Wanted: A Few Good Hosts

Memphis Convention and Visitors Bureau is seeking a few good hosts to show and tell folks what’s great about their hometown.

If selected, the bureau will provide hosts with a free Flip camera and tickets to a local attraction in exchange for making a video bragging on the best of the Bluff City.

Visit the I Love Memphis Blog for more information.

Digger Phelps Spotlights Soulsville Charter School

During Digger Phelps’ Friday appearance on MSNBC as part of a panel discussing education, he mentioned his recent trip to Memphis where he saw firsthand the success with Stax Music Academy and the Soulsville Charter School, which is raising $10 million to add two new classrooms to its high school.

“If kids see a dream and a vision, they can come to that reality,” Phelps said. “The key word – discipline. Because kids want it, they stay focused and they want to know that there is a goal that they can achieve.”

The video starts about two-thirds into the program at about the 8:32 mark.

Cohen Urges County Commission to Reconsider Vote

Memphis congressman Steve Cohen has written a letter to the Shelby County Commission in hopes it will reverse an 8-3 vote to defund the county’s Office of Early Childhood and Youth:

“As you continue to consider the FY2012 Shelby County budget in your role as a member of the County Commission, I hope that you will take the time to re-visit the vote you cast this Monday to de-fund the Shelby County Office of Early Childhood and Youth (OECY).

As a former County Commissioner, I understand that oftentimes the proposals laid before you for consideration may not include details about the possible ramifications that could result upon their implementation. Normally, I do not get involved in County Commission business, but the vote that was cast on Monday to de-fund the OECY is one that, should it be implemented, would result in our county losing out on access to millions of federal dollars. By stripping the $450,000 in funding for the OECY, the county will lose approximately $6 million in federal funds for programs that help the neediest among our constituents.

The OECY’s focus on our community’s children is one that is unparalleled. Its child impact study program is the first—and only—one of its kind in the nation. The OECY’s encouragement of community partnerships is a factor that helps private and non-profit organizations across the county apply for grants from the state and federal governments.

To de-fund an initiative that has made such great strides in the few years it has existed would be a grave mistake for the Commission. By not allowing the OECY to achieve its full potential and continue to operate, we will not only lose out on the millions of federal dollars that the county is currently slated to receive, but we will never be able to realize the impact that such an initiative would have on our community’s children and families years from now.

It is my understanding that you will have the opportunity to consider this measure again on June 20th. If you have any questions about the information contained above or the federal funds that the OECY is scheduled to receive should it remain operational, I hope that you will feel free to contact me. I am hopeful that you will sincerely consider the information that I have shared with you about the importance of the Office of Early Childhood and Youth and vote to maintain funding for it when you are again given the opportunity.”

Court Square Series Wraps up With Acrobats, Bellydancers

The Center City Commission, which July 1 will officially change its name to the Downtown Memphis Development Commission, wraps up its Downtown Alive series for the season this month with an eclectic mix of street performances.

The festivities, which run through the end of June, celebrate the Bluff City’s creative spirit with free lunchtime performances in the heart of Downtown Memphis.

On Tuesday, June 14, Memphians are invited to a live, lunchtime aerial acrobatics performance in Court Square as Live from Memphis presents Valeria’s Wings, performing acrobatic feats alongside wind sculptures from local artist Yvonne Bobo.

And on Wednesday, June 15, the Church Health Center will take over Court Square at lunchtime with a family-fun event featuring children’s music, summer games and prizes.

Thursday’s fun includes a cuff bracelet workshop with staff members from the National Ornamental Metal Museum and a pirate-themed belly dance performance from Desert Rose Dance Company.

The fun kicks off each weekday at 11:45, and attendees are encouraged to bring their own lunch and lawn chairs.

Dawn Vinson with the CCC said there’s a “very strong possibility” that the Downtown Alive series, which began in March, may start up again in the fall.

Click here for the schedule.

Office Sector Shows Slivers of Resurgence

In talking with Bentley Pembroke and Phil Dagastino of Commercial Advisors Asset Services LLC recently about the local office sector, they said that while leasing is moving at a slow pace, there are definite signs that activity is picking up.

“Good things will probably continue to improve over the third and fourth quarter of this year, but I don’t expect anything to shoot through the roof,” Pembroke said.

One positive indicator is the return of the lease term. Five to seven years is becoming a little bit more prevalent, whereas 18 months ago, it was one to three or maybe a three to five year term with a cancellation after three, Pembroke said.

“I think companies that have survived and right-sized their business are going to continue to thrive,” Pembroke said.

But it’s not just businesses that will prosper this year and beyond. Other than the Poplar and I-240 corridor and Downtown submarkets, the airport will likely see an uptick in activity as the market turns around, Dagastino said.

“I am starting to see some decent activity or tire-kickers in the airport area, due to the big-box of continuous space and ample parking,” he said.