locals, more specifically our Black residents,” stated Natalie McKinney, chair of that subcommittee. “Our submissions are bold, unique, and continue to challenge his management to urge others to be revolutionizing.”
While Shelby County Government has already extended the minimum wage for its workers to $16, the team recommended incorporating MIT’s Living Wage Calculator into a regulation, ensuring that the minimum wage for county employees adjusts to the changing economy. And the team suggested that the county advocate for bigger employers to embrace a similar wage-setting measure.
On community development, the team urged the county to establish a reasonable housing trust fund with $2 million and embed “neighborhood connectors” around the county, “bridging the gap between citizens, government and private sectors,” stated Kalimah Azeez, a member of the panel.
The community assignment subcommittee asked the county to educate citizens via a website and videos about complex issues. It focused on meetings, helping clarify how decisions are made and distinctions amongst Shelby County Government and the Memphis City Government. That, in turn, would designate residents to provide feedback to the county.
With regards to healthcare, the “big vision is a Shelby County where every local, regardless of socioeconomic status, gender identity, race, pay, has access to the healthcare they need,” stated Lena Chipman, a team member.
Importance includes advancing language access and culturally tailored health usefulness, along with working to increase the number of insured locals.
“Funds, power, and proximity should not determine who lives and who fails,” Chipman said. “Through thoughtful policy findings we believe the Mayor Lee Harris government can save energies.”
Each of the committee co-chairs were requested to champion a specific topic. Raushanah Morgan, a neighborhood development leader, approved community benefits agreements between private innovators, corporations, and the government when the developer wishes to benefit from public subsidies.
School board associate Kevin Woods, also a developer, stated for “The 1-Mile Initiative,” which would concentrate on creating green spaces, inexpensive housing, grocers, and other businesses encompassing public schools, “the nucleus of our communities.”
Alongside Former County Commissioner Reginald Milton, who now functions on education for Harris, challenged the mayor’s administration to encounter neighborhood associations, the faith-based society, and labor unions, hearing their advocacy.
“I think the mayor, his administration, and his wonderful committee members understand that Shelby County will not genuinely get on the path to honest prosperity until all of the citizens are questioned what they need to thrive and each citizen is really afforded the opportunity to do so,” Morgan expressed.